A veterans’ guide to touring Washington DC

A veterans’ guide to touring Washington DC

We all know that Washington DC is a treasure trove of tourism with amazing museums and memorials on every block. Choosing what to hit and what to skip can be stressful and can lead to feeling like you’re missing out on what makes this city special. This is especially the case for those of us that want to use a trip to Washington DC to pay respects to our troops and veterans, and the rich military history of this great city. Worry not patriots, we’re here to help you make the most of your trip and to guide you through the ins and outs of the memorials you know and the hidden gems you may have never heard of. Welcome to a veterans’ guide to Washington DC!

This guide is divided by city sections and can be mixed and matched based on your interests. We’ve tailored it to fill up your Veterans Day long weekend, but you could visit these sites any time of year.

Day 1: The Eastern Mall & Penn Quarter

Must sees

U.S. Navy Memorial & Heritage Center

This memorial is in the heart of the city, right across from the beautiful National Archives Building, and is worth taking time to explore. The large Memorial Plaza, with its granite sea map, ship masts (complete with signal flags), and beautiful fountain pools is well worth the stop. The nearby Heritage Center offers a deeper look into our country’s naval history. If you want to honor your own sailor, the memorial takes requests to fly personal flags over the plaza.

Must-have picture: The Lone Sailor. Located in the granite sea, this seven-foot bronze sculpture was created by Stanley Bleifield, himself a WWII veteran. The casting process included mixing bronze with artifacts from eight U.S. Navy ships. Former Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton said it best when he said, “The lone soldier is the embodiment of honor, courage, and commitment.”

Location: 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
Cost: Free

Washington DC Unveiled cart tour

We know this is tooting our own horn, but what can we say, it’s the best way to start your visit! This amazing electric cart tour is a small and intimate way to learn the stories behind your favorite monuments and memorials and get insider information you can’t get anywhere else.

Must-have picture: From the Inlet Bridge. Across the Tidal Basin on the Inlet Bridge you can get the most beautiful skyline picture of the District. Everything from the Jefferson Memorial to the Washington Monument to the White House can all be seen and photographed from across the water.

Cost: $52.00/person (military discounts vary, talk to a representative)

travellers posing in Washington

View from Inlet Bridge | Photo by Washington DC Urban Adventures

National Archives Museum

Many know this stunning building as the home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and you can visit them all in the National Archives Building Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, but the National Archives consist of so much more! At the museum you can visit the public vaults and find a handwritten letter from George Washington or a wartime telegram from Abraham Lincoln; you can find the Emancipation Proclamation and the Louisiana Purchase; and you can find important photographs and documents from our nation’s entire history.

Must-have picture: Photographs aren’t allowed inside the Archives building, but the outside of the building is a beautiful feat of architecture from famous architect John Russell Pope. On the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the building you can snap a picture of the famous Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial with the building in the background.

Location: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408
Cost: Free (timed tickets are available online)

Capitol Reflecting Pool

We picked this spot not just because the reflecting pool is a lovely and peaceful place to relax and take in the beauty of the National Mall, but also because some amazing military statues sit right by this pool that reflects the Capitol building.

Garfield Monument: This monument to our nation’s 20th president was commissioned almost immediately after his assassination in 1881. Having the misfortune of being one of only four presidents who was assassinated, he also served as a major general for the Union during the Civil War. The monument, which sits in the shadow of the Capitol building, depicts President Garfield giving a speech with symbols representing his life as a teacher, soldier and statesman.

Peace Monument: Also known as the Naval Monument or Civil War Sailors Monument, this statue stands on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Peace Circle. Completed in 1878 to commemorate naval deaths during the Civil War, it depicts four robed ladies who symbolize grief, history, peace and victory.

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial: Honoring our 18th president and former Commanding General (a predecessor to the title of Chief in Staff of the Army), this stunning memorial depicts President Grant on his warhorse, Cincinnati, facing his confidant and president, the Lincoln Memorial. Often called “one of the most important sculptures in Washington,” it is the second largest equestrian statue in the country. Cavalry Charge and Artillery are the tumultuous sculptures that sit on either side of Grant and dramatically contrast President Grant’s cool demeanor.

