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Could you use a getaway? If so, consider booking your next weekend trip to Washington, DC. It’s a place unlike any other. Washington, DC, is a city full of history and patriotism and filled with unique energy!
Visiting places like Arlington National Cemetery, the Capitol Building, and the Lincoln Memorial is something every American and tourist should experience at least once.
Lovers of art and museums will adore the many incredible places to check out. Plus, most are free! My favorites are the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art.
Washington, DC, is a vibrant city filled with American history and makes for the perfect weekend trip.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your weekend in Washington, DC.
Plan Your Weekend in DC
When planning your weekend in Washington, DC, you first want to decide how many days you have to take off from work. Take a Friday or a Monday off for an epic trip with minimal time away.
Leave your city on a Friday morning and fly back on either Sunday night or Monday morning. Either choice will give you plenty of time to spend exploring DC!
For working professionals, weekend travel presents a refreshing escape from the weekly grind and an opportunity to recharge.
It’s a chance to break free from the monotony of everyday life and discover new places, cultures, and experiences – all within a few days. Besides, it doesn’t require taking a chunk of valuable vacation time, meaning you can explore more frequently throughout the year.
For example, visiting a city like Washington, DC, can provide a perfect mix of historical exploration, cultural immersion, and delicious culinary experiences.
Weekend travel serves not just as a recess but also as a chance to gain new perspectives, which can, in turn, contribute to personal growth and improved performance at work.
Save those PTO days for extra adventures, my friend!
The Best Time to Visit Washington, DC
If you’re planning a trip to Washington, DC, the best time to visit is spring, specifically from mid-March to June. The weather is also pleasantly mild in spring, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities.
It’s important to note that tourist crowds peak in late March and early April due to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. However, you can avoid the crowds by visiting the city’s monuments early in the morning or late in the evening.
The fall, from September to November, is another excellent time to visit, with vibrant autumn foliage and fewer tourists. Regardless of when you decide to go, Washington, DC’s rich history will give you a memorable experience year-round.
How to Get to Washington, DC
Washington, DC, is a convenient place to visit because there are three major airports that you can fly into. Multiple airports will help save money, too, because you can shop around for the best prices and lowest airfare.
You have a few different options when it comes to booking your flights.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
Typically, I fly into Ronald Regan as it’s the closest and most conveniently located of the three options to Downtown DC.
You can usually jump on the Metro from Reagan and ride it directly to your hotel. I also love flying into Reagan because you can see the Washington Monument and National Mall from the plane.
You’ll always remember seeing these for the first time from the sky.
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Dulles is twenty-six miles West of Downtown DC, so it takes longer to get to and from. However, if the price is right, absolutely book the airfare!
The more money you save on flights, the more you have to splurge on hotels and restaurants during your weekend in Washington, DC.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
Flying from Texas, I have found affordable prices flying into and out of BWI. This airport is thirty-two miles Northeast of Washington, DC.
You can ride the MARK, and Amtrak trains from Union Station to the airport, making it another convenient option when booking airfare to visit DC.
Book flights for your Washington DC trip on Booking.com
I have flown into all three airports at one point or another. If I had to choose the most convenient option, fly to DCA.
The great thing about planning your Washington, DC, itinerary is that you have options. You can fly into DC at one airport and fly home from a different airport.
Whatever way it works out for the best flight times and prices is the way to go!
Getting Around Washington DC
The best way to get around during your Washington DC travel is by foot or train. Whether you’re planning to visit the White House or explore other areas, everything is within walking distance of a Metro station.
You can purchase a SmarTrip card from one of the Metro Station kiosks and reload it as needed.
One thing I love about this city is that a rental car is unnecessary. Avoiding a rental car and taking the Metro during your trip saves you money, and being in an active and walkable city is exciting!
If you have an existing SmarTrip card, pack it with you! If not, be sure to keep your new card at the end of your trip.
When you’re ready for your next weekend trip to Washington, DC, you can load your card on your cell phone through your Apple Wallet.
For more information about the Washington Metro, go to wmata.com.
Best Area to Stay in Washington DC
There are so many unique neighborhoods to stay in in Washington, DC. I have three favorites and two additional areas I enjoy staying in. Starting with the favorites first:
Dupont Circle is a popular residential neighborhood. Don’t let the residential part fool you because Dupont Circle is bursting with energy!
