DC in a Day

What if you have just one day to visit Washington, DC? Or worse, what if it was just 10 hours? So many people from around the world visit the United States and go to New York City, Vegas, the great national parks, and carve out very little time for the capital city. I attribute this to the perception that it’s all historical and political, so it may be boring. Or, maybe DC is just not well marketed on travel sites. 

Projecting Power

Whichever the case may be, as a Northern Virginia (popular DC suburbs) resident for almost 20 years, and having lived in the District for a couple of years, I say it’s not enough. I think the minimum time it would take to explore the various neighborhoods of DC is about 3 days. And, I will come up with an itinerary that does justice to this opinion.

For now, I created a one-day itinerary to suit the needs of friends visiting from India. They had less than 10 hours allocated to DC and said they wanted to visit the monuments and memorials (which are all phenomenal!!), so I stuck to the famous spots, while providing little flavors of DC’s culinary and art gems along the way. 

Here's what I suggested:


(One day before arriving in DC, check if Yayoi Kusama passes are available. Keep reading to see why!) 


After storing your belongings at Union station, take a taxito a breakfast place called 'A Baked Joint' (pun intended!) They have the most delicious breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, and coffee to start your day. 


For the rest of this circuit, choose to walk! 

(Map Link 1: https://goo.gl/maps/YENkfVKDrmcvd1ah6)


After a sumptuous breakfast at A Baked Joint, walk to the apple store, which used to be Carnegie Library. This beautiful structure used to be a library and is now a store plus an events space. It houses the DC History Center and an exhibition showing photographs and documents of the origins of the library. You could shop for apple products, too!


Next, walk to Lafayette Square, which is out the front side of the White House. Many tourists miss this side while touring from the National Mall. 


Then, head  to the back side of the White House, and take photos of yourself both in front of the President’s Park and Oval Drive, and on the other side, the magnificent Washington Monument. 


Size doesn't matter. Perspective does.

After this, walk to the Monument and stand up close to realize the magnitude of its height and the expanse of the greens around it. It’s truly a deeply inspiring space, if you take the time to be in it.


Not to miss are the somber yet gorgeous fountains at the World War II Memorial, and if you would like, read the plaques for the stories of the time, less than a century ago.


Walk along the reflection pool all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial. Going up the steps (or elevator) inside and reading his famous quotes is a must!


On Land or Water?

Then, walk through the Korean War Memorial, along the tidal basin to the Jefferson Memorial. It’s a lovely walk in every season, especially in the spring during the cherry blossom bloom, or in the fall among deep yellow and amber leaves. 


Map Link 2: https://goo.gl/maps/Gt1Tg954bYrEtJLn7


Then, I recommend you break for lunch at Zaytinya! Grab a taxi or an uber to 9th and G streets. It's a restaurant by José Andres, a DC native and a world renowned chef and philanthropist.  You can check his website out to see if you like another restaurant in the area more and by all means choose one you like! My recommendation is Zaytinya as it has a great vibe, and we've loved it over the last decade! Some of his other restaurants seat only for dinner so, Zaytinya seems like a safe choice for no reservations availability for lunch.


After a mouth watering and belly satisfying meal at Zaytinya, walk to the National Portrait gallery through the G street entrance. It houses portraiture like none other - and the resplendent walkways and rooms make you feel very grand! 


Walk through the national portrait and art galleries, and come out of the exit on F street. From there, walk to the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden. 


Then, onto the outside of the Smithsonian castle and keep walking east to the Hirshhorn museum. Visiting a few galleries that intrigue you in this donut-shaped mesmerizing art space is a unique experience. 


If you happened to get the Yayoi Kusama passes a day before, you MUST go see this exhibit!  It's a rare traveling exhibition and absolutely worth it. Maybe you can even convince them to give you same day tickets! 

Vanita Rao at Hirshhorn in June 2022

Then walk to The Capitol if you still have time, or at least pause and take in the scenery of this impactful law and decision-making building! 


If you still have some time before your train or plane or bus, grab dinner from Pi Pizzeria on F and 7th street.


This is the most touristy I could keep it while giving you a 3% feel of real-life DC! Feel free to edit as needed and let me know if you have questions! If you want other recommendations or vegetarian restaurant choices, email me at vanita@saiyyam.com 


Happy packing and travels!!