Submitted by Mitch Meyers
As the capital of the United States and named in honor of President George Washington, DC has its roots in politics, but this city offers so much more. Located on the Potomac River, DC has a metropolitan population of over 6 million and touts itself as one of the top entertainment and nightlife cities in the world. Fresh seafood, one-of-a-kind shopping, sporting events and cultural diversity make DC a place that’s sure to offer up fun for the whole family. So, without further ado, here are 13 Essential Experiences For Your 2018 Washington, DC Vacation.
#1 By Land & By Sea – Take in some of the capital’s most stunning landmarks by water and by sea aboard a DC Ducks Tour. Take your seat atop a fully-restored duck vehicle, which were invented in 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor, as you journey through the city to see various malls, monuments and museums before heading to the Potomac River. Your sightseeing vehicle automatically transforms into a boat for a leisurely river cruise including various spots of interest including Gravely Point. Tours last approximately 90 minutes and depart every 30 minutes from Union Station. Tickets are $32 for children ages 12 and under and $42 for adults. Learn more here.
#2 Local Flavor – As the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the United States (it predates New York City’s Fulton Fish Market by 17 years), The Municipal Fish Market in DC’s District Wharf is considered a true local gem. Nestled between the Potomac River and the National Mall, the Market offers up iconic seafood barges like Jessie Taylor Seafood, The Virgo Fish House, Captain White’s Seafood City and more. Feast on everything from bushels of blue crab and shucked oysters to clams, shrimp and freshly caught fish. Learn more here.
#3 Monuments By Moonlight Tour – It’s no secret, Washington, DC is home to a vast array of significant monuments and memorials detailing America’s storied past. Hop aboard Old Town Trolley’s Monuments by Moonlight Tour and you’ll be transported to many of the city’s most famous sights including the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial as well as landmarks like the Capitol Building and the White House. This two-and-a-half-hour tour comes complete with knowledgeable conductors sharing amusing anecdotes and historical facts about the nation’s capital. Tickets are between $32 and $42 with children ages 4 and under riding free. Learn more here.
#4 Springtime Celebration – In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC. Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held to celebrate the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan. In 2018, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held March 20-April 15 with signature events including a Pink Tie Party, Opening Ceremony, Blossom Kite Festival, Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival and the famed National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Learn more here.
#5 Secret Agents & Spies – Learn the stories of spies, intelligence operations and deceptions that changed the course of history at the International Spy Museum on F Street NW. Established in 2002, the museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. Examine thousands of spy gadgets, weapons, vehicles, state-of-the-art audio-visual programs and other hands-on exhibits that bring to life the strategies and techniques of the men and women behind some of the most secret missions in world history. Tickets are between $15 and $22 with children ages 6 and under free. Learn more here.
#6 Sightseeing Tours – With so much to see and do in Washington, DC, a hop-on, hop-off Old Town Trolley Sightseeing Tour is a great way to take in hundreds of sights for the entire family. This fun, fully narrated tour will take you to the Capital Building, Supreme Court, several Smithsonian Museums, Lincoln Memorial, National Archives, Union Station and dozens of other points of interest. It is also the only tour that takes you into Arlington National Cemetery. Tickets are between $93 and $67 with children ages 4 and under riding free. Learn more here.
#7 Celebrate Diversity – A month-long journey around the world highlighting DC’s thriving international diplomatic community and its lively and varied culture, Passport DC will be held from May 1-31, 2018. This annual event offers 31 days of programming by 70 embassies and more than 30 of the city’s best cultural institutions including embassy open houses, street festivals, performances, exhibitions, workshops and more. It’s a great way for area residents and visitors to experience a global journey without even leaving the city. Check out the Around the World Embassy Tour on Saturday, May 5, 2018 and Embassy Chef Challenge on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Learn more here.
#8 Historic Lodging – For more than 200 years, the Willard InterContinental has played host to the world’s social and political elite including presidents, foreign dignitaries and celebrities. An iconic hotel located two blocks from the White House, Willard InterContinental offers 335 spacious and elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites that blend historic charm with modern amenities. Leave plenty of time for exploring the hotel’s many culinary options including Café du Parc, Afternoon Tea at Peacock Alley and a classic cocktail at Round Robin Bar, located on the lobby level. Learn more here.
#9 Pay Your Respects – It’s been more than 150 years since the first military funeral took place at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, more than 400,000 military service men, women and their families have been laid to rest in the country’s most prominent burial ground. Hop aboard Old Town Trolley’s Arlington National Cemetery Tour for a 45-minute tour of the cemetery while stopping at important points of interest like the Tomb of Unknown Soldier, the Arlington House, The Civil War Unknowns Monument and memorials to the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia. Tickets are between $3 and $13.50. Learn more here.
#10 Tennis, Anyone? – Each year, Washington, DC’s Rock Creek Park Tennis Center hosts the Citi Open, one of the sport’s premier tournaments welcoming around 70,000 people over the course of a week. This year, the tournament will be held July 28 through August 5, 2018 in beautiful Rock Creek Park, a division of the National Park Service, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF). Ticket prices vary. Learn more here.
#11 Tap-Dancing & Tchaikovsky – Located on the Potomac River, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (commonly referred to as the Kennedy Center) is a multi-dimensional cultural center that hosts a wide array of performances from ballet and orchestral to pop music and jazz. Opened in September of 1971 as a memorial to John F. Kennedy, the venue holds around 2,000 performances annually including partnerships with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), Washington National Opera and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. If you can’t make it for a performance, the Center offers free, guided tours. Learn more here.
#12 Neighborhood Shopping – DC is home to an abundance of quaint neighborhood shopping with one-of-a-kind boutiques and high-end, national retailers. Check out Georgetown, a charming area of the city with Federal-style architecture and upmarket restaurants and design shops. There’s also CityCenterDC, a residential and retail development featuring everything from Burberry and Bvlgari to David Yurman and Dior. If you’re looking for smaller shops for unique items, check out U Street and 14th Street (dubbed “hip hunter’s paradise”). Learn more here.
#13 The Brewmaster’s Castle – A grand mansion on Dupont Circle, Heurich House Museum is better known as The Brewmaster’s Castle and was built from 1892 to 1894 by German immigrant, brewer and philanthropist Christian Heurich. Today, the mansion, which is notable for its fireproof construction, original interiors and family collections, serves as host to regular beer events and a monthly beer tasting as well as private and group tours. A donation of $10 to $15 is suggested for tours. Learn more here.