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Why You Should Stay in Downtown DC February 16, 2020

As you’re planning your trip to DC, there are plenty of great neighborhoods for you to stay. However, only one puts you front and center for the city’s most famous attractions: Downtown DC. Here’s everything you need to know about planning a stay in Downtown DC.

Where Is Downtown DC?

Most people consider “downtown” to be the neighborhood directly surrounding the White House. This includes several blocks north, west, and then the few blocks east leading down to the National Mall. To give you an idea, check out the area highlighted in yellow on the map:

Downtown DC is home to the White House and is an ideal location for quick access to some of the city’s most interesting sights.

Getting Around

One of the best things about staying in Downtown DC is that it’s one of the easiest parts of the city to get around. There are four easily-accessible metro stations: Farragut West, McPherson Square, Metro Center and Federal Triangle.

The Circulator bus also has several routes that conveniently run through the area. The Georgetown to Union Station route runs straight through downtown on K Street. The Woodley Park to McPherson Square route takes you from McPherson Square almost all the way up to the Smithsonian National Zoo

And if it’s a nice day and you’re up for it, you can walk. Downtown DC is centrally located so sites like the Smithsonians, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and many others are 1-2 miles or less.

Who Lives in Downtown DC?

People who live downtown typically live here because they really value the convenience. Almost all of the housing is in multi-family buildings and there are almost no individual houses. So this isn’t an area where you expect to see a lot of large families. There’s a good reason for that: $$$$$. Downtown DC is an incredibly expensive area to live.

To give you a sense of what it costs, a 1-bedroom condo in this building sold last year for $500,000, plus an additional $500 per month condo fee.

If you prefer to rent, the asking price for a 1-bedroom apartment in this building is $2,700. 

Needless to say, Downtown DC is not a cheap area.

Hotel Options

For visitors, the good news is that there are a ton of hotel options downtown—probably more than anywhere else in the city. So you have plenty of choices.

(Note: All of the hotels we recommend are places where we would send our own mothers—or stay if our own apartments flooded. That said, if you do book through the affiliate links below, Trip Hacks DC will earn a small commission.)

First on the list (if you can swing it) is the Willard Hotel. This hotel has come up in several Trip Hacks DC podcast episodes because there is a ton of history associated with it. Of course, the Willard today is not the same brick and mortar that Abe Lincoln stayed in the night before his inauguration—but it’s still a pretty cool claim to fame. Plus, the Round Robin Bar is one of the coolest spots in the city to grab a drink.

Apart from its great history, the location is pretty unbeatable. You’re a two minute walk to the White House, an eight minute walk to the Natural History Museum and a five minute walk to Metro Center, which gives you access to four different Metro lines.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, I also recommend the Homewood Suites Downtown. It’s farther from the metro, but walkable to a ton of things—like an abundance of restaurants and bars on 14th Street.

One of the best things about Homewood Suites is that it comes with continental breakfast and coffee, making life easy and saving you money. It also has an evening social hour with free snacks, beer and wine.

What to Eat in Downtown DC

The most famous restaurant downtown—and perhaps in the entire city— is the Old Ebbitt Grill. It’s on 15th Street right across the from the White House and a block up from the Willard Hotel. It has a reputation as an institutional restaurant with a lot of history, but the food is actually really tasty, too.

One of Old Ebbit’s most famous offerings are their oysters. They even offer half price oysters during oyster happy hour throughout the week. If you’re in DC the Friday and Saturday before Thanskgiving, you can join them for their “Oyster Riot,” where “nearly 1000 people devour tens of thousands of oysters while enjoying the gold medal winners of the International Wines for Oysters Competition and grooving to some awesome tunes.”

If you’re looking for cheap eats, District Taco, one of our favorites, has a restaurant in this area. So does Takorean, another one of our personal favorites. 

Since this is an area with a lot of office workers, it has generally very good lunch options, including the GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar, which we really like. And if you do want breakfast, there’s Wicked Waffle, which is one of the places featured in the $20 per day challenge

For more information about eating well on your trip, make sure to check out the Trip Hacks DC podcast episode on this topic. 

Things to Do in Downtown DC

The best thing about staying downtown is that it’s close to seemingly everything. Of course, the most famous attraction is the White House—but aside from stopping by to see it from the outside, and maybe taking the tour, you’re not going to spend much time there.

