We are so enamored with what is going on in Washington D.C. these days that we are going to take a trip there in May.  We plan on visiting the monuments and at least the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.  We may also visit the White House to say hey to the Donald.  We will be there for 3-4 days, what other things should we do while there?

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  • The various Smithsonian museums situated around the National Mall, especially Air & Space, American History and American Art, and if you're so inclined, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (not downtown but free and fantastic)
  • National Gallery of Art & Sculpture Garden
  • Hirshhorn Museum
  • Holocaust Museum
  • National Postal Museum
  • Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

If you're into art, the Phillips Collection is also very much worth a visit. A great collection of impressionist, modern and contemporary art.

Just echoing everyone else. 

-Major Monuments (Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Vietnam Memorial)

-Smithsonian: Air&Space Museum is an absolute must; National Archives is a good quick stop; Natural History Museum is high quality if you like that sort of thing. (And I suppose American History and Art, though I was never all that impressed with that one.)

-Holocaust Museum

-National Art Gallery & Sculpture Garden is great if you like art. And well located across from the Capital. Hirschorn is also great and right there. (I also love the Phillips Collection if you have time and desire.)

-National Zoo is also one of the better ones in the country. Free and nestled in an upper-middle class residential part of the city with two nice little strips about 3-4 blocks in each direction. Quick Metro ride. 

-Probably good to walk through Georgetown (M Street) for some food/shopping/neighborhooding.  It’s nice.

-Personally, I always enjoyed the National Geographic Museum. But it is small and not free. And obviously not at the same level as the Smithsonian. 

-Assume you are going to Metro/walk virtually everywhere except maybe going out to dinner. 

Thanks, sounds like its easy to get around.  Definitely would like to walk around where good food is after each day.  I assume the Holocaust Museum is very impressive given the multiple recommendations.  It really is hard to imagine what happened with Nazi Germany, not being of age.  Needs to be remembered by all.

thistlintom posted:

Thanks, sounds like its easy to get around.  Definitely would like to walk around where good food is after each day.  I assume the Holocaust Museum is very impressive given the multiple recommendations.  It really is hard to imagine what happened with Nazi Germany, not being of age.  Needs to be remembered by all.

The Holocaust museum is extraordinary. The event is unfathomable. 

Regarding getting around and walking around at dinner time... yes, between the Metro and the feet you’re mostly all good. Georgetown has no Metro stop so you have to walk from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop or else take a cab (/uber/Lyft/etc). For walking around after or before dinner, nowhere is as nice as Georgetown but #2 is Dupont Circle. From Dupont to Farragut Square on Connecticut, and 17th to the Mall from Farragut Square, and points west, NW DC was always perfectly lovely to walk around any time of night for me. (The Mall and monuments areas are also fully safe at all hours of night and in many ways the monuments seem more majestic at night to me.)

i appreciate the information on things to see.  Also, interested on places to eat.  We are more interested in moderate places to eat, fairly casual.  We might want to eat one night at a nice place (no coat and ties please).  We are open to all types of cuisine and will be for 5 days, so can vary the eateries.

Nice: Obelisk. Was my favorite restaurant in the city. “Come however you feel comfortable” dress code. Family owned and operated 5 course pre fixe Italian with a few choices for each course. Incredibly relaxed and inviting (casual) atmosphere paired with (when I lived there) the best food in the city. 

Second choice for very nice would be Taberna del Alabardero.  No other restaurant in the U.S. I’ve been to has so closely emulated what a high end restaurant in Madrid feels like in atmosphere or what the food tastes like.

More moderately priced- Zaytinya and Jaleo. Jose Andres small plates places. Fun. Bustling. Jaleo is basically Spanish whereas Zaytinya is basically North African/Middle Eastern. Personally, I have a slight preference for Zaytinya. Neither is inexpensive, both more moderate or moderate plus once you’re done ordering all your small plates. 

Inexpensive in Arlington try Nam Viet. Excellent Vietnamese cuisine. 

Not quite as good, but still very tasty, Miss Saigon in Georgetown. I would always eat there when walking M street and in the mood for something good and inexpensive. 

Lebanese Taverna in Woodley Park was a staple of mine. Moderately priced. Nice, sleeker vibe. Exactly what it says it is. 

I love East Coast US Chinese (Chinese/American) food and with the understanding that it isn’t authentic Chinese, Meiwah always scratched that itch for me. (It is Jewish comfort food.)  Very big, very popular. I wouldn’t really go here, though, unless you have a specific hankering for Americanized Chinese food. 

We were in DC for a week last November. We stayed mainly in the District, and some of what I've written echoes what has been said above.  These were our favourite dining spots:

Our favourite restaurant there: Jaleo, part of the Jose Andres empire, very high quality tapas, remarkable hams, breads, seafood, etc, small plates. For fun, try the Liquid Olive, crazy molecular gastronomy and your mouth will never forget it. Good selection of Spanish wines, with fairly-priced Cavas. Great vibe here.

 

Zaytinya, another Jose Andres spot, this one more Middle Eastern, best— and creamiest— hummus we’ve ever had. Like Southern Mediterranean tapas. All the dips and breads excellent, really good fish dishes, nice wine selection with decent prices and some interesting selections.

 

Old Ebbitt Grill is a DC mainstay, near the White House and Treasury Building. Lots of history here and now very touristy (we came twice for lunch, once early, and left because of a 2-hour wait!), but really solid food and nice atmosphere.  If you can come after 11:00pm, excellent fresh oysters are $1 each, and with a glass of wine or good beer makes a nice light late supper. Out hotel was only  block away, so this worked out for us. Worth the experience.