Must-have picture: It’s hard to pick just one here, but President Grant staring down the National Mall towards Lincoln is a breathtaking scene.

Location: 1st St SW, Washington DC 20024

Spy Museum

This museum devoted to espionage is one of the only for-profit museums in the city but the cost is worth it, because this place is so cool! Learn all about spies throughout our nation’s history with interactive exhibits, fun challenges and exciting reveals. See a KGB lipstick pistol and invisible ink letters and discover historical and celebrity spies such as Julia Childs and Harriet Tubman.

Location: 800 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20004 (there are plans to move to a new location by L’Enfant Plaza in 2018)
Cost: Military and Senior ($15.95), Adults ($21.95), Children 7-11 ($14.95)

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

What day is complete without a visit to one of the world-famous Smithsonian Institution museums? Air & Space is the largest museum on the National Mall and holds a great deal of exciting military aviation history. See amazing artifacts like a Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, ballistic missiles and an F-86 Sabre, the first swept-wing jet fighter.

Location: Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington, DC 20560
Cost: Free

front of the US Archives building

US National Archives | Photo by Washington DC Urban Adventures

Hidden extras

Meade Memorial

This unique statue commemorating Major General George Gordon Meade is easy to miss is all the bustle of the east Mall area. It was a gift from the state of Pennsylvania and depicts the career military man in uniform surrounded by allegorical figures that represent the qualities thought important to be a successful military leader: Chivalry, Energy, Fame, Loyalty, Military Courage and Progress.

Location: Sits in front of the Prettyman Courthouse on the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW

American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

One of the newest memorials in the District, this simple but beautiful memorial was completed in 2014. Stone and fire sit in front of a glass wall covered in quotes from some of our disabled veterans.

Location: 150 Washington Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024 (across from the National Botanic Garden)

Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Museum

Best known for founding the American Red Cross, Civil War nurse Clara Barton also located thousands of missing Civil War soldiers. This partially restored building takes you back to the Civil War era and the amazing work Ms. Barton did for her country and our soldiers.

Location: 437 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Cost: Military and Senior ($8.50), Adults ($9.50), Students ($7.00)

Nathan Hale Statue

This simple statue for the Revolutionary War Army Captain and spy is inscribed with his alleged final words, “I regret that I have but one life to live for my country.”

Location: At the south facade of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, Northwest, Washington, D.C.

Where to eat & drink

Compass Coffee: Local favorite Compass Coffee is a great place to get your start in the morning. The friendly staff are always willing to offer recommendations and show you the process behind their brewing magic. It also happens to be owned and operated by two Marine Corps veterans.

Location(s): 650 F St NW Washington, DC 20001; 1921 8th St NW Washington, DC 20001; 1535 7th St NW Washington, DC 20001; 1776 Eye St NW Washington, DC 20004; 801 Mt Vernon Pl Washington, DC 20001
Military/Veteran Discount: 30% off

Hen Quarter: Great for any meal but known about town as the best chicken and waffles spot!

Location: 801 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20004
Military/Veteran Discount: 10% off

Farmers & Distillers: One of several amazing restaurants by union farmers in the District, Farmers & Distillers is a local favorite. Sustainably sourced and delicious, it’s a great place to get handmade noodles or the crab melt, an amazing sandwich consisting of local crab meat, brie cheese and honey mustard.

Location: 600 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Military/Veteran Discount: no specified daily discount (though always ask!), but for Veterans Day they do a great brunch with 50% off for any service member plus one other guest.

Plan B Burger: One of the best burgers in town with a great happy hour.

Location: 801 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20004
Military/Veteran Discount: 20% off

Carving Room: This is a great sandwich spot that uses delicious bread and piles their meat high! You can’t go wrong with the roast beef on weck or a basic three-cheese melt.

Location: 300 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20002
Military/Veteran Discount: 10% off

Day 2: Arlington & Georgetown

Must sees

Virginia

Once inside the original District of Columbia boundaries, Alexandria, VA is a worthwhile trip across the Potomac River.