You will have everything you need from bars, bookstores, coffee shops, and restaurants just a short walk away. Dupont Circle is my favorite area to stay when visiting Washington, DC.
Georgetown is a charming neighborhood with character and cobblestone streets. This area is upscale, with fine dining and great shopping.
Whether you decide to stay here or not, make at least a half-day trip to visit. If you feel like splurging, hotels in this area include the Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, and Rosewood Washington DC.
NoMa stands for located North of Massachusetts Avenue. This area is being redeveloped and offers a lot of popular restaurants like St. Anselm, a favorite of mine.
If you stay in this neighborhood, check out The Morrow Washington DC Curio Collection by Hilton. Everything you need, like the Metro station and grocery store, is just a short walk away. I stayed here on my most recent visit to DC and would stay here again!
The Wharf is a waterfront neighborhood with unique hotels such as the boutique hotel, Pendry Washington DC – The Wharf. During my most recent weekend in Washington, DC, I visited The Pendry’s rooftop bar, and the views at sunset were stunning!
If you want to be near the water, this area is the place for you! If you plan on attending a Washington Nationals baseball game, this is the top property I would choose. You’ll also be within walking distance of the ballpark.
Bethesda is just Northwest of Washington, DC. You may have heard it before because it is the headquarters of Marriott International and the NIH National Institutes of Health.
I’ve stayed at the Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ and loved it. It’s a short walk to the metro station, making it easy to get to Downtown DC.
While it will take longer to get back to your hotel after a day of exploring, it is a much quieter area to stay in. There is excellent shopping and delicious food within walking distance of the hotel.
Best Places to Stay in Washington DC
No matter how many days you spend in Washington, DC, you want a comfortable stay. I always say that if I leave the comfort of my home, then accommodations need to be the same or better. Otherwise, why leave our comfortable beds?
Opting to stay in a luxury hotel for a weekend getaway elevates the entire vacation experience and provides a sense of relaxation after a long day of exploring.
Leaving the comfort of home for a luxe hotel stay during a weekend getaway can provide a much-needed break from routine and reenergize us for the week ahead.
Here are a few of my favorite hotels for a weekend in Washington, DC.
Conrad Washington DC
The Conrad Washington DC is part of the Hilton family of hotels. This property exudes an atmosphere of an art-forward approach to contemporary luxury. The Conrad is in Downtown DC at CityCenter.
Address: 950 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
The Dupont Circle Hotel
The Dupont Circle Hotel has a vibrant and energetic atmosphere. Located in the eclectic neighborhood of Dupont Circle, this is a top hotel choice in a fantastic location.
Address: 1500 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Lyle Washington DC
Also located in Dupont Circle, The Lyle Hotel offers relaxed luxury rooms and one of the best weekend brunches I’ve had. The Lyle also has a great bar perfect for a drink in between exploring all DC offers.
Address: 1731 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
Restaurants to Try in Washington, DC
Washington, DC, has one of the most incredible food scenes, with excellent restaurants at every turn. Seriously, some of the most delicious food you will ever eat!
If you’re looking for one of the best foodie cities in America, you will find it by visiting DC.
Here are my top recommendations for restaurants to add to your weekend itinerary:
Sababa is one of the best culinary experiences I’ve had. Not just in Washington, DC, but ever!
This restaurant serves a modern Israeli menu with distinct flavors of the Middle East and Mediterranean. Sababa offers small plates for sharing, allowing you to try more of the menu.
You want to order various items, and be sure to order the Salatim. It’s a selection of their hummus dips with pita and is so flavorful you’ll want to fly to DC next weekend to have it again!
The small plates include the most incredible vegetables. You have to taste for yourself how remarkably delicious the broccoli is. Who goes on vacation and dreams of eating broccoli? Before Sababa, not me!
Usually, I eat much differently and less healthy on vacation than at home. However, a perk to having dinner at Sababa is that the food is delicious and nutritious!
If you can only eat at one restaurant during a weekend in DC, Sababa needs to be it!
Address: 3311 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Lapis is a modern Afghan restaurant with some of the best food Washington, DC, offers. Here you will find the best french fries! It might be weird to read about ordering fries at an Afghan Bistro. Especially with how many delicious items Lapis serves but trust me!
The fries with harissa aioli are incredible! You will want one order of fries for each person in your party. I ordered the Kofta for dinner, and it was vibrant and flavorful. I’ve also eaten the kabobs and highly recommend those too.
