Washington DC Travel Tips: 10 Things to Know Before You Go to DC

Yellow Productions presents Ten things to know before you go to Washington DC I’m Chris. This is Yellow Productions I do travel guides that are fun, informative and entertaining And in this video I’m going to be telling you everything you need to know before you come to the nations capitol of the United States of America And I’m filming this live on location here on the National Mall That is the Capitol Building right behind me So the first thing we’ll start with is just some general information about Washington DC And that is if you’re referring to DC, that is the region District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia That’s kind of how the area’s referred to If you’re referring to the actual city state that is the District of Columbia, the locals refer to that as The District So if you say, “I live in The District,” or, “I’m going to The District.” That is this part right here The nations capitol And sometimes the bigger area is referred to the DMV Not the Department of Motor Vehicles But DC, Maryland and Virginia And just one thing to know, if you’re coming here and you’re trying to plan how much time to spend in DC, I would say don’t spend any less than three days You could easily a spend a week in the greater DC area There’s certainly lots of museums, things like that to check out Capitol Building tours, but there’s lots of stuff in the region, including things like Thomas Jefferson’s house, George Washington’s house Those you’ll need a car too But you can easily spend a week in this area If you’re really a history buff, you’ve never been here before, make sure you have plenty of time The second thing to know about DC is about the city layout And so the city layout, it’s a grid pattern that has some diagonal streets with some circles And the lettered streets they run east west The numbered streets they run north south The diagonal streets, those are typically the names of states like Connecticut Avenue And you should also know that DC is organized into four quadrants And the center of DC, that building right behind me, the Capitol Building and from around it, there’s four quadrants North West, North East, South West and South East So if you have an address in DC, it’ll a number, a street and then North West, North East, South West, South East at the end of it So if you’re plotting Google maps, you’re telling a taxi where to go, make sure you have the correct quadrant of the city Otherwise you might end up some place completely different than you were expecting The third thing to know about DC is getting in, or getting here How do you get to DC? Well you could certainly drive in the DC, though I wouldn’t recommend it DC is notorious for having some of the worst traffic in almost any city in the US And parking can be quite expensive If you’re flying into DC there are three airports There’s Ronald Reagan, there’s Washington Dulles and there’s Baltimore Washington International The thing about those three airports, none of them are actually in The District Ronald Reagan DCA, it’s in Arlington in Virginia That’s the closest It’s just over the river If you fly in there it’s just a short three, four stop metro ride or a 15 dollar taxi, Uber, into the city If you fly into Washington Dulles that’s about 20 miles east in Virginia If you fly into Baltimore, Washington, that’s even further up towards Baltimore My favorite airports happen to be Reagan, or Dulles Just really depends where you can get a direct flight to Also you can take the train into DC There’s the Amtrak trains They come into Union Station, which behind me there’s the Capitol Building and just kind of to the left of the Capitol Building, there’s Union Station Lots of great Amtrak trains come in from the north From New York. Points that way From the south as well So that’s a great way to come into the city Okay, the fourth thing to know is about transportation in DC So you’ve already got here and now you need to get around Well, my advice to you when you’re in The District is to walk Use your feet and walk around because the traffic’s awful And there is a Metro So the second way to get around is to take the Metro Or the subway It’s called the Metro because it’s underground, or subway in DC But when it goes into Maryland, Virginia then a lot of places elevated and it’s not a subway anymore The Metro, or subway, is pretty efficient during work times on weekdays, on weekends and evening hours The trains don’t come as frequently so it can be a long wait It’s just not really quite as good for a tourist, as it is if you work here, coming here for work If you are taking the Metro, make sure that you get a SmarTrip Card I was looking for it but I’ll put a picture of it right up here It’s kind of the re-loadable, IC card