If you’re physically up for it, you can walk down to the monuments and the museums. You can walk up 14th Street for amazing restaurants—or to the west for a game or concert at Capital One Arena.

If you’re into theater, the Warner Theater and National Theater are both in this area. And if you like to do shopping on your vacation there are a bunch of stores over by the Metro Center station. 

In all, if you’re looking for a convenient place to stay in DC that puts the whole city at your fingertips, it’s hard to beat Downtown DC.

Washington DC Gift Guide November 24, 2019

Our Washington, DC gift guide will help your pick out a great gift for anyone who is visiting Washington, DC. Whether you’re shopping for a gift for the holidays, birthday or any other special occasion, these are five ideas to help someone you know have a great DC experience.

Commemorative Metro SmarTrip Card

When you visit Washington, DC a SmarTrip card is required to get around on the Metro. Sure, you can easily buy one at any Metro station, but imagine how cool your friend or family member will feel with a special commemorative SmarTrip. Plus, each commemorative card comes pre-loaded with $8, so they won’t have to worry about paying for their first few rides. You can order one of these cards online at the SmarTrip Store.

Trip Hacks DC Guide to Washington DC E-book

There are no shortage of Washington, DC travel books on the market, but ours is different. Our book is for the modern traveler who wants insider tips and travel hacks to help plan your trip. We’re not padding pages with lists of hotels or restaurants or out-of-date paper maps. We’ve all got smartphones these days for that stuff! Get this book if you want to help your family member or friend get a ton of useful information about their trip without spending a bunch of time on fluff that doesn’t matter.

Museum Tickets

Washington, DC has more great free museums than you can shake a stick at. So it may seem odd to include paid museum tickets in a Washington, DC Gift Guide, but if you only stick to the free museums you’re going to miss some of the best exhibits in the city! The International Spy Museum is a must for kids or kids-at-heart. The National Building Museum is a great spot for anyone interested in architecture, planning and design. And the National Geographic Museum is a great little spot for anyone who likes the magazine.

Tickets to a Tour, Show or Game

Washington, DC is not just museums and monuments. We’ve got a thriving theater scene as well as professional sports teams in almost every league. That said, everyone should see the museums and monuments, and walking around on your own is just one way to do it. Trip Hacks DC runs tours of the monuments including the fun and popular Monumental Trivia tour during the spring and summer months.

Trip Hacks DC Official Merch

This one is shamelessly self promotional, but we could write a Washington, DC gift guide without including our own souvenir merchandise. If you’re a fan of the Trip Hacks DC YouTube channel or Podcast or took a tour with us and want something to remember it, our shirts and merch is the perfect option. There are t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and a few other cool items. If you wear it on your trip to DC maybe you’ll make friends with some other Trip Hacks DC fans!

Everything You Need to Know about Tipping in Washington, DC September 29, 2019

For many travelers, tipping is a big source of anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be. When you travel, knowing the local customs can take a lot of the worry out of the equation. Tipping in Washington, DC is very similar to tipping in most parts of the U.S. So if you are a domestic traveler you are probably more knowledgeable than you think. Here’s how you can prepare yourself for tipping in Washington, DC.  

Tipping Drivers in DC

When you arrive at the airport, the first person you’ll probably find yourself tipping in Washington, DC is your driver into the city. Unless you’re taking the Metro, you will probably use a taxi, Uber or Lyft. For taxi drivers, expect to tip 15%. If they help you with your large luggage or are especially friendly, go up to 20%; the same goes for Uber and Lyft.

Uber is actually very hotly debated when it comes to tips. When Uber launched it was exclusively a luxury car service, with Towncars and black SUVs. The prices were more expensive than a taxi and Uber very clearly stated that the tip was included. 

However, over time, once Lyft and Uber X were created, that model didn’t make sense anymore because the rates were so low. Lyft has always allowed tips. Uber eventually relented and did the same. So now for both services you tip in the app at the end of your ride. 

Tipping Hotel Staff in DC

When you arrive at your hotel, a bellhop may help you with your bags. If they bring your bags up to your room (or if they store them because you arrived early), then you should tip around $2-$3 per bag. 

Assuming you don’t use the “Do Not Disturb” sign during your entire trip, you can tip cleaning staff $3-$5 per day. It’s important to leave these tips daily because the staff rotate and different people may clean the room on different days. If you wait and leave one lump sum at the end, you could unintentionally shortchange someone who cleaned the room earlier in the trip.