Arlington National Cemetery

No veteran’s trip to the District is complete without a few hours at this emotionally moving cemetery holding so many of our nations servicemen and women. Here is final resting place of Presidents Kennedy and Taft, as well as many other prominent historical figures. All of the many monuments and memorials are worth checking out, but some notables are (of course!) the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a changing of the guard, the Coast Guard Memorial, McClellan Gate, the Pan Am Flight 103 Memorial Cairn, and the Women in Military Service for American Memorial. This land, once owned by Robert E. Lee, was the site of the very first Memorial Day ceremony back in 1868 and is the only cemetery to house service members from every U.S. fought war.

Must-have picture: The changing of the guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony happens every hour in the cooler months and every half hour in warmer months.

Location: At the end of Memorial Avenue, the parkway which extends from Memorial Bridge, near the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211
Cost: Free, but guided tours are available. Tours: Military in uniform (free), Military (adults $6.75, children $3.25), Seniors ($10.00), Adults ($13.50), Children ($6.75)

U.S. Marine Corpos War Memorial

This one is usually called the Iwa Jima memorial because it depicts the scene from a famous photograph of soldiers from the Battle of Iwa Jima. Dedicated by President Eisenhower in 1954, the flag has flown constantly from the statue since 1961. Written on the base of the memorial are the location and dates of every major battle involving the Marine Corps.

Location: outside of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Ridge Park in Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. The memorial can be accessed by car via the VA-110 South route or US-50 East or West routes.

Air Force Memorial

Next to the Pentagon, the Air Force Memorial honours the over 54,000 airmen who have died while serving in the U.S. Air Force. The memorial was opened and dedicated in 2006 with three spires that resemble a fighter plane maneuver called the “bomb burst”. Each of the spires represents the three core values of the Air Force: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all that is done.

Location: 1 Air Force Memorial Dr., Arlington, VA 22204

Georgetown

Tudor Place

Built by the granddaughter of Martha Washington and completed in 1816, this historic house has a rich military history. It also showcases the largest collection of George Washington artifacts outside of Mount Vernon. Many important figures such as the Marquis de Lafayette, Commodore Beverley Kennon I and Robert E. Lee have stayed or lived in this house.

Must-have picture: Anywhere in the gorgeous gardens is a good bet for a great picture.

Location: 1644 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Cost: Military and Senior ($8.00), Adults ($10.00), Children ($3.00)

Old Stone House

This old house is the last DC pre-revolutionary colonial building and the oldest one in the city, dating all the way back to 1765. It has sat unmolested for so many years due to folklore that suggested that it was the place where George Washington and Pierre L’Enfant met to plan the city in 1791. For many years the house displayed a sign stating, “George Washington’s Headquarters.” This legend proved false, but the building remains today as a glimpse into the past.

Must-have picture: From the front on M Street is a classic.

Location: 3051 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Cost: Free

Dumbarton House

Another old house in Georgetown? But this one’s also worth the trip, we promise! The first inhabitant was Joseph Norse, a military secretary to General Charles Lee during the Revolutionary War. Later it was owned by Charles Carrol, cousin to a signer of the Declaration of Independence and famous due to his presence in a famous letter from Dolley Madison. Dolley Madison herself fled to this house when the White House was burned down by the British in 1814 as part of the War of 1812.

Location: 2715 Q Street NW Washington, DC 20007
Cost: Active duty (Free), Veterans ($8.00), Adults ($10.00), Child/Student (Free)

Hidden extras

Gun Barrel Fence

Legend has it that this fence in Georgetown was made from Revolutionary War firearms. Citizen Reuben Daw lent money to the government during the War of 1812 and was repaid with surplus military gear. Daw went to the Navy Yard, requested, and was given, a pile of old flintlock Brown Bess rifles. It is believed that he made a fence with these rifles, which still stands today.

Location: 2803, 2805 P Street NW Washington DC 20007

Pentagon

Not exactly hidden, but the Pentagon may not be an easy stop on your trip. It’s only available for touring during the week and only with several weeks advanced notice. However, if you get the chance to take a tour it’s a great stop!

