Planning to spend a weekend in Washington D.C.? From the National Mall to Farragut Square there are so many free museums and restaurants to explore and this travel blog post will help you plan for it all!
Whether you are interested in art galleries, science, or history Washington D.C. has a little bit of everything. As an American I've always seen the iconic monuments in history books and pictures but riding on the Metro and walking through the city made me feel like I was in a movie or on a tv show.
There are beautiful murals painted all over the city to check out as well. You will see so much greenery as you take a tour around the city.
I traveled in a large group and we arrived a little after cherry blossom season in April. If you get a chance to ride on Big Bus Tours and sit at the top to see the city up close I'd highly recommend it.
Sights To See in Washington D.C.
Photo courtesy of National Museum of African American History and Culture (Instagram)
The National Museum of African American History and Culture exemplifies Black excellence and showcases the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives, and how it helped us shape this nation.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was established in December 2003 and opened its permanent home in September 2016 with a ceremony led by President Barack Obama.
I was fascinated to learn about the war of the pews. During the 1890s, the rise of Jim Crow in the South posed a challenge to Creoles of color, who opposed racial segregation in any form. In 1895, when the archbishop of New Orleans established a separate parish for black Catholics, St. Augustine parishioners asserted their right to worship in an integrated sanctuary.
I learned about the fight for democracy at home and abroad and what it meant to be an African American soldier fighting in the war. As World War I began in Europe in 1914, African Americans were divided in their decision to participate. American Society remained segregated, and racial mob violence was still prevalent.
A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, editors of The Messenger wrote, "we would rather fight to make Georgia safe for democracy." But eventually encouraged by others in the black press, African Americans participated. They viewed the war as an opportunity to once again prove their patriotism and earn an equal place in society.
As you go up each level represents a move upward towards liberation and achievements for African Americans. I witnessed the mapping of Hip-Hop in the Bronx, the social activism of athletes like Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson, and Serena and Venus Williams. I also got a glimpse of quilted artwork by Bisa Butler and spoken word poetry from Jupiter Hammon and Phillis Wheatley.
I saw the hoodie Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was fatally shot and heard the echo's of protestors mourning Breonna Taylor. I felt a strange and overwhelming sense of generational trauma and pride stepping into each exhibit. African Americans are resilient kings and queens of this nation and our voices can never be silenced.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a national memorial located in West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It is placed on a four-acre site along the National Mall's Tidal Basin, adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.
It covers four acres (1.6 ha) and includes the Stone of Hope, a granite statue of Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. carved by sculptor Lei Yixin.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no fee to visit. National Park Service rangers are on site to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Interpretive programs are available throughout the day and upon request. Please make sure to wear a facial covering and maintain a safe social distance when visiting the memorial.
As you walk through the memorial you'll see famous quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. the king of peace during his fight for racial equality and the end of segregation.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History seeks to give us an understanding of the natural world and our place in it. It is filled with exhibits such as the Butterfly Pavilion, Hall of Fossils, and the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals.
The museum’s collections tell the history of the planet and are a record of human interaction with the environment and one another. As we all work to shape a sustainable world, this record becomes the starting point. It serves as a guidebook to how the future can look and work.
I highly recommend visiting the "African Voices" exhibit on the first floor of the Museum. Step into the Mud Masons of Mali gallery to learn how tradesmen in the ancient city of Djenné build and re-build the community’s beautiful and distinctive buildings and historic mosque from baked-earth bricks and plaster.
According to National Geographic new data support the single origin, or "out of Africa" theory for anatomically modern humans, which says that these early humans colonized the planet after spreading out of the continent some 50,000 years ago.
Stop by the Freedom Theater to watch two short films: “Atlantic Slave Trade” and “The Struggle for Freedom.”
"Unless you know the road you've come down, you cannot know where you are going."
—Temne proverb, Sierra Leone
The Library of Congress is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the country.
This is a massive library that preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors. Whether you are new to the Library of Congress or an experienced researcher, they have a world-class staff ready to assist you online and in person.
I recommend visiting the mother of the modern civil rights movement, Rosa Parks exhibit when you visit.
"We must have courage ― determination ― to go on with the task of becoming free ― not only for ourselves, but for the nation and the world ― cooperate with each other ― Have faith in God and ourselves."
― Rosa Parks
Places To Eat in Washington D.C.
