WASHINGTON DC TRAVEL GUIDE

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WASHINGTON, D.C. TRAVEL GUIDE
PLAN AND BOOK YOUR WASHINGTON, D.C. TRIP

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WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, D.C.!

Gwen in Washington DC

Hi! I’m Gwen, and my passion is using my sustainability knowledge and experience with my international solo global travel since 1995 to help the solo over 50’s be and stay adventurous through solo travel with their eco-friendly, responsible travel foot forward. Here is my travel Washington, D.C. travel guide from my Washington, D.C. travel so you plan and book your trip to Washington, D.C. with ease. What are you waiting for?

WASHINGTON, D.C.: DID YOU KNOW?

About Washington, D.C.

washington-dc-map-shape
Washington, D.C.
Washington DC flag
Washington, D.C. flag

Welcome to the heart of the United States, where history unfolds on every street corner and the spirit of democracy echoes through grand monuments and iconic landmarks. Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, holds The White House, the official residence of the President of the United States, the Capitol Building, the seat of the U.S. government, “Embassy Row” of Massachusetts Avenue, the National Mall, National Zoo, The Smithsonian Institution’s numerous museums and galleries, the Dupont Underground, and more, making Washington, D.C. a testament to the rich tapestry of American heritage and the enduring ideals that have shaped the course of history.

Known for its impressive architecture, world-class museums, and vibrant cultural scene, Washington, D.C. beckons travelers from across the globe to explore its captivating blend of tradition and modernity. Designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the French-born architect and city planner, the city’s wide boulevards and tree-lined streets envelope halls of power and influential leaders, a diverse tapestry of museums, galleries, and institutions that make this city a cultural mecca of the U.S.

Whether you’re drawn to the majestic memorials honoring past presidents, the dynamic energy of Capitol Hill, or the intellectual stimulation found in the Smithsonian museums, D.C. offers an unparalleled experience for every type of traveler.

View of Washington DC from Arlington Cemetery

WASHINGTON, D.C. TRAVEL PLANNING

Washington, D.C. Holidays

In addition to U.S. holidays, Washington, D.C. may observe additional local holidays. It may be a good idea to check what local holidays they celebrate to see if there are any public service, school, or other closures as this may impact your tourist itinerary, ability to obtain travel or other services, or it could mean more tourists and/or higher prices in Washington, D.C.

Take a few moments to see if there are Washington, D.C. holidays to better help you plan Washington, D.C. travel.

Tipping in Washington, D.C.

See tipping guidelines in my USA Travel Guide for tipping in Washington, D.C.

Travel Requirements

U.S. cities and states do not impose additional travel requirements, such as documentation and vaccinations, other than those imposed at the national level. See the USA Travel Guide for all USA travel requirements.

Electronic Requirements

All U.S. cities electric outlets require a Type A (two prong) and/or Type B (three prong) adapter. See the USA Travel Guide for electrical requirements in the USA.

Cyber Security While Traveling

Having a virtual private network (VPN) service and portable WiFi is always a good idea to not just stay connected, but stay connected securely in your hotel and all public spaces, like airports, train stations, and restaurants.

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GUIDES & ITINERARIES

Best Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

Use my solo travel itineraries, travel tips, day trip ideas, maps, and recommended things to do in Washington, D.C. and surrounding Virginia and Maryland destinations, all from my travel in Washington, D.C., to plan your best Washington, D.C. solo travel.

The more I travel in Washington, D.C. the more that gets added to this Washington DC Travel Guide. Keep checking back.

Best Washington, D.C. Tours

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Best Food Tours in Washington

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Best Boat Tours in Washington, D.C.

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Best Day Trips from Washington, D.C.

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HOW TO BOOK WASHINGTON, D.C. TRAVEL

It’s important to book the top three travel necessities early: flights, accommodations and ground transportation.

No Washington, D.C. guide would be complete without the booking tools below. These, along with fun Washington, D.C. things to do and ecotourism ideas, will allow you to realize your solo trip to Washington D.C.

Cheap Flights to Washington, D.C.

Flights to D.C. arrive at Washington Dulles Airport and Ronald Regan National Airport, which is much closer to Washington, D.C. and makes for easier travel.

With the ever-growing demand for airline tickets to Washington, D.C., flights book quicker these days. Find cheap flights to Washington now.

Don’t Wait to Book Your Flight to Ronald Regan National

Vietnam vets statue Washington DC

Washington, D.C. Places to Stay

Second in importance to buying airline tickets to Washington, D.C. is finding the best place to stay in Washington for your Washington, D.C. solo travel. Develop your Washington, D.C. travel itinerary now and find the best Washington travel accommodations to knock one more travel planning item off your solo travel list.

Find the Best Solo Travel Accommodations in Washington, D.C.

