Fun Things to Do in Washington DC

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

What an amazing experience, exploring Washington DC for the first time. The city surprised me in so many ways, and I wondered why I waited so long to visit. My grandson Dayan moved to DC last summer, for post graduate studies, and for work. Dayan living there prompted me to travel to DC so I could not only see my grandson but see the city through his eyes.

There are SO many fun things to do in Washington DC, and most of those activities are free.

Haven’t been to DC yet either? Use my experiences as a guide. Been to DC already? Share your favorite things to do in the city, in the comments.
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC pinnable title

List of Fun Things to Do in Washington DC

For reference, I spent four days and three nights in DC, at the fabulous citizenM Hotel located a couple of blocks from the National Mall. A nearby Metro station made getting around the city easy. And, DC is very walkable if you don’t mind walking a LOT. I’d suggest comfortable, sturdy walking shoes.

I experienced rain every day of my visit. That didn’t stop Dayan and me from exploring all day long with the help of rain jackets and an umbrella.

Here’s a list of fun things to do, while visiting the nation’s capital.

Tour The Capitol Building

The United States Capitol, typically called The Capitol or The Capitol Building, is the seat of the legislative branch of the United States federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall, on a plateau 88 feet above the level of the Potomac River. From The Capitol you can look west and see the Washington Memorial 1.4 miles away and the Lincoln Memorial, 2.2 miles away. These three structures line up on the National Mall.

The Capitol is home to the House of Representatives and the Senate. As the country and city grew, so did The Capitol. Building began in 1793 and the first congress met there in 1800. Currently the building contains over 1.5 million square feet, 600+ rooms and miles of corridors. The structure is crowned by the magnificent white dome and is an iconic symbol of the US and her people.

You can participate in a paid tour of The Capitol. Only visitors with advance tour reservations may enter the building. Check out tour info HERE.

Dayan and I toured The Capitol Building shortly after my arrival in DC. The 1 1/2 hour tour begins with a 30 minute film about the construction of The Capitol and its purpose. I felt SO moved during the film. It brought home to me the importance of this historic building and also of the city itself. It’s one place…for many people…for ALL people. Inscribed in the rotunda is the Latin phrase, “E Pluribus Unum”, from the many, one. One government, representing all.

We loved this fascinating tour and learned so much.

Fun Things to Do in Washington DC dayan
I not only enjoyed the tour of The Capitol, I enjoyed watching my grandson’s delight.

Explore The National Mall

Nicknamed “America’s Front Yard”, the National Mall is where the country’s most iconic memorials, museums and statues are found. You can participate in guided tours of the Mall, or walk the area yourself. The space stretches from The Capitol Building to the Tidal Basin area beyond the Lincoln Memorial to the White House on the north side. It is flanked by the Smithsonian Museums.

A 5 mile loop around the Mall takes approximately an hour and a half to walk. You can easily spend days exploring in just this area, visiting memorials and museums.

Dayan and I wandered around this area on all four days, popping into museums and art galleries, to escape the rain, and visiting monuments and memorials. Seeing the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, after reading about them and seeing photos of them my whole life, was an emotional experience for me.

Fun Things to Do in Washington DC national mall
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – National Mall

Discover Monuments and Memorials

While exploring the National Mall, stop at the many, many monuments and memorials.

The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are the most well known however there are more than 100 structures in the area. These monuments and memorials honor America’s forefathers and heroes and tell stories about our history.

Places to visit include Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, National World War I and World War II Memorials, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Albert Einstein Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, African American Civil War Memorial and DC War Memorial.

There are many other sites set up in memory of a person or group. Part of the fun is finding them.

The Lincoln Memorial
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – Lincoln Memorial

Visit the Smithsonian Museums

DC can boast that it has the world’s largest museum complex!

Around and near the National Mall, 16 Smithsonian Museums offer exhibits that range from art to science to history. The National Zoo is included as a Smithsonian site as well. All Smithsonian Museums are, amazingly, free to enter. Some do require a timed entry. You can reserve your pass online.

