Travelling to Washington D.C. soon? I have one word for you, PLAN!
On my most recent Contiki over to America we spent two nights in Washington and it left me wanting more. This city is amazingly beautiful and is easy to see why its the nations capital with its amazing sights and monuments aswell as beautiful scenery.
Arriving at our hotel at around 4pm after a visit to Arlington national Cemetery which should be high on anyone's itinerary especially if any family have a history national service, here you will the final resting places for the Kennedy's aswell as many high ranking army, marines and navy officials and of course the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The evening was spent on an Illuminations tour of many of the monuments surrounding the National Mall including The capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Reflecting pool as well as the many war memorials surrounding it. Being lead by a local radio presenter was quite insightful giving us some local history and some key facts, and if you happen to visit the Lincoln Memorial be sure to visit where Martin Luther King Jr. stood to deliver his famous speech back in 1963 which is located just outside the memorial.
The following day was a total free day on the Contiki with no optionals planned we were able to roam Washington and this is where the planning comes in to play. If you are short on time and are wanting to see as much as possible whilst in this beautiful city it is very wise to plan ahead, the National Mall from The Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial spans 3 kilometres or 1.8 miles and is home to a combined 35 memorials and museums aswell as another 15 hotspots to visit in the surrounding area.
Our day consisted of visiting the Air and Space Museum which at the time of visiting was quiet as we were able to get there just as the doors were opening in which is highly recommended as when we were leaving some 2.5 hours later it was getting busier. We then proceeded to walk to the back side of the Capitol building which is actually the front as we didn't get the chance to the night before, on our way to our next stop the Newseum we wandered into the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern which has not only a terrific menu but is also in a terrific location just off the National Mall and is also close to Nationals Park if you are looking for somewhere to have a pre match meal before taking in a game.
The Newseum was our next stop, one of the newer museums this is home to everything surrounding journalism. Seven levels that are laid out perfectly and include 15 theatres and Galleries, what was most enjoyable for me and unlike a few of the other Smithsonian, you receive a handbook upon entry guiding you through the different levels and an order as to what to move on to next and be sure to check out the great view of the Capitol building from the balcony on the 6th floor.
With not much time left before our bus took us back to the hotel, a few of the group decided to venture to the White House and the Washington Monument with two things to note. You can luck out with the White House in terms of the time of day you visit and how close you can get, as we were unable to get up close to the fence as secret service were doing a routine check of the grounds, although this did provide a fantastic view from further back. The Washington monument is a great way to finish your day around the National mall especially if you started somewhere around the Air and Space Museum or the Capitol as it gives you a great perspective for just how far you did travel throughout the day.
So over the space of 8 hours were able to get in two Smithsonian's, lunch and four hotspots/monuments which is why it is best to plan ahead when visiting Washington as it has very much left me wanting more and is high on my cities to re-visit.
Published by Jackson Mahoney