More people are traveling to Washington, DC than ever before. In fact, the US capital received 18.5 million visitors in 2012 and that number is expected to reach 20.3 million in 2016, according to data from Washington, DC Meetings.
Whether it’s for business or pleasure, there’s more to this city than the three political branches of government. DC has hundreds of attractions and activities, over 1,000 restaurants and 145 hotels to stay.
On a recent business trip to DC for an event at the National Press Club, I extended my visit to see what DC has to offer (of course, always check times, tickets and requirements before visiting any place). If you’re looking for things to do in Washington, DC, consider these ideas.
Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C.
You have many breakfast options in DC, but Founding Farmers celebrates the American farmer as well as local and organic sourcing as much as possible. The restaurant is also LEED Gold certified for its efficient and environmentally friendly elements, such as lighting, heating, air conditioning, water use and other building systems. The restaurant is rustic in design with reclaimed woods. And the kitchen caters to special requests, such as dairy-free cooking.
The White House
If you can plan ahead, a tour of the White House through the East Wing is worth your time. This is a self-guided tour that takes in much of the home’s entertainment space, including the State Dining Room; the red, blue and green rooms; and the China Room. The tour lasts approximately 30 minutes, but you should allow extra time to cross the entry line which operates at limited times. Tours are arranged through your congressman’s office and you must submit a request up to six months in advance and at least 21 days. International visitors are encouraged to contact their embassy in Washington, DC to submit a visit request.
Spy Museum in Washington, DC
If you love spy history and spy movies, the International Spy Museum may be for you and/or your family while visiting DC. The self-guided tour begins with the choice of a new identity before starting to browse the various exhibitions of the museum. You’ll learn the secrets of espionage through the 20th century Bond films, as well as the challenges facing the 21st century.
Hard Rock Cafe DC
If you’re visiting for the day, chances are you’ll be in the heart of the city. The DC location is known as the “Embassy of Rock and Roll”. Located near the Ford Theatre, it has great background music, plasma screens and a perfect place to just have lunch.
National Mall in Washington, D.C.
This is probably the most visited district of the capital. The National Mall stretches between the Capital building and the Lincoln Meorial. Many Smithsonian museums are located here, as well as the United States Botanical Gardentravel tips: Consider walking or biking the National Mall early in the morning to experience the parks before the workers and tourists head into the city. Also, the Lincoln Memorial offers spectacular tours at night.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Located near the National Mall, the US Holocaust Museum is one of DC’s most popular museums. Its permanent and special exhibitions cover the period from 1933 to 1945, including the rise to power of the Nazi Party and the outbreak of World War II. Permanent exhibitions include “The Nazi Onslaught” (1933-1930), “The Final Solution” (1940-1945) and “The Last Chapter” (the efforts of Holocaust survivors to build new lives in Europe, in Israel and the United States). At the entrance, you will receive an ID card that tells the story of a real person who lived during the Holocaust.
American History Museum in Washington, DC
The Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum and research complex in the world, comprising 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park. The National Museum of American History offers a variety of exhibits related to the history of the United States as well as the history of science, medicine and technology – from the Revolutionary War to today .
Roof terrace and POV lounge
Enjoy an 11th floor, panoramic view of the capital and drinks at the POV Roof Terrace and Lounge on the top floor of W Washington, DC. It’s a cool spot with two outdoor bars and plenty of seating – which is useful as it gets popular after work and in the evenings. (Seats in the POV Lounge and Terrace are first come, first served.)
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in Washington, D.C.
Newly opened in January 2014, Joe’s Washington DC was quickly discovered by locals and visitors alike. Located in the old Union Trust Bank at 15th and H Streets, this Joe’s restaurant resembles its spots in Miami, Chicago and Vegas. However, Joe’s Washington DC has a contemporary lounge with prominent marble pillars. The second floor is dedicated to event space (which meeting and event planners will definitely want to check out).
Update. Originally published May 26, 2014.