Washington DC Travel Tips: 10 Things to Know Before You Go to DC

Washington DC Travel Tips: 10 Things to Know Before You Go to DC


100 thoughts on “Washington DC Travel Tips: 10 Things to Know Before You Go to DC

  1. I live in Arlington and think this video offers some really good tips! Here are some extras:
    Museums: The Newseum is an incredibly well done museum. The name sounds boring to me, but it's far from boring. Teens and adults will definitely enjoy this one! You can spend half a day here. I've been a few times and sometimes you can find discounted tix on Groupon or Living Social. The Arlington National Cemetery including the Kennedy grave site, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Arlington House are sites you should try to visit. Bring water and snacks to the cemetery and anticipate a lot of walking. https://www.arlingtontours.com/ offers a paid hop on – hop off service that will save you walking and trekking up the hills.
    Travel: Capital Bikeshare bikes are easily adjustable to the rider and an awesome way to get around! Download their app to locate the different bike stations to plan your trip; there are a lot of stations and every METRO station has one too. They don't provide helmets, so you have to bring your own or assume the risk. There are a lot of great bike trails and paths in DC, Arlington, and the connecting bridges, just be cautious driving on the roads. If you're not looking for a healthy travel option, Uber and Lyft are very easy to use.
    Government tours: Visit the Capitol Building and don't miss the National Library of Congress. It's free and a beautiful building to visit. Next door is the U.S. Supreme Court which can also be toured. If you will be in town when the Court is in session, try to schedule a visit to listen to an argument. You will hear history in the making and get to see all of the Justices.
    Safety and Parking: If you stay in touristy areas, you should definitely be safe. There are plenty of police and they are helpful resources if you're lost or need help. Arlington and Alexandria are incredibly safe! Keep your phone close and eyes up; be aware of your surroundings. Don't park illegally or you'll get ticketed or towed; on some streets Sundays and evenings are free. Garages are often your best bet when in downtown D.C. The homeless have incredible resources available to them, such as shelter, food, clothing, employment support, and medical care. Don't feel bad about not contributing to their panhandling, which is often supporting alcoholism or drug dependence. The best advice is to not engage them at all, or politely say you don't have any money and keep walking. The weather fluctuates, so plan accordingly.
    Enjoy your trip to the DC area! It should be a blast!

  2. Thx for this more helpful than ANY other video! I am going in November, anyone have any tips for that time of year? Thx!

  3. You missed the mark on eating in DC. You would do better if you pair with a DC native. There are many restaurants that serve way better food than those national chains you mentioned.

  4. BWI is a fine airport to come into DC, I find the flights there are cheaper. $11-15 will get you a 30min Amtrak straight to Union Station.

  5. If you are not from a city or street smart, I would suggest staying to Downtown, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, and Upper NW. Southwest is mainly government buildings and project neighborhoods. Southeast is notorious for being gangsta (other than the Capitol Hill section)…travel with caution in SE.

  6. Lived and worked there for years. Was all with you until you brought up Potbelly, aweful. There is an awesome Chinese of PA Ave near Capitol Hill.

  7. Where is good to eat in the district? We are going with an 3 year old and 6month old and are from Birmingham in the Uk!

  8. If you're watching this in 2019, you MUST go to The Newseum THIS year! It's closing at the end of 2019 because the building was sold, and there are no certain plans to move it to another building. So it might not be back in a while, or ever. Of all the things in DC, it was my absolute favorite. Also, the Crystal City area is great place to stay. Not too far, cheaper, there's even some great places to eat and a Target not too far away.

  9. Also, the road grid he explained is ONLY for DC itself The state-named Avenues run DIAGONALLY between the traffic circles(Roundabouts to those of you in the UK)
    The circles are not like the British roundabouts. You can't keep going around while you figure it out, you NEED TO know which lane you need to be in when you enter the circle. The signs could be better.

    Arlington uses a DIFFERENT system Not many traffic circles there.
    East of US 50 Arlington Boulevard is South Arlington West of Route 50 is North Arlington

    US 50 is marked east and west, but after driving it every day for a couple of years in the 1990s the truth is the sun rises in the East and sets in the West It was to my right going to work at 6:30 in the morning and coming home at 4:00 PM it is to my right also.

    In Arlington also the numbered streets advance south from the river. the numbered roads are the half blocks

    Example ( I actually sat there with a printed map and did this before GPS):

    253 South 23rd St Arlington,
    Find the northern most point in Arlington where the numbered streets start

    Count 23 blocks south. Then go east of Arlington Boulevard to the 200 block.

