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Only a Few Hours to See Washington D.C.? No Sweat!

Posted by Dana

I’ve been to D.C. plenty of times, even lived in the area for a year, but even still I think it’s sacri-religious to visit one of the most historical cities in the country and not try to take any of the sites in.  With only a few good daylight hours left on my ‘free’ day, my goal was to see the MLK Jr. Memorial, one monument I hadn’t seen in person yet.

I figured out a game plan, and made history myself with seeing two museums, one monument, and two memorials in record time.

My tips when in a Washington D.C. time crunch:

1.  Take the Metro rail system.  This saves crazy time because you don’t have to combat traffic, find parking, etc.  The Metro maps are easy to read, and if you get mixed up, other Metro goers are pretty friendly to direct you to the right line.  Get off at the Smithsonian stop, make your way up the elevator, and voila. you are at all the glory that is known as The Mall.  Look one way, you have a cool view of the Capitol, look the opposite direction, oh it’s the Washington Monument. Look to your left and right and find that you are flanked by the marvelous Smithsonian Museams.

2.  If  you’ve never been to any of the Smithsonians, my personal recommendation is to start with the National History museam. There are hours of treasure to be found here – dinosaurs (grrrrr); the Hope Diamond (hey ladies!); hall with human origins; butterfly exhibit and more.  My favorite exhibit is the one when you walk right in the main entrance…the huge elephant in the center of the foyer.

3.  The Washington Monument, World War Two Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  If it’s a nice day, take a walk and take your time to visit all three of these gems.  From The Mall, it took me less than 10 minutes to get to the Monument, another 10 to get to the World War Two Memorial, and another 10 or so to get to the MLK  Jr. Memorial.  It’s a pretty easy and scenic walk.

4.  The American History Museum was my next stop after I visited the memorials.  The collection of dresses the First Ladies wore were on display, and I made a bee line to the exhibit.  I spent most of my time in that exhibit oohing and ahhing over the collection.  The beautiful Jason Wu dress Mrs. Obama wore during her first inauguration ball was the highlight of the collection (you can see it in the video).

5.  I stayed in the American History Museum until close, 5:30 p.m. I took some pictures on The Mall and did some people watching before I headed back to the Metro. The day was pretty easy and convenient because of the location and proximity of the museums and other sights.  The hotel I stayed at was located right across the street from the McPherson Square stop, so I felt relatively safe traveling by myself and getting back to the hotel after dark, however for safety reasons, a friend knew my plans and where I was always headed.

After Hours

If you are out and about and want to catch a bite to eat, head to Ben’s Next Door. It’s a restaurant/bar next door to the famed Ben’s Chilli Bowl.  On the weekends, it stays open until 3 a.m. The menu is diverse, and the food is delicious, especially after a late night!

What D.C. attractions would you recommend seeing if there was only a short amount of time?




  • Totally enjoyed your website! looking forward to your next visit to a hotel to hear all about it.

    • Hi Mark! Thanks for visiting the site! Be on the lookout for a new post over the weekend!

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