follow along!

Here's where you'll find inspiration and insights on travel & wellness — usually, both at the same time! Linger here a while, and let's chat soon.

Expert Tips
more categories


FAST Passports — Step By Step
Discovering the World by Yacht Charter
Gems of the Côte d’Azur
Now Trending:

Ready to Make Your Dreams Happen?

tell me more

Download your pre-departure checklist!

Discovering DC: Unforgettable Experiences

Expert Tips

I’ve lived in DC for over 35 years, and I love this city like no other. Designed by a Frenchman, Pierre L’Enfant, the layout of the city reminds me of the elegance of Paris with its broad boulevards, the spacious Mall, and intellectual debates.

The international population ensures you’ll hear other languages just walking down the streets. Perpetual learners, both young and old, satisfy their curiosity and thirst for knowledge at the many universities that spread across this city.

The art scene is thriving, too. The Kennedy Center opened The Reach to expand its community offerings, and the theater scene is vibrant, too. Revived neighborhoods like the Wharf, Shaw, and Union Market prove our capital city’s exciting growth. 

There’s so much to explore here. One of my absolute favorite ways to see the city is by boat, which we can arrange.  And the cherry blossom season, which is coming up, is always a magical time. The aromas are so amazing, and the petal storms are truly special. 

I had a hard time curating this list, but if I had only three days, these are the unusual highlights I’d hit. And I presume you’ve already hit the Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, and FDR Memorials and the National Archives on your eighth-grade trip! (My favorites are the FDR, Jefferson, and Archives.) 

Day One :: Government & Learning

Capitol Hill

The iconic heart of American democracy, Capitol Hill boasts the majestic United States Capitol, where visitors can tour the historic chambers of Congress and witness legislative sessions. You can easily access the visitor’s gallery and witness the deliberations of the House or Senate by reaching out to your local representative. 

Supreme Court

The apex of the US judicial system, the Supreme Court offers visitors the chance to witness court proceedings and learn about landmark cases that have shaped the nation’s legal landscape. The public can attend oral arguments before the court and see justices in action. The high-wire intellectual debate is genuinely something to behold!

Library of Congress

The largest library in the world, the Library of Congress houses millions of books, manuscripts, maps, and more, including rare treasures like the Gutenberg Bible and Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence. You can explore the stunning Main Reading Room and check out their exhibits at one of their three buildings – the Jefferson, the Madison, or the Adams. The copyright office is here, too, and it is neat to check out. 

Folger Library

Dedicated to the world of William Shakespeare, the Folger Library boasts an unparalleled collection of Shakespearean artifacts, including rare books, manuscripts, and artwork. It’s been under renovation for the last few years, but you can now attend theatrical performances of Shakespeare’s plays in the Elizabethan-style Folger Theatre, bringing the Bard’s timeless works to life in an intimate setting.

Botanical Gardens

A lush oasis in the city’s heart, featuring a vast array of plant species worldwide within meticulously curated indoor and outdoor gardens. It’s a true jungle escape just steps from the grounds of the Capitol.  

Day Two :: Art & Spy’s


A cutting-edge fusion of art and technology, Artechouse offers immersive digital experiences through interactive installations, captivating visitors with its innovative approach to contemporary art. Their cherry blossom exhibit is one not to be missed.  

Spy Museum

The Bond Auto exhibit at the Spy Museum in DC is an exciting showcase of iconic vehicles featured in James Bond films, such as the Aston Martin DB5, made famous by its appearance in multiple Bond movies, complete with gadgets and weaponry reminiscent of those seen on screen. The exhibit offers a unique opportunity to get up close to these legendary cars and explore their intricate details and the role they played in the world of espionage fiction. The Spy Museum offers a range of interactive features and exhibits that immerse visitors in the thrilling world of espionage with interactive displays where visitors can test their spy skills by deciphering codes, navigating laser mazes, and trying out surveillance techniques. I love the history that this museum so well captures, leaning into spycraft, puzzles and mysteries!

Museum of Illusions

Prepare to challenge your perception at the Museum of Illusions, where mind-bending exhibits and optical illusions offer a fun and educational journey into the mysteries of vision and perspective.

National Gallery of Art

Housing an unparalleled collection of art spanning centuries, this museum showcases masterpieces by renowned artists. Opening in September 2024, the NGA will exhibit an impressive impressionism exhibit, honoring the 150th anniversary of the first impressionist exhibition. “Paris 1874: The Impressionist Moment” brings together some 130 paintings, works on paper, prints, sculptures, and photographs to explore this artistic movement. I can’t wait!