In general, you don’t need to tip the front desk staff. Whether or not you tip the concierge depends on what they did. If they just recommended a restaurant or a tour, no tip is necessary. If they did something that takes a bit of work, like getting you show tickets or sports tickets, $5-$10 is about right.

On the other hand, if they did something exceptional, like get you into the hottest restaurant on a Saturday night, then tip $20 at least. Keep in mind that concierges often earn commissions from the businesses they refer to, so if they book you on a tour, they might be earning 20%-30% from that tour company. Doing your research beforehand can help you be aware of things like this.

Tipping Tour Guides in DC

How much you tip your tour guide depends entirely on what type of tour you picked. If it’s a public tour, where you paid per person and are going around with other tourists, $5-$10 per person is about right. So if you’re a family of four, that’s $20-$40 for the family. 

If it’s a free tour or a “pay what you’d like” tour, then it goes up to $10-$20 per person. So a family of four would be $40-$80. If it’s a private tour, then I would start with 10% of the tour price. Or ask the tour company what their policy is. Some of them will specifically say that tips are not required on a private tour. 

Lastly, if you’re attending a park ranger talk or a Capitol tour led by a government employee then no tip is necessary; it is actually illegal for a federal employee to take a tip.  

Tipping Your Servers and Bartenders

When you eat at a restaurant, the tip should be 20% of your total bill. An easy hack to calculate this is to take 10% by moving the decimal point one spot, then doubling that amount. So if your bill was $40.00, ten percent of that would be $4.00 (by moving the decimal one spot to the left). Double four and your tip is $8.00.

Bartenders are a little tricker. If you’re just walking up to the bar to order a beer or wine, then a dollar per drink is fairly standard. If you’re ordering a fancy cocktail, go with 20%. Same goes for ordering a bunch of drinks on a tab: go with 20% when you close out at the end of the night. 

DC in October: How to Plan for Your Visit September 15, 2019

If you’re planning a trip to the U.S. capital and your schedule is flexible, it’s hard to beat DC in October. The summer weather and crowds have cooled down, the leaves are changing colors—it’s an all-around pleasant time of year. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting DC in October.

Who Else Comes to DC in October?

DC in October is reliably less busy than the summertime. However, there is an uptick in traffic the first couple of weeks when kids are on fall break. Fall break is not as common as spring break, and not all school districts take fall break, but a lot of families do take advantage of the time off to make a trip. 

October is also when DC’s secondary 8th grade field trip season begins. We have an entire article about field trip season, but the gist of it is: the primary field trip season is March through June. But the secondary one is October through Thanksgiving. It shouldn’t scare you from visiting DC in October, but it is something good to keep in mind as you plan.

Another thing to note: October tends to have higher hotel rates than other months of the year because there is increased business and conference travel. So make sure to check out our video series about getting a great deal on a DC hotel.

DC Weather in October

October weather is the most reliably fall-like. Average daily highs in September are 68 degrees Fahrenheit and average daily lows are 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But our favorite part about DC in October? There’s almost no humidity.

Do be aware that October is during the tail end of Atlantic hurricane season and DC does occasionally get affected by storms off the coast. If you want to know more about that and lots of other weather phenomenon, check out the Trip Hacks DC podcast episode about weather. It will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about weather here in DC.

October is also when the leaves start to change color. Since DC is farther south, the leaves do change several weeks later than they do up in New England. We typically find the second half of October (or even the first half of November) to be the best time for fall colors. If you really want to check out the colors, consider doing a hike in Rock Creek Park, the huge park in the middle of the city. 

What to Pack for DC in October

They key to packing for October is layers. On a typical October day, you could start with jeans and a shirt. Having a sweater or sweatshirt on hand during the day is helpful. And if you’re going out early in the morning or later at night, you might even add a light jacket on top of that. It should go without saying that, like every month, comfortable walking shoes are a must. 

Holidays in October

There is one federal government holiday in October­: Columbus Day. This is not a holiday where you will find much happening in terms of special events. But one very special thing you can do is tour the Library of Congress’ main reading room. This is typically only accessible to official researchers, but on Columbus Day they hold an open house and anyone can go. 

The other noteworthy holiday in October is Halloween. This is not a government holiday and nobody gets off of work or school, but it’s a popular and fun holiday in DC. Depending on which day of the week it falls, you’ll find lots of Halloween nightlife the weekend before and possibly even the weekend after October 31st. You’ll see lots of houses decorated for the holiday, as well as public buildings. 