Smithsonian Museums include:

  • Anacostia Community Museum
  • Arts & Industries Building
  • Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
  • National Air & Space Museum
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Renwick Gallery of Smithsonian American Art
  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian Institute Castle
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • National Museum of Asian Art
  • Smithsonian National Zoo
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Portrait Gallery & Smithsonian American Art
  • Smithsonian Gardens
  • National Postal Museum

Among the museums, the National Museum of Natural History, with its dinosaur bones, sea life exhibits and rock and mineral section, is the most popular. It ranked first, with almost a million visits in 2021, with the National Zoo a close second.

Dayan and I enjoyed visiting several of these museums, including Natural History, the Portrait Gallery, American Art and American History. We also visited the National Gallery of Art, which is not a Smithsonian Museum. However, it is worth a visit as well, for its amazing works of classic art.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – Smithsonian Museums

Walk Through the United States Botanic Garden

In the middle of the city lies a beautiful garden. This is the United States Botanic Garden, established 200 years ago. It too is free to enter.

The US Botanic Garden offers uniquely beautiful exhibits that not only delight but inspire us to become better stewards of the plants on the earth.

You can wander through outdoor exhibits that include vegetable gardens, flower gardens, sculptures, fountains and seasonal displays.

Indoors, in the conservatories, stroll through world regions that include desert, tropical, subtropical and Jurassic. There’s a medicinal garden, orchids and endangered plants.

I love to visit botanical gardens in every city and country that I visit. This one was magical!

United States Botanic Garden
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – US Botanic Garden

Take a Photo of the White House

At the northern edge of the National Mall, on Pennsylvania Avenue, sits the beautiful White House. This magnificent structure has housed every US president, since John Adams in 1800.

Did you know that the White House is modeled on Leinster House in Dublin? Irish born architect James Hoban intentionally created the neoclassical structure based on the Irish Legislature building.

The West Wing was added in 1901, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Eight years later President William Taft added the Oval Office. And the East Wing was completed in 1946. The executive residence includes six stories, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.

Tours of the White House are free, however, you must contact your representative to make a request. Submit requests at least 21 days in advance or up to 3 months before your visit. There are a limited number of visitors allowed.

I didn’t discover the 21 days in advance rule in time to request a tour. However, Dayan and I explored nearby Lafayette Square and took photos of the White House.

The White House
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – take a photo of the White House

Enjoy the Views from the Old Post Office Clock Tower

What a wonderful way to get a different perspective of the city!

The Old Post Office, located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, is a National Historic Site. Completed in 1899, this post office replaced an earlier general post office building from 1839. The clock tower is the third tallest structure in DC.

It ceased existence as a post office in 1914 at the beginning of WWI. After avoiding demolition for many years, retail space, a food court and a roof skylight over a central atrium brought new life to the old structure. The building operated for four years as a luxury hotel before reopening this year as the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC.

The 315 foot high clock tower houses the “Bells of Congress” and on its observation level, offers panoramic views of the city. Entrance is free.

Dayan suggested this site, and I admit giddy relief when he told me there’s an elevator to the observation deck! The wind was brisk and cold but what amazing views over the city! The final photo in this post shows just how beautiful those views are.

Old Post Office Clock Tower
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – the Old Post Office Clock Tower

Walk Around the City

Besides the National Mall, there’s much to explore in the city, such as charming neighborhoods, museums like the International Spy Museum, historic spots like Ford’s Theatre, restaurants that specialize in brunch, cool coffee shops, gardens and stunning architecture.

In spite of the rain, I spent Monday afternoon walking in downtown DC, after one last lunch with my grandson. I “gwalked”…walked and gawked at the same time! DC is a gorgeous city, clean and friendly with lots of green space. I loved everything about it and simply enjoyed being there.

Ford Theatre
See what you can find, as you walk the city!

Take a Tour

There are many tours available in DC, from historic ones to memorial tours to ghost walks. The city offers bike tours, bus tours, walking tours or you can explore by moonlight in a trolley.

