United States: what to do in Washington D.C.

To the point What to do in Washington DC: presentation of its must-sees and my suggestions for activities, hotels and favorites.
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Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States and is located on the banks of the Potomac River. The city is characterized by its imposing historical monuments and buildings and the spectacular cherry blossoms in early April.

The political center the United States is about an hour and 40 minutes by plane from Montreal, and offers an incursion into American history and politics for a few days.

Visit Washington

There are obviously some must-sees in Washington that can be visited very well on foot:

  • The exterior of the White House and the White House Visitor Center;
  • Lincoln Memorial;
  • National Mall;
  • Washington Monument;
  • And the many commemorative parks and museums around the National Mall.
La Maison Blanche – Washington DC Crédit Emmanuelle21
Lincoln Memorial – Washington DC Crédit Emmanuelle
Lincoln Memorial – Washington DC Crédit Emmanuelle19

At the end of the latter, the Capitol is obviously a must from where you will have a magnificent panorama. You should also visit in the evening, especially the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, when the lighting enhances the imposing and even dramatic aspect of these buildings.

Capitol – Washington DC Crédit Emmanuelle17
Capitol – Washington DC Crédit Emmanuelle18
Capitol Washington DC Credit Emmanuelle
Capitol Washington DC Credit Emmanuelle

My suggestions

I walked to all of the places mentioned above on my first day of touring and chose, with a colleague who accompanied me, to visit the Holocaust Museum.

I was not disappointed: the place is very well laid out, presents the chronology of events in a sensitive and touching way, but you have to expect to come out shaken and even upset. The range of museums of all kinds in Washington is so incredible that you could spend an entire week there and still not have done it all.

Holocaust Memorial Museum – Washington DC Crédit Emmanuelle23
Washington DC Crédit Emmanuelle22

Since I had little time to visit Washington, I opted for the Hop on Hop off bus tour which offers two routes:

  • The red line shows the main sites in the heart of Washington;
  • The blue line running outside to the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.

I had time to do both routes, although the blue line is less interesting in my opinion. This type of ticket allows you to get off at any stop, visit, and board and continue the route. Very convenient for a quick tour of Washington.

Where to sleep in Washington?

During my stay, I was able to try the Moxy Washington, DC Downtown Marriott and here is my feedback:

To earn Marriott Bonvoy points for staying at any of the hotels in the U.S. capital, here are the best credit cards:

How to get around?

Washington D. C. is well served by public transit. The metro network comprises six lines and 97 stations. The bus lines are also numerous: you don’t need a car to get around the city.

Transportation passes are also very convenient. At all metro stations, you can buy a SmarTrip card for one, three or seven days. This gives you unlimited access to all public transportation. There is also a mobile app to use a virtual card with Apple Wallet or Google Play.

Washington dc metro

Washington Cherry Blossom Festival

Visiting Washington during the cherry blossom season is a magical experience. They are mainly found around the Tidal Basin and on the National Mall. Head to the Jefferson Memorial for a great view of the cherry trees with the Washington Monument in the distance.


The peak bloom is variable and the date changes every year. This event is always in early spring, around late March/early April. The U.S. National Park Service makes its forecast and publishes the expected date about a month in advance.

You can even watch the live condition of the cherry trees from cameras installed around the Tidal Basin.

Several activities and events are organized. Every year there is an opening ceremony, a parade, a kite festival and even a fireworks show.


Foreign Exchange Fees

In the U.S., use one of these three no-FX-fee credit card to avoid paying a 2.5% fee!

Leave with your points

For the flight, you can use Aeroplan points to purchase your ticket. In economy class, the flight starts at 6,000 points for a one-way trip between Montreal and Washington-Dulles, according to the points predictor.


How do I earn Aeroplan points on flights? Here is our guide.

Tip: For the best view of the Washington Monument (obelisk), Lincoln Memorial and National Mall upon landing, be sure to select a seat on the left side of the aircraft.

Bottom Line

Washington, D.C. is a great place to visit in a few days, and there are plenty of museums, parks and historic buildings for everyone to enjoy.

There are obviously a lot of tourists in summer (I visited in August) and during the cherry blossom season. Finally, Washington is an excellent option when using Aeroplan points and Marriott Bonvoy points.

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Emmanuelle travels a lot for business, in fact Chicago is her second home. A frequent traveller since childhood, she is constantly preparing for her next trip.

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