Trick or treating in DC is always on Halloween day itself. If you have kids and want to trick or treat, Capitol Hill is a popular area, with lots of houses close together and people handing out candy. East Capitol Street, in particular, is famous for being an excellent place for candy. 

On the other side of town, some embassies welcome trick or treaters (with either candies from their native countries or just your standard Kit Kats). And for really small kids there is trick or treating at the National Zoo

What to Do in DC in October

October is also when the Marine Corps Marathon takes place. This is one of the biggest marathons on the circuit and people travel in from all over the world to run it.

Even if you’re like me and you only run after ice cream trucks, the Marine Corps Marathon may affect your trip because it shuts down many big streets throughout the city, including on the National Mall. So make sure to check their official website for this year’s date so you can plan around it. 

October is also when the theater scene starts to kick into high gear. So check out the Kennedy Center, National Theater, Lincoln Theater and others, to see what’s playing this season. 

If you’re a sports fan, DC in October means the start of the NHL and NBA seasons. So if you’re interested in attending a game of one of DC’s many sports teams, you can check out our video and blog post about it here.

Tips for Visiting DC During a Government Shutdown September 8, 2019

Hopefully you are not reading this because the federal government is shut down. Government shutdowns are awful the travel industry absolutely hates how disruptive they are to the industry. But if you are concerned that you’ll be visiting DC during a government shutdown, here’s what you need to know.

Should You Cancel Your Trip to DC?

When the government shuts down, people want to know whether they should cancel or keep their plans to travel to DC. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to that question because every government shutdown is different. 

There’s a reason that you’ll often hear a shutdown referred to as a “partial government shutdown” in the news—because the full U.S. government never really closes down. The military, TSA, diplomats and other employees stay on the job. They might not get paid on time, but they show up to work and do their jobs. 

What Closes in DC During a Government Shutdown?

On the other hand, you have government agencies like the Smithsonian. It may not be an agency tasked with national security, but it’s definitely important if you are planning a vacation to DC. Still, even with agencies like the Smithsonian, it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen in DC during a government shutdown until it happens.

For example, there was a shutdown in January 2018 that lasted three days over a weekend. Very few DC sites closed, so if you visited that weekend, your trip was only minimally impacted.

On the other hand, in 2013, the government shut down for 16 days starting on October 1st. For all 16 days of the shutdown, every Smithsonian museum was closed. If you showed up, all you’d find was a locked door and a sign apologizing for the situation.

In yet another example, starting in December 2018, the government shut down for 34 days. Luckily, the Smithsonian had enough funding in reserve to stay open for ten of those days. 

So in other words, if the shutdown had ended on day seven rather than day 34, the Smithsonian wouldn’t have been affected at all. There’s only one problem: there’s simply no way to know any of this in advance.

Monuments and Memorials in DC During a Government Shutdown

Is a shutdown going to happen? Or will Congress make a deal at 11pm the night before? And if there is a shutdown, how long will it last? When it comes to government shutdowns, there’s a lot of uncertainty.

There is similar uncertainty when it comes to the monuments and memorials. In 2013, the monuments and memorials actually closed. There were barriers up around the perimeters and visitors were not allowed in. In 2018-19 they were not closed and people were still allowed to visit.

During that time, many private tour guides still ran tours. However, park rangers were not working. Garbage was not collected on a regular basis. When it snowed, sidewalks and paths weren’t cleared. And restrooms were closed, leaving only a small number of portable toilets near the sites. Not to be graphic, but since they weren’t servicing the portable toilets enough, it got really gross really fast. 

Bottom Line: Should You Cancel?

When it comes to these shutdowns, those of us in the tourism industry don’t get any special insider information. We get our information about the shutdown from The Washington Post at the same time as everybody else. But people still ask us if they should cancel their DC trip.

I think the answer is no—and I’m not just saying that because tour guides like me lose business when people cancel trips. The reality is that there are just too many unknowns and uncertainties. 

For example, if the shutdown starts ten days before your trip, but ends one day before your trip, then you basically cancelled for nothing.

On the flip side, if the shutdown happens the day before your trip and you cancel—but it turns out that many of the things you wanted to see stay open into the shutdown—then you also cancelled for nothing.

