Washington grabbed me 13 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I quickly fell in love with this historic and international city and can't imagine living anywhere else.
There are two Washingtons, and although they intersect, each has its own history and culture. The statuesque monuments, incomparable museums and magnificent federal city are extraordinary and are a must to visit. Washington's delightful neighborhoods are also worth more than a glance. My favorites are Georgetown, Logan Circle and Dupont Circle. Washington is also full of free cultural stuff to do: concerts, museums, movies and lectures.
Here are my 10 Tips for Touring Like a Local:
1. Washington is notorious for its traffic, expensive parking and aggressive ticketing, so getting around town by public transport is the best way to see the sites. Leave the car at your hotel and use the Metro (subway), taxis and your feet.
2. Least requested memorials, but always enjoyed, are the Korean War Veterans Memorial and Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
3. The best time to visit to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is first thing in the morning. You’ll need timed passes, best secured online prior to your visit.
4. The best museum food can be found at the National Museum of the American Indian.
5. Step off the “beaten path” and enjoy one of Washington’s eclectic neighborhoods.
6. Keep your ears open for the sounds of the various street musicians that make Washington their home.
7. Especially for summer visitors, experiences not prioritized in tour books worth taking in are: Friday evening Jazz in the Garden, Happy Hour at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden, a movie on the Mall, a night tour of the monuments and memorials, an author talk at a famous bookstore, people-watching in Dupont Circle, visiting the Textile Museum, experiencing a local drum circle and an octopus feeding at the National Zoo.
8. Hire a guide to make your time meaningful and efficient. Guides know the city intimately, saving you valuable time and allowing you more time to tour. We can point out lesser-known “gems,” local restaurants, and conveniences like restrooms and transportation short-cuts.
9. The stories behind the memorials, cemeteries and historical figures are what make history come alive. Enjoy the depth of history as provided by a guide.
10. Experiencing Washington on foot is the best way to see the sites, so lace-up your walking shoes and let’s go!
Thanks Susan! If any travelers are headed to the American capital in 2013, consider getting in touch with Susan to make the most of your time in Washington DC.