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What to do in Washington, DC in a few days?

To the point What to do in Washington, DC: presentation of its must-sees, and my suggestions of activities, hotels and favorites.

The capital of the United States, Washington D. C. 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.

A sweet spot of Aeroplan

Travel to Washington, DC, using Aeroplanprimes aériennes will be based on the North American fare structure.

aeroplan – grille – amerique nord

From Montreal (YUL) to Washington-Reagan (DCA) – which I recommend, as you will be closer to the city and save valuable transportation time – the distance is 487 miles and therefore falls into the 0-500 mile range, or 6,000 to 10,000 points in savings.

Expect a higher number of points during peak periods such as the cherry blossom season (April).

Vol de départ Washington
Vol de retour Washington

And you could get free Aeroplan points with the TDMD AeroplanMD Visa Infinite Card, which has the following caractéristiques :

With the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card you can earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points and a first-year annual fee rebate:

  • A welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with your new card
  • 20,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $1,500 within 90 days of Account opening
  • an additional 20,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $7,500 within 12 months of Account opening
  • Plus, get an annual fee rebate for the first year (instead of $139)
  • Annual fee rebate for the first year for up to 3 additional cardholders (instead of $75 per additional card)
  • $100 NEXUS fee rebate
  • Up to eight passengers travelling on the same reservation will all enjoy their first checked bag free (up to 23kg/50lb) when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight

It’s the best TD credit card for occasional Air Canada travellers.

With the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card, you earn 1.5 points per dollar of eligible purchases for:

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Air Canada purchases, including Air Canada Vacations

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.

What to see in Washington?

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

  • the White House,
  • the Lincoln Memorial,
  • the National Mall,
  • the Washington Monument
  • and the many memorial parks and museums located 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

Recommended activities

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 pretty incredible and you could spend a whole week there and still not have done the trick.

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 showing the main sites in the heart of Washington,
  • the blue line running outward 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.

A word about cherry trees

When to visit Washington to see the cherry blossoms?

From March 20 to April 17. But be aware that prices for accommodation and flights skyrocket during this period.

Where to see the cherry trees in Washington, DC?

Mainly at Tidal Basin, near Jefferson Memorial. But they are also found north of the Lincoln Memorial and along the shoreline of East Potomac Park.

You can get more information about the festival and see the great photos of visitors on the Cherry Blossom Watch website.

Washington DC Cherry Blossom. Crédit photo Nohemy Garzon
Washington DC Cherry Blossom. Crédit photo Nohemy Garzon

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:

Conversion fees

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

Conclusion

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 a great option when using Aeroplan points and Marriott points.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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