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Washington DC Bucket List!

welcome to washington dc, state signs, washington dc bucket list, things to do in washington dc, bucket list washington dcNamed after our Nation’s first President, Washington DC was founded in 1791, and since then it has done all it can to preserve the fascinating, age-old landmarks that continue to instill a sense of pride and passion in all who come to visit. While many of its historical gems remain, a few new treasures have surfaced, making our Washington DC bucket list an exciting, and eclectic, mix of the old and new.

presidential mural, all the presidents painting, president obama painting, murals in washington DC, washington DC bucket list1.  An obvious must-do sits in our #1 spot, as no visit to DC is complete without seeing the many monuments and memorials that surround the National Mall and the paddle-boat speckled Tidal Basin. Plus there’s something surreal about seeing the many images that filled your 5th grade Social Studies text books come to life! Here are a few of ones you mustn’t go without:

Climb to the top of the Washington Monument:

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american memorials, national mall things to do, washington monumentWe highly recommend reserving your tickets online as far in advance as possible, otherwise if you want to journey to the top of this iconic structure, you are forced to get in line as early as 6am to wait for the 8:30am ticket distribution, during which time they will hand out all of the available tickets for the day. And if you don’t get tickets, you can always nap, picnic or just enjoy being in its grand presence:

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american memorials, national mall things to do, washington monumentWatch the sunset at the Jefferson Monument, and be sure to look for the elevator that takes you inside to learn more about the incredible man who authored our Declaration of Independence.

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IMG_8151

IMG_8163For an even more special experience, visit the monuments at night (Historic Tours of America even offers a Monuments by Moonlight tour).

jefferson memorial, best monuments in dc, things to do in washington dc, washington dc bucket list, thomas jefferson statue, moon light tour historic tours of americaSearch for the misspelling of the word “future” in Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (on the north wall) at the Lincoln Monument. Don’t forget to bring a $1 bill and a penny for some fun and creative photo ops:

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lincoln monument, lincoln second inaugural address, lincoln monument misspelling, washington dc must do, creative lincoln monument photoCan you find the misspelling? You can see that they’ve tried to fill in the bottom leg of the “E” to correct it, but we know it’s there 😉

lincoln monument, lincoln second inaugural address, lincoln monument misspelling, washington dc must doDon’t ignore the lesser-known monuments and memorials, as each of them will undoubtedly find a way to pull on your heartstrings in their own unique ways. There’s the Titanic Memorial (we have an entirely new understanding of Jack’s “King of the World” move on the bow of the ship), the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, Iwo Jima and many more.

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iwo jima memorial, famous washington dc monuments, washington dc must do2. Another “monumental experience” you don’t want to miss, if you find yourself in DC during the Spring think about attending an unforgettable Easter Sunrise Service at the Lincoln Monument:

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easter sunrise service lincoln memorial, easter in washington dc, best easter traditions, what to do for easter in america, best easter vacation destinations, washington dc holiday celebrations, lincoln monument events, lincoln monument sunriseAs the warm morning sun rose above the Washington Monument in the distance, we knew it would be a morning with Abe that we would never forget.

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washington dc cherry blossoms, things to do in washington DC, how to see the cherry blossoms in DC, when to see the cherry blossoms in DC, couples adventures in washington DC, bucket list washington DC, cherry blossom photos, beautiful cherry blossoms washington DC, what do the cherry blossoms symbolize.We had no idea how much we would love DC until the moment we arrived. With historical jewels, sprawling parks, thai food and incredible cupcakes behind every corner, we could have stayed forever. washington dc cherry blossoms, things to do in washington DC, how to see the cherry blossoms in DC, when to see the cherry blossoms in DC, couples adventures in washington DC, bucket list washington DC, cherry blossom photos, beautiful cherry blossoms washington DC, what do the cherry blossoms symbolize, baked and wired washington dc cherry blossoms, things to do in washington DC, how to see the cherry blossoms in DC, when to see the cherry blossoms in DC, couples adventures in washington DC, bucket list washington DC, cherry blossom photos, beautiful cherry blossoms washington DC, what do the cherry blossoms symbolize, thomas jefferson monument, presidential monuments in america, statue of thomas jefferson Cherry Blossoms, on average, experience peak bloom around the first week of April (Bloom Watch here), however this year's cold weather kept them from coming out so soon. These are the various photos we took over the week-long period we were in town. Sharing the experience of watching these famous buds transform an entire city is something we will never forget. national cathedral, american cathedrals, amazing cathedrals around the world, cherry blossoms national cathedral, vietnam memorial, american memorials, national mall things to do, cherry blossoms national cathedral, vietnam memorial, american memorials, national mall things to do, cherry blossomsAnd then this started to happen: cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossomsJust 2 days later we found a tree that looked like this: cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossomsOn our last day in Washington DC we decided to walk along the National Mall one last time. Upon rounding the corner behind the Smithsonian Castle it was like we had fallen into something we had only seen in our dreams. cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms, smithsonian castle, romantic bench, pink flowers on a bench, street lamp, beautiful street lamp