    Also in Alexandria the odd-even sides of the street flip when you cross the intersection of King and Washington. the "royal named" streets in Alexandria were originally intended to be the major through streets east and west, turned out only King and Princess streets ended up that way.
    Tourists may need to look to the west end to find affordable lodging, but likely would not go there otherwise

    But if you DO have to go there the streets were originally supposed to be named after Confederate Generals but the city grew more dense than it was ever supposed to and they ran out They started using later Generals hence Eisenhower Avenue and Patton street then they realized that was a short term solution and abandoned that idea but didn't re-name any streets

    Also. Every Virginia locality in the DC area requires it's taxis to be metered. DC does not use metered taxis They have that bizarre zone system that was made to confuse outsiders. So, if you take a conventional Taxi take a close look at the vehicle and make sure that the license plate is a Virginia plate beginning in the letter H

  10. The local "subway" system is referred to as Metro because particularly once you get outside DC itself most of it is above ground.

    Also while EATING on the Metro is subject to a fine, you CAN vomit your guts out for free!

    People used to underground systems have reported motion sickness on the above ground parts of the system.

  11. Actually National Airport is only accessible from Virginia but it's actually in DC. Most rivers the state line runs down the MIDDLE of the river, but the Potomac is different. the State line runs down the 100 year high water mark on the Virginia side. Once you put in all the modern flood control most of the land National Airport is built on is reclaimed from the river. it IS therefore below the 100 year high water mark, placing it in the District of Columbia. Some maps miss it, and a lot of people don't see the sign coming off the George Washington Parkway, but the "Welcome to Washington DC" sign IS there!

  12. Worth knowing:
    Dulles Airport is closer to the Technology Corridor!
    National could fit entirely within Dulles without hanging over
    When the weather is bad enough to be total IFR National only has ONE full IFR runway, So it becomes a one-runway wonder under IFR conditions. Dulles has 4 runways there is talk of building a 5th.
    The Concorde landed at Dulles It could not fly into National.

    No wide bodies at National

    Metro is actually under construction to Dulles.

    If you are going anywhere in Virginia except right in Arlington Alexandria, Falls Church or Northeastern Fairfax County Even once you get to Ft Belvoir although National is closer, the whole system is so FUBAR that the travel time is a wash! By the time you get to Woodbridge or Burke Dulles is quicker Farther, but quicker!!

  13. One of your best tips was the last tips: walking along the metro line route. That’s kind of a brilliant idea!

  14. Thanks for the information. This was really helpful and let me tell you that you've got good energy or vibe. Thanks from a Chilean visiting DC soon.

  15. One thing I noticed immediately when I went to dc this past weekend for a day was that because most of the buildings are so low compared to nyc(a city that I'm right next to) is that you can see the sky so much more and it makes going on walks more enjoyable to see open sky with landmarks sprinkled in the distance

  16. One third of the population is on welfare, another third is on drugs and the final third are all in mental hospitals.

  17. I don't wanna miss the Spy Museum next time I go there and a little visit to the Wharf, where all that seafood awaiting (yummy!).

  18. Thx so much for your informative video … I‘ll be going in the end of June 2019 to Washington D.C. for 5 days and totally looking forward to see the places that you‘ve mentioned! ??

  19. Thank you. I am thinking of visiting the DC area and this video gave me a better idea on how to plan visit.

  20. Moby Dick is great. You should mention that DC is one of the worst tourism destinations. Metro is filthy, the whole city is filthy, I have seen garbage on the floor near the white house, on K st. and lots of other places. DC has many many weird looking African Americans and boy do they look scary. Also there are barley any restaurants in the city, and when you do find restaurants then food choices are very limited. It is one of the most horrible cities that I have ever visited in the world. Filthy and discussing filled with weird people drug addict looking people (white and Afro American). Also the city is filled with homeless people, very very bad for a city that wants to attract tourists. My advice never come to this discussing place. Also lets say that you are a tourist and you stay at Dupont Circle, what if you need a supermarket to buy toothpaste, you wont find one un 10km ! Lets say you wanna walk back to the hotel at night after you had dinner, you can't because you will be the only one walking down the street someone will mug you. The whole city is a piece of shit (with all due respect). This city is not capable of being a comparison with one just one of London's streets.

  21. Thanks for the vid it wasn’t really what I was looking for but very informative none the less. I enjoyed it, thumbs up.

  22. Great video and very informative! I have a question regarding filming there. Did you need a permit to shoot this video? I'm planning on going there to shoot some video. Any information you have is appreciated!