You tap it on to ride, you tap it off to exit They don’t do single fare cards anymore You have to buy one of those They’re two dollars to buy the card And then you load it up with money when you ride the train They have different fairs for peak hours, off peak hours You can also buy day passes and things like that The Metro’s not super expensive, so I just try to load it up with about 20 bucks when I get here and that lasts me quite a bit of time in DC There’s also the Capitol Bikeshare, if you like to bike There are 175 Capitol Bikeshare stations around the city They’re the bikes that you can rent by the hour or by the day Pick them up at one, drop them off at another one That’s pretty convenient Taxi’s and Uber are plentiful around the city There’s Lyft as well So you can take those You will not definitely be without wheel transportation And then of course, did I mention you can drive? You can, but you’re going to pay a lot of money to park Alright, the fifth thing to know about DC is about the museums The museums in Washington DC, they are fantastic This particular area, the National Mall that I’m standing on it is like the museum capitol of the world And the Smithsonian is basically the national franchise museums of the United States All the Smithsonians are free The headquarters for the Smithsonian is The Castle And, let’s see, you can’t see it But it’s back that way Trust me, there’s a castle over there The Smithsonian Castle let’s the visitors center, you can find out more information about all the Smithsonians My favorite is the Air and Space Museum which is located pretty close to the Capitol Building on that side of the mall That’s the right side if you’re facing the Capitol Building The Air and Space Museum has lots of cool things from NASA Lots of cool planes Air and Space Museum has two locations It’s got one on the National Mall, it’s got another out at Dulles Airport And so if you want to see the really big things in there like the Space Shuttle, The Concord, those are all going to be out at Dulles Airport And the other thing to know about museums in DC there’s also some other commercial museums There’s the Newseum, the Spy Museum Those will cost you more money I haven’t been into them I’ve heard the Spy Museum is pretty cool But if you go to Smithsonian, free And the private ones, they’re going to cost you some money Still talking about museums I turned the camera around for this part cause I was just standing right in front of the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is one of my favorite museums on the National Mall What do you mean museum Chris? Well it has an observatory at the top of the Washington Monument Unfortunately it’s closed until 2019 for repairs, but if you’re watching this after 2019, or you’re planning a trip here after 2019, make sure you get a ticket to ride the elevator up to the top of the Washington Monument There’s excellent views up there Alright, I’m going to swing the camera back around again to my previous position And my second favorite museum in the DC area it’s the Bureau of Engraving and Printing I had particularly mentioned this one, because it’s not a Smithsonian and so not a whole bunch of people know about it But the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, that is where they print the money in the US and you can take tours in the morning and in the afternoon, in the winter times, you don’t need a reservation So if you come September 5th to March 2nd, no reservations are needed Just show up and you’ll get on a tour If you come in the summer, the waits going to be pretty long make sure you get a reservation ahead of time And the final thing to know about museums is some of the best gift shops in DC are inside the museums So if you’re looking for souvenirs or things like that, check out the Smithsonian gift shops Alright, the sixth thing to know before you come to DC is about Government stuff I’m bet your surprised I haven’t mentioned these things but some of the cool things to visit, there’s the Capitol Building If you want to visit the Capitol Building, book some tickets in advance They do have limited tickets if you arrive the day of, but you can book tickets to the Capitol Building online or through your Congressional Representative The White House, if you want to go to the White House, I’m going to point that way cause the White House is that direction from where I’m standing You will need to reserve a few months before your trip through your Congressional Representative There are no same day walk up tours for the White House So that requires some advance planning I personally think the Capitol Building tour is cooler than the White House tour So if you can only do one, do the Capitol Building If you come when Congress is in session you can also go in and sit on some Congressional sessions That’s pretty neat and sometimes they’ll have tickets for those available the day of, often if you come later in the afternoon You’ll have to go There’s some ticket desks inside the Capitol Building You just show up and say, “Hey, do you have a ticket?” And if they do they’ll hand you one and you can go up and sit in to a session