washington dc cherry blossoms, things to do in washington DC, how to see the cherry blossoms in DC, when to see the cherry blossoms in DC, couples adventures in washington DC, bucket list washington DC, cherry blossom photos, beautiful cherry blossoms washington DC, what do the cherry blossoms symbolize.We had no idea how much we would love DC until the moment we arrived. With historical jewels, sprawling parks, thai food and incredible cupcakes behind every corner, we could have stayed forever. washington dc cherry blossoms, things to do in washington DC, how to see the cherry blossoms in DC, when to see the cherry blossoms in DC, couples adventures in washington DC, bucket list washington DC, cherry blossom photos, beautiful cherry blossoms washington DC, what do the cherry blossoms symbolize, baked and wired washington dc cherry blossoms, things to do in washington DC, how to see the cherry blossoms in DC, when to see the cherry blossoms in DC, couples adventures in washington DC, bucket list washington DC, cherry blossom photos, beautiful cherry blossoms washington DC, what do the cherry blossoms symbolize, thomas jefferson monument, presidential monuments in america, statue of thomas jefferson Cherry Blossoms, on average, experience peak bloom around the first week of April (Bloom Watch here), however this year's cold weather kept them from coming out so soon. These are the various photos we took over the week-long period we were in town. Sharing the experience of watching these famous buds transform an entire city is something we will never forget. national cathedral, american cathedrals, amazing cathedrals around the world, cherry blossoms national cathedral, vietnam memorial, american memorials, national mall things to do, cherry blossoms national cathedral, vietnam memorial, american memorials, national mall things to do, cherry blossomsAnd then this started to happen: cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossomsJust 2 days later we found a tree that looked like this: cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossomsOn our last day in Washington DC we decided to walk along the National Mall one last time. Upon rounding the corner behind the Smithsonian Castle it was like we had fallen into something we had only seen in our dreams. cherry blossoms , cherry blossom buds, cherry blossom festival washington dc, baby cherry blossoms, what are cherry blossoms, smithsonian castle, romantic bench, pink flowers on a bench5. Explore the culturally diverse streets of Adam’s Morgan, go to Tryst, voted the best coffee shop in DC (it really is a neat place) and eat at Amsterdam Falafel (so fresh and SO GOOD!).

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amsterdam falafel, washington dc best restaurants, falafel, amsterdam food dc6. Learn more than all of your years of elementary history class combined. Usually Drew and I are against anything that keeps us from navigating the streets by bike or on foot, but we have truly begun to appreciate the rest, wisdom and enjoyment that comes from navigating the streets of town in a sweet, little trolley narrated by one of the friendly, fact-filled Historic Tours of America guides:

old town trolley, best tours in america, historic tours of america, mr and mrs adventure, best tours in americaThe best part is that it’s a hop on, hop off tour, so you can use it to get from one destination to another and if your tour guide points out something interesting, you can go for it! They also have amphibious Duck Tours that literally drive into the Potomac!

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white house, visit the white house, go inside the white house, tickets to the white house, Concepcion PicciottoWe wanted to take a tour inside the White House, (which is wonderfully free like just about every tour in DC) but after we arrived we learned that tour requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. Though we still enjoyed peering over from the famous sidewalks of 1600 Pennslyvania Avenue, which has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800!