I spent the remainder of my last afternoon in DC on a 90 minute bus tour. It got me out of the chilly rain, which was quite heavy by then, and I appreciated the stories the tour guide shared. We stopped at the Lincoln Memorial and I snapped additional photos.

I love experiencing ghost tours in the cities I travel to. This time, however, Dayan and I created our own walking ghost tour, stopping at haunted locations in the city to take photos. Check out my post, Ghost Stories from Washington DC.

Take a tour of the city
Take a fun tour of the city.

Have you visited DC?

My four days in DC flew by! There’s so much to do and see that I need another trip there. I believe I could visit DC yearly and never run out of experiences to enjoy. Let these fun things to do in Washington DC give you a starting point.

Have you visited DC? What experiences did you most enjoy? Add to my list by posting your recommendations in the comments below!

View from the top
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – clock tower view


DC Finds from Amazon:



Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.



citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

On my recent trip to Washington DC, finding the right accommodations landed high on my list.

I’m drawn to unique, fun properties. Location is important of course, as I’m usually on foot. And eco-friendliness is a huge factor as well.

As I sorted through possibilities, one hotel stood out to me as it checked all my boxes. Location…perfect. Eco-friendliness…outstanding. And uniqueness…through the roof!

I’m excited to share citizenM Hotel with you, the Washington DC Capitol location.

citizenM Hotel title

The Story Behind citizenM Hotel

The citizenM hotel franchise opened its first hotel in Amsterdam, in 2008, with a big mission: to become the leading transformational hotel inspiring a new generation of modern travelers in the big cities in the world by offering an affordable luxury lifestyle.

They are a new breed of boutique hotel that disrupts the traditional models by eliminating the frustrations travelers shared and offering a luxury experience in central city locations for an affordable price.

This hybrid hotel isn’t just a place to sleep, but a place to work, relax, and play. It’s a place to meet like-minded people and get inspired. citizenM feels like home the moment you walk through the door with its free Wi-Fi, comfortable furniture, and an extremely comfy bed to crash in at the end of a long day exploring.

They call themselves the brand with attitude…playful, cheeky, fun, outrageous. It’s a hotel brand that connects to the young at heart, no matter the actual age. They are proudly colorful, confident and artsy. And the hotels encourage guests to gather outside the cozy rooms in bright common areas, work spaces and meeting rooms.

citizenM Name

According to citizenM, mobile citizens cross continents as easily as they cross streets. They appreciate more than chocolates on pillows. And they mix and match their choices from clothing styles to travel modes.

citizenM is named for these mobile citizens. Every decision they make for their hotels is based on the needs of these travelers.

Currently the company operates 20 hotels in Europe, Asia and the US, with 18 new hotels in development, globally.

citizenM Hotel gathering area
citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol – one of the inviting living rooms in my hotel

Why I Love citizenM

Washington DC offers two citizenM Hotels. I chose the Washington DC Capitol location, due to its proximity to the National Mall with its monuments and museums and the Metro system. Once I downloaded their cool and easy to use app, I made my reservation through it and looked forward to experiencing their uniqueness.

I was not disappointed!

Here’s what I love about citizenM, in no particular order.

Quick Contactless Check in

Using the app, I checked in as I arrived at the hotel, located at 550 School Street SW, Washington DC. I paid on the app too, as I walked into the lobby. From there I simply picked up an electronic key to my room and chatted for a moment with the friendly ambassador, available to offer aid and answer questions. Because I arrived hours before check in time, they kindly stowed my carry on so I could head out with my grandson to explore the city.

Check in is SO quick and easy. For those who do not have the app, computers are set up for self check in.

When I left I checked out online and dropped off my key.

Common Areas and 24/7 canteenM

Before going to my room, I wandered around downstairs. I loved the bright, inviting common areas, the table with a bank of computers and all the amazing art.

canteenM is a kitchen/cafe, open 24/7, for drinks and food. I could fill my water container here, eat breakfast from the buffet, grab a late night drink or snack or have a cup of tea.

cloudM is the rooftop bar, however, with the steady rain during the four days I visited DC, this open air space remained closed.