Alright, the seventh thing to know about coming to Washington DC is about the time to visit And, you know, Washington DC is famous for having some pretty bad weather It gets a pretty bad wrap In the summer particular, it can get really hot and humid in DC In the winter it can snow The best times to visit DC is April and October I’m shooting this in October You might not think this is the best weather, but actually this kind of weather here It’s breezy, it’s about 70 degrees fahrenheit So not too hot, not too cold The humidity always makes it feel warmer here So October is a good shoulder season month, hotels are fairly inexpensive But the best time to visit, March or April for Cherry Blossom season And yes, it can be busy, but the Cherry Blossoms are truly amazing and a sight to behold You will be here with everybody else and their mother, so it’ll be busy and packed But the Cherry Blossoms truly amazing Definitely don’t miss that But one of my favorite times to come to DC is actually in the winter That time when it’s cold, like December and January, there will be no crowds at all There’s like nobody because who wants to come to a place that’s super cold But DC actually isn’t super cold And if you’re spending your time in all these buildings The Capitol Building, the Smithsonian You’re not actually spending all that much time outside And so the fact that it’s cold doesn’t matter all that much And you can get hotels that, maybe like the Park Hyatt in Washington DC that often go for $500 a night in January are like $200 a night So you can get some pretty good hotels for pretty cheap in the winter, winter, winter Alright, the eighth thing to know about Washington DC, it’s about hotels I was just talking about those So what do you want to know about hotels? Well the hotels, they can be really expensive in The District and so can parking Good hotels often run an average of $200 to $300 a night A lot of the people who come to DC obviously come here for the Government The Government publishes this thing called the Government rate and that’s often where the rooms start and kind of go up from there in price If you are looking for some cheaper type accommodations, don’t stay in The District Stay in Virginia, either in Arlington It’s the city that right borders DC Or Alexandria just to the south of Arlington There can be some more inexpensive hotels there that are pretty close to the Metro You can just hop on the subway, head into DC You get a cheaper room rate, you don’t have to pay as much for parking It’s kind of a win win all together One of my favorites in Crystal City is the Crystal Gateway Marriott And I’ve got a video review of that You can find a link to it in the description below as well If you’re staying in The District and you like the high end hotels, my favorites are the Park Hyatt, Washington DC One of my favorite Park Hyatts And my second favorite is the Mayflower Hotel Which is Marriott affiliated as a Renaissance That one really close to DuPont Circle So that’s a pretty neat area to stay So if you want to know what the best area of DC to stay for a tourist is, I think DuPont Circle’s pretty cool because there’s a lot of restaurants and things like that around there There are hotels just to the south of the Smithsonians and the Mall but sometimes those hotels, they’re really designed for Government business so they’re close to Government office buildings, and really far from anything else, like food or 24 hour drug stores, et cetera, et cetera So try to stay on the north side of the National Mall if you are staying in The District There’s just more liveliness and tourist amenities in that direction Alright, the ninth thing to know about DC is about food I always have this subject in all of my Things to Know videos, and of course we’re going to talk about it for DC So what do you need to know about food in The District Well, this place that I’m standing which is where most tourists go, The National Mall, has almost zero food There’s maybe some hot dog trucks and some food trucks that show up The Air and Space Museum has a Mcdonalds Actually if you are looking for food, I think one of the best things to eat on the National Mall, it’s in the National Museum of the Native American They have a pretty good cafeteria that has a lot of Native American eats But the other good places, so that’s a little expensive because that’s in a Smithsonian, there are places that are a little bit cheaper just to the south of the National Mall, there’s a place called L’Enfant Plaza It’s a big Metro stop There’s a lot of good lunch options there Another great place for lunch options is Union Station, just to the side of the Capitol Building There’s a huge food court in Union Station If you’re looking for dinner type things the area around Chinatown is pretty good DuPont Circle as well But I will say if you’re looking for Chinese food, avoid Chinatown

