I had never been to the East Coast before we moved to DC and it’s one of my favorite cities. Its very beautiful, especially in the Spring (Cherry Blossom festival!) and the fall with towering trees and changing leaves. We left Utah in January to drive across the country to our apartment in NW DC and arrived shortly before Obama’s first inauguration which we were lucky enough to attend – an amazing experience which would need a whole separate post 🙂
See & Do
Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall: My favorites were the American History Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Natural History. Also located just off the mall is the Holocaust Museum (reserve tickets online beforehand). You could literally spend weeks at the museums and most of them are free.
Monuments: from the Washington Monument, Iwo Jima, Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veteran Memorial, WW2, Lincoln Memorial you will be amazed by the history and reverence of these monuments. Tip: they are also cool to see at night- a lot cooler temperatures and less people!
White House: tours need to arranged prior to visit
US Capitol, Library of Congress, National Archives – where you can see the Declaration of Independence and Constitution!
Arlington National Cemetery: Very accessible by Metro (the stop is literally across the street), make sure you watch the changing of the guard (The guard is changed every hour on the hour October 1 to March 31. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.)
(all of these are on/near Capitol Hill except Ben’s Chili Bowl)
Ben’s Chili Bowl – a DC landmark known for their chili dogs, metro accessible.
Old Ebbitt Grill – historic bar and grill with traditional American cuisine.
DC has a great Metro system and most things you’ll want to see as a tourist will be metro accessible. Check out their website for travel info, stop locations and predicted travel times: http://wmata.com/ . A friendly tip for visitors: while on the escalator, stand on the right, walk on the left 🙂