The Washington D.C. Tourist Guide
by Mónica Espitia
First things first: where are you going to stay, how are you going to move around and how much it could cost you?
How to move around?
First of all, buy a SIM card with data because is better to be connected to use Google Maps. The metropolitan area has excellent transport, so, even if you arrive at the city plain take the train: it will take you everywhere! Depending on how much are you going to move around, I strongly recommend on buying the daily pass ($14.75) or one of the weekly passes, I think the best one would be 7-day short-trip pass ($38.50) (visit: https://www.wmata.com/fares/farecard-options.cfm). You might also like to ride the scooters that lie around the city, not as mean of transport, but as a complement if you walk too much, because that could result to be expensive, and they don’t work at night as a safety precaution… but they’re cool! I would try them just for the fun of it. You can find scooters by Uber or whenever you find one you can download the app and scan the code. Don’t worry about the buses because they come and go all around Maine and around the city, you only need to be on time and check out the routes, preferably by Google Maps, because they change depending on the day of the week. If it’s late don’t wait for the bus because it could take a long time, you can find good promos with Lyft once you’re at your closest train station: go to the kiss & ride section of the stations.
Where to stay?
Just so you know, as a proud member of Couchsurfing, of course, I will always put it as the first choice: “give and take”, you guys: people will open the doors of their homes to you, you ought to be respectful and honest, give them a little present, be clean and nice. Now, if you’re not a fan, I think the best idea is to go for an Airbnboutside the city, meaning, in Maine, close to a train station. It will be much cheaper, and you will have nature all around you. D.C. can get expensive, so watch your budget on lodging. The best thing about staying with people is that you can always give them a call if something goes wrong, that is one of the many reasons I avoid staying at hostels whenever I can. It’s reassuring to have someone to call when traveling.
Because there’s a lot of museums in this city so you should plan ahead what do you want to see and what are you interested on: do you want to learn about natural, black, American, Native American history? About the Holocaust or feminism? Do you want to visit galleries? Is it your interest in history more monument like? Do you want to take books with you? Well, I will give you a full list of the places I visited and liked:
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History
National Museum of Women in the Art
The Phillips Collection
- Washington National Cathedral
S. Capitol Building
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
The White House
African American Civil War Monument
I would’ve loved to visit the Museum of African American History but it’s needed to sign in through the website, but it wasn’t working at the time I was in the city. One of the nice things about these magnificent museums if that they are all free and in order to keep both your body and pockets in good shape, always take water and provisions with you because days can be long when going from one museum or one monument to another. I have a great tip for you: visit the monuments at night: there’s hardly any people around so can actually enjoy the view and take good pictures; you will not be able to enter anywhere but you’ll see them from outside.
This is an expensive city: be careful with your budget. As I prefer not to eat outside and I’m vegan, I buy delicious veggies, fruits, nuts, and other foods at good supermarkets like Trader Joe’s or Whole foods… that’s why I prepare my own food and take it with me in food containers. I have also a most fantastic weak spot for bagels, but commonly, they come up with poor coffee, therefore, I make my own coffee and take it with me in a nice thermal container, so it lasts warm all day long.
Talk to locals! When approached with respect, people are absolutely nice in this city. Be aware of the schedules of the trains and buses, you can always ask for a map to the WMATA personnel. Don’t miss your train at night! The transport will be expensive! If you don’t seem to find the right place to eat, ask Google for ratings on restaurants. When traveling alone, download some apps to find people to meet for drinks or food if that’s your kind of thing so you have some company. Most importantly, don’t worry about your security because D.C. is a safe city, people are not allowed to carry any kind of weaponry unless they have a lot of permits and police is everywhere. But, still, be on top of things to avoid any kind of trouble.
You should never travel without health insurance to the US because in case of an emergency the ambulance service itself will cost around $1000, now imagine how much the rest could cost you, so please, be prepared. If you are traveling by Amtrak, other train services or buses in winter is better to protect your trips because a lot of trains get delayed, and they will refund and or will give you with food and another kind of coverage when and if that happens.
Plan ahead your visit, have a budget, insurance, travel, explore, and enjoy!