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FDR Memorial: Tips and Interesting Facts July 17, 2019

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States. As the only president elected more than two times, his memorial is one of the largest of all the presidential monuments, taking visitors through the story of his presidency. The FDR Memorial is located on the Tidal Basin as was dedicated in 1997.

FDR Memorial

FDR Memorial location

The FDR Memorial is located on the National Mall, in between the Jefferson Memorial and MLK Memorial. The GPS address is 1850 West Basin Dr SW. It is adjacent to the southwest side of the Tidal Basin.

Getting to the FDR Memorial

There are several transportation options to get to the FDR Memorial

  • Metro: Take the orange, blue, or silver line to the Smithsonian Station, walk westbound Independence Ave SW and turn left to walk southbound on West Basin Dr SW.  It is about an twenty-four minute walk.
  • 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 one of the two nearby stations: “Ohio Dr & West Basin Dr SW” or “MLK & FDR Memorials”.

TIP: The best and easiest way to see the FDR 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 FDR Memorial is the only memorial to include a statue for a first lady. Visitors can see America’s first United Nations Delegate and former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. This is also the only memorial to feature a presidential pet, FDR’s dog, Fala.
  • Unlike many memorials which are made from white granite, the FDR Memorial was created from red granite. The designers had to ship in granite all the way from the Dakotas to make a memorial in this color.
  • The Memorial has over twenty quotes by FDR inscribed inside on the walls, including his famous “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

Coming to Washington, DC and want to learn a whole lot more about the FDR 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.

MLK memorial: Tips and Interesting Facts July 15, 2019

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is the only major memorial on the National Mall not dedicated to a former president (there are a few smaller memorials dedicated to other non-presidents). Dr. King was a minister, activist and civil rights leader during the 1950s and 1960s.

MLK Memorial

MLK Memorial location

The MLK Memorial is located on the Tidal Basin, across the water from the Jefferson Memorial. The address of the memorial is 1964 Independence Avenue SW. Interestingly enough, this references the year the Civil Rights Act Of 1964 became law.

Getting to the MLK Memorial

There are several transportation options to get to the memorial:

  • Metro: Take the orange, blue, or silver line to the Smithsonian Metro and walk eastbound along Independence Avenue SW until you reach the memorial.  It is about an eighteen minute walk.  
  • 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 “Ohio Dr & West Basin Dr SW / MLK & FDR Memorials” station.

TIP: The best and easiest way to see the MLK 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 is based on a single quote from Martin Luther King: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” This quote is carved on the side of the statue of Dr. King.
  • The designers chose quotes on the walls of the memorial from speeches other than I have a Dream to help visitors appreciate the different speeches that Martin Luther King delivered during his lifetime.
  • The MLK Memorial falls directly in line with the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial. These three men form a “line of leadership” that honors Americans who shaped what the country is today.

Coming to Washington, DC and want to learn a whole lot more about the MLK 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.

World War II Memorial: Tips and Interesting Facts July 15, 2019

The World War II Memorial in Washington, DC is the newest war memorial on the National Mall. Opened in 2004, it was constructed after the memorials for two wars that came after it (Korean War and Vietnam War). It honors the 16 million Americans who served in the global conflict and the over 400,000 Americans who gave their lives.

World War Memorial in Washington, DC

World War II Memorial location

The World War II Memorial is located on 17th Street SW, between Constitution and Independence Avenues. It is approximately halfway between Washington Monument to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.

Getting to the World War II Memorial

There are several transportation options to get to the memorial:

  • Metro: Take the orange, blue, or silver line to the Smithsonian station. Walk eastbound along Independence Avenue SW until you reach 17th Street. It is about a sixteen minute walk.  
  • 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 “17th St & Independence Ave SW” station.

TIP: The best and easiest way to see the WWII 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 WWII Memorial opened in April 2004, a month ahead of schedule. It was important to open the memorial as soon as possible because of the age of many World War II veterans.
  • “Kilroy” can be spotted at two places in the memorial. Look for them hiding on the outside of the memorial on the side closest to Lincoln. Kilroy was a symbol of American Serviceman during the war. Writing “Kilroy was here” was a claim of victory.
  • From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial the World War II Memorial is almost invisible. This is not by accident. The designers wanted to preserve the picturesque view from the far end of the National Mall.

Coming to Washington, DC and want to learn a whole lot more about the WWII 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.