Location: The entrance to the pedestrian tunnel is directly across Army Navy Drive from the Pentagon City Mall parking garage.
Cost: Free

Netherlands Carillion

This bell tower was a gift from the Netherlands to thank the United States for their aid during World War II. A nod to the Dutch connection, in the spring thousands of tulips cover the grounds. This is a great place to get distance views of the City.

Location: Adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Parkway in Arlington, VA

Where to eat & drink

Dog Tag Bakery: Supporting this place is an easy decision! All proceeds from this delicious bakery go to the many veteran programs funded by their sister nonprofit dogtaginc.org. Dedicated to training and giving jobs to disabled veterans, this place is not only inspiring, it’s also delicious! If you’re looking for something sweet the chocolate cake is one of the best around.

Location: 3206 Grace St NW Washington, DC 20007

Martin’s Tavern: This slightly pricier restaurant doesn’t have a military discount, but it does have history. It’s the oldest family-owned restaurant in the city. Presidents from Truman to Bush (both of them!) have dined here. President Kennedy proposed to Jackie Bouvier here. Many of the presidents who have dined here did so before they were presidents, for example George H.W. Bush is said to have dined here often while he was director of the CIA. Heading there for lunch is a great idea, as the sandwiches are all excellent and the French onion soup is extremely tasty.

Location: 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW Washington, DC 20007

Pinstripes: Pinstripes has great food, but it’s also a ton of fun! The flatbreads and pastas are a must and while you’re eating or waiting to eat you can enjoy a game of bocce.

Location: 1064 Wisconsin Ave NW Washington, DC 20007
Military/Veterans Discount: 10% off

Day 3: The Western Mall & Dupont Circle

Must sees

Smithsonian American History Museum

There is so much to see at this museum that it’s a must for any lover of military history. Here you can see the Star Spangled Banner, the flag Francis Scott Key was looking at when he wrote the poem that would become our National Anthem. There is also a huge exhibition titled, “The Price of Freedom” which takes you through every conflict the United States has been a part of. Check the website, because there are often military band and chorale performances throughout the day.

Must-have picture: Unfortunately, the museum doesn’t allow pictures of the actual Start Spangled Banner, but the beautiful foyer has a flag sculpture that is a great backdrop to one of the musical performances!

Location: 1300 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560
Cost: Free

World War II Memorial

Although this one had many critics in its infancy, the World War II Memorial is now one of the District’s most memorable and moving monuments. With 56 pillars representing the states and territories that fought with the United States during the second World War and an elegant fountain that looks over to the Lincoln Memorial, this grand monument is a must-see stop in your DC journey. When you visit, linger over the walls, which are covered with famous quotes. Particularly, reflect at the Freedom Wall, covered in 4048 gold stars, each representing 100 American soldiers that lost their lives in the War. Hidden amongst the pomp are two “Kilroy was Here” doodles, an unofficial symbol of American soldiers during the War.

Location: 17th Street, between Constitution and Independence Avenues, and is flanked by the Washington Monument to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.

memorial to POWs in Washington

Memorial to POWs missing in action | Photo by Washington DC Urban Adventures

Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

All of these are grouped together because they’re so close to one another. The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most famous monuments in the world, and for a good reason. The stately president’s statue is flanked by two of Lincoln’s most famous speeches and surrounded by 36 pillars representing the states in the union when President Lincoln was assassinated. Nearby is the emotionally moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The simple wall, listing the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, reflects its somber surroundings. The Korean War Veterans Memorial is the least known of these three, but worth the walk over to the south side of the reflecting pool. The 19 steel statues, representing a patrol platoon, creep through the brush as though it were a forest in Korea. The Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines are all represented in this platoon. A plaque near the Pool of Remembrance reads, “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

Must-have picture: Any of the memorials from the reflecting pool

Location: Lincoln Memorial is at 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037, the Vietnam Memorial is to the North of Lincoln and the Korean Memorial is to the south.

Pershing Park

Just east of President’s Park sits a lovely park named for John J. Pershing, the General of Armies during World War I. Here you will find the American Expeditionary Forces Memorial, the Reserve Officers Memorial and the Bex Eagle sculpture. This is also the site of the future National World War I Memorial and Museum.