 

Teaism, in Dupont Circle (they have a couple of other locations too, I think) is an inexpensive lunch spot that’s super busy for good reason; cafeteria style Asian-inspired soups and meat-and-rice dishes mainly, but also tacos, sandwiches, veggies, and salads, sounds too ambitious but everyone around us there seemed really happy with their food. We had shrimp udon noodles in a good broth, filling, hot, and cheap.

 

Sushi Taro is a tiny place by Nobu Yamazaki, with exquisite sushi and some exciting dishes. Very expensive, BUT a bit of a bargain for lunch, between $25-55 plus drinks and tip. Worth trying to get a lunch reservation if you can.

 

Centrolina, Italian restaurant and market, a fairly new spot when we went there in October but already busy. Excellent pastas and antipasti, sea bass done in a wood oven was exceptional, as was crispy skinned Amish chicken. Service very good, very friendly. PH and company brought us here for an offline, one of our best nights in DC. But even if the company hadn't been outstanding-- and even if he hadn't generously picked up the tab-- we would still have enjoyed this tremendously.

 

The one restaurant we didn’t like was Central Michel Richard, very popular and busy but we found it exceptionally noisy and uncomfortable, with French bistro-inspired food that was good but not good enough to put up with the environment there. Nice salad presentations and good rotisserie chicken, but oh, the noise volume! Too may hard surfaces echoing sound, difficult to have a conversation.

 

There are loads of good restaurants in DC. Those are the most memorable that we ate in, and I suspect fierce competition keeps most of them near the top of their game.  Also, we quite liked the bar in the historic The Willard Hotel.

 

Our favourite touristy things, in no particular order, were walking the length of The Mall, the Smithsonian Air and Space, the Holocaust, National Gallery of Art, and a nighttime tour of the monuments (there are quite a few companies that provide the latter, easy to find them and book it, very memorable).

Hope this is of some use. Great city to visit.

Many, many great suggestions above.  Wintarelli's are particularly up my alley.  Ditto the suggestions to Metro and walk as much as you can.  You'll need to purchase fare cards at any Metro station to use Metro.  You can load $$ onto the card as needed.  My daughter lives in Dupont Circle, and it is a lovely neighborhood to walk.  Much great architecture to be seen.  Night time walks among the Memorials are a great way to burn off a few calories.  There are bike share and electric scooter options if your legs get tired, and Uber and Lyft rides are everywhere.  Although you'll be too late for the cherry blossoms, a walk around the tidal basin to include visits to the MLK, FDR and Jefferson Memorials is great any time of year.

PH

Lost of good recommendations already in the food category but will add:

Rasika and Bindaas for indian food;  (both in the west end near 20-22st)

Blue Duck Tavern for Modern American (ask about the whole roasted duck) (24 &M) 

Fiola Mare to splurge on Italian themed seafood but expensive (Georgetown) 

Have heard there are some great restaurants at The Wharf including Del Mar and Officina;  https://www.wharfdc.com/restaurants/

merengue posted:

 

Rasika 

So good.  One of my more memorable meals from last year.  If you get the tasting menu, trust the server when he says the 4 course is a LOT of food. Fiancee and I fell asleep on the orange line on the way home to her parents' place because we were so full. 

csm posted:
merengue posted:

 

Rasika 

So good.  One of my more memorable meals from last year.  If you get the tasting menu, trust the server when he says the 4 course is a LOT of food. Fiancee and I fell asleep on the orange line on the way home to her parents' place because we were so full. 

I concur.  I had an outstanding meal at Rasika.

Another +1 on Rasika.  Modern Indian at its very best.  fwiw, I've had more memorable meals at Rasika West End (in Dupont) than Rasika.  And two words for you to remember.  Palak Chaat.  Seriously.  I've never been a big spinach eater, but I'd have a triple order of this stuff in a bowl for breakfast.  One of the 100 best things I've eaten in my life.

PH

Also ate dinner at Old Ebbit's Grill and had the crabcakes which were quite good.  We went to Georgetown one evening and walked around a bit which was nice and ate at Clydes.  We didn't realize that the owner of Clydes is also the owner of Old Ebbits Grill and the menus were quite similar, but that was fine.

The Holocaust museum was really well done and a bit haunting.  It's amazing how such horrible things happened in WWII.  

There were mulitple rooms in the Air and Space Museum which were closed for renovation which was disappointing, but still enjoyed the visit there.

The National Archives were well worth the visit.  It's sad how faint the Declaration of Independence is and surprising how well the Constitution is preserved in comparison.

We saw the Hope diamond and the gems and minerals portion of the Natural History museum,  a little of the American History Museum, walked by the Ford Theater, 

We did a tour of the Capitol which was good, but was hoping to see more that what they offered.  I guess its hard to do much more with all the people that come through there.

We also went to Arlington Cemetary and walked around.  We saw the changing of the guard and also a couple of wreaths laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Well worth the trip and the only time we used the Metro, which is quite clean.

It is amazing to see all the huge buildings for the various departments and also was a little surprised at the size of the monuments.  I particularly liked the Korean Veterans Memorial, with the statues of the soldiers walking in the ground cover and the wall with the picture etchings.  I was a bit surprised at the distance between the monuments, but definitely walkable.

During the week, there were so many buses with kids but much different on Saturday.  I was surprised that they had some kids which had to be in middle school there, I am not sure how much they would take away from the visit.  There were also more foreigners there than I expected, which I thought was good.

All in all it was a good trip, but my feet are recovering from all the walking.

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