Scooters in DC: Things you Should Know July 14, 2019

It’s 2019 and scooters in DC are hugely popular. Electric scooters came onto the scene last year and have exploded ever since. This post includes information you should know before your pick up a scooter for the first time and details about how to ride.

While it may seem to the untrained eye that there are scooters abandoned everywhere, that’s actually just how the system is set up. You take a scooter, ride it to where you need to go, and leave it once you get there. Then, at the end of the day someone comes and picks them up, takes them to charge them, and then drops them back on the street the next day.

These scooters look almost exactly like the old razor scooters you might remember from your childhood. Except, of course, that they’re electric and you do not have to kick them everywhere.

What companies have scooters in DC?

The companies that currently run scooters in DC are: Bird, Lime, Spin, Skip, Lyft, and Jump by Uber. Each company has its own app which means you’ll need to download a bunch of different ones and create a bunch of different accounts. This is unless you’re just going to pick one and stick with it.

How much does it cost?

Scooters are not free, Honestly they are not even cheap. Each company is different but generally speaking, you will pay an unlock fee to unlock the scooter and then a usage fee, charged per minute that you ride it.

The unlock fee is usually around $1 and then the usage fee is somewhere between 25 and 30 cents depending on the specific scooter company. Now, that might not initially sound like a lot but keep in mind that a 30 minute scooter ride under that system will cost you around $10. By comparison, a 30 minute ride on Capital Bikeshare will only cost you $2. So, if you’re on a budget but plan to do a lot of scooting this can really add up quick now.

Rules for riding scooters in DC

Before we talk about riding the scooter, we need to go over the ground rules. Yes, when you come to DC, you will see each and every single one of these rules broken. But, if you want to ride a scooter and do it by the book these are the rules and you should follow them.

1. Kids are not allowed.

Kids are not allowed on the scooters. Scooter companies require their riders to be at least 18 years or older.

2. Only one person per scooter

These scooters are just not safe enough to transport more than one person. If you have multiple people in your group, each person should ride their own scooter.

3. You can’t end your trip outside of the company’s service area

The National Mall is not part of the service areas. This is important because many visitors see the scooters and consider them a great way to see the monuments and memorials. However, be careful! Some scooter companies will charge you a hefty fine if you end your ride on the National Mall. Others might not even allow you to end a trip at all until you leave the area.

If you do plan to break this one, don’t ride the scooters in the memorials. It is not just illegal but it’s totally disrespectful and obnoxious, especially the war memorials.

4. You cannot just leave the scooter anywhere

You have to leave the scooter in a public place and away from pedestrians. One of the reasons why scooters have become such a huge lightning rods is because people keep leaving them right in the middle of the sidewalk instead of off and out of the way.

5. You need to wear a helmet

Less than 1% of scooter riders actually follow this one and most visitors won’t travel with helmets. But this is the rule and it’s for your safety.

How to start your scooter ride

The first thing you obviously need to do is find one. Depending on exactly where you are this could be as simple as stumbling down the street until you come upon one. However, if you’re using the apps you can look on the app to see exactly where they’re located. Once you get to your scooter, look for a QR code, probably on the top or somewhere on the front.

If you haven’t already, you will need to create an account with the scooter company and enter your billing information. Then, you will click on the “start your ride” button. This will open up your phone’s camera app which will let you scan the QR code on the actual scooter. Once you’ve done that, depending on the company, the scooter will either play a sound or the app will give you a notification to confirm that your ride has started.

How to operate the scooter

The scooters don’t all look exactly the same. Some of them have taller or shorter handlebars. Some have wider or thinner boards. But, they all function basically the same way. The scooter will have a button for the throttle (or what you could think of as the gas) and a brake (which will probably look like the standard brake you see on a bicycle). In order to activate the electric motor you have to give the scooter one or two manual kicks. This is a safety feature to keep the scooter from taking off on you when you’re not already moving.

Now, the first time you ride one of these scooters, it will take a few moments to get used to it. So, you should not take a scooter immediately out into traffic. When you reach your destination, make sure to put the scooter in a public place and out of the way. Then, you should reopen your app and tap the button to finish your ride.

Are scooters in DC worth the cost?

If you’re here on vacation, scooters in DC can be a fun novelty. Also, it is an okay way to get from place to place.

