5 eco-friendly travel tips:
Walking or biking is always the easiest eco-friendly option when traveling. Bike and Roll DC offers the most entertaining, and informative Segway and bike tours of Washington DC.
Try to buy locally made, or handmade products when possible. Imported items that are flown or shipped in have a much larger carbon footprint.
Choose “green hotels” when traveling in the U.S. You can check to see if the hotel has the LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council on usgbc.org.
My favorite eco-friendly travel tip: drink the local beer! Same as buying local products- local beer and food cuts down on transporting costs and helps the environment- while being the fun part of going somewhere new!
Always bring your own reusable water bottle! You can also invest in one with a filter built into it for those times when there’s only tap water.
Spring break is right around the corner, and if you have time for a quick two day trip, visiting our nation’s capital may be the perfect getaway.
The best time to visit D.C. is during cherry blossom season, once spring is here and the ground is covered in white petals. Cherry blossoms are dependent on the weather in the winter months leading up to March and April. Since we had a fairly warm winter, the Yoshino cherry blossom peak season happens closer to mid-March, if we would have had a colder, snowy winter, the blooms would appear in mid-April. If you are planning to drive and your trip could be somewhat flexible, you can always simply stalk the National Park Service website, www.nps.gov/subjects/cherryblossom/ for the bloom forecast. You are also sure to see cherry blossoms mid-March to mid-April during the D.C. National Cherry Blossom Festival, whether in peak bloom or not.
Cherry blossom season can be one of the busiest times of the year in Washington, D.C., especially around the National Mall and the Tidal Basin. If you are looking to find some of the D.C. cherry blossom trees without the crowds, there are a bunch of other spots to capture your pictures with the trees. Try checking out the United States National Arboretum, the Washington Monument, Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Hains Port in East Potomac Park, or Kenworth neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland.
You can avoid the tough parking situation, and be very eco-friendly by taking public transportation to the D.C. cherry blossoms, try the D.C. Metro and walk as much as possible. If you are coming from a little further out, you can easily drive to a suburban metro station, park your car for a small fee for the day and take the train. Try giving your feet a little break while walking around the city by hopping on a bike via the Capital Bikeshare program, or check out any of the electric scooters around town, you will just need an app to access them. As you wander around the city, The Circulator Bus around the National Mall will also save you countless steps.
Cobblestone streets, historic charm, luxurious shopping… on your first night, soak in all Georgetown has to offer. Georgetown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. To stay eco-friendly you can take the DC Circulator Bus from Dupont Circle or Union Station - versus taking a taxi, and Georgetown isn’t accessible by Metro.
Take a stroll down to Washington Harbour and enjoy the Potomac Waterfront views before checking out some of the restaurants with outdoor seating. If you have time, Georgetown Waterfront Park has some of the most picturesque kayaking, jogging and cycling backdrops the city has to offer. M Street and Wisconsin Avenue also intersect at a perfect picturesque spot filled with historic charm. These two streets hold a bunch of great spots to enjoy happy hour, grab dinner, shop at any of the boutiques, or stop by one of the cafes. There are a bunch of locally owned gems that are perfect for a quick bite. M Street is known for its wide range in the retail scene, from mainstream crowd-pleaser, Anthropologie to the exclusive high-end, Rag & Bone.
There is also a solid selection of upscale home design stores and some of the city’s best fine art galleries. You could also tour 18th and 19th century mansions, and even one-time homes of JFK and Julia Child.
Baked & Wired has incredible cupcakes, even better than Georgetown Cupcake, although Georgetown Cupcake did have it’s own television show. Enjoy the beauty of Georgetown’s cobblestone sidewalks, grand homes and peaceful C&O Canal. Georgetown tends to be a favorite of locals and tourists, and it’s easy to see why.
