top of page

First-Timer's Guide to Washington DC

Ah, D.C. You never cease to amaze me with your stellar museums, insanely beautiful monuments and lively city life. Like a good chunk of American kids, I first came here on a class trip in middle school. Of course, being the pubescent tween that I was at the time, I didn't care as much for learning history as I did for goofing off. Now as an adult, I couldn't have been more excited to come back to D.C. and soak it all in.

What I didn't realize until visiting for a second time was how many different areas there are in this city. Aside from the National Mall where all of the museums and monuments lay, you've also got downtown, Alexandria, Arlington...Even Baltimore is only 45 minutes away!

Depending on how much you want to do will determine how long of a trip you need, but for the main attractions, a weekend is a perfect amount of time.


Alright, let's get the obvious part out of the way! When many people think D.C., they think of the monuments, museums and the famous landmarks. What's even cooler is that most of it is all in the same vicinity!

I cannot emphasize enough how important comfortable walking shoes are. Even though the National Mall is one area, it is GIANT! It could take a couple miles of walking just to get from one side to the other. It's totally doable, but will require some energy! If a high step count doesn't fit in your agenda, there are plenty of hop on/hop off tours you can check out as well.


I always had assumed that the Smithsonian was one museum, based off of the way people say it, however it's important to know that there are multiple museums that are considered a part of the Smithsonian collection! And what's even better? They're FREE! And each museum is so massive to where you could easily spend 3-4 hours in there, minimum.

With that being said, don't expect to be able to cram everything in just one or two days. Sure, it's possible, but you'll get exhausted pretty quick after going through a couple of these museums!

- Some great free museums are the Museum of Natural History, Air & Space Museum and the Holocaust museum.

- Even those that require to purchase a ticket are pretty great, like the International Spy Museum and Artechouse D.C.

Note: As of March 2022, some museums are requiring tickets reserved in advance, which seem to be booked a few months out. Make sure to check if the attractions you are interested in require this! (Smithsonian museums do not, however the Holocaust museum and Ford's Theatre are a couple who do during certain times of the year!)


Did you ever think that the White House, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial would all be next door neighbors? Well, it's true! They're spaced out a little bit to give you a bit of a walk, but it's totally doable! (Again.... walking shoes!!) And that's just to name a few nearby attractions...


Whether you've realized it or not, there is SO much more to D.C than the tourist stuff, y'all! Coming back to visit as an adult, I was shocked at how big downtown is. There's so many great neighborhoods - Capitol Hill and Georgetown to name a few - and so many fantastic restaurants, bars and shops to explore.

You can stroll by the Potomac River at the trendy Wharf area. We stopped by here at a neat Tiki bar, Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling, which has some pretty funky tropical drinks to try!

One of our favorite experiences during our most recent trip was Swingers - The Crazy Golf Club! As soon as I heard that there was a bar/mini golf course hybrid, I was immediately here for it. We had such a blast putting on the course while sipping on cocktails and jamming out to the DJ's playlist.

It's also worth mentioning that D.C has a pretty awesome Chinatown... So cool that it's rated as one of the top 10 in the country in many different articles.


All in all, Washington D.C needs to be on every American's bucket list - Where else could you learn more about your own country's history than the capitol itself?




Hey there, I'm Shelby! Traveling has been one of my biggest passions in life, and so I'm here to share all of my great finds, tips and advice that I discover along the way. When I'm not on a plane, you can find me in Kentucky with my husband and fur child, Zoe (My adorable kitty!) 

I have always loved to write, and after many attempts at blogging again, I find myself here and inspired to share the world. My husband and I both work a typical 9 to 5, but make it a priority to plan as many trips as possible each year. I want to show others that it is totally possible to live a travel-filled life full time or on the side!

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy!


bottom of page