  23. Great video. I lived in the NOVA area near The District for many years. Great advice and you really hit the nail on the head. Food changes constantly though (restaurants open and close here on a monthly basis) so check Google and make website checks. Uber isn't too bad here and the Metro really is the key to getting around if you are able. Awesome video. Have fun DC travelers!

  24. I would also recommend old town Alexandria and the Wharf as places to check out. Both on the waterfront but complete opposites as old town is historic and the wharf has been built up recently and has music venues, fish markets, bars/restaurants. Also the water taxi could be another cool option to get to these places( although I’ve lived here my whole life and have never taken it lol)

  25. very interesting to know, can you update 2019 tours? I live here most of my life, I have not been down since the last 10 yrs, even though I work there, anyhow I have my family to visit is there soon any more suggestion? thank you so much

  26. I've been to DC more than 3 dozen times. There are more things to talk about in DC. If you are a lover of architecture, do what I have done a few times. I got into neighborhoods… and I walk neighborhoods. The brownstones have all sorts of different looks to them. Some of the neighborhoods like Dupont Circle have a lot of dignitary homes and some of the more inwards streets house some very expensive gated homes. The National Zoo was not mentioned. The National Zoo houses the best gorillas and the best Giant Pandas… Every year there are many festivals, marathons, etc. I go annually to the National Bookfest at the Walter E Washington Convention center. Places to visit in DC can include a hundred or more different statues… there is a flea market on Saturdays I believe and that's small but is very funky and different. There is a Franciscan Monastery where you can see the bones of a saint. And you can go into the "catacombs". That's not far from Obama's house. I can recommend a million things. There is a bus pass (tourist bus) where you can get on and off wherever you want. He didn't mention that. You can stay somewhere for 10 min and hope on another or you can stay two hours and take another with this pass. There are river cruises. You can visit the JFK center of the Arts and you can visit and shop inside the famed Watergate hotel. You can see the famous "exorcist" steps (these are difficult to find; it's up near Georgetown University I believe. There is a really nice looking mall inside buried… in Georgetown. It's very very pretty at Christmas. You can visit Arlington National Cemetery and see the grave of JFk and other famous people… and you can see the Iwo Jima famed statue (raising the flag). That is in Arlington. Memorials abound. Each branch of the military has it's own memorial as to the Police, CIA etc. You used to be able to tour the FBI but I don't think so anymore. You can also go and actually see a Supreme court in session…I have seen Clarence Thomas in the hall… You can tour the White House but that's one of the worst tours. There is the National Portrait Museum, the Natural History and American History Museums. I love those you can see Ruby Slippers, Lincoln's Top hat, Kermit the Frog. Air and Space museum is massive and free. There is the new African American museum (one I haven't seen yet), the Native American museum is attractive, there are a LOT of art museum. They are all nice to visit. I've been to all. The one museum I did not like in the least was the National Building Museum and the National Geographic Museum. Those cost money and I don't even think they were worth 5 dollars to see. The Spy museum does cost money but it's a pretty neat place. Skip Madam Tussauds – it's an expensive worn out tourist trap. Nobody mentions the Arboretum. Nice for a jog and the ruins are cool. The Ford's Theatre is small and will go through fast and they didn't tell us there was more to see so inside 15 min we were done… so be careful there. As for the Bureau of Engraving and printing…. this is a veritable nightmare. You literally need to be there between 3 and 5 am to get tickets and they are ONLY open on week days. I have yet to be in there… because I got there at 6 am and paid 20 dollars (steeply discounted rate I was told) and they were out of tickets. There is a Holocaust museum. That is sobering…OMG I also did a couple weekends up there JUST going to find all the Embassies. I did an Embassy project and tried to locate them all and take photos. If anyone needs help in DC i can help you as I've been so many times. In fact, I just came from there today but this time I went to a concert at Wolftrap and stayed actually in Tyson… I have stayed in all the areas. You could spent months in DC living there to see it all. There is that much to do there. We are headed up there again end of next month and planning to do something more unusual and go snooping around to find the abandones original stones of the White House which they said were dumped in a park. Oh and don't there is botanical garden… and you can go into Library of Congress and see Declaration of Independence (or closest thing to it). You can (this is another project in my future) look yourself or a loved one up for a genealogy project. If my name shows, message me in facebook anytime. I love helping. Oh and I have advice if you are traveling by car. Lots of one way streets and traffic circles and it's a nightmare. Lots of valet only parking – one time added 60 dollars to my hotel bill. Yeah, it's expensive. Hope this long thing helped. Have fun.