There’s Still a Lot to See in DC During a Government Shutdown

Now, what if there’s a shutdown during your trip and the things you wanted to see are closed? There’s still hope. Not every site in DC is affiliated with the federal government. There are private museums, like the Spy Museum and National Geographic Museum, which will stay open. These museums aren’t free, but they aren’t too expensive either. 

Also, many people don’t realize but Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home, is not affiliated with the government and is open no matter what. Visiting Georgetown’s shops and historical sites, seeing a professional sports game or catching a play or concert are all still great options. It may not be the ideal scenario, but there are still a many ways like these to turn lemons into lemonade.

How to Know What’s Closed in DC During a Government Shutdown

The best way to keep up with what’s open and closed during the shutdown is the local news. The Washington Post, NBC4 and other local news will typically publish an article every few days (if not daily) with status updates on various government sites and agencies. If there is a specific site you want to know about, you can also follow them on social media for the most up-to-date information. 

Lastly, if you’re curious about past shutdowns—when they happened and how long they lasted—there is an excellent Washington Post article that has this information.

Hopefully no one ever needs article because we’ll never have another shutdown…but if we do, hopefully you found this helpful. 

Ideas for Free and Cheap Things to Do in Washington DC September 1, 2019

Washington, DC can be an expensive city; but it doesn’t have to! The great thing about visiting is that there are so many free and cheap things to do in Washington, DC. I wanted to know if it’s possible to experience the city if you had only $20 in your pocket. And not just once (that’s too easy) but for three consecutive days.

In July, 2019, I took the $20 challenge. Unfortunately, I had to exclude the price of accommodation. There are plenty of hotel choices and areas to stay. Airbnb is an option as well. However, it’s not feasible to expect anything clean and comfortable for such a low price. That said, for this challenge, food, transportation and daily activities all came from a daily $20 budget.

Day 1: Thursday

The day started at Wicked Waffle – a great little breakfast spot downtown. Most folks opt for a waffle sandwich, but that was out of my price range, so I went with a simple Brussels Waffle with syrup instead. The total, with tax, was $5.23. This was also the moment I realized that I couldn’t get drinks with my meal, as they would easily push me over $20. Good thing I carry a water bottle with me!

After breakfast I took the DC Cirulator bus up to the National Zoo. At the time I did the challenge, Circulator was free! However, it’s back to the regular $1 per ride, which is still a bargain. The National Zoo is not the biggest zoo in America but it’s probably the best free zoo in America. Once I was done I took Metro back downtown. That ride cost me $2.00.

For lunch I stopped at my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Well Dressed Burrito. I usually order an “El Gordo” burrito; but today opted for a smaller chicken burrito, which cost $7.15 with tax. Afterward I hopped on another (free at the time) Circulator bus to Georgetown. After exploring some of the Georgetown hidden gems I grabbed a falafel sandwich at Falafel Inc. for $3.30 to save for dinner later.

To close out the day I saw a free movie at the Capitol Riverfront outdoor movie series. There are free movie nights all over the city. The movie series at the Navy Memorial is convenient to many downtown hotels.

Day 1 total: $17.68.

Day 2: Friday

The second day of the challenge started with a long walk from downtown over to Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Washington, DC is a walking city and walking is a great option because it’s always completely free.

Despite the name, Market Lunch actually has excellent breakfast. It’s located right inside the market. I ordered Blue Bucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes). A short stack was plenty and cost $6.88. If you’re not a pancake person for a similar price you can order The Brick, a delicious and filling breakfast sandwich. Make sure to bring cash as this spot is cash only!

Eastern Market is less than a mile from the Capitol, so after lunch I walked over to the Capitol Visitor Center and hopped on a tour. During the busy times of year, a reservation is highly recommended. On this day, since I was a single person, I got lucky and got right onto a tour. Afterward, I took the tunnel to the Library of Congress, the most beautiful building in the city, in my opinion. After that I walked down the hill and spent a little time exploring at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Around 2pm I started making my way down Independence Avenue toward the U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters. USDA has a cafeteria that’s open to the public and every day after 2:30pm they discount buffet items by 30%. I was able to build a nice plate and after the discount and tax cost $6.19. The late afternoon discount is a great hack when you’re looking for cheap things to do in Washington, DC.