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madame tussauds, family fun washington dc, things to do in washington DC, wax presidents,, meet president obama, photo with president obama, meet the president in washington dcWe were shocked to learn that Madame Tussauds (history here) has been around since the 1700’s! Her first wax museum was in London and now there are branches in cities all across the globe, each exhibit reflecting the unique personalities of each destination. It’s a fun place to be a kid… and a big kid too!

madame toussauds, family fun washington dc, things to do in washington DC, wax presidents,9. Our favorite adventure of the entire trip was biking to Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington’s plantation estate, built in the 1600’s, situated along the serene banks of the Potomac River, filled with years of American history and fascinating facts about our country’s first President.

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We started from Gravelly Point (free parking!) in Arlington, which offers a lovely view of the city’s monument-adorned skyline, but more notably is situated just 400-feet from the Ronald Reagan Airport runway, making it an epic spot to watch the airplanes land and take off any time of day!

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mount vernon, biking to mount vernon, things to do in washington dc, biking in washington dc, dc must dos, mount vernon bike trail, bike trail to mount vernon, best bike trails in washington dcThe last mile of the trip to Mount Vernon is completely uphill and depending on your stamina, it’s worth noting that there are several Metrorail stations within close proximity to the trail should you need a possible bail-out option for the ride back.

mount vernon, biking to mount vernon, things to do in washington dc, biking in washington dc, dc must dos, mount vernon bike trail, bike trail to mount vernon, best bike trails in washington dcWe ended the day watching the sparkling lights of the planes fly over us and Gravelly Point.

gravelly point, mount vernon bike trail, must do washington dc, romantic washington dc10. Even locals have to appreciate the National Mall and the abundance of culture, art, wisdom and entertainment that ooze from the 19 museums, galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities that make up the world’s largest museum, The Smithsonian Institution:

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the national mall, washington dc, the smithsonian institute, things to do in washington dc, hope diamondSee the Hope Diamond, “the most famous diamond in the world” (below) at the National Museum of Natural History, step back in time at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, visit the world’s most visited museum (second only to the Musée du Louvre in Paris) the National Air and Space Museum and admire the incredible collection of ancient masterworks at the National Gallery of Art, famous for being the former site of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station, where 20th president James Garfield was shot in 1881.

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the natural history museum washington dc, the smithsonian institute, things to do in washington dcAnother thing you can’t miss is the unique opportunity to see the Giant Pandas at the National Zoo!

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national zoo washington dc gaint pandasHere’s a fascinating list of Travel and Leisure’s Most visited Museums in the World, including a number of DC gems. If you have the time, another museum that we were told to see is the Newseum.

Bonus: Ending our list with a bang, you have to visit DC during one of it’s many celebrations and watch the fireworks sparkle over the Tidal Basin.

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fireworks washington dc, must do washington dc, where to watch fireworks in washington dcWe happened to be in town during the Cherry Blossom Festival, and had front row seats near the Southwest Waterfront Park (where the Titanic Memorial is located). There are a ton of great spots to view the glittering show from, including the aforementioned Gravelly Point, but whatever you do don’t try to bike and watch the show at the same time (the video below gives reason why)….

Hopefully that gave you a good chuckle 🙂 In all honestly, it’s difficult to fit all of the awesomeness that is afforded in Washington DC into one list. So, here are some additional lists we used during our visit and a few things we didn’t have time to fit in that would have loved to:

Eating an iconic bowl of chili at Ben’s Chili Bowl

Getting delicious sandwiches at Taylor Gourmet, perfect for a Gravelly Point picnic.

Eating a meal at the “Proposal Booth” at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown, the very table where JFK proposed to beautiful Jackie O’

Exploring and enjoying Virginia’s stunning wine country

51 Things Everyone Should Experience At Least Once In DC

Not For Tourists list of the best restaurants in DC by category and price range, SO helpful.

The Great Washington Bucket List: 50 Things Every Local Needs to Do

There certainly is no lack of things to do in DC, and hopefully our list will help inspire some monumental moments that will go down in your own personal history, forever.

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Mr Link

    April 28, 2015

    Great post Mr. & Mrs. Adventure. Mr. and Mrs. Link here. While you’re in the neighborhood, you should check out the Loudoun Heights, Harpers Ferry, Maryland Heights loop. Only about an hour out of town, tons of great history, two major rivers, three states and a Thomas Jefferson historic point to boot:

    http://www.mrmrslink.com/Jed/loudoun-heights-harpers-ferry-maryland-heights/

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      April 28, 2015

      Thank you so much for that awesome recommendation! It seems like there are endless awesome things to enjoy in this city 🙂

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