The biggest disadvantage, at least in 2019, is that you either have to create multiple accounts with multiple apps or stick to one or two. A good place to start might be with the Lyft scooters for the simple reason that if you already have a Lyft account you can use the same app without having to create a new account or re-enter your billing information. Then, if you like scooting, maybe you try out one of the other companies.

Coming to Washington, DC and want us to show your 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.

Lincoln Memorial: Tips and Interesting Facts July 12, 2019

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. The Lincoln Memorial stands at the far end of the National Mall, a little under 2 miles from the Capitol. The memorial was dedicated in 1922 and the famous reflecting pool nearby opened the following year. The monument to Honest Abe is a “must see” for Washington, DC visitors.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial location

The Lincoln Memorial is located on the western end of the National Mall. The GPS address is 2 Lincoln Circle Circle NW. It is located about three quarters of a mile from the Washington Monument and approximately the same distance from the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.

Getting to the Lincoln Memorial

There are several transportation options to get to the Lincoln Memorial. 

  • Metro: Take the orange, blue, or silver line to the Foggy Bottom station and walk towards 23rd and I Street.  It is about an eighteen minute walk. If you are coming from Virginia on the blue line, exit at Arlington Cemetery station and walk across Memorial Bridge. This is about a twenty minute walk.
  • 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 one of the two nearby stations. “Lincoln Memorial” is located on the south side of the memorial and ” Henry Bacon DR& Lincoln Memorial Circle NW” is located on the north side of the memorial next to the refreshment stand.

TIP: The best and easiest way to see the Lincoln 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 Lincoln Memorial is modeled after the Parthenon. There are 36 Doric columns representing the 36 states in the country at the end of the Civil War. There are also the names of 48 states above those columns. These were the states in the country at the time of dedication in 1922.
  • The Lincoln Memorial has a typo! In Lincoln’s Second Inauguration (carved in the wall closest to Lincoln’s left hand), an engraver accidentally engraved an “E” when he meant to engrave a “F”. The error has been fixed, but it is still noticeable.
  • The spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered I Have a Dream in 1963 is commemorated with those words carved into the floor. Look down where you are about two-thirds of your way up the stairs.

Coming to Washington, DC and want to learn a whole lot more about the Lincoln 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.

Jefferson Memorial: Tips and Interesting Facts July 11, 2019

The Jefferson Memorial is inspired Thomas Jefferson and his love for classic architecture. Jefferson’s Monticello and the University of Virginia are the basis for the design. Thomas Jefferson passed away in 1826 and probably never imagined a place like this would exist in his honor. These days, visitors marvel at his 19-foot statue and the quotes and writings that surround him.

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial location

The Jefferson Memorial is on the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. It is one mile directly south of the White House. From the inside the White House, the President (or any visitors) gets an amazing view of the memorial. Also, visitors of the Jefferson Memorial get a cool view of the White House off in the distance!

Getting to the Jefferson Memorial

There are several transportation options to get to the Jefferson Memorial. 

  • Metro: Take the orange, blue or silver line to the Smithsonian station and walk toward 15th Street NW and then turn south and walk around the Tidal Basin. 
  • 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 Jefferson Memorial station located on East Basin Drive SW, behind the memorial and directly across the street from the Jefferson Memorial refreshment stand.

TIP: The best and easiest way to see the Jefferson 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 statue inside the memorial is not the original. President Franklin Roosevelt held a ceremony for the opening of the Memorial in 1943. Of course, because this was during the middle of World War II, our country bronze and other metals for the war effort, not statues. So, the bronze statue that you see today was installed later in 1947.
  • Speaking of Franklin Roosevelt, the president was a huge fan of Thomas Jefferson. He insisted that the location of the memorial on its current spot as it was a spot with a clear view from the White House. As a result, when you stand on the top step of the Jefferson Memorial you can see the White House clearly off in the distance.
  • However, the location was not without controversy. The Tidal Basin is the site of the world famous Washington, DC cherry blossoms. In order to build the Jefferson Memorial, construction workers needed to remove some trees. About 50 local women, protested on these grounds in what has become known as the Cherry Tree Rebellion.

Coming to Washington, DC and want to learn a whole lot more about the Jefferson 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, including the monuments and memorials. 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.

Tips for Capturing Awesome Washington, DC Photos June 23, 2019

Washington, DC is a very photogenic city. Between the monuments and iconic sites, there are plenty of great DC photos. We asked local photographer Nicole Glass to share some of her best photo tips so you can come to Washington, DC prepared.