Must-have picture: The Bex Eagle sculpture. The sculpture has inscribed upon it is a moving script about freedom that starts with, “Free men must re-dedicate themselves to the cause of freedom…”

Location: East of the White House, bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th, 15th and E Streets, NW

Freedom Plaza

Just east of Pershing Park is a stone expanse that depicts the original plan of the city created by Pierre L’Enfant and George Washington. Overlooking the map is a statue of Brigadier General Casmir Pulaski, a Revolutionary War hero. It was originally called Western Plaza, but was renamed in 1988 to honor Martin Luther King Jr., who worked on his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the nearby Willard Hotel. Facing the plaza is the National Theater, which has been visited by every U.S. President since it opened in 1835.

Must-have picture: The Pulaski statue. Casmir Pulaski was known as the father of the American cavalry and was crucial in many Revolutionary War battles, including the Battle of Savanna, where he was mortally wounded. The statue depicts him on horseback and the base is inscribed with all of his battles including his final fatal one.

Location: Corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, adjacent to Pershing Park.

Lafayette Square

The park that overlooks the North lawn of the White house is full of military statues. It’s named after the famed Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette, the French nobleman who played an important role in the Americans’ eventual victory over the British in the Revolutionary War. His statue sits on one of the four corners of the park, the other corners of which also depict other Revolutionary War figures: Major General Comte Jean de Rochambeau of France, Brigadier General Thaddeus Kosciuszko of Poland, and Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben of Prussia. In the center of the park sits a statue of General Andrew Jackson (who later became president), so dedicated because of his efforts during the War of 1812. The Jackson statue is surrounded by real cannons that were confiscated from the British during that war. On the southern line of the park sits the North lawn of the White House.

Must-have picture: The Jackson statue with the White House in the background is a stunning scene.

Location: Pennsylvania Ave NW & 16th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20001

Hidden extras

Nuns of the Battlefield Civil War Nurses Memorial

About half a mile north of the White House sits a lovely little memorial for the women who cared for soldiers during the Civil War. When the Civil War broke out there were not many trained nurses to assist on the battlefield, nuns who ran several Catholic hospitals stepped in to care for the injured. This memorial sculpture portrays 12 nuns in a variety of habits (including one wearing the cornette of the Daughters of Charity, the headgear said to be the inspiration for the Flying Nun) each of which represents a different order that provided medical care in the army camps.

Location: 1745 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036

DC War Memorial

A short walk from the Korean War Memorial, this oft overlooked memorial commemorates residents of the District of Columbia who fought and died during World War I. The cornerstone lists the 26,000 District residents who fought in World War I, while the base of the monument lists the 499 residents who lost their lives. What makes this small monument stand out are the women listed among the names, which was rare in monuments erected in the 1930s.

Location: 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20227

Willard Intercontinental Hotel

One of the oldest hotels in the city, the past of this DC landmark is deep and storied. Parts of the hotel date as far back as 1816 and amongst its history are many military tales. In 1861 the Willard was the site of the Peace Convention, led by ex-President John Taylor, where delegates from 21 of the 36 states met to try to negotiate peace before civil war broke out. On February 23, 1861, due to numerous assassination threats, detective Allan Pinkerton smuggled Abraham Lincoln into the Willard, where he stayed until his inauguration on March 4. During this time, he held meetings in the lobby and even from his room. When you visit stop by the Round Robin bar, there since almost the beginning, to pick up a mint julep, its signature drink.

Location: 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

FDR Memorial

If you feel like making a hike a little past the DC War Memorial, go check out the stunning FDR Memorial. Separated into four “rooms” to represent his four terms in office it is full of amazing sculptures, scripts and water features. One of the “rooms” features the President’s efforts during World War II. The water feature here depicts chaotic falls, which represent the chaos of war.

Location: 1850 West Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242

John Paul Jones Memorial

In the shadow of the Washington Monument sits a memorial to Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones. As a ship captain during the Battle of Flamborough Head he is famous for having shouted, “I have not yet begun to fight.” Dedicated in 1912 this was the very first monument in Potomac Park. On its back is an image of Captain Jones raising an American flag over his ship, the Bonhomme Richard. It is believed that Jones was the first to raise the national flag on a military ship.

