Washington, D.C. in 1 Week

A First-Timer’s Guide!

My friend is going to DC for the first time, so I helped plan his trip. Now I’m sharing here for the benefit of anyone else😊

You can Download a .pdf version of this Washington, D.C. in 1 Week Guide just by clicking here!




Arrive, check-in to hotel, have a nice dinner and get some rest for tomorrow!

D+1 : Memorials and Monuments – Along the Mall

Buy a 48 hour Hop-on, Hop-off Big Bus Tours ticket ($59/each)

On this day, use the Red Loop

  1. Smithsonian Castle
  2. Jefferson Memorial
  3. FDR Memorial
  4. MLK Jr Memorial
  5. Lincoln Memorial
  6. Einstein Memorial
  7. World War II Memorial
memorials and monuments day

memorials and monuments day

D+2 : Arlington & Monuments Day

On this day, do the Blue Loop, Big Bus Tours

  1. Arlington National Cemetery
    • Must watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (happens every hour on the hour. the Army Unit that provides the Guards is the 3rd Infantry Regiment, aka “Old Guard”)
  1. Pentagon City Mall (I would skip this one, but if you want to shop…)
  2. Lincoln Memorial
  3. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  4. Holocaust Memorial Museum (you need to get ticket, maybe ahead of time)
  5. Washington Monument

While you’re moving around the area, keep in mind that traffic is HORRIBLE, especially during typical rush hours, so avoid planning to go to/from Virginia during rush hours.

arlington and monuments day

arlington and monuments day

D+3 : Capitol Hill Day

Walk & Metro

  1. Private Tour of The Capitol (you can contact your U.S. Representative’s office from your District and see if they will help you schedule a Capitol Tour.. my friend did this and said it was great – no standing in line, and they got to see the underground tunnel. You can find your Rep’s name at house.gov/htbin/findrep)
  2. Library of Congress (included in Capitol tour) & National Archives
  3. Supreme Court
  4. Folger Shakespeare Library
  5. Eastern Market (big, cool market with lots of vendors; go in mid-day; closed on Mondays; capitol hill area)
  6. Botanic Garden
capitol hill day

capitol hill day

D+4 : Take a Break from Tours Day

Take Uber to Old Town Alexandria and walk around

Hang out in Old Town and enjoy the quaint charm and history – enjoy the cobblestone streets, old row houses

  1. King Street stroll
  2. Torpedo Factory Art Studio
  3. Market Square
  4. Waterfront
  5. Coffeeshops, boutiques, restaurants
take a break from tours day

take a break from tours day

D+5 : Museums Day

Walk/Metro from your hotel

  1. National Air and Space Museum
  2. National Gallery of Art (tons of famous paintings; look for my favorite American artist Andrew Wyeth)
  3. Museum of Natural History (this one is good for kids, I didn’t like it as much; Hope Diamond, dinosaurs, butterflies…)
  4. National Museum of American History (this is my favorite – Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, costumes, etc)
museums day

museums day

D+6 : White House Day

Walk/Metro. Book your White House Tour through your Congressman’s office (way) before you go…

  1. White House tour
  2. Intercontinental The Willard Hotel (famous for coining the term “Lobbyist”; in a lot of movies)
  3. Ford’s Theatre (need $ ticket; where Lincoln was shot)
  4. Smithsonian American Art Museum (more contemporary and only American painting and sculpture)
white house day

white house day

D+7 : Zoo & Georgetown Day

Take Uber or Metro to get around

  1. National Cathedral (amazing cathedral)
  2. National Zoo (FREE admission b/c part of the Smithsonian system; Giant Pandas!!!!)
  3. Georgetown (cute, good, expensive shopping. SEE on the map is an eyewear store, and it is where I have bought all of my glasses frames for the past 10 yearsJ)
zoo and georgetown day

zoo and georgetown day


Get ready to fly home

Other Recommendations:

  • National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian)
  • National Postal Museum (Smithsonian)
  • Basilica of the National Shrine (huge, pretty catholic basilica)
  • Verizon Center – hockey game (need $$ ticket)
  • Chinatown neighborhood
  • Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market (Sunday)
  • National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center (need $$ tickets)
  • MGM National Harbor Casino (this just opened less than a month ago, brand new, beautiful; across the river in Maryland)
  • Mount Vernon (Virginia; day trip)

Restaurants – DC:

  • Zaytinya (my sister said was her fave restaurant in DC when she lived there.. it’s turk/greek/lebanese menu; white house area)
  • Bad Saint (filipino food – got a great review this year from the NY Times and named #2 best new restaurant in the U.S. by bon appetit); only 24 seats, so go before it opens to wait in line for a table; columbia heights, out past the Zoo)
  • Old Ebbitt Grill (super historic and famous; always crowded; white house area)

these were recommended by my friend who has worked in DC for years (and PX Speakeasy):

  • Rose’s Luxury (tapas, great food!, hard to get in so go before it opens to wait in line for a table; outside of Capitol Hill area)
  • Cafe Milano (high end italian; georgetown)
  • Le Diplomate (french brasserie, ambiance; logan circle area)

Restaurants – outside the district:

  • Quarterdeck Restaurant (Arlington; order the crab before you go)
  • Faccia Luna (Old Town; pizza)
  • PX Speakeasy (Old Town; lounge/bar)


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