Since we had to take a flight to Washington DC, we decided to spend 2 days looking at everything we can before we drove away in a rental car to the resort.
The best thing about Washington DC is that all the attractions are basically free and are very close to each other. I recommend that you dedicate at least 3 days to exploring Washington DC and George Town. We only had 2 days to spend in Washington DC and we could not finish everything. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History alone took almost a whole afternoon to complete. I imagine if you have kids it would take even longer.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The absolute best advice I can give you if you have never been to Washington DC is to get a map. I could not find any maps anywhere. I am so used to Florida being all touristy where you can find maps along the streets. This is not the case in Washington DC. I finally found a book store and bought Frommer's Washington DC Day by Day which helped me immensely. Seriously get a map, you dont want to waste precious time being lost.
If you had a rental car like me, plan on using public parking garages because parking along the street is basically impossible. Parking garages ranged from $8 to $15 dollars a day. I had a handy parking garage app on my iPod that located all the garages on a map along with average prices. Since everything to see is almost within a 1 mile radius, we parked the car and walked around the whole day. Also to get around town, there are metro stations spread out throughout the DC area, or there is a tour bus that makes regular stops around the city.
Do not miss out on George Town. This section of town is really unique and special. This is the location of the George Town Cupcakes, the bakery shown on the TLC show DC Cupcakes. I'm not a fan of the show, but I thought it would be cool to visit and eat a famous cupcake. We got there exactly at 10am when they opened, and there was all ready a huge line that wrapped around the corner. We decided it was not worth our time and just took a photo.
George Town Cupcakes
We spent about an hour walking through the streets of Georgetown. It has really beautiful architecture and very unique cafes and restaurants. This is definitely shopping central for those who love to shop on vacation. There is also the National Mall about 1.5 miles away, unfortunately I did not get to visit it.
The next most important tip I can give is that you can not tour the white house unless you have been granted permission. To get this permission you must contact your states member of congress. I have no idea how your supposed to contact them. Visit this website and figure it out: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events I know you have to request permission up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days before your visit. So plan ahead and you wont be sad like me when you walk to the White House and find out. So instead we walked to the back of it (the front is too hard to get close to) which is enclosed by a huge fence quite a distance away from the house. This was supposed to be the highlight of our trip...
I'm smiling but I was really sad... :(
The U.S. Botanic Gardens was very pretty and a quick to finish. I dont recommend it if you have allergies, it is choke full of flowers. My husband started sniffling. Luckily we hurried through it all and got out before he got any worse.
Also what was supposed to be another highlight of the trip was the Reflecting Pool which is in so many movies. Unfortunately for us, it was under renovations. So instead of the beautiful view I'm sure normally exisists there, we got this:
Reflecting Pool, with the Washington Monument in the back
Oh well, moving on...The Abraham Lincoln Memorial was cool (and so is my husband).
The Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Washington Monument are all in a straight line next to each other which is very convenient.
The only thing I regret is not spending an additional day to see the National Mall, explore the Library of Congress and Capital Hill. Also, when I vacation somewhere I usually like to eat at some local hot spot which represents the food of the city/town. We rushed the entire 2 days so we ate quick snacks at Starbucks etc... So that sums up our trip to Washington DC. This is a great vacation if you have kids because like I said, admission into attractions is almost always free.
One last tip, ALWAYS use www.priceline.com Name Your Own Price to get the best deals in hotel rooms. I always bid starting at $45 and increase by $5 every time my bid is not accepted. Usually I get awesome hotel rooms for $55. We stayed at a 3.5 star Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, right across the river from Washington DC for $55. It was very nice. I've use Priceline's Name Your Own Price several times with much success.