The mezzanine features meeting rooms and a gym.

citizenM Hotel mezzanine
citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol – meeting rooms, restrooms and gym on the mezzanine level, overlooking canteenM below

Green Hotel Practices

Eco-friendliness is SO crucial to me. citizenM is kind to the planet with a focus on building and operating healthier, greener hotels. They promote water conservation with water bottle filling stations on site, have a “no single use plastics” policy, provide on site recycling, contribute to local charities and organizations and offer choices on housekeeping.

I chose the option of no housekeeping in my room while I was there. I choose that option in every hotel I stay in. However, citizenM takes that choice one step farther. They donate $3 or 3 euros to charity, when a guest stays 2 or more nights and chooses the “no cleaning” option.

The LED lights automatically turn off when guests leave the room. A light automatically turns on at dusk, in my hotel at least, so that you never walk into a dark room. And all rooms have individually controlled heat/air so that only occupied rooms use energy.

They partner with the TooGoodToGo app to sell breakfast buffet leftovers that would otherwise go to waste.

Read more about citizenM green practices HERE.

canteenM with the friendliest staff

The citizenM Room

All rooms at citizenM are the same, designed for one or two adults, with a single extra large king size bed.

This hotel likes to boast about their comfy beds…with the fluffiest pillows and snuggliest duvet comforters…and it’s true. I LOVE the big oversized bed, positioned next to the huge window for great city views. After a day of walking and exploring, it was pure bliss to crawl into that bed. I slept soundly and deeply.

Fun fact: my bed was sprinkled with red balloons when I arrived.

Under the bed storage bins provide ample room to stash gadgets, shoes, luggage or a laptop. There’s also a safe in one of the drawers.

Besides the comfiest bed, what else do I love about about the room?

iPad Controlled

This is fun. The whole room is controlled by an iPad. Lights, the window shades, the television and room temperature, all controlled via the iPad screen. There are mood lights in the sleek bathroom that change colors, lights that brighten or dim or lots of entertainment on the big screen tv on the wall at the foot of the bed.

You can also find traditional light switches on the wall.

I found the iPad easy to use and loved the convenience of changing lighting, tv channels and room temperature from the bed.

citizenM Hotel howdy
citizenM Hotel – a greeting from the iPad in the room

Recycling Bin in Room

The multifunctional counter with sink, storage, refrigerator and lighted vanity mirror also contained a recycling bin. That’s a first for me and I used it for paper disposal.

Multifunctional counter
Multifunctional counter that includes recycling bin

Sleek Bathroom

The room makes the absolute best use of space. The sink is outside the bathroom area while the shower and toilet are enclosed. The walls are opaque. There is a privacy curtain guests can use if desired, to separate the bed area from the bathroom.

You can change the lighting color over the shower, which offers nighttime and daytime shower gels/shampoo and an amazing shower head.

citizenM Hotel mood lighting
citizenM Hotel – mood lighting in the bathroom

Desk with Charging Stations

Next to the bed is a desk and chair. The iPad has a charging dock here plus there are built in charging plugs on the wall above the desk. It’s so convenient to plug in my phone at night.

Desk with charging stations
Desk with charging stations

Window Shades

The large window next to the bed offers wonderful city views. During the day, I could raise the shades to let light in. Or I could lower the thin shade that still allowed light to come into the room while providing privacy. And then there’s the room darkening shade, for sleeping.

Every morning, lying in bed, I’d use the iPad to raise the darkening shade and then the privacy shade and welcome in the new day. What a beautiful ritual that became.

citizenM Hotel shades
Good morning DC!

I’m a citizenM Fan

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol. Everything about this place enchanted me, including the cheerful, helpful staff.

And yeah, I know it won’t be everyone’s preference. citizenM is colorful, playful, bold, progressive, untraditional and outrageous. I believe it’s the hotel of the future, here now in the present. It’s a place where travelers feel understood and acknowledged and encouraged to keep following their hearts as they explore.

I appreciate everything that this hotel franchise offers and the changes they are making in the world.