If you only have time to do one thing on your second day in D.C., make visiting the National Mall your main focus. Spread out across two miles from the US Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, ”The Mall '' is the heart of downtown and home to the country’s most famous monuments and memorials. Enjoy walking the Mall and stopping at the various monuments and memorials- which, by the way, are free and open to the public 24 hours a day! You will be blown away by the world-famous museums and impressive federal buildings along Constitution Avenue.
My advice would be to start at the very impressive Abraham Lincoln Memorial at the west end of the Mall and head east. Take in the famous white stone building with thirty six columns and the 19-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in contemplation, flanked on both sides with inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address, his most famous speech. The view from the steps overlooking the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument are amazing.
Next head to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which honors members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War. The “wall” is actually made up of two identical walls that are each 246 feet long and contain more than 58,000 names of all of the veterans who fought, died, and those who went missing in action in Vietnam and South East Asia.
The World War II Memorial sits at the east end of the Reflecting Pool and honors all 16 million people who served the American armed forces, including more than 400,000 who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The World War II Memorial contains 56 granite columns that symbolize unity among the 48 states, seven federal territories and the District of Columbia and highlights America’s victory on the Atlantic and Pacific fronts during World War II.
The Washington Monument, also known as The Pencil, is one of the nation’s most recognizable structures. It was built to honor George Washington and is the first thing you may notice in the distance driving into D.C. at night. The Washington Monument was built in 1884 and is the world’s tallest structure made of stone and the tallest obelisk, at 555 feet tall.
The National Park Service operates tours that shuttle tourists to the top of the monument by an elevator that was added in 1889.
The U.S. Capitol Building is a massive network of buildings, offices and meeting rooms and is where all the business of Washington happens. This Washington D.C. half day tour includes priority access to the Capitol building. If you want to tour the Capitol, U.S. residents may book through their appropriate Congressional representative or Senator.
The West Wing Cafe is a great deli style lunch spot near the Capitol. They have an amazing sandwich and panini selection, delicious soups, wraps, and salads all reasonably priced in a casual setting.
It’s time to head towards the National Mall and to The Smithsonian after the Capitol. The distance is about 2 miles from one end of the Mall to the other, it's walkable, or you can also ride the Metro. The Capitol South Metro station will take you right to the Smithsonian station, the Metro stop is located in the center of the Mall, so be sure to take some time to enjoy the view as you arrive. You will see the Capitol to the East and the Washington Monument to the West.
The Smithsonian is comprised of 19 museums. If you only have time to explore one or two of the museums, I would suggest either the National Museum of Natural History or the National Museum of American History. Both museums are located to the north of the Smithsonian Metro Station, across the Mall. Pick up a museum map and spend an hour or two exploring the exhibits.
With new restaurants opening almost daily, your biggest problem on your second night in D.C. will be deciding where to go eat. You can find almost everything in the District, from casual and delicious to upscale and swanky.
If you have built up an appetite from exploring all day, Emilie’s in Capitol Hill is family-style dining from Chef Kevin Tien, the chef behind the late Himitsu. Emilie’s has an open style kitchen, so you can even watch Tien whipping up their housemade pastas and whole branzino.
Founding Farmers on Pennsylvania Avenue is a great spot for families, enjoy dinner in their rustic-chic style, or check out their incredible breakfast before you leave the next day. Try the goat cheese ravioli or the comforting chicken and waffles. Some of their breakfast favorites include chocolate chip pancakes and the goat cheese beets poached eggs hash.
Other favorites include Farmers Fishers Bakers, Mama Chang’s, Rooster & Owl, Little Sesame, Hatoba for ramen in the Navy Yard, Detroit-style pizzas and famous double-stacked burgers at Emmy Squared, fine dining by the prolific restaurateur Ashok Bajaj and esteemed chef Frank Ruta at Annabelle, Thompson Italian is another family-friendly favorite, or Anju if you’re in the mood for contemporary Korean cuisine. You could also enjoy dinner and drinks on The Wharf, dine on Spanish seafood at Del Mar, or Afro-Caribbean cuisine by the waterfront at Kith/Kin.
The options are endless!