Address: 1847 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009
The Hamilton is a must when visiting DC. It’s part of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, which operates 10+ restaurants in the Washington Metro area. Located steps away from the White House, The Hamilton is a Washington, DC staple.
Named after Alexander Hamilton, this restaurant is an excellent gathering place. With signature cocktails and a diverse menu, you will find something you’ll love. I eat here each time I visit Washington, DC, and it’s become somewhat of a tradition.
Address: 600 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Old Ebbitt Grill
Like The Hamilton, Old Ebbitt Grill is also a part of Clyde’s Restaurant Group and is just steps from the White House. The Old Ebbitt Grill is Washington, DC’s oldest saloon, established in 1856.
Once you enter the revolving doors, you will take in the sights of stunning Victorian decor. The Victorian decorations include an antique clock, a mahogany main bar, and a marble staircase with an iron-spindled rail, to name a few.
Regarding food, Old Ebbitt Grill needs to be at the top of your DC itinerary! The diverse menu has everything from oysters to pasta and steaks.
I had the crab and artichoke dip as an appetizer and steak frites with a Caesar salad as my main dish. Everything was delicious, but it’s the dessert you must visit Old Ebbitt Grill for.
The staff suggested the salted caramel bread pudding, and let me tell you, that dessert was worth the entire trip alone! It’s a must!
Address: 675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Filomena Ristorante needs to be on your Washington, DC, travel itinerary. It’s located in Georgetown and has been around for over thirty years!
After you eat here, you will understand why this restaurant has stood the test of time. With her family originally from the Abruzzi region of Italy, Filomena (the owner) grew up with traditional Italian cooking all around her.
This dedication to authentic decor and excellent food makes this restaurant a must-visit place that needs to be on your DC itinerary.
Address: 1063 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
St. Anslem is within walking distance from The Morrow Hotel, the property I stayed in during my most recent visit to Washington, DC. We stopped in for a light bite before heading to the airport on the last day of our trip.
It’s an American tavern serving salads, sandwiches, and steaks. We had the most incredible buttermilk biscuits with pimento cheese as an appetizer and the cheeseburger as our main item.
Address: 1250 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Le Diplomate is a French cafe in the heart of Washington, DC. If you love French staples like Croque-Madame and as much bread and butter as your heart desires, you will love having brunch at Le Diplomate.
There is a reason that Le Diplomate has over 5,700 highly rated Google reviews – the food and service are incredible. They have indoor and outdoor seating, and it’s best to make a reservation for brunch in advance.
Address: 1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Call Your Mother
Call Your Mother is a neighborhood bagel shop and deli with multiple locations throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. I’ve eaten at both Georgetown and Logan Circle locations, which are great!
You can order the Sun City or The Royal Palm, as I’ve had both and can confirm they are fantastic. If you want to eat somewhere and get back to your DC itinerary quickly, add Call Your Mother to your list of breakfast spots!
Find multiple locations on their website: CallYourMotherDeli.com.
Drinks at the Pendry Hotel
The Pendry Hotel opened in 2022 and has a fantastic rooftop bar called Moonraker. If you want to take in the panoramic waterfront views while enjoying your cocktail, this is the place for you!
They have a Japanese-inspired menu of light bites, and it is a great place to stop for appetizers and cocktails before walking to a Washington Nationals baseball game.
Address: 655 Water St SW, Washington, DC 20024
Washington DC Landmarks
Washington, DC, is home to 75 National Historic Landmarks. These landmarks not only educate and inspire, but they also provide a sense of connection to the past, emphasizing the enduring spirit of the nation.
So, if you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or a curious traveler, Washington DC’s national landmarks should be on your must-visit list.
To get the most out of your time, start with waking up at sunrise and walking the National Mall. It stretches over 2 miles and is home to many iconic monuments. Even a 20-minute stroll will allow you to check multiple landmarks off your list.
The Capitol Building, crowned by a magnificent white dome, overlooks the city of Washington. It has become a widely recognized icon of the American people and government. President George Washington selected the US Capitol design in 1793, and construction began shortly after that.
Inspired by the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, the Lincoln Memorial is a must-visit Washington, DC landmark. The Lincoln Memorial is also one of the best photo locations in all of DC. And if you like to exercise, bring your running shoes as there are always many folks running the stairs up to the Memorial each morning.