After lunch I saw some art at the Hishhorn Museum. It’s a modern art museum and generally less busy than the bigger Smithsonian museums nearby. Afterward I crossed the National Mall and stopped by the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. On Fridays in the summer they do Jazz in the Garden. It’s a fun place to listen to music and kick off the weekend. I could only stay for a little while because then it was time to meet a group for a private tour.

Trip Hacks DC tours are not one of the cheap things to do in Washington, DC (they’re totally worth it though). But for the sake of this challenge I assumed you could see all of the monuments on your own. Self-guiding a tour is completely free. After the tour I rushed over to Roti, a great fast-casual restaurant and got a plate of food just before they closed. I used the LevelUp app and had a $5.00 credit, which meant my dinner only cost $4.68. Check out how you can use this app to get free food credits too.

Day 2 total: $17.75.

Day 3: Saturday

Saturday mornings in DC are surprisingly quiet and peaceful. I woke up and walked over to Bethesda Bagels for breakfast. They are best known for their delicious breakfast sandwiches, but I went with a staple cheap eat: an everything bagel with cream cheese. It was a filling breakfast for only $3.45.

Afterward I decided to walk off the calories and headed to the Old Post Office Tower. This is one of the best views in DC. The Washington Monument gets all the attention but the views down Pennsylvania Avenue from the tower and phenomenon. It’s also great for early birds because they open at 9am, about an hour earlier than most sights. Make sure to use the door behind the building off of 12th Street NW.

Most museums open at 10am which is when I arrived at the National Museum of American History. Museums on the National Mall are huge and you could spend an entire day in a single museum if you were really into it. With limited time it’s best to focus on the exhibits you most want to see.

For lunch I headed to the nearby Protein Bar. They have bowls and wraps that I would call healthy or at least healthy-ish. I ordered the buffalo bowl which had chicken, celery, carrots and blue cheese, on top of quinoa. It was delicious. Protein Bar also uses the LevelUp app so I was able to redeem a credit and only pay $3.84 for lunch.

Two underrated Smithsonian museums in DC are the Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. I like these museums because they are fun an entertaining for both history buffs and art lovers. They are also connected by the Kogod Courtyard which is a great place to sit and relax during a busy day of sightseeing. It was where I planned out my evening.

Up to this point I was winning this challenge because I took advantage of all the free activities in DC. On the last day I decided to do something a little crazy. I wanted to go to a Major League Baseball game. I knew I could pull it off because there are $5.00 tickets available at the Washington Nationals box office and because you can bring your own outside food. When it comes to cheap things to do in Washington, DC this one is still kind of a secret.

From the museum I hopped on a Capital Bikeshare bike (the ride cost $2.00) and headed toward the ballpark. Instead of going to a restaurant I stopped at Harris Teeter to pick up some groceries. I walked out with a salad, bag of peanuts and bottle of water. The snacks totaled up to $5.98. I got my ticket and the box office and walked right into the game.

Day 3 total: $20.27.

Building an itinerary from free and cheap things to do in Washington DC

Even though I exceeded $20 on the third day, I would call this challenge a wild success. It took a bit of planning and limited the number of options, but there are so many cheap things to do in Washington DC that it made it possible. Plus, these were three action packed days. If you tried to re-create this itinerary you would be exhausted by the end!

DC in September: How to Plan for Your Visit August 11, 2019

Are you planning a visit to DC but want to avoid the summer crowds? If you can swing it, September is one of the best months to visit our nation’s capital. DC in September features all the great summertime weather without the humidity (and the hoards of middle school students). Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re planning to visit DC in September.

Weather in September

On average, September weather in DC is really pleasant. In fact, DC weather expert Jason Samenow told the Trip Hacks DC podcast that September is one of his favorite months for DC weather. That might be for several reasons:

  • The average daily high is 81°F.
  • The average daily low is 63°F.
  • Best of all, the humidity is ramping down for the season.

There still may be some muggy days in September. But unlike in July, when every day is a guaranteed sauna, September in DC offers visitors more than a sporting chance against the humidity.

Something else to keep in mind is that September falls squarely during Atlantic hurricane season. To understand what that could mean for your trip, you can listen to this episode of our Trip Hacks DC podcast about weather phenomenon in Washington, DC.

What to Pack for September in DC

Visiting DC in September, you’ll want to think in terms of “summer clothes.” Most days, shorts or a light dress would be appropriate. On colder days or if you’re doing early morning/late evening activities, a light jacket or sweater might be helpful.