Photograph a DC sunset

The best time to capture a sunset is 30 minutes before and after the scheduled time for sunset. That’s when you are really going to get the most beautiful light and the most beautiful shots. You can use a DSLR camera but smartphones are excellent as well. Sunsets are really one of the easiest DC photos you can capture.

Most photographers focus on the sunset itself. However, they forget to look behind them. During a sunset the whole area is illuminated by beautiful light. Sometimes, all you have to do is turn around and see the city from a different perspective. Sunset varies considerably throughout the year. During summer sunset isn’t until after 8pm. In the winter, sunset is before 5pm. The easiest way to know

Capture a silhouette

When you’re taking a photo of a silhouette you’re capturing a person or an object but you can’t identify them because you’re seeing the outline of that person or object. These are really great to do during a sunset because there is such a contrast between the foreground and the background.

Make sure the person in the photo is doing a pose other otherwise looks interesting. Then, lower yourself toward the ground. This helps make sure there is more sky behind your subject. Getting down low also helps make your photos unique since almost everyone takes photos from the same eye-level.

Don’t be afraid of the rain!

When you come to DC, chances are the weather is not going to be perfect. In the summer, it’s hot and humid. In the winter, it is cold and gray. However, it is often very wet. That said, you can definitely get fantastic photos even on a rainy day. Stormy weather is great because you might get black storm clouds behind a monument which makes it look so much more intense. 

When it comes specifically to rain, you can use it as an opportunity to look for reflections. Sometimes, if you’re standing in a particular location, you can actually see the monuments reflecting through the puddles. Washington, DC has several famous reflecting pools that photographers love. Think of puddles like temporary reflecting pools.

Take a photo of a photo

This maybe a little harder to pull off if you’re traveling solo. However, if you have a traveling partner or someone who’s with you it’s a little bit easier. Taking a photo of a photo can give you a different perspective of a place that has been photographed millions of times already. It creates a really cool perspective and it will make your photos look way more unique and interesting.

Buy yourself a crystal ball

This one will require you to go out and buy a prop. However, it’s a cheap one and it can really add some cool effects to your DC photos. Crystal balls are available for ten to twenty dollars on Amazon. They are very affordable and you can photograph popular landmarks or attractions through the ball. So, place the ball on the ground or have somebody else hold the ball or hold it yourself. Then take a photo of a landmark through the ball.

Now, the key thing to know is that the ball actually flips your photo upside down. Since you want the photo to be right-side up when you share it you need to flip it with an app. Just rotate 180 degrees and then your photo will look right.

Get on the DC rooftops

Try to capture your DC photos from a higher perspective. This means taking advantage of the rooftops here in Washington DC. Two rooftops where you can go and have a drink with a view are at W Hotel and the Watergate Hotel. The Hay Adams is a very well-known hotel it’s right near the White House as well. As a guest of the hotel, you will have access to the rooftop.

However, if you don’t have the budget to book a hotel with the view, then you can actually go to the Old Post Office Tower. The views up from the clock tower are spectacular and great for DC photos. Check out the Trip Hacks DC Podcast episode about Pennsylvania Avenue to learn about the history and follow our instructions for getting to the top.

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.

DC in July: What to know before you visit June 16, 2019

July in Washington, DC is squarely in the middle of summer tourism season. June, July and August are the three busiest and most crowded months of the year in DC. This is the time of year when kids are off from school and families are taking their summer vacations.

DC in July Weather

July weather in DC is hot humid and honestly pretty miserable. July is the hottest month of the year with average daily highs of 88 degrees and average daily lows of 72 degrees. That honestly wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the humidity, which can make it feel like it’s in the 90s or even 100s on some days.

Packing for DC in July

To pack for DC in July, you are going to want to bring your summer clothes. Shorts and comfortable walking shoes are all a must. You should pack pants if you’re planning to see a show at the Kennedy Center or go to a fancy restaurant or otherwise some place where shorts would not be appropriate.

You are also going to want to remember an umbrella. No matter what the seven-day forecast says, summer thunderstorms often pop up out of nowhere. Sun protection is also a must. Hats and sunscreens are important to use, especially if you burn easily. If you are going to be outside for an extended time, bring the sunscreen with you and re-apply throughout the day.

July Holidays and Events

The most notable event in July is Independence Day which is also our only federal government holiday. There are also a few notable events you might want to check out as well.

