The first leg of my honeymoon in America was visiting Washington DC. We chose this for 2 reasons – firstly it’s the capital city of the USA so it felt like a good cultural thing to do and secondly it broke up what would have otherwise been an extremely long flight from Heathrow to Santa Monica on the Pacific coast!
Sarah and I spent 3 nights in Washington which would take us to all of the main tourists spots including the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and Georgetown! We crammed a huge amount of stuff into our stay and loved every minute – well worth the visit!
During our time in Washington we stayed at the Crowne Plaza The Hamilton, just half a mile from The White House.
Although it sounded like a decent location when booking it was actually quite disappointing as it was located right next to Franklin Square park where there was a lot of homelessness. During the day this wasn’t an issue but as the sun went down it became intimidating at times when walking back to the hotel due to people randomly shouting out, loitering at the crosswalks and asking for money. Aside from that however the hotel was fairly decent.
Day 1 in Washington
Our first day in Washington involved us doing a huge amount of sightseeing and walking around the city – 14km (9 miles) in fact! We had created an itinerary for the day in advance so we knew what we wanted to see and where to head to. What we didn’t appreciate however was quite how far apart the different monuments and sights of the city were! We soon learnt that everything in America is done on a huge scale so a huge amount of walking lay ahead – 30,000 steps of it!
Morning – 5km (3 miles) walk
Our morning in Washington was packed with some great tourist spots including The White House and National Christmas Tree – being September the tree wasn’t much to look at however!
After that we headed to the National Archive and Japanese American Memorial before finishing up at Union Station for lunch at Shake Shack!
On our trail through the city we also came across the opening day of the new Trump International Hotel… which was surrounded by protesters and TV crews – very entertaining to say the least!
Afternoon – 9km (5.6 miles) walk
After finishing lunch at Shake Shack we headed to the Supreme Court of the United States, US Capitol Building and Capitol Reflecting Pool which was really interesting – it’s weird to think how many times this place has been blown up in Hollywood action films, the latest being Netflix’s series, Designated Survivor!
From here we made our way along Independence Avenue where it was a short walk to a number of museums which all offered a lot of history and interesting things to see:
- National Museum of the American Indian
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
- Hirshhorn Museum
- Smithsonian Castle
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Having enjoyed the museums we headed off for the final part of the day which involved a walk far longer than we imagined(!) This took us right around the Tidal Basin offering some great views of the Washington Monument.
The route we took allowed us explore the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial and finally the World War II Memorial.
We ended the day by walking back up to the hotel via the Washington Monument & surrounding grounds.
And that was just the first day – exhausting!!
What better way to finish the day than eating an enormous steak dinner – it felt like we earned it so we headed across the road from the hotel to Toro Toro!
If you’re planning to follow a similar sight-seeing route, definitely put on some comfy shoes – I opted for a flat soled pair of Converse which was a major mistake!
Day 2 in Washington
Having got a well needed night’s sleep, Sarah and I headed off early for another long day of touristing! First stop, breakfast and coffee opposite the White House at the highly recommended Old Ebbitt Grill.
With a decent breakfast inside us we jumped on the subway for the long ride to the first stop of the day – the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.
The Pentagon was exactly as you would expect with security cameras everywhere, people in military uniform and plenty of signs telling you not to take any photos of the building. Arriving at the Pentagon 2 days after September 11th meant there were family and friends paying their respects too.
From there we jumped back on the subway and headed over to Arlington National Cemetary which looked exactly like the movies with a sea of white headstones stretching to the horizon.
Read about my visit to Arlington National Cemetary here.
With the morning complete we made our way to Georgetown which presented a completely different side to the city. Not a government building in sight, students everywhere and typical high street shops.
We also explored Georgetown’s Waterfront Park which is highly recommended for a walk back to our next destination, the Lincoln Memorial.
Visiting the Lincoln Memorial was a key highlight of our trip to Washington as it’s so widely recognised. After our long day of walking we arrived fairly late in the afternoon, around 5pm so the sun had started to set. Luckily this meant the hoards of tourists had thinned out by this point so we could take some pictures with Mr Lincoln!
We then sat on the steps to enjoy some well earned rest and stunning views down the National Mall to the Washington Monument.
Finally we finished the day by taking the short walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Memorial to the Signers of The Declaration of Independence.
So that was that, 3 nights and 2 days in Washington DC! As a first stop on our 21 day honeymoon in America, Washington was a fantastic place to kick things off. I’m not going to lie, our stay was absolutely exhausting however it was completely worth it. There was so much to do and so much to see and we managed to get a lot squeezed in.
In years to come I would love to return to Washington. Having seen all of the key sights however I think I’d like to head back to Georgetown and experience more of that end of the city as our visit there was quite rushed. Thank you Washington for being so accommodating, I loved every minute!
With Washington complete the next stop of our American adventure began! We headed back to the airport and got our flight across America to honeymoon destination 2 – Santa Monica in California!