WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: A view of the US Capitol before a press conference held to address MAGA Republicans' decision to prioritize the impeachment of President Joe Biden over other domestic issues in the United States on December 13, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Congressional Integrity Project)

There is no better way than to start the New Year with you, than by sharing my Visiting Washington DC In 5 Easy Steps, article. There’s nothing betting than checking off a box on the bucket list, with pictures and great memories to look back on.

Late last year, my wife Heidi surprised me with an early Christmas gift: a trip to Washington DC! As you will see ahead, it can be a fun adventure, IF, you plan in detail, your visit. Doing your homework ahead of time will maximize your trip, making it fun and memorable!

Because we took our trip between Christmas and New Years, we jammed ALOT of fun and adventure in THREE days. I’m not saying you have to do that to have fun. But it can be done. In hindsight, we probably will add an extra day or two to relax a little more. So, here we go!

1-Best Time To Book Your Trip?

As mentioned above, we booked our trip the week between Christmas and New Years. It turned out it may have been a great decision. With Congress NOT being in session, the city was open and easy to get around in. It wasn’t exactly a ghost town. But an Uber driver said that when Congress comes back in January, the city get’s a jolt of 2 MILLION more people! Do the math and you’ll see how that affects hotels, Uber, city traffic, public transportation, air travel, restaurants, tourism and more. While going in December does not let you see the famous Cherry Blossoms, you have the city to yourself. By the way the myth is true: the squirrels will let you feed them M & M’s.

2-Hotel APP/AAA

Heidi booked our trip and got a great deal through a hotel app. We stayed right near all of the action at a decent hotel on K Street. We got our flight through AAA. By booking through AAA, you get an extensive printout of EVERY site and point of interest to see in D.C. They don’t leave out a thing. From The White House, Capitol, to Georgetown and Arlington, the AAA Guide is a must. It was very useful.

3-Book Your Tours WAY In Advance On Line

When visiting Washington DC, you MUST book your visits to the Federal Buildings, like the Capitol and The Whitehouse in advance. You can’t just walk up to key attractions and think you’re getting in.

It’s actually pretty easy. Simply go on line and locate your local congressman’s website. Do a Google search. It will ask for your zip. Once the site comes up, you’ll see who your congressman is. On your congressman’s government website, you’ll see a link for tours. Fill out the form and they will contact you.

Unfortunately, the White House was NOT open for tours the week we were there. We did book a tour of The Capitol and it worked great. I actually got a return CALL from a congressional assistant, making sure I was booking the tour correctly. He was amazingly helpful. The tour of the Capitol Building was breathtaking. I’ll share more below.

4-Map Out Your Day In Four Hour Segments

This needed step will save you money, time, limit disappointment and ensure the you get the most out of visiting Washington DC. Using the AAA printout mentioned above, we mapped every step of the trip, flight times, hotel check in, tours, and restaurants in four hour segments. This became incredibly useful from the very start of our trip.

We experienced one small disappointment at the very beginning of our arrival in D.C. Once we landed we checked our bag at the hotel, because we couldn’t check in until later in the day. Our first stop was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Because all of the sites are paid by our tax dollars, we didn’t need tickets, right? WRONG. YES, the exhibits are free. But, you still need what they call a time entry reservation. 

The moment we jumped out of our Uber, we noticed hundreds of disappointed faces. Why weren’t they letting anyone in? It turns out that the Air and Space Museum was under construction and a MAJOR part of the exhibit was CLOSED. What we didn’t know that you have to go ON-LINE each day and try be a part of a lottery to get your free RESERVED time entry ticket. The next morning, we did it on line, using our phones, and we got our tickets.

So from that point on, EVERY building or historic site we wanted to see, we checked on line first. The Lesson: Check On-Line or call ahead on everything you plan to visit. The hotel we stayed at advertised a free breakfast. IT WAS CLOSED for renovation. But it turned out because they recommended an AMAZING local restaurant right down the street called Busboys and Poets. We ate breakfast there every day! Oh ya, you know how the TSA doesn’t allow FILLED water bottles? The federal buildings we visited do not either. They will let you fill them, once inside!

5-Local Transportation-Uber

From where we stayed on K Street, except for Reagan International Airport, almost EVERYTHING was a 15 ride away. We didn’t get to see Georgetown or Arlington during this trip.