If you have plans to go to an event at the Kennedy Center or an upscale restaurant, it’s a good idea to pack pants and a button-down for the gents or a dress or blouse and skirt for the ladies. Also, pants and a long jacket are a good idea if you have tickets to a baseball or soccer game; it can get pretty chilly in those stadiums once the sun goes down.

And of course, like every month, comfortable walking shoes are a must. 

Labor Day in DC

There is one federal government holiday in September: Labor Day. This is the first Monday of the month.

The most notable Labor Day event in DC is the starlight National Symphony Orchestra Concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol. This is one of three big concerts held at the Capitol every year, with the others held on Memorial Day and Independence Day. The Labor Day concert usually offers a calmer atmosphere and cooler weather than the Memorial Day and Independence Day concerts.

Also, since Labor Day is considered the unofficial end of summer, many bars and restaurants hold a lot of “end of summer” festivities over Labor Day weekend. It’s just one more reason you should consider visiting DC in September.

September Events in DC

September 11th is the National Day of Service and Remembrance. It’s not a day people will be off work or school, but you may find some events happening around the memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, or the Pentagon if you visit that day. 

Otherwise, the biggest September event in DC is the National Book Festival, hosted by the Library of Congress. It usually falls the Saturday before Labor Day. To learn all about it and plan for your trip, you can check out this Trip Hacks DC video on the National Book Festival.

September is also the month when a lot of neighborhoods host their neighborhood street festivals. This includes events like the H Street Festival, Adams Morgan Day, and Barracks Row Fall Festival. These are usually held on Saturdays (and occasionally Sundays) during September. You can learn a little about the neighborhood, the local businesses and try food from some of the restaurants. 

Another reason you might consider a trip to DC in September is if you’re running a marathon or participating in a charity walk (or run). September is when these events start to pick up, since the weather is cooler and crowds are smaller. 

DC Sports in September

If you’re a sports fan, Major League Baseball and soccer are coming to the end of their respective seasons in September. And once the kids go back to school, tickets for these games get really cheap on websites like SeatGeek and Stubub. Check out this post on Trip Hacks DC on how to score really cheap tickets for the Washington Nationals.

But watch out! September in DC may mean great weather and smaller crowds, but with more business travel into DC than in August, hotel rates are much higher. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying DC in September. Check out these tips for how to get an awesome deal on DC hotels.

Best Evening Things in DC July 28, 2019

There are so many things to see and do when you visit Washington, DC but most of the major sites are daytime activities. The museums, Capitol and National Archives are open daily until around 5:00 or 5:30. However, after that, there is still plenty to do. These are six of our favorite evening things in DC.

1. Monuments and memorials

One of the most popular evening things to do in DC is visit the monuments and memorials. The cool thing about the monuments and memorials is that they are open 24/7. There really there is no bad time to see them, but because they are open all the time, it makes sense to plan your itinerary so that you see the daytime activities when they’re open and save the monuments for the after hours. Our most popular Trip Hacks DC tour is the evening monuments tour.

2. Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum

Most Smithsonian museums are open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In the summer, a select number of museums on the National Mall do stay open a couple hours later, but only on a limited number of dates. Regardless, every day you can see two museums all the way up until 7pm: the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. There is also the Kogod Courtyard which is a cool place to relax and hang out. Aside from the courtyard, these two museums are actually pretty awesome and underrated. They are not on the National Mall. However, they are only a short walk away.

3. See a game 

For the most part, professional sports are evening things in DC. Baseball, soccer, basketball and hockey usually start around 7 PM and go late into the evening. Football is the one sport where this does not really apply since the games are usually on Sundays during the day. Sports games are great because they are family-friendly activities but you don’t need to have kids to enjoy going. Now of course, it is not free or cheap, but it is still an activity worth considering.   

4. Union Market 

Union Market calls itself the epicenter of culinary creativity in DC. Most people just call it a modern food hall. Regardless, it is a great place for food, drinks, coffee and all other foodie-related stuff. In 2019 Union Market is open 7 days a week 8:00am to 8:00pm Sunday through Wednesday and 8:00am to 9:00pm Thursday to Saturday.

5. Take in a show

If you are into theater, orchestra or opera and you can swing the price of tickets, the Kennedy Center is an awesome place to see a show. It might not be as famous as Broadway in New York City but the performances are top notch. If the Kennedy Center is out of range, then the good news is that DC actually has a thriving theater scene. The website Goldstar is a great place to look for tickets, especially if you are on a budget. You can get a taste of what shows are out there and maybe even get a discount on one if you find something you like.