Location: 17th St SW, Washington, DC 20006

General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument

This one memorializing a Civil War hero sits right next to the Treasury Department Building and is part of President’s Park. Dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, the statue is surrounded by etchings that depict things such as the Battle of Atlanta and the March through Georgia. There are four figures at each corner of the monument. They represent the artillery, infantry, cavalry and engineers.

Location: The intersection of 15th Street NW, Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and Treasury Place NW.

1st Infantry Division Monument

On the west side of President’s Park sits a pink marble statue that commemorates soldiers who died while serving in the first infantry division of the United Stated Army. The tall statue is called the Victory statue and was sculpted by Daniel French, who also sculpted the presidential statue that sits in the Lincoln Memorial. It was originally made to honor World War I soldiers, but additions have since been made for soldiers from the Second World, Vietnam and Desert Storm wars.

Location: 17th St NW & E Street NW, Washington, DC 20634

2nd Infantry Division Monument

This pretty memorial sits at the southern boundary of President’s Park. Like its First Infantry counterpart, this memorial commemorates soldiers who died while serving in the second infantry division of the United States Army. The flaming sword at the memorial’s center represents the defense of Paris from German forces during World War I. Later wings were added to memorialize World War II and Korean War soldiers.

Location: President’s Park, between 17th Street Northwest and Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC

Major General James B McPherson Statue

A short walk from the White House, this one depicts the Civil War hero regally astride a horse and was cast using Confederate cannons captured during the Battle of Atlanta.

Location: 1400 I St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Admiral David G Farragut Statue

You can check out this statue on your way to the metro as there are two metro stops at Farragut Square. Admiral Farragut, who gained acclaim during the Civil War, was the first admiral in the U.S. Navy and this statue was the first in the city to depict a naval hero. Farragut started his military career at age 9, when he fought in the War of 1812 and is famous for the quote, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” This statue is also one of the few sculpted by a woman, being the work of famous female sculptor Vinnie Ream.

Location: 912 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006

Brevet Lt General Winfield Scott Statue

A short walk north of the White House sits Scott Circle in the center of which is a statue of Winfield Scott, who had one of the longest military careers of his time. Scott, nicknamed “Old Fuss and Feathers” was a veteran of the War of 1812, Blackhawn War, Mexican-American War, Seminole Wars, and Civil War. His 53-year military career spanned from serving under Thomas Jefferson to serving under Abraham Lincoln. This statue was vastly criticized early on because it placed Scott on a mare, when he was known for only riding stallions.

Location: 1900 L St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Where to eat & drink

Black Rooster Pub: Owned by a Marine Corps veteran, this place is great for a bite or a drink. This English-style pub has great burgers and even better happy hour specials!

Location: 1919 L St NW Washington, DC 20036
Military/Veterans Discount: varies, ask your server

District Taco: This local and inexpensive Mexican chain is an excellent way to get a quick meal. Known for their street tacos, you also can’t go wrong with their delicious burritos and nachos!

Location(s): 1919 M St NW Washington, DC 20036; 1309 F St NW Washington, DC 20004; 656 Pennsylvania Ave SE Washington, DC 20003; 701 S Washington St Alexandria, VA 22314
Military/Veterans Discount: 25% off

McClellan’s Retreat: Named after Union officer Major General George B. McClellan, this popular happy hour spot is a great place to rest and have a drink and a snack.

Location: 2031 Florida Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009
Military/Veterans Discount: varies, ask your server

Day 4: Capitol Hill & The Navy Yard

Must sees

Tour of Duty: Barracks Row Heritage Trail

This self-guided walking tour takes you through one of the oldest and most distinguished parts of the city. The 90-minute, self-guided tour proceeds down Eighth Street, loops through the residential neighborhood, and ends at Eastern Market. Take your time at the Marine Barracks, the location of which was chosen in 1801 by then President Thomas Jefferson. Halfway through the tour, take a pause and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Navy Yard. Make sure you check the website and download a map to ensure you know about any obstructions on the trail.