We used Uber for all transportation. It was incredibly fast and efficient. Because we mapped out the trip ahead of time, there was very little downtime between sites, waiting for transportation. Plus, the drivers were professional, polite and very knowledgeable. They we almost mini-tour guides sharing little tips along the way.

HOWEVER, we had one small glitch with Uber.

Of course it was nighttime, and we had to use a bathroom, which the breath taking Lincoln Memorial does not provide. As we were leaving honest Abe to end the night, my credit card on Uber didn’t work. After several successful Uber rides around our nations capitol, Uber decided to decline by payment as I was booking. Even switching cards didn’t work. Add to that, it was IMPOSSIBLE to call and find a taxi at night in DC. Weird, I know. Finally after 45 minutes of holding it, (remember bathroom?) I loaded the Uber app on Heidi’s phone, loaded her card, and BOOM: we got our ride. For the future, I’d recommend having Uber ready on a second phone, with a second card, or use Lyft as a backup on your phone. The next day, I tried again to book and Uber and it was fine.

If you prepare in advance, visiting Washington DC can be a fun, historical and learning experience, you’ll treasure forever! Take a look at your future trip!

  • Night View Of The Washington Monument

    Image by Jaybeau

    Everyone we met recommended seeing these sites at night. This of course is the Washington Monument and the famous reflecting pool. The pool was used in many TV and movie scenes. The most memorable was the famous “Genny” scene in “Forrest Gump.” An Uber driver told us that NO building in DC can be taller than the Washington Monument, and must meet a specific height requirement. The monument honors our nations first President, George Washington. 

    Right behind us when taking this picture is The Lincoln Memorial.

  • Night View Of The Lincoln Memorial

    Image By Jaybeau

    About a 20 minute walk from the Washington Monument, is the breathtaking Lincoln Memorial. The gravity and weight of seeing this iconic symbol upclose, cannot be captured in a picture. 

  • Inside The Reading Room At The Library Of Congress

    Image By Jaybeau

    If this picture looks familiar, you’re either an avid researcher, or a fan of the Nick Cage movie National Treasure: Book Of Secrets. Many of the scenes in the movie was filmed in this room. Every important published book can be found in the LOC. There are MILLIONS of books here.

    To get into this room, you have to prove you’re a researcher, or have a book in the Library. My book, Heroes Mentors and Friends, actually has a Library of Congress Control Number. So after about four steps and checks, we were issued a LOC library card. 

  • What Do The Flags Represent?

    Image By Jaybeau

    This is a real picture that I took of the base of the Washington Monument on The National Mall. Those 50 flags represent all 50 states, that surround the monument. After the 9-11 attack, all Federal Buildings were ordered to put barriers around the building, to avoid drive attacks. To follow that order, and still make the monument grounds attractive, construction experts added an attractive wall, that encircled the monument. It was small enough to sit on, but high enough to stop a vehicle from climbing it, even it was a hummer.



  • White House View-South Lawn

    Image by Jaybeau

    This is the view of The Whitehouse, from the South Lawn, where helicopters land to pick up the president. These days you cant get much closer than this. To the right, you can see the National Christmas tree on the National Mall. Behind me is the Washington Monument.


  • White House View-North Lawn

    Image by Jaybeau

    This familiar picture was taken in front of the North Lawn of The White House. What was fascinating about this view, is that The White House is right there, adjacent to Lafayette Park, part of downtown Washington DC. Behind me in this view are downtown buildings. Conversely, the South Lawn faces is away from the city, to the National Mall, The Washington Monument and the Potomac River.

  • Ready For The Capitol Tour!

    Image by Jaybeau

    To enter your Capitol Tour, you enter down the set of stairs and meet in front of the Capitol Visitors Center. The inside of the building is incredible.

    But, to see the inside of the Capitol chambers, that’s a different tour that you set up differently with your congressman. The Capitol Building offers an INCREDIBLE buffet style cafe, that’s GIGANTIC with amazing food and desserts. The Capitol Store has a variety of items to purchase to take home to remember your trip. The Capital Tour tour guide inside was incredibly knowledgeable sharing the history of the building.

  • See You Next Time In DC!


    Image by Jaybeau

    These pictures can’t capture the gravity, history and importance of what these buildings represent. If you plan to go, and have anymore questions, feel free to reach out to me: [email protected].

    Have fun!

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