Fourth of July in DC

A few things you can do on the Fourth of July include a dramatic recreation of the reading of the Declaration of Independence. This happens on the steps of the National Archives. The Independence Day parade followsdown Constitution Avenue. A Capitol Fourth concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol and the fireworks are a must see if you want to get the full DC July Fourth experience.

If you are into sports, consider going to the ballpark for the Nationals game! This year’s first pitch is at 11:05 a.m. So, this leaves plenty of time for other activities afterwards.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Another notable special event in July is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This is usually held the last week in June and first week in July. Unfortunately, this year in 2019 it has been cut back and will not be happening in July at all. The Folklife Festival is a social event where you can experience cultures from all around the globe through things like music, dance, art and food.

Capital Fringe

Capital Fringe is also a popular thing to do in July. Fringe is all about independent forms of theater dance and other types of arts. Fringe is held across multiple venues. Some venues feature more than one stage. You can see some really interesting performances. Dance and performance art that you would not see at the Kennedy Center or some of the more traditional theaters.

Washington Open

If you’re a sports fan, the Washington Open (currently called the Citi Open) is a tennis tournament that is part of ATP and WTA circuits. Every year the dates change slightly. However, it is usually either at the very end of July the very beginning of August or both. The Washington Open takes place at the William Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.

Coming to 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.

Top 10 Free Things in DC June 9, 2019

One of the great things about visiting the nation’s capital is that there are so many free things in DC. This makes Washington an excellent travel destination for budget travelers and for families where buying tickets for everyone would really add up. These are ten of our favorite free things in DC.

10. U.S. Capitol

The Capitol is a beautiful building at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol is where our legislative branch of government meets and it’s one of the most iconic buildings in the city and in the country. You can tour the inside of the Capitol by making a reservation on the Capitol Visitor Center website.

If you are an American and if you prefer you can also contact your member of Congress to request a tour. These tours are typically led by one of their interns and there is a long-running debate about whether the Visitor Center tours or the congressional office tours are better. However, just seeing the inside of the dome and all the other cool stuff that’s inside is a memorable experience.

9. National Archives

Everybody knows the National Archives is where Nicholas Cage broke in and stole the Declaration of Independence. The Archives showcases the original version of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They also have a cool museum that has a lot of lesser-known records and documents from throughout history. Make sure you plan a little extra time to check it out.

A bonus trip hack for the Archives is that it is open year-round and you can go anytime; but during peak tour season in the spring and summer you should go on Recreation.gov and reserve tickets to skip the line. You do have to pay a small processing fee. But, it’s worth it! It is only a couple of bucks and your time is valuable!

8. Smithsonian museums

Smithsonian is not a single place. Rather it is the government agency that runs many of the museums on the National Mall and elsewhere in DC.  The most popular Smithsonian museums are Air and Space, Natural History and American history. Smithsonian museums are one of the most popular free things in DC. However, our recommendation for Smithsonian museums is to go to the ones that sound the most interesting, rather than the ones that are most popular.

7. National Zoo

Despite the name, this is not the biggest nor the grandest zoo in America. In many ways, the National Zoo is more like a neighborhood zoo than a major tourist attraction. However, unlike other big zoos, the National Zoo is completely free.

You might be interested to know that only four zoos in the United States currently have giant pandas on display. The National Zoo in DC is the only one where you don’t have to pay to see them. If you have a big family and kids, the zoo is a great option because you can spend as much or as little time as you want and not feel bad about it.  

6. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Obviously not everything here is free. If you are coming here to see Hamilton or another popular play, you might spend a small fortune. But, there are daily free performances on the Millennium Stage.  You can also take a free tour of the Kennedy Center, if you want an inside look at the building and some of the inner workings of the place.

5. National Gallery of Art

Believe it or not, the U.S. government runs two distinct museum institutions: the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art. Smithsonian was founded by an Englishman named James Smithson and the National Gallery of Art was founded by former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. The National Gallery focuses strictly on art and is one of the best institutions of its kind in the country.  Although, if you are a world traveler you could certainly debate about whether it stands up to some of the big European art museums.

4. Old Post Office Tower

If you like views, then you have to check out the Old Post Office Tower. The Washington Monument gets all the attention when it comes to views. However, we think the Old Post Office is a superior view. It is less crowded and easier to access. Plus you get awesome views down Pennsylvania Avenue and of the Washington Monument itself. The door is kind of hidden and hard to find. Check out our video for step-by-step instructions.

