Travel Guide | Washington DC

12 Hour Destination Guide: A Day in D.C.

Ah, D.C. Our nation’s capital. So rich with American history. I’ve visited Washington D.C. countless times, yet each time feels like the first.

There’s just always something new to visit. If you have the fortunate chance, visit this great city with some friends while you’re still in college. It can be a fun mini-vacation as finals week approached–a time to destress before exams consume you whole. I think my favorite thing about D.C. is that most of the attractions are free. So if you’re on a tight budget and looking for a vacation, this is the perfect place to go.

For a three-day weekend get away, aim to get there late Friday afternoon. This way, you get a full day with more than enough rest on Saturday morning. The Capitol Skyline hotel has humble accommodations just a few blocks away from the Navy Yard, an up-and-coming neighborhood overlooking the Anascotia River. Grab a nice, casual dinner at the Truckeroo Food Truck Festival, with a wide variety spanning from empanadas to Korean barbecue. As a monthly event, make sure to check out the dates for the festival, as you’ll definitely want to try out all the different cuisines the trucks have to offer. Throughout the afternoons and nights, there will also be bands playing while you kick back and relax. Head back to the hotel early and get some shut-eye. Big day tomorrow!

10AM: For breakfast, walk over to a nearby farmer’s market that featured fresh fruit and cute gourmet stands. There’s a stand that sells these great Nutella banana crepes and strawberry smoothies–it’ll cost you no more than eight bucks for a delicious start to the day.

11AM: Register for a card at the Library of Congress! (Note: If you can, pre-register online on the Library of Congress website. It saves you from filling out annoying forms at the registration office!). Entrance to the Library’s Main Reading Room is only permitted if you have a card, so not only do you get VIP access, you get a pretty legitimate souvenir, too! Plus, it’s completely free so you don’t have to worry about any admission fees or anything like that. As the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and the world’s largest library, it was a pretty breathtaking sight for a bookworm like myself. Take caution, though: the Main Reading Room is technically for researchers, not tourists. Photography inside won’t be allowed, but if you’re sneaky enough, feel free to snag some quick shots while no one’s looking, shhhh…


Stumbled into some library.

12:30PM: The United States Botanic Garden, the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the nation, is the next stop. If you adore flowers like me, this will be a special treat. The USBG is divided into separate room, with each respective room offering a unique habitat. Some of these habitats include the jungle, rare and endangered plants, and my personal favorite, the orchid house. There’s this one plant, the Mimosa pudica, that caught my eye. When touched, its leaves fold inward–very fitting as its name translates to shy/bashful in Latin!

1:45PM: Walk by the Supreme Court and the Capitol. At the time of my last visit visit, it was only days away before the Obergefell v. Hodges argument hearing, garnering plenty of supporters and protestors clustered outside of the buildings. Take a bunch of Snapchats and go your merry way.


progress | congress

2PM: The National Art Gallery‘s Sculpture Garden features the Pavilion Cafe. It’s a little on the pricier side, but the gorgeous scenery and food completely make up for it. I would recommend the pulled pork sandwich if you’re particularly hungry.

3PM: As a self-proclaimed art nerd, I always visit the National Gallery of Art when I’m in town. Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge is one of my favorite pieces of work. You can spend an eternity just staring and basking in all the artworks’ glory. From the Renaissance to Post-impressionism, the Gallery certainly has more than enough collections to fuel any artistic fangirl’s heart. On your way out, buy a souvenir at the museum gift shop; they have these really cool holographic postcards that are great for decorations.

The Japanese Footbridge

The Japanese Footbridge

6:30PM: For dinner, take the Metro and make your way to DuPont Circle, the “Old City” part of town and home to a number of cuisines. The Regent Thai Cuisine offers a relaxing ambiance and killer chicken satay. After a long day of walking, it’s nice to have a sit-down dinner and talk about the day’s adventures.

10PM: As nightfall hits, return to the hotel, grab those cars, and drive around the city to check out more popular tourist attractions: Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, all the memorials, really. By that time, the tourist mobs would have subsided and you’ll be able to appreciate the sights more. It might start to get a bit windy, so make sure to bring a jacket with you.

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Karla Dimatulac

Rutgers University | 7 stories

Political Science + Cultural Anthropology major. Aspiring writer and ruler of the world. Specially imported from the Philippines. Last seen drowning in overpriced coffee.

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