Busboys and Poets is a full-service restaurant, bar, bookstore, coffee shop, and events venue in Washington, D.C., founded in 2005 by Andy Shallal. The original Busboys and Poets is located at 14th & V in the U Street Corridor.
Busboys and Poets is a cultural hub for artists, activists, writers, thinkers, and dreamers.
The name Busboys and Poets refers to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s, prior to gaining recognition as a poet.
Busboys and Poets is a community where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted... a place to take a deliberate pause and feed your mind, body and soul... a space for art, culture and politics to intentionally collide... we believe that by creating such a space we can inspire social change and begin to transform our community and the world.
There is a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees to choose from. I had the hot and savory Red Curry Risotto consisting of shiitake and cremini mushrooms, green peas, vegan cheese.
I would also highly recommend the gluten free crispy Fried Chicken that is cage-free and halal chicken breast, buttermilk, herb mushroom cream sauce it comes with buttery mashed potatoes and collard greens.
Busboys and Poets is a great spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. If you are looking for a group dinner or a quiet casual dining experience Busboys and Poets is the place to be.
Let's Mix! BIBIJA! is a casual Korean-Vietnamese restaurant located on 209 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington,D.C. 20003.
This is an fast and fun build your own meal experience with a variety of bases, vegetables, and proteins to choose from. It did not feel too heavy and the food was very hot and fresh.
From bibimbap, a Korean rice dish to kor-mex burritos and quesadillas you will be satisfied with the selection. I ordered the Teriyaki Chicken with white rice, broccoli, bean sprouts, kimchi and fried egg cooked on the spot with just a dash of hoisin sauce.
If you are looking for healthy, fresh, and tasty Asian cuisine flavors with a modern twist this is the spot for you.
Ben's Chili Bowl is a landmark restaurant in Washington, D.C., located at 1213 U Street, next to Lincoln Theatre, in the U Street Corridor (a.k.a. Cardozo/Shaw neighborhood) of Northwest D.C.
It is known locally for its chili dogs, half-smokes, and milkshakes, and has been an integral part of the neighborhood's history since its founding in 1958.
It was frequented by both police and protesters during the 1968 Washington, D.C. riots, and is regularly visited by celebrities, such as Anthony Bourdain, Kevin Hart, Serena Williams and Chris Tucker.
In January 2009, Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty took then President-elect Barack Obama to eat at Ben's as part of his welcome to the city.
Ben's Chili Bowl is a black-owned family run and operated business in Washington D.C. This establishment is one of the only restaurants to withstand the test of time through riots and protest.
I got an opportunity to taste the famous chili that had a little kick and try a tender turkey burger. I also met one of the establishments owners, Virginia Ali is now 88 years old and she started the restaurant with her husband Ben when she was only 24, so sweet! If you love spice and historical landmarks this is the place to be.
Photo courtesy of https://destinationtea.com/destination-tea-teaism-penn-quarter/.
Teaism is a teahouse founded back in 1996 with the goal of making exquisite loose leaf tea accessible to all. In a time and place where tea was conceived as either a dark powder in a bag with a string - to be sweetened heavily and discarded - or a stuffy afternoon affair with china and linens, the owners wanted to highlight the beautiful diversity of the camellia sinensis plant itself.
To accompany the teas, and to highlight the cuisines of countries where teas are grown, they serve curries, bento boxes, boba tea and other healthy Asian-inspired meals. Teaism’s offerings were prepared in a rustic, fast-casual setting, many years before “fast casual” became a dining term.
I recommend trying the Matcha sweet green tea and udon noodles with shrimp bowl at their location near Farragut Square area. The portion sizes are huge and you get your own gorgeous tea set display with your tray. It was a beautiful lunchtime delight that was soothing with every sip.
Lastly you cannot visit D.C. without stopping by Founding Farmers, located on 1924 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006, United States. They have multiple locations in D.C. and nationwide.
Founding Farmers is an American upscale-casual restaurant owned by North Dakota Farmers Union and Farmers Restaurant Group.
Only three blocks west of the White House, the award-winning Founding Farmers flagship restaurant has been a destination for locals and tourists alike since it opened in 2008. They are open every day, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
I recommend going for dinner and trying the savory shrimp and grits and a mango flavored scratch soda with lime that was sweet and refreshing. It is best to get a reservation in advance if you plan on going in a group.
The food was delicious and felt light because they make everything from scratch and have organically grown products. I got featured on their Instagram story and loved the D.C. scenery.
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