Day Trip to D.C.

GUEST POSTimg_5054Day Trip to Washington D.C.
by Heidi Casper

Washington D.C. is one location you should definitely plan to visit. Surprisingly, I’d never had a desire to do so before—that is until my husband finally convinced me. It’s an easy day trip from our home.

Following are some great tips for you if you live within driving distance as we do. I think you’ll find some useful tips for your future vacation even if it will be a long-distance trip.

Travel Tips:img_5018

Tip #1 – Take the Amtrak
• Traffic around D.C. can be a nightmare.
Parking in the city is at a premium and comes at a premium price.
• Round trip tickets for our family of three, $180
Lower priced tickets may be available, but we traveled on Labor Day.
• Train travel alleviated stress
It may have cost us more to take the train, but it seemed a small expense to avoid the drive, the traffic, and the stress of finding a parking spot.
• D.C. train depot within walking distance of the National Mall
We boarded the train before 8:00 a.m. and enjoyed a leisurely two-hour trip north.
• Eight hours to explore
Our departure train was not scheduled to leave until 7:00 p.m.
• Check Amtrak Train schedules for routes from your vicinity

img_5035Tip #2 – Plan Ahead
• Visit these two links to aid your planning:
(National Park Service website for maps and current information.)
• Check Museum Hours
We missed the Botanic Garden because it closed at 5:00 p.m.

Tip #3 – Come Prepared
• Wear Good Walking Shoes
The tracking app on my phone registered over 20,000 steps on our day. It’s nearly two miles from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial, not to mention other attractions off the Mall.
• Rent a Bicycle
To save our aching feet next time we’ll rent bicycles at one of several rental businesses on the Mall.
• Bring a Backpack
Store snacks and bottled water to save you time and money.
• Buy Meals from Food Trucks
Places to eat in D.C. are expensive. We grabbed a quick lunch from a food truck. It was tasty and not too pricey. Food trucks offering a variety of cuisine lined up halfway down the Mall.

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

Tip #4 – Expect to Wait
• You can always expect long lines and wait times at big tourist attractions. The National Mall is no different. Some museums were more popular than others. We barely spent any time in the National Museum of Natural History. It was packed with children and their parents.

• The National Air and Space Museum was also popular. We decided to wade through the throng since my son and husband really wanted to see it.

• Of course, the fact that we went on Labor Day weekend contributed to the crowds. Consider holidays when you make your plans to visit. If you go during these extra busy times, expect to wait longer.

National Gallery of Art

• Security personnel searched belongings. This also added to the wait time, though not significantly.

One of the best things about visiting the National Mall is that you don’t have to shell out a bunch of money to see the sights. Fourteen museums have free admission. This list includes the National Gallery of Art (my favorite), the National Air and Space Museum (my husband and son’s favorite), the National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and many more.

It’s safe to say we only scratched the surface of Washington D.C. on our visit. We have plenty of amazing places to see on our next day trip.


Thank you, Heidi. I plan to use your helpful tips when I visit the National Mall. The Lincoln Memorial will be first on my list.

What place would you like to visit at the National Mall? Type your answer in the comments below.

Until next time…Travel Light,
© 2016 SuZan Klassen

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