Getting Around Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. has all forms of transportation, including Carpoolworld, Uber, Lyft, and other possible regional ridesharing services and apps (research in advance if they are in your destination area).

Of course, you can easily get a taxi or find a rental a car in Washington if it better suits your Washington, D.C. travel itinerary.

Find the Best Deals on Washington Rental Cars

Washington, D.C. also has regional buses, the metro, and is part of the Amtrak train system.

Arlington-Cemetary-Metro-Station

WASHINGTON, D.C. ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS

There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in Washington, D.C. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.

Air Travel Tips

Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.

Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Ground Transportation

Try to avoid flying to Washington, D.C. by taking a regional bus or the Amtrak train.

In and around D.C., the metro is your best bet for accessing multiple locations while saving time and money.

When booking a rideshare in Washington, select the Uber Green option, instead of a traditional rideshare, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in Washington, D.C.

The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in Washington, D.C. are public transportation, walking, or renting a bicycle or electric scooter.

Explore Washington Bike and Electric Scooter Rentals

Lime also has electric scooters to rent in Washington, D.C. for fast and clean commuting in select cities.

Man on electric scooter Pennsylvania Avenue with Capitol Building

Accommodation Tips

Look for Washington, D.C. accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:

Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for USA Green Global members.

Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.

Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.

Art Garden Washington DC

LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for USA certifications.

Green Lodging Program – Audubon International has an environmental stewardship certification through third-party verification. Search its certified members directory.

GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.

Another way to find accommodations in Washington implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is to reserve a Booking.com Travel Sustainable accommodation. Booking.com started the Travel Sustainable program in 2022.

Find Your Travel Sustainable Stay in Washington, D.C.

Eco-Friendly Things To Do

Washington, D.C. has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.

Search Green Global and Green Key awarded members for eco-friendly activity providers in Washington, D.C. Some may also have the GSTC Certified logo.

Top Eco-Friendly Activities in Washington, D.C.

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Eco-Travel Products

There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel, like bringing sustainable and eco-friendly products to protect Washington D.C.’s environment. 

For more ideas on how to travel with the planet in mind, read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.

Hawk on art sculpture Washington DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. TRAVEL SAFETY

Before You Go

Buy USA travel insurance and international medical insurance for your Washington, D.C. solo travel to protect yourself and cover for emergencies.

Safety in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the travel safety tips in the USA Travel Guide, please ensure you research the local travel and weather advisories in advance and respect warnings not to travel.

Let people know where are you going, provide them your itinerary, and ensure you have safety and emergency measures provided for in your travel belongings.

Read up on the latest updates for safety, keep alert, and avoid walking in certain areas at night.

WASHINGTON, D.C. BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS

Washington, D.C. Sales Tax

Washington levies a statewide sales tax and cities levy an additional, local sales tax. Where you vacation in Washington could increase your holiday budget. Reviewing Washington, D.C.’s sales tax rates may help you prepare your travel budget.

Best Time to Visit Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C’s high tourist season, and most expensive time to visit, is in the summer (June to August). Spring time, such as during the blooming of the cherry blossoms, and year-end holiday travel can also be pricey. The least expensive time to go to Washington, D.C. would be in the shoulder season to winter months (September to early November and January to March).

Washington, D.C. experiences very hot and humid summer (and sometimes autumn) months. Ultimately, for nice weather, less tourists, and lower costs, recommended months for visiting Washington, D.C. are March, September, and October. Still, I recommend booking well in advance. Dress in layers for versatility of weather during these months.

Mussels and bread Old Ebbit Grill Washington DC

Budget Accommodations

Hostels could save you a lot of money on Washington, D.C. accommodations, especially if you stay in a dorm-style room. Save more money by booking well in advance.

Many hostels also offer private rooms, which I choose from time to time. Private rooms in hostels could possibly be cheaper than hotels in Washington, D.C. – it depends on where you stay and how far in advance you reserve.

Don’t overlook exploring hostels in Washington, D.C. if you’re on a budget.

Reserve Your Washington Hostel

Best Time to Book Travel

Washington, D.C. is a pricey destination. The sooner you book your reservations, the more you’re likely to save money and get the best flight, accommodation, and rental car choices and deals.

Ready to book Washington solo travel? Don’t miss out and find the best Washington travel deals. The best time to book travel is now. Bundling flight, hotel and/or transportation reservations may even save you more money when traveling Washington state.

Book Washington Travel Early to Save Money

Flowers in front of Vietnam Memorial Washington DC

PERSONAL STORY

I grew up in Northern Virginia area as well as lived there as a young adult, so I am quite familiar with the entire Beltway area. This was ideal to being able to catch the ever-expanding metro into Washington, D.C. to take in sporting or music events, as well as enjoy the food scene and museums. Washington, D.C. pretty much as it all for an eclectic and educational visit. Just try to avoid driving. It will make your visit much easier, trust me.

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