3. U.S. Botanic Garden

The U.S. Botanic Garden is on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. You can think of it as a museum of plants. It is one of the more relaxing free things in DC. There are greenhouses that recreate climates from all around the globe. So, you can find some really cool plant life that is not native to the DC area.

During the holiday season, they go all out with their Christmas decorations and in the summer a bonus trip hack is to cross Independence Avenue and go check out Bartholdi Park. It’s usually quiet peaceful and beautiful.  So, it can be a great place to sit and relax.

2. Library of Congress

A lot of people think the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress is the most beautiful building in the entire city. We recommend the free guided tour of the inside of the building. That will give you a chance to learn about the art and architecture that is all around you. Make sure to budget some extra time to see the rotating exhibits which are always excellent.

A bonus trip hack for the Library of Congress is to plan to go here after you do your Capitol tour. It’s connected to the Capitol via an underground tunnel so once you’ve cleared security at the Capitol you won’t have to through another metal detector.

1. Monuments and Memorials

You cannot come to Washington DC without going to the Lincoln Memorial, standing on the top step getting a view of the city and the reflecting pool. The war memorials are very moving and powerful remembrances of those who served. The other memorials are to people who shaped what our country is today. Of course, the monuments are one of the many free things in dc and open 24/7/365 to visit.  

Trip Hacks DC runs tours of the monuments and memorials. These are not free. However, a tour is not required to see them. We really do think a tour makes your experience of the monuments so much better.

Another option that free are the Ranger talks. Our Park Rangers are extremely knowledgeable and great at showing you around. However, the disadvantage is that Ranger talks typically only cover one monument or a small group of monuments. So, you would need to cobble several of them together to make it into a full tour.

Coming to 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.

DC in June: What to know before you visit May 19, 2019

June is the start of summer tour season. June, July and August are the three busiest months in DC because kids are off school and families are taking their summer vacations.

When you visit in June make sure to expect that the crowds are going to be relatively heavy. It’s also important to know that the first two weeks in June overlap with school field trip season. June weather in Washington DC is hot and humid. The average daily high in June is 84 degrees and the average daily low is 66 degrees. Remember that you must factor in the humidity which can make it feel a lot hotter.  

Packing for a June trip means busting out your summer wardrobe. A jacket is probably not necessary. However, if you do want to bring one, a light rain jacket is all that you need. Pants or nice jeans are good if you plan to see a show at the Kennedy Center or visit some other place where shorts would not be appropriate. You should remember to bring your umbrella. No matter what the advance forecast says, summer thunderstorms can and do pop up out of nowhere. Sun protection is also a must Don’t forget to use your sunscreen before heading out for the day!

Folklife Festival

The most notable special event in DC in June is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This is usually held the last week of June and the first week of July. The Folklife Festival is a social event where you can experience cultures from all around the globe through things like music dance art and food. Aside from food and souvenirs, it is completely free to attend.

Capital Pride

June is also the month for Capital Pride. The parade is held on a Saturday and the route goes through the Dupont Circle neighborhood. There are events throughout the entire city for the entire month.

DC Jazz Fest

DC Jazz Fest is another popular June event. Every year the performers and the venues change so make sure to check out the official Jazz Fest website for details for this year. Jazz Fest has indoor and outdoor concerts, small concerts, big concerts, free concerts and ticketed concerts. So, if you are into jazz there is something for you.  

Seasonal Summer Activities

June is also when our seasonal summer activities get going into full swing. This includes things like Friday night Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art. You can also find free outdoor concerts and movie nights throughout the week.

June is also the month when Smithsonian typically starts to run their extended hours.  So, check out the Smithsonian operating calendar to see if any of them are going to be open late on the dates that you’re visiting.  

June Holidays

There are no federal government holidays in June but there are a few unofficial holidays worth noting.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June.  This is not a big restaurant holiday like Mother’s Day. Since its summer, things like baseball games, cookouts and golfing are popular.

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice is on June 20th and sometimes there are special fun events planned around it. For example, in 2018 Smithsonian actually kept their museums open until midnight for a special solstice event.

Are you a sports fan?

If you are a sports fan, June is when baseball and soccer are both in full swing. Check out one of our five major pro sports teams when you’re in town!

Coming to Washington DC, want to book a tour?

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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