  27. If I stay in a more affordable hotel for a week in Virginia, is it pretty simple and fast to get to DC everyday? If I don’t have my own car?

  28. I'm a fan of Dan Brown's. I'm traveling there this November.
    Thank you for all the useful information. : )

  29. I was in DC four years ago from Canada and I love it.
    I love all the museums and historical.
    This time I want to see more like the Wax, Spy , Holocaust and Native museums.

  30. Native Washingtonians refer to Washington DC as DC only. Also bring your golf clubs there are two/ three golf courses in DC; Langston Golf Course is a nice one. For good food go to Adams Morgan, Brookland/ Catholic University in NE DC ; also try H St NE. Some grocery stores serve hot meals. Plus DC has 3 Walmarts: H St NE, GA. Ave NE and Riggs Rd NE. Finally the best place for pizza is “& Pizza” various locations so google them( no I don’t work there).

  31. DO NOT Drive in DC at all as a tourist. Always take Public Transportation( cheapest), Uber/Lyft, Taxi. Don’t be afraid to ask locals where to eat and shop. At Rhode Island Ave Metro stop there’s places to eat( Carolina Kitchen, Dunkin Donuts, Smoothie King) and to shop( Ross).

  32. Also do online search for DC Parks and Recreation because you may find swimming pools and neighborhood parks to play and relax. The National Cathedral(small fee) and The Shrine both have tours. Abolitionist, Fredrick Douglas’ Home is great place to visit, as well

  33. Very informative. Myself and another co worker are looking to book a vacation to the district. I have bookmarked this video

  34. Whew THANK YOU for this! I'm currently in Alexandria, VA with the family on our first DC trip. Our Airbnb is awesome, right on North Washington and close to everything. There's a Trader Joe's right across the street from us and what they don't have, Harris Teeter, just around the corner does. Wish I would have known to bring our dog lol! A local stopped us on King Street to ask where we were from, he told us he knew we weren't local because we 1: didn't have a dog and 2: weren't carrying reusable shopping bags lol.

    As of today, September 5, 2019, the Metro isn't running in our area. It's supposed to be back up within a few days but we will be gone. Driving around DC is AWFUL. And scary. $200 seems to be the average price of a PARKING TICKET ?. Heaven help you if you make a left turn out of a parking garage… Our Airbnb came with a parking spot but my minivan is almost too big for the little lot. Alexandria is certainly the town of tiny roads.

    The Smithsonian Museums have all been awesome except for the Native American History Museum. 4 stories of guilt trips had me wanting to drown myself in the fountain outside. That was the one I was most looking forward to as well! I have a minor in Archaeology, specifically non-western cultures; which is where historians have placed Native American History. I was so extremely dissapointed that so much was dedicated to the ugly history between white European settlers and the Native Americans and very very little spent on educating the public on how absolutely AMAZING each individual culture is. Some got their own little corner of a space with some traditional garb and a few artifacts. Nothing on all the technological advancements those cultures had made without the tools and tech from the European countries.

    My children (17, 10, and 9 years old) loved the Air and Space museum by the Dulles airport. The one in DC is really cool too AND that museum has the Spirit of St. Louis in it. In case you're wondering.

    I would not recommend the Torpedo Factory for families with small children. The day we went the artists present had a lot of art dedicated to human anatomy ??‍♀️. Specifically genitalia… I so desperately wanted to see the archaeology display but we only made it to the second floor and had to turn around ?

    I'm so happy you mentioned other areas of DC to visit besides the National Mall! I've had the most fun on our trip visiting the little museums around Alexandria. The Apothecary and Gatsby's Tavern are SO much fun!!! Our guide at the Apothecary was a retired chemist and shared sooooo much interesting info with our group.

    I think I could walk around Alexandria for weeks and not get bored. Well, once I had my dog of course ?

  35. Great video! You offered some excellent tips. We will arrive on September 17. I can not wait to explore what DC has to offer.

  36. Are there any affordable good food araound worldbank building?
    Im going to take course in there for two weeks this november.
    Do i need warm jacket or something because of weather?
    Im from Indonesia. And its almost summer the whole year

  37. Spot on video. If you're looking for location-specific food options, here's a map of good eats in D.C. Curated by D.C. native Food Nerds: https://goo.gl/maps/emK7NHW4qRcg9hip8

  38. Great video like always. Chris, you have been very helpful. I and my wife always plan our trips with the help of your videos. Thank you very much for your work. Love from Indians in China 🙂

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