Day Three :: African-American History & Jazz

Ben’s Chili Bowl

A beloved DC institution on U Street, Ben’s Chili Bowl has been serving up its famous half-smokes and chili since 1958, becoming a cultural landmark in the African American community and a gathering place for locals and celebrities alike. As a symbol of resilience and community, this place served as a meeting point during the Civil Rights Movement and is still a testament to the enduring spirit of African American entrepreneurship.

U Street History Tour

Embark on a journey through the rich cultural heritage of U Street, once known as “Black Broadway,” where jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald graced the stages of renowned venues like the Lincoln Theatre and Howard Theatre. Explore the neighborhood’s vibrant history, from its heyday as a hub of African American culture and nightlife to its role in the Civil Rights Movement and ongoing revitalization efforts.

Howard University Tour

Delve into the legacy of Howard University, a historically black institution that has played a pivotal role in African American education and activism since its founding in 1867. Visit iconic landmarks like the Founders Library and the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, and learn about the university’s distinguished alumni, including trailblazers in fields ranging from politics and civil rights to literature and the arts.

African American Museum

Immerse yourself in the powerful narrative of the African American experience at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where exhibits spanning slavery to the present day illuminate the contributions and struggles of African Americans in shaping the nation. Explore artifacts, multimedia displays, and interactive exhibits highlighting the resilience, creativity, and resilience of African Americans.

Blues Alley

Step into the intimate setting of renowned Blues Alley, DC’s oldest continuously operating jazz supper club, where legendary jazz musicians have graced the stage since 1965. Experience the soulful sounds of live jazz performances while savoring Southern-inspired cuisine, continuing the tradition of showcasing the rich legacy of jazz in the nation’s capital.

Other Sites of Note

These are worth extending your visit to DC because they are also worth a visit!

National Portrait Gallery

Situated in the heart of Washington, DC, the National Portrait Gallery houses a vast collection of portraits depicting individuals who have shaped American history and culture, from presidents to pop icons. Unlike traditional art museums, the National Portrait Gallery offers a fascinating exploration of American identity through portraiture, providing insight into the diverse stories and contributions of its subjects. One of its standout features is the Hall of Presidents, where visitors can view an extensive collection of portraits depicting every president of the United States.

Arlington Cemetery

Witness the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown Soldier and visit the graves of JFK and RFK. You can also head up to Arlington House, which overlooks the cemetery. See the memorials to the Challenger and Columbia shuttle crews.  

Mount Vernon

The historic estate of George Washington offers extraordinary insights into the life of the first US President through preserved architecture and gardens. You’ll learn a lot through these exhibits.  

National Arboretum

This sprawling botanical haven showcases diverse plant collections, including the iconic National Capitol Columns amidst tranquil landscapes. The trails and scenery are a hidden gem in the nation’s capital. 

Kreeger Museum

Hidden on the outskirts of Georgetown, this architectural gem houses an impressive collection of 19th and 20th-century art in a serene setting, offering a unique blend of art and nature. 

Glenstone Museum

Nestled amidst tranquil landscapes in Potomac, Maryland, Glenstone Museum offers a unique blend of art, architecture, and nature, featuring a carefully curated collection of contemporary artworks displayed within serene indoor and outdoor spaces. The peaceful ambiance of the museum’s grounds is designed to foster contemplation and reflection and explore thought-provoking installations by contemporary artists.

National Cathedral of DC

A towering masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the National Cathedral of Washington, DC, stands as a symbol of spiritual and national unity. Visitors marvel at the cathedral’s breathtaking views of the city from St. Alban’s Hill, learn about the stories portrayed in the stained glass windows that tell the story of America, and visit the peaceful Bishop’s Garden.

As a seasoned resident of Washington, DC, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the city’s evolution and experiencing its myriad delights firsthand. From the grandeur of Capitol Hill to the vibrant pulse of U Street, every corner of this dynamic metropolis tells a story of resilience, creativity, and diversity.

As you explore the wonders of the nation’s capital, I hope these curated highlights will serve as a roadmap to uncovering the hidden gems and timeless treasures that make Washington, DC, a truly unparalleled destination.

Welcome to Washington, DC — where every street corner could have been a spy drop! And where you’ll enjoy international food, arts, and culture while enjoying this oh-so-very-European-like city.

Pre-Departure Checklist

Packing mishaps range from inconvenient (heading to the Bahamas without a swimsuit) to disastrous (leaving something in your fridge that'll turn into a science experiment before you get back), but most are preventable. We've created this ultimate packing list to help you pack well, every time.


Be awed by escapades you didn’t even know were possible. And savor an impeccable holiday that makes you feel like a star before, during, and after your trip.