Washington, D.C. Bucket List

I’ve always been a big fan of Washington, D.C. The city is beautiful and there are so many interesting places to visit, whether you want to enjoy a night out or have a historical, cultural experience. Plus, D.C. is one of those cities that always has something going on— so you can easily plan a trip during any season.

Kate Howard and her husband developed the website hotelsneardcmetro.com to help travelers navigate D.C. and find accommodations that are conveniently placed near metro lines and primary attractions. Below Kate shares her bucket list of activities to enjoy on your next visit to D.C.:

1. Tour Every Smithsonian Museum 

Washington DC Bucket List: Smithsonian Museum

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D.C. is famous for being the home of many Smithsonian Museums and Institutions. There are 17 Smithsonian museums, galleries and a zoo in the D.C. area, and each one caters to a specific topic and culture. The biggest advantage of having the Smithsonian Museums on your bucket list is the cost— they’re all free to the public!

The most popular museum is probably the National Air and Space Museum. The inside is filled with incredible planes, NASA crafts and simulators that will bring out childlike wonder in both kids and adults.

2. Attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Washington DC Bucketlist, Cherry Blossom Festival

Since 1934, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has probably been the most popular festival in the district. Millions of visitors from around the world come to take in the blooming pink cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin area of D.C.

D.C. has a three week-long festival with a pink-tie fundraiser, live music, parades, and a mix of both Japanese and American cultural activities in honor of US-Japan relations. It’s a beautiful sight to see the vibrant petals reflected in the water and the Capitol Building in the backdrop.

3. Find Every Secret Door at the Mansion on O Street

Washington DC Bucket List, Manion on O Street

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The Mansion on O Street is a combination of five row homes combined into one large mansion, which is now both a gallery and hotel. What makes it so bucket list-worthy is the over 70 secret doors throughout the entire complex. It’s tough to crack, but so rewarding. It’s worth the visit if not just for the history (Rosa Parks used to live there), stunning decor and live music performances.

4. Experience Passport DC

Washington, DC Bucket List, Passport DC

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Every May, D.C. hosts an event for International Cultural Awareness Month called Passport DC. It’s a wildly fun event where 70 embassies and more than 30 cultural institutions come together to create an experience of food, music, clothing and tradition from around the world. Being able to experience so many different countries and appreciate the diversity of Washington, D.C. is incredibly rewarding.


5. Explore the Library of Congress

Washington DC Bucket List, Library of Congress

For all the fellow nerds out there, we had to include the Library of Congress as a bucket list item. For one, it’s the largest library in the world. The WORLD. Second, the architecture is absolutely incredible. The walls and ceiling are beautiful and ornate, even just reading a book in the main hall feels like an opulent experience.

6. Tour the Monuments at Night

Washington DC Bucket List, Nighttime Tour

Visiting the D.C. monuments and memorials during the day is certainly awe-inspiring. But, visiting them at night is a whole different story. Whether it’s during the winter, summer, spring or fall, seeing the various monuments from throughout history is breathtakingly beautiful. I think it makes a much better impact than during the day, especially if you get a chance to start at twilight when the sky starts to fade from orange to purple.

7. Visit the Arlington Cemetery

Washington DC Bucket List, Arlington Cemetery

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The Arlington Cemetery is a must see for any D.C. trip, especially for history and military aficionados. The massive cemetery is in Arlington, Virginia— just across the Potomac from Downtown D.C. (here’s the closest Metro stop which has many low cost hotels nearby).

Within this 624 acre cemetery, there are over 400,000 military gravesites, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, John F. Kennedy’s Gravesite, Memorial Amphitheater, Changing of the Guard ceremony and the Memorial Arboretum. It’s an incredible and somber experience that travelers should take advantage of when they visit D.C.

What are your favorite spots in Washington, D.C.?

About the author

Kate Howard

Kate Howard is a loving wife and mother who enjoys trying new foods and exploring new places. From nine to five, she works as a kindergarten teacher, but on evenings and weekends, she runs HotelsNearDCMetro.com with her husband, Jeff.