Location: The first sign is located at the Eastern Market Metro station plaza (Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE)

National Museum of the US Navy

To get to this museum you have to plan ahead, but it’s totally worth the effort. Taking up several buildings inside the Washington Navy Yard the museum has one-of-a-kind naval artifacts. Different exhibits showcase artifacts from the Cold War, American Revolution and French Alliance, and the Forgotten Wars, to name a few. To get in you must have a valid photo ID. Go to their website to get the extended details on how to attend.

Location: 736 Sicard St SE, Washington, DC 20374
Cost: Free

monument behind the US Capitol

Behind the Capitol | Photo by Washington DC Urban Adventures

Capitol Grounds

There are many hidden treasures amongst the amazing horticulture surrounding the Capitol. Walking the 274 acres you can find landmarks such as the Robert E Taft Memorial and Carillion, the Senate Fountain, the Summer House and the Olmstead Terrace. The Bartholdi Fountain across from the Botanic Garden was made by the same man who created the Statue of Liberty. The grounds were designed and landscaped originally by Fredrick Law Olmstead, who is thought to be the founder of American landscape architecture. Stop by the Visitor’s Center to see a to-scale replica of the famous Freedom Statue and take a tour of the Capitol Building. Tours can be booked in advance or day of (first come first serve).

Must-have picture: With the famous capitol dome as the backdrop, the Capitol Fountain at dusk is a stunning view.

Location: First St NE, Washington, DC 20515
Cost: Free.

Politics and Pints Tour

This two-hour walking tour takes you through historic Capitol Hill and involves stories focused on the history of politics in the District.

Cost: $30/person (military discounts vary, talk to a representative)

Hidden extras

Library of Congress

The largest library in the world this is worth the visit if you have time. Free one-hour tours are offered every hour.

Location: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540
Cost: Free

Supreme Court

Right next to the Library of Congress sits the highest court in the land. The building does not offer guided tours but you can walk through the public areas on your own. In the Great Hall take the time to study the busts of each Supreme Court justice. There are educational films and lectures offered throughout the day. Court sessions are usually open to the public and seating is offered on a first come first serve basis.

Location: 1 First St NE, Washington, DC 20543
Cost: Free

Tastes of H Street Tour

Just off of Capitol Hill sits one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Washington DC. This three-hour walking tour takes you through some of the best food in the District while delving into the fascinating history of the neighborhood.

Cost: $68/person (military discounts vary, talk to a representative)

Where to eat & drink

We The Pizza: One of the best pizza places in the City, this is a great casual dining spot in Capitol Hill.

Location: 305 Pennsylvania Ave SE Washington DC 20003

Tune Inn: A local favorite casual dining restaurant owned by an airforce veteran.

Location: 331 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

Ted’s Bulletin: One of the best breakfast spots in the city with everything from eggs benedict to homemade pop tarts, this place is very military-friendly. If you can’t make if for breakfast they have a diverse lunch menu with fun burger combinations and delicious milkshakes.

Location(s): 505 8th Street SE Washington, DC 20003; 1818 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20009
Military/Veterans Discount: 10% off

Sweet Lobby: The Sweet Lobby is famous for being spotlighted on the Food Network, and it lives up to the hype. Whether you’re grabbing a cupcake or a macaroon you will not be disappointed.

Location: 404 8th Street SE Washington DC 20003
Military/Veterans Discount: varies, speak with staff

Ice Cream Jubilee: If you’re hanging out around the Navy Yard, Ice Cream Jubilee is a must stop! This is one of the best ice cream spots in the city and even has boozy ice cream for the more adventurous out there. The banana bourbon and caramel is especially delicious, though everyone has their personal favorite.

Location(s): 301 Water Street SE Washington, DC 20003; 1407 T Street NW Washington, DC 20009
Military/Veterans Discount: 10% off every day; Mondays military gets buy one get one free

About author

Ally Amavisca

Tour Guide @ Washington DC Urban Adventures. Educator, runner, naturalist, drinker and explorer. Never stop playing!

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