Yikes! You only have 24 hours to spend in Washington DC. What to see? What to do? Where to eat? There are so many places. Let me help you plan a day in DC.
Start Your Day
Take advantage of the free breakfast offered by the hostel. Or if you want to adventure out, try Golden Brown Delicious. They are a donut and fried chicken restaurant located on Connecticut Street. You will not regret the slight detour for their warm fresh donuts. Try the Bourbon Bacon. It will melt in your mouth. Get two.
If you are in DC while the Supreme Court is in session (October-April), hike it over to the Court building. You can take the Red Line metro from the donut shop to Union Station then walk down First St NE. Line up to watch the justices debate a case. Get there early before 8 a.m., preferably, if you want a shot at viewing the full debate. There are usually two debate sessions on Mondays, Tuesday, and Wednesdays. Sessions are at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Your options are to sit and watch the debate or do a few minute cruise by. If you are not lucky enough to get a seat, you can tour the building on your own. Legal eagles will get a delight as there is so much information to read. Be sure to check out the two self-supporting marble circular staircases. They are blocked off for walking but you can view and take photos. Beautiful. FREE to observe and tour the building.
Next, walk across the street to the splendid Capitol Building. What a showcase of art and history! It was in the middle of a facelift when I visited but normally the picture taking opportunities abound. Don’t worry if you forget to request tour tickets from your Senators’ or Representatives’ offices. There is a line for non-ticket holders. Depending on the number of visitors, chances are pretty good you will still be able to tour. I was highly impressed with my tour guide and all the details she imparted. While they do keep you moving, there is plenty of time to snap off a few good photos of the many statues and paintings. After the tour, continue walking around on your own. You can find the statues that represent your state. Each state is allowed two. There is also a History of Congress section which details the decisions made by Congress. FREE to tour.
Time for Lunch
Walk down Independence to Pennsylvania Ave. to We, the Pizza. Aptly named considering its location. Owned by Spike Mendelsohn, a Top Chef alum, this pizza joint features quick gourmet slices or custom-made pies. Unless you are with a group, only order the slices. They are HUGE. I tried the White slice with Ricotta and garlic and the Colletti’s Notorious BBQ slice with pulled pork and fried onions. Oh man, so delicious! Don’t forget to get one of their gourmet sodas such as the Catherine & Shirley’s Temple. There is a lunchtime special of two slices and a soda for $10.
You still have a full day of activities ahead so get a move on it.
Now you need to make a decision. Which Smithsonian Museum to tour? Depending on how quickly you walk through museums, you might be able to fit in two before they close but chances are you can do one safely. Museums are FREE to tour and open every day except Christmas.
Think about it as you take the subway from the Capitol South Metro station to the Federal Triangle station. I chose the American History Museum. Exhibits include a fabulous look at US Presidents and First Ladies. I love all the artifacts and personal bits of information the historians included that the average person may not know about the famous couples. Man, did I learn a lot? Some of the information may seem trivial to some people but I found it fascinating. There is a huge exhibit dedicated to the many wars the US participated in, on both US and foreign soil. The building is huge and houses several more exhibits which didn’t interest me but may interest you.
If the American History Museum doesn’t appeal to you, try one of the other 17 museums such as the American Art Museum, American Indian Museum, African American History Museum, Portrait Gallery or the Natural History Museum to name a few.
Museums close between 5 and 5:30 p.m. I know you are probably thinking dinner time but hold off. I have something fabulous planned for your dinner and you will want to be hungry for it. Plus those slices at We, the Pizza were filling.
We’ve packed a lot into this one day but remember you only had one day so let’s see a little bit more. No visit to Washington DC is complete without a quick view of all the big name monuments and White House.
I have a solution for you. The Circulator has a bus route that tours around all of them – the National Mall route. Woohoo! And it is super cheap. There are several stops along the National Mall to pick up bus then take stops at Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and War Memorials. You can hop on and off at each as the bus comes every 10 minutes. Don’t feel like walking around anymore? Then don’t. Ride the route and view from the bus. If you go during the summer, then it will still be daylight but if you go any other time of year, it will be dark and the monuments will be lit up. Super pretty. Snap some photos of each before ending your day. Several of the monuments have tourist and information centers; however, keep in mind the time as they may be closed.
Make your final stop at 15th Street. Walk north towards the White House, a must-see sight. Plus it is on the way to your dinner destination.
Now for dinner.
I am a huge fan of dessert. Ever consider having dessert for dinner? If so, I have the place for you. Make a reservation at Co Co. Sala. Order their 5-Course Dessert Experience! Yes! I said FIVE courses of dessert. This is why I said earlier to skip dinner. You will be full and satisfied after eating at Co Co. Sala. Start off with some bubbly which they serve with their homemade chocolates. Then order the Dessert Experience. There are 5 choices. I picked the Latin Love Affair which was all cinnamon, caramel, and chocolatey goodness.
Each experience includes a chef amuse sucre, main dessert, intermezzo, cheese plate and petit fours. I’m sure you could split the dishes but I went all out for myself. Each course was incredible. The little plates, glasses, and spoons used for some of them are so adorable. The cheese plate was huge and filling. It took me awhile to complete the whole meal as I took my time and enjoyed thoroughly with a glass of full-bodied red wine.
It is late now and I’m sure you are tired. The hostel is a quick walk up 11th St. from the restaurant. Hope you enjoyed this DC adventure.
About the Writer:
Tricia Krohn is a 40-something adventurer funding her travels with seasonal work. She writes about her journeys and ways in which to fund traveling at The Adventure List. Currently, home base is in Alaska where she spends 7 months out of the year.