I’m a citizenM fan, so much so that I’d love to visit ALL of their hotels around the globe. They happen to have hotels in most of the cities on my travel list.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence. It’s fate. And it’s a big goal, to make this desire a reality.

Have you stayed in a citizenM Hotel? Which one? And if you haven’t, would you stay here? Ask me your questions.

Click this LINK to see citizenM Hotel locations and book a room.

Matching the lobby
Citizen Cindy, in the lobby and accidently matching the decor.

Watch for more posts from my time in DC. And check out this one on Haunted DC.

Travel finds from Amazon:


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

My sister and her family are Halloween party planners, extraordinaire. They create the most amazing themed parties each year…when COVID (2020) or a move to a new house (2021) don’t cancel the highly anticipated event.

Check out the 2018 and 2019 Halloween Parties…more themed parties available by clicking links at the bottom of those two posts…and prepare to board the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship, for a voyage into spookiness.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship title

The Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

This year’s theme included a backstory, cleverly posted as newspaper headlines on the walls. My niece Ashley makes full use of her incredible graphic design abilities.

Reading the headlines from various national newspapers reveal that the MS Antonia Graza never arrived at her destination, after embarking on her maiden voyage October 29, 1922. All on board, 600 passengers and 500 crew, are listed as missing. Initial rescue efforts fail to locate the Antonia Graza.

Eventual sightings of the vessel lead to recovery crews boarding the ship, which appears operational although no sign of the passengers or crew are reported. Rescue efforts halt when the recovery crews fail to return.

The Antonia Graza roams the seas for 100 years, all lives…including those of the rescue crews….presumed lost. In 2022, the Antonia Graza is sighted once again, cruising along on her original route in the North Atlantic.

We each received electronic invitations to board the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship, if we dared!

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship staircase
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship – grand staircase

Tour the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

Come on a tour of the ghost ship with me. My sister Debbie and her family transformed the lower level of the house and the upstairs hallway and bathroom.

The attention to detail is perfect. Using estate sale and thrift shops finds, these creative souls go way beyond adding a few ship worthy decorations. They paper the walls, creating areas of exposed “brick”, add seaweed and cobwebs, add sound and light special effects, remove existing furniture, build false walls and prepare a spread of theme appropriate food. Lights flicker. Red alerts sound. Fog roils past the front door. In costume violinists perform a hauntingly beautiful song in the dining hall.

Guests arrive in costume, ranging from 1920s aristocrats to “dead” crew members to sharks to passengers who perished aboard the ship.

Have a look!

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship buffet
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship – buffet spread out over three rooms.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship dining
Ship dining room (in reality, this is the family room) for gathering with plates of food and drinks.
Ghost Violinists
Ghost violinists
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship elevator
Upstairs an elevator malfunction! I love the little touches, like numbers on the doors.
Upstairs bathroom
Upstairs bathroom
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship quiet moment
My sister Debbie enjoying a quiet moment in the ship lounge.
Ship clock
Ship clock

Antonia Graza Passengers and Crew

Here’s a peek at the creative costumes of those attending the party.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship crew
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship crew, my sister and her family, hosts for the party.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship sharks
Baby Shark with Mommy Shark and Daddy Shark
My brother and sister in law
My brother and sister in law.
Cousins photo
Adult cousins photo. The outdoor deck provided a great gathering spot.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship greg and roy
Greg and Roy. Perhaps they are members of the rescue crew.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship sibling photo
Sibling photo – me, my brother and my sisters

Fun Evening

What an amazing voyage, aboard the Antonia Graza. I captured photos of most family members, however there were many more guests that came and went.

We all enjoyed the evening, the food, the music, the decorations and chatting in groups that formed, broke apart and reformed with new people.

I so appreciate all the hard work that goes into this annual event. I absolutely know that my sister and her family could create a successful business around their creativity and their love of Halloween. They currently do all of this for fun. And fun it is.

Does your family celebrate Halloween? If you had a Halloween party this year, what was your theme?

Me and my girls
Me with daughters and granddaughter, We missed my son and his family at the party!

Ghost Ships from Amazon:



Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.