The White House
The White House may be the most known as it’s the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. The site of the White House was selected in 1791 by the first president, George Washington, and after eight years of construction, it was complete.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial honors America’s founding father and primary author of the Declaration of Independence. Surrounded by water, the structure is on the National Mall’s Tidal Basin. The Memorial stands in a straight line with the White House and is a popular focal point for photographers during the national cherry blossom festival.
The obelisk that is the Washington Monument is one of the most recognizable and famous Washington DC landmarks. It was built to commemorate George Washington and stands over 500 feet tall.
Things to Do in Washington DC
Washington, DC, is a vibrant place with historical significance and is the hub of numerous iconic landmarks.
A stroll down the National Mall, a visit to one of the 21 Smithsonian museums and galleries, or a bike ride by the Potomac River provides enriching activities for history buffs, culture enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike.
There is so much to explore in DC!
Here are 15 of the top things to do in Washington, DC:
- Visit the National Mall, the heart of Washington, DC, where you can marvel at the majestic monuments and memorials.
- Explore the Smithsonian Museums. They’re free and offer a wealth of knowledge spanning various fields.
- Take a tour of the US Capitol, the home of the US Congress.
- Pay your respects at the Arlington National Cemetery.
- Wander through Georgetown, a charming, historic neighborhood with beautiful architecture.
- Visit the National Gallery of Art to appease your inner art lover.
- Enjoy the serenity at the US Botanic Garden.
- Step into history at the Library of Congress, the most extensive library in the world.
- Visit the Lincoln Memorial – it’s even more impressive in person!
- Stroll along the Tidal Basin, especially during the Cherry Blossom season.
- Catch a show at the Kennedy Center.
- Root for the home team with a baseball game at Nationals Park – it’s not just about the sport, but a celebration of community spirit.
- Visit the National Zoo – it’s free and home to giant pandas!
- Check out the National Air and Space Museum if you’re fascinated by aviation and space exploration.
- Finally, don’t miss the White House, the iconic symbol of Washington, DC, and the USA.
How Many Days Do You Need in Washington, DC?
You should spend three days in Washington, DC, which is the perfect amount of time—arriving first thing Friday morning and leaving on the last flight on Sunday night for two nights and almost three full days.
This city is compact and navigable, meaning you can fit in many activities without feeling rushed.
Washington, DC Weekend Itinerary
Here are a few tips to help you plan your ultimate Washington, DC, weekend itinerary:
- Prioritize significant attractions, including the National Mall, The National Gallery of Art, and The National Portrait Gallery.
- Make dinner reservations in advance to ensure a seamless vacation experience, allowing you to dine where you wish without the hassle of long waits.
- Always factor in travel times between locations and account for potential crowds at popular landmarks.
My exact three days in Washington, DC itinerary:
Friday – Day 1:
- ✈️ Depart DAL at 7:10 am
- ✈️ Land DCA at 11:05 am
- 🏩 Check into the hotel
- 🍝 Lunch at Filomena Restorante
- 🚶🏻♀️ Walk around Georgetown
- 🧁 Visit Georgetown Cupcake
- 🛍️ Check out the boutique shops
- 🍴 7:30 pm dinner at Sababa
- 🍸 10:00 pm Drinks at DuPont Circle Hotel
Saturday – Day 2:
- 🍳 9:30 am breakfast at Le Diplomate
- ☕️ Coffee at Compass Coffee
- 🎨 Visit the National Gallery of Art
- ⚾️ 4:05 pm Nationals Game
- 🍺 Happy hour at the Pendry Hotel
- 🚶🏻♀️ Walk around The Wharf waterfront neighborhood
- 🍜 8:00 pm Dinner at The Hamilton
Sunday – Day 3:
- 🏛️ Walk the National Mall at sunrise
- 🥯 Breakfast at Call Your Mother
- 👩🏻🎨 Visit the National Portrait Gallery
- 🥗 Late Lunch at St. Anslem
- 🛅 Be at the airport by 4:30 pm
- ✈️ Depart DCA at 6:10 pm
- ✈️ Land DAL at 8:15 pm
A weekend trip to Washington, DC, is the perfect blend of history, cuisine, and culture. Even after seven-weekend trips to DC, it’s a city I never tire of.
Whether you take a day trip or spend three days in Washington, DC, there is something for you to enjoy and explore.
From seeing the White House in person for the first time or visiting the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, you will fall in love with everything Washington, DC offers!