6. Nightlife 

This is really more for the 21 and over crowd. When you think of evening things to do, nightlife is kind of the obvious one. The nightlife epicenter in DC tends to shift every few years. However, at least in 2019, a lot of it is around U Street and 14th Street NW, north of downtown. There is also a nightlife concentrated in the Adams Morgan neighborhood as well as Dupont Circle. You can find nightlife in just about every neighborhood. It might not hopping on a Wednesday night, but maybe that’s what you prefer. DC also has a thriving happy hour scene during the week.

Coming to Washington DC, and want us to show you around?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Vietnam Memorial: Tips and Interesting Facts July 23, 2019

The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC was dedicated in 1982. It was the first of the national war memorials on the National Mall and it honors the men and women who served during the Vietnam War. The Wall includes the names of over 58,000 Americans who gave their lives.

Vietnam memorial

Vietnam Memorial location

The Vietnam Memorial is located to the northeast of the Lincoln Memorial. It is a short walk over from the steps of Lincoln. The GPS address is 5 Henry Bacon Dr NW.

Getting to the Vietnam Memorial

There are several transportation options to get to the memorial:

  • Metro: Take the orange, blue, or silver line to the Foggy Bottom Metro station and walk southbound down 23rd Street until you reach the National Mall. It is about an eighteen minute walk to the memorial.
  • DC Circulator: Take the National Mall Circulator bus from anywhere on the National Mall. This bus route starts at Union Station and then makes a big loop past the Capitol, museums and monuments and memorials.
  • Capital Bikeshare: Ride a Capital Bikeshare bike from anywhere into the city to the nearby station named “Henry Bacon Dr & Lincoln Memorial Circle NW”.

TIP: The best and easiest way to see the Vietnam Memorial is on a guided tour. Our walking tours cover all of the major monuments and memorials on the National Mall. We use an efficient route that allows you to see all of them in three hours or less.

A few interesting facts 

  • The memorial’s design comes from a nationwide contest. The winning proposal was Maya Ying Lin, a college architecture student from Yale. She beat out more than 1,400 other entrants, including her own professor!
  • The VVMF (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.) raised money for the memorial. The Memorial was also funded by soldiers, individuals, and corporations.
  • There are three components that make up the memorial: the Wall, the Three Servicemen Statue, and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.

Coming to Washington, DC and want to learn a whole lot more about the Vietnam Memorial?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Korean War Memorial: Tips and Interesting Facts July 22, 2019

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea from 1950-1953. Unfortunately it is known as the “forgotten war” in U.S. history because few Americans know much about it beyond M*A*S*H. The designers of the Korean War Memorial hoped to change that nickname by drawing attention to those who served. The memorial opened in 1995.

Korean War Memorial location

The Korean War Memorial is located southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and south of the reflecting pool on the National Mall. The GPS address is 900 Ohio Dr SW.

Getting to the Korean War Memorial

There are several transportation options to get to the memorial:

  • Metro: Take the orange, blue, or silver line to the Foggy Bottom station. Walk southbound on 23rd Street until you reach the Lincoln Memorial and continue past it. The walk takes about 20 minutes.
  • DC Circulator: Take the National Mall Circulator bus from anywhere on the National Mall. This bus route starts at Union Station and then makes a big loop past the Capitol, museums and monuments and memorials.
  • Capital Bikeshare: You can ride a Capital Bikeshare bike from anywhere into the city to the nearby “Lincoln Memorial” station.

TIP: The best and easiest way to see the Korean War Memorial is on a guided tour. Our walking tours cover all of the major monuments and memorials on the National Mall. We use an efficient route that allows you to see all of them in three hours or less.

A few interesting facts

  • There are 19 statues of soldiers marching through what looks like a rice field. These are in proportion to the number of U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines who served in the Korean War.
  • The number 38 is important to the design of the memorial because of the 38th parallel and the 38 months of fighting between 1950 and 1953. However, there are only 19 statues, plus a reflective wall that reflects those statues. 19 + 19 = 38.
  • Statues are made of stainless steel because of their reflective properties. This is different from most statues on the National Mall which are made from granite or bronze.

Coming to Washington, DC and want to learn a whole lot more about the Korean War Memorial?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

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