washington dc skyline

I consider myself lucky. I grew up about 40 minutes outside Washington, DC in a suburb of Maryland. 

During my childhood, my parents took me and my 4 siblings to DC to explore all that it has to offer. 

  • We played on the grassy expanse of The National Mall
  • Raced each other down the steps of The Washington Monument, and
  • Attended concerts given by the Army-Navy Band at DAR Constitution Hall

Like many people who live near a popular destination, I’ve realized that I’ve taken for granted all the great things that are practically in my backyard. 

However, recent conversations with out-of-town visitors have made me reflect on how fortunate I am to live so close to DC and all the things I love about it.

Here they are in no particular order.  I think you’ll love them, too!


1. It’s Easy to Get To From Out-of-State

Whether you’re traveling to Washington, DC for business or pleasure, there are 3 airport options:

  1. Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) – in Arlington, VA
  2. Dulles Internationa Airport (IAD) – in Dulles, VA
  3. Baltimore-Washington Airport (BWI) – in Linthicum, MD

Although none of these airports are actually in DC, they are all relatively close to the District with Reagan National being the closest.

2. There Are a Variety of Transportation Options

Inside one of the DC area Metro train stations.
Inside one of the DC area Metro train stations.

There are so many ways to get around once you’re in DC, you may have trouble choosing. You can drive your own car; take a cab; use a rideshare service (Uber, Lyft, Via); take the Metro (my favorite option); take a bus; rent a bike from Capital Rideshare; or rent an electric scooter.  And of course, you can always walk.

3. It’s Very Walkable

The World War II Memorial
The World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the distance

If you’re looking for a way to explore DC while getting some exercise, then you should consider touring the city on foot.  Many of the most popular tourist destinations, museums, and monuments are located in close proximity to each other, making walking a viable (and free) option. 

Map of the National Mall - DC
Map of the National Mall with points of interest

Touring on foot is my favorite way to stay healthy when traveling.  I have so much fun exploring and taking pictures that I don’t realize how much walking I’m actually doing or how many steps I’m getting in. Win-win! 

4. There’s History Everywhere You Look

The White House
The White House

There are few cities that are as full of history as the Nation’s Capital.  Named in honor of George Washington, DC is the center of U.S. politics and the home of the POTUS.  The White House is probably the most popular historic site in the District. 

Did you know that although the city was named for our country’s 1st president, George Washington never actually lived in The White House during his presidency? 

It’s true.  Washington oversaw the design and construction; however, John Adams and his wife, Abigail, were the first actual residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Washington, DC also boasts The Capitol, a multitude of monuments, sculptures, and historic landmarks that bring to life DC history.

a sculpture by the U.S. Capitol Building
One of the sculptures by the U.S. Capitol Building

5. It’s Full of Culture

Kennedy Center for the Arts, DC
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts

If you’re looking for culture, DC has it all.  There are a variety of theaters (such as the Kennedy Center, pictured and National Theater) and concert venues throughout the city.  DC also has an array of great museums, most of which offer FREE admission which is almost unheard of in big cities.  What more could you ask for?!

6. There’s Beautiful Architecture Everywhere You Look

Washington National Cathedral
The front of the Washington National Cathedral

If you love architecture as much as I do, you’ll find an endless selection of amazing buildings to admire throughout the city.

A few of my favorites include the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Washington National Cathedral (pictured above), and Union Station.  

7. There Are Plenty of Options for Outdoor Enthusiasts


The Mount Vernon Trail at Gravelly Point offers a great view of downtown DC
The Mount Vernon Trail at Gravelly Point offers a great view of downtown DC.
You can also watch planes take off from and landing at Reagan National Airport next door.

If you enjoy being active, there are endless ways to enjoy the outdoors in DC. 

  • You can walk, jog, or ride your bike around the city
  • Kayak or go stand-up paddleboarding in the Potomac River
  • Play sports on The National Mall in downtown DC
  • Check out one of the many parks throughout the District  

8. There Are Several Beautiful Waterfront Areas

The Wharf, Washington, DC
The Wharf at night | Photo by Ron Cogswell, Flickr

DC has several great waterfront areas to enjoy, each of which offers a unique experience.

  • The Wharf area has been revitalized in recent years and features The Anthem Theater, one of the most popular concert venues in the District.  
  • The Navy Yard is another popular area with a variety of shops and restaurants. 
  • Washington Harbor just south of Georgetown and offers great waterfront restaurants with scenic views of the Kennedy Center and Roslyn, VA.
  • National Harbor, which although not in DC, is just a short drive away.


9. It’s Made Up of a Bunch of Eclectic Neighborhoods

Glover Park, DC
One of the charming streets in Glover Park in northwest DC

The District is made up of a variety of unique neighborhoods, each with its own charm and appeal.

The U Street area is popular with millennials because of its bars and vibrant nightlife.  And Ben’s Chili Bowl, a DC landmark, continues to draw tourists and locals alike. 

Adams Morgan is an eccentric neighborhood known for its diversity, bars, and eclectic shops. 

And of course, there’s Georgetown, one of the best-known DC neighborhoods just minutes from Washington Harbor, downtown DC, and Arlington, VA.

10. There are a Ton of Free Activities

The U.S. Botanic Garden
The U.S. Botanic Garden | Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

On a budget?  No problem!  There are a ton of free activities to do in DC. 

You can:

  • Spend an afternoon on The Mall flying a kite, having a picnic, or take a stroll around the Tidal Basin
  • Check out an exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Gardens
  • Walk or ride around looking for the amazing murals, street art, and graffiti that can be found throughout the city
  • Visit the Smithsonian National Zoo with (or without) child(ren)

11. DC Hosts Several Popular Annual Festivals

The cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin with the Washington Monument in the distance.
The cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin with the Washington Monument in the distance.


The Blossom Kite Festival on The National Mall
The Blossom Kite Festival on The National Mall

 DC is host to some fun annual festivals.  My favorites are the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Blossom Kite Festival which precedes it.  Both are held in the Spring, making DC a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. 

I’ve been going to see the cherry blossoms almost every year since I was a child and enjoy the tradition to this day.

12.  It’s Stunning at Night!

The U.S. Capitol Building

Have you been to Washington, DC before?  If so, what’do you like best about it?
Share in the Comments below ⇓

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  1. Great “Best of” list, Amy. Makes me want to come back to live there! lol. I definitely have to get there in good weather and explore more as an “adult.” I always put off going to certain museums or even going up into the Washington Monument because I lived there and it wasn’t going anywhere. But then I went somewhere. Hmm…

    1. Thanks, Tracey! 🙂 There are definitely places we visited as kids that I’d love to revisit as an adult. Plus many new places such as the National Geographic Museum and the Museum of the Bible (it’s more historical than religious to appeal to a broader group). Next time you’re home, we’ll have to go sightseeing!

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