The Chinese food in Chinatown it is not good I like to consider myself a connoisseur of Chinese food and when I first came to DC and I didn’t know any better I ate at those Chinese restaurants They’re not good. Don’t eat there If you are looking for really good Chinese food though, and you’re staying in Virginia, or you have a car, so you can head out there, there’s a place in Falls Church called the Peking Gourmet Inn It is George Bush’s favorite Chines restaurant and they specialize in Peking Duck I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is the best Peking Duck I have had in the United States of America It is really that good And I like to head out there on most trips that I’m out here in Washington DC Provided I’m out here with at least somebody else If I’m by myself then I seem like a huge glutton eating a Peking Duck all to myself If you’re getting there for dinner, five or six you’ll be good, just walk it in After that, make a reservation they get super busy And they sell hundreds of Peking Ducks a night I mean, it’s truly an amazing place And on the walls they’ve got pictures of George Bush Jnr and George Bush Snr, cause they’re both their favorite restaurants In The District though, if you want to know what some of my favorites are, number one is Potbelly Sandwich Potbelly Sandwich is kind of a fast food sandwich chain But all the sandwiches are toasted, really delicious It didn’t start in DC, it started in Chicago I believe But they have a ton of locations in DC Their sandwiches are really good My second favorite is this place called Moby Dick, House of Kebab And Moby Dick, House of Kebab it is a middle-eastern kebab place that serves kind of like beef, lamb, chicken that are cooked on skewers There’s delicious rice I don’t know how they make the chicken, beef and lamb so tender and juicy, but they do it really good Their location in DC is right around DuPont Circle That’s another place I hit up almost every time I come, actually I think I’m going to hit that up right after this video So they’ll probably be a picture here of me, not me eating it, but my plate of food at Moby Dick, House of Kebab My third favorite, this place called Ben’s Chili Bowl It’s on U Street It is a African American institution in Washington DC There were a bunch of riots here and it was like one of the few places that wasn’t burned down Cause it’s African American owned And they have what they call these Chili Half Smokes They are a cross between a hot dog and a spicy sausage They put chili on top Probably not really good for you But it is really delicious And then if you want to know what my favorite sit down place is in DC, it’s Legal Sea Foods It’s a Boston chain, but they’ve been serving their clam chowder to the White House for a lot of their inaugurations and things like that And their location in The District is right in Chinatown I should finally mention, also another neighborhood great for food is the Georgetown neighborhood The Metro doesn’t really go there easily But Georgetown is a cool place to check out, lots of restaurants there for the evening Alright, the last thing to know, the tenth thing to know about DC, is DC it’s more than just the National Mall There’s so many people that I’ve talked to, that when they’ve come to DC, this place right here that you see is the only place they came to They came to the Mall, they checked out the museums, and they didn’t see all the stuff that DC has to offer in that direction So when you come to DC, cause you’ll have watched my video, you’ll make sure to venture north off the mall to see the real DC The place where people actually live, or people actually work It’s a pretty cool city, and I already said visit Georgetown Visit the Penn Quarter Visit Adams Morgan if you like bars That’s a great nightlife area If you don’t like bars then skip Adams Morgan cause it can be slightly sketchy from maybe all the alcohol If you like zoo’s, Washington DC has the National Zoo up on the Red Line Check out the Smithsonian Zoo It’s pretty cool. There’s pandas up there I mentioned U Street That’s a trendy kind of area. Up and coming, with Ben’s Chili Bowl And some of the things I like to do when I’m in DC is I just like to get the subway map, the Metro map and from wherever I am, just kind of walk along one of the Metro lines One of my favorite lines to walk along is the Red Line Starting from Chinatown, and walking up towards the Smithsonian Zoo And if you’re walking along where the Metro is, well when you get tired all you have to do, just get on the Metro and ride back Alright, well that’s it I hope you enjoyed this video Thanks for watching If this was your first time here I hope you subscribe Click on this little yellow ball right here to subscribe for new, fun, informative videos every week Or you can click here or here to watch some of my other travel videos Alright, thanks Bye, bye (gentle guitar music)