What To Do In Washington DC (if you only have 2 hours)

by | Mar 22, 2015 | Life, Travel | 2 comments

I’m not claiming I am an expert on the touristing of Washington DC, but herefollows my post:

What To Do In Washington DC (if you only have 2 hours)

I’m just saying I had 2 hours to tour Washington DC and if you ever find you have just a smidge of time in the our nation’s capital, you can still see some really awesome things and quite possibly be moved to tears.

I was moved to tears, and it wasn’t because it was 30 some degrees with snow on the ground and had to wear flats that eventually got soaked.

IMG_7986_blogI have to admit, some of my sightseeing success was due to the fact I started out at the United Nations Offices… which is located roughly around 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue. Since the White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue… I had a really close start!

I walked from there and passed a grilled cheese shop.


I really wanted to stop there. It looked yummy. If you have more than 2 hours in DC, maybe go there and tell me if it’s worth stopping for a bite.

I digress. With the Washington Nation Monument in my line of sight… I just walked. I walked past the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

That was not ugly.

And I proceeded onward… with the monument at the center of my target.

Washington National Monument in Washington DC

Because I entered into the quest with little to no idea where anything was (except for the monument) (which is nearly impossible to miss) (for obvious reasons), I basically… turned around after taking that picture and was all, “Uhhh…. JENNY. I THINK THAT’S THE WHITE HOUSE. Like, right there, yo.”

The White House

And now I know why it’s called the White House and not the Big House.

It's called the WHITE House. Not the BIG house.

I was so focused on getting to the National Monument I had no idea what was behind me/to the side of me… as I turned from taking that shot up there of the Washington National Monument, I saw a handful of people taking pictures through a fence. I looked at what they were taking picture of and…


So. Yeah. I totes literally stumbled upon the White House.

Then I headed for a closer shot of the monument…

Washington National Monument

And then a different, unobstructed angle…

Washington National Monument

And then a picture of us together…

me and the national monument

I mean… it’s not everyday a girl can take a selfie with the Washington National Monument and whathaveyou.

Then I needed a cookie.

Captain Cookie in Washington DCI cannot show you a picture of me with the cookie. On account of the fact I ate it.


I chose to walk to Captain Cookie and the Milkman because it was highly recommended. And I take my cookie eating seriously.

I actually bought 2 cookies, but saved the second one for my long flight home.

I threw back my cookie, dusted the crumbs off my infinity scarf, put the lid on my to-go coffee cup, gave my freezing toes a pep talk, and headed back out. This time I had one more hour and a date with President Lincoln.

This time I fired up my Google Maps.

And kept my eyes open for interesting things…

washington dc

One mile to the Lincoln Memorial.

I was on it.

The Lincoln Memorial

Oh yeah.

You can’t stop me.

The Lincoln Memorial

All my life, I’ve seen images of this place.

But there is nothing like experiencing it in person.


It’s enormity.

The heritage.

The emotion I felt surprised me.

I walked up the steps slowly.

Not just because they were wet. But because I wanted to savor the moment like one does with fine wine or fine chocolate. Like a favorite book… you never get to read it for the first time again. This was my first time to ascend these steps.

And then.

I made it to the top…


That is not a picture from a book.

That is a picture from my phone.

And I cried.

Not a lot.

But there were a few.

I don’t know exactly why. Just all of it.

I lingered as long as I could… and made my way back down the steps.

And from those steps I captured even MORE pictures of the National Monument, but this time I captured the reflecting pool too…

Washington National Monument and the reflecting pool

If you look close enough, you may be able to see the traffic cones straddling each side of the reflecting pool…

Washington National Monument and reflecting pool

Well played, reflecting pool. Well played.

Even as I stood in awe of finally experiencing a place I have always dreamed of experiencing… I couldn’t be all serious and no party.

Washington national Monument from the Lincoln Memorial

Due to the fact I really had no idea where anything monument or museum was, and I knew I had so little time to see anything… I didn’t really plan ahead.

I think if I had, I might have stressed myself out. I know I saw very little… yet I saw so much.

It was enough. And I am thankful.

And now I look forward to maybe someday having a chance to share those places with my family. And more.

So I had no idea when I turned my back on the Lincoln Memorial I would experience one more moment. One more significantly moving moment…

Vietnam War Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Except this time it was hard to linger… I could feel it in my chest. I read name after name after name. As each name passed before my eyes the realization that the names carved in the granite were names of sons and husbands and nephews and… it was sobering.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

 . . . . . . . . .

Since I did not go to DC for the purpose of sightseeing (I went there for this), I did not have a sightseeing plan. I know there are a million more things I could have experienced (I did visit Capitol Hill the day before, so I didn’t need to add that to my list). But I was surprised how relatively close things were to each other.

If you consider several mile’s walk close.

I can’t imagine having to drive or taxi to the different locations. Cab it to a main spot then cab it home/to your hotel.

My advice (based on two hours one snowy March afternoon) (also: I walk kinda fast)… plan to walk. I think if I ever get to take my family there I would want to go in the off season. I mean, literally three people – THREE – were standing outside the fence of the White House. I’m sure the cherry blossoms in DC are beautiful, but I hear there are LOTS of sightseers to contend with. My kids are out of school during summer, but so are everyone else’s kids.

As cold as it was – it wasn’t anything a good pair of shoes, gloves, and jacket couldn’t solve. The trade was not having to share space with hoards of tourists.

If you are committed to a good walk and seeing some of the main attractions you can experience all of this in 2 hours easy:

– see the White House

– see the Washington National Monument

– eat a really good cookie and get a cup of coffee… excellent fuel.

– see the Lincoln Memorial and National Monument Reflecting Pool

– experience the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

And then you can hail a cab to take you the mile back to your hotel so you can get your bags and grab another cab to get you to the airport.


I know I missed a lot. What places and spaces do you recommend seeing on a visit to Washington DC?

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