Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to do DC in a Time Crunch

Kevin and I are becoming pros of fast and furious trips. If we can squeeze in a city/area that is iconic or on our list of must-sees, then we do it. A few years ago it was Chicago, last year it was D.C., over Christmas it was Disney's Magic Kingdom for a day, and this year will be Paris when we jet over for just over 24 hours from Denmark. And for those of your wondering why we do it this way? Usually, we're squeezing this sight seeing time in between family trips and/or en route to other places in an effort to make our trip/$$ towards that trip count double time. It's just been working out this way so we've learned to see the most we can in the shortest time.

And when I say fast and furious, it's no exaggeration. We run until our feet are burning and we're in tears. Literally. So I thought I'd share about how we do it.

So in general for any trip we:

We prep a bag. This is something we've had to learn over time and it's recently been improved with a Christmas gift of a Camelbak backpack (hello built-in/insulated water bottle!). Our bags usually have some water, some ibuprofen, napkins/tissues, snacks(usually a granola bar, something easy), the camera/camera accessories and maps(dependent upon where we are). You may not want to carry that much but this is what works best for us.

We wear comfortable walking shoes. Or at least some of us do...I might be guilty of choosing fashion friendly shoes as opposed to real walking shoes...but sometimes I choose more appropriately.

And when you go to do D.C.:

Weigh out which areas are the most important for you to see. Touring the White House and Capital were a must-do for us. We also really wanted to walk out the National Mall, see Lincoln, snag a bit of time in Georgetown, and ride bikes.

Make the Plan. We had a morning in DC and then a week later we had a day/night/morning. The first morning was the White House tour (more on that to come) and we walked a little that day seeing some things like the Old Post Office (which was closed due to renovations). We left after this and spent a week with family before heading back to do more.

Rent Bikes: The best way we've seen the most of anywhere we have been is either renting bikes or doing a segway tour. This time we opted out of the segway tour due to price but the bikes were SO worth it. We got them for our evening there and rode the National Mall at night, everything is beautiful at night there. We took them to Georgetown too.

DO the White House Tour. You only get to go through a few rooms but I'm sorry, after all the movies about living in the White House, you've just got to go and see it. Amazing. I loved every minute of it. I bought the book they sell there (which was begun as a project of Mrs. Kennedy) and read the entire thing on the way home that day. #worthit If you want to do this though, you'll have to plan your trip to DC ahead of time. You register online and it is several months until you know if you're approved to go and for what time you can go (read Erin's post for more info). You can't take any pictures until you leave the house but again it was worth it. Plus get the book!

Go on a Capitol Tour with your State Representative (tour will likely be given by an intern). Again, this is something you need to schedule and plan well ahead of the time you actually are packing your bags but if that's something you can manage, THIS is the way to tour the Capitol. All the interns that work for the representatives are required to learn all the things about the Capitol. We got a private tour with the intern, meaning no giant tour group with headphones on traveling in packs to everything. As a result, we also got to check out the Speaker of the House's balcony. Believe me, we saw the other groups, do it this way! And yes, the Capitol tour is awesome.

Order your Georgetown Cupcakes online. So you've seen the show, and now you want to taste what those two cute sisters created, right? Please, go online the day before you want to go and order the cupcakes you want. Once you get there, you'll walk right in and pick them up. No line. No waiting out the building along the sidewalk. Just in and out. Take your cupcakes to the water side and make your taste buds smile while watching the sunset.

Skip going to ALL the Museums. DC is known for some of the best museums but if that's something you want to do you'll need a week there because each one is enormous and you could spend hours in them. We took a look at the museums and noted the parts we really wanted to see. One of them had the original US flag on show and a special section for the First Ladies, we made those top priority. We popped into Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery of Art, which had a special furniture series on display (loved it), and called it a day.

Book the Washington Monument ahead of time. We knew the monument was going to be under construction so we hadn't checked into this. Little did we know they were still taking reservations and we could have gone had we planned ahead of time better.

Eat at the small places. There's always going to be that five star place in any city, try and find the small spots where locals might go. They're going to be off the beaten path usually but they won't break your budget and they'll be tasty! After our Capital Tour we got food from Tortilla Cafe and after the White House we went to Lincoln's Waffle Shop. And for another option, try just going to a local grocery and pick up something from their ready-to-go section, this is what we did in Georgetown.

Take advantage of the metro. Staying out of the city? That's probably a great idea for your budget. Take the metro and save yourself a headache of finding parking. It's easy and quick. It will even take you straight to/from the airport.

Stay in the city one night. Kevin and I's thing is historical hotels. We try and stay one night in every city we visit in a historical hotel (it doesn't always happen). You can search by city here if you're interested in that. If not, choose one through one of those searching sites (Groupon, Expedia, etc) and just stay one night there. One night won't break the budget and gives you even more time in the city.

*Catch our schedule after all the pictures

Pictures from the trip:
This was our first big trip with our fancy camera and man on man did we love having it!

 I thought the metro was so cool on the inside!
 The Capital

 You never know who you'll meet on trips...our tour guide/the intern turned out to my one of my co-workers cousins!

 Self timed shots have only gotten easier with our camera

*please ask for permission to use images and always link back to this page. -thank you

What was our schedule?
Morning 1: White House Tour, Old Post Office, Classic DC Breakfast
Day 1: Capital Tour, inexpensive lunch, lots of walking (mall, museums, etc), check-in at hotel, rent bikes, Georgetown shopping/cupcakes/dinner, bike the mall, say goodnight
Morning 2: breakfast, metro to the airport

So there ya have we did DC in a day and a morning. If you've been, what would you add?

-Taking time to figure out what will be most important to you is pivotal. I can tell you a hundred times over that the Capital tour was AMAZING but if the interior of historical buildings doesn't thrill you then you're in for a tour that will steal a lot of your time and leave you disappointed. Figure out what your interests are and gear your trips as such.
-Skip out on the fancy can get a fancy, yummy meal anywhere...see what you can, eat whatever you can find.
-Don't waist time instagraming/tweeting as you go...just go and do it all! Social media can wait.


  1. I've lived in the DC area my whole life and STILL haven't been to many of these places...


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