Welcome to my city! As a DMV local for the majority of my life and a frequent Washington, D.C. explorer, let me tell you now that you’re going to love it here. I made this Washington D.C. bucket list not only as a tool for travelers to get the most of their time in D.C. but also for my own use, to see what secrets D.C. held that perhaps I hadn’t even seen.

And let me tell you… I guess ‘local’ has been a stretch of my imagination. Judging from how many checks I have on my bucket list (scroll down), you’d think I had never been to the city! Out of the 74 items on this list, I’ve only done 8 after living in the area for more than 11 years.

Yikes, I have a lot to catch up on.

In my defense, I’ve been living in Richmond, VA since I was 17 for college and spent my 21st year studying abroad in Dubai, so I haven’t really had a chance to go out into the city on a regular basis to explore. But after researching, asking friends, and compiling what I have done in the city, I’m now on a mission to check off everything on the list with you.

D.C. staple attractions like Ben’s Chili Bowl and the White House will have you really feeling like you know the city. But the lesser known items like Blagden Alley, the Arboretum, and wandering Meridian Hill Park will show you the true spirit of this historic city.

* Some of the following links are affiliate links. It doesn’t affect your buying experience at all, but just gives me a little thank you and helps me sustain my blog. xo

VERY D.C. BUILDINGS

  • The U.S. Capitol Building
  • The White House
  • The Library of Congress
  • Have a moment of silence at Arlington Cemetary
  • The Congressional Cemetary
  • Theodore Roosevelts Memorial Museum
  • See a sunrise/sunset at the Lincoln Memorial*
  • Society of the Cincinnati Anderson House
  • Ford Theatre (where President Lincoln was assasinated)
  • The Basilica
  • The Franciscan Monastery*
  • The National Cathedral*

D.C. MUSEUMS

  • Visit 2 of the 19 Smithsonian Museums
    • Notably, the Renwick Gallery*
    • The National Museum of American History
  • The African-American History Museum
  • The Newseum
  • The Spy Museum
  • The Holocaust Museum
  • The American-Indian Museum (includes free guided tours)
  • The National Geographic Museum
  • The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
  • The Woodrow Wilson House Museum
  • The Huerich House Museum
  • The Phillips Collection Museum
  • Become the artist and the art at ARTECHOUSE*
  • Feel psychedelic at the Hirshhorn Museum*
  • Enjoy some jazz at the “Jazz in the Sculpture Garden” event at the National Gallery of Art*
  • The U.S. National Arboretum*

D.C. RESTAURANTS & FOODERIES

  • Sakuramen
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Take a panoramic photo at the Top of the Gate at the Watergate Hotel*
  • Red Velvet Cupcakery
  • Thai Xing
  • Zaytinya
  • Rose’s Luxury*
  • Busboys & Poets*
  • Try a whiskey soft-serve at Airedale
  • Take a sunset selfie at POV rooftop at The W Hotel (21+)*
  • Beat your friends at Sorry! at the Board Room Bar (21+)
  • Visit one of D.C.’s many pop-up bars*
  • Bluejacket Brewery
  • Live mas for Bargain Wednesday at 100 Mondanitos
Ever had a whiskey soft-serve? That, and more ideas of how to spend your Washington DC visit, here: Click To Tweet

WALKABLE D.C. EXPLORING

  • Eastern Market (go on a Sunday!)
  • Union Square Market
  • Attend an event at Embassy Row
  • Rock Creek Park
  • Roosevelt Island
  • Stand under the Friendship Archway in Chinatown*
  • Bloomingdale Neighborhood
  • U-Street Neighborhood
  • H-Street Neighborhood
  • Hillwood Estate and Gardens
  • Visit Meridian Hill Park in Columbia Heights
  • Georgetown Waterfront
  • Do a segway tour of the city
  • Kenilworth Park and Aquatics Garden

D.C. NIGHT LIFE (18+/21+)

  • Disappear underground into Heist
  • Dance and sing a song on every floor in Decades
  • Dress to impress and lounge in luxury at the Park at Fourteenth
  • Feel sexy and dangerous at Sax
  • Eighteenth Street Lounge
  • Salsa your life away at Cabana Village or Cafe Citron

MISCELLANOUS D.C. IDEAS

  • Enjoy a free movie with the family at Golden Cinema (aka Farragut Park)
  • Witness the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks
  • Take a D.C. by Foot walking tour
  • Walk through Blagden Alley—D.C.’s Outdoor Alley Museum*
  • Photograph at least 10 of the 200+ street art murals around the city*
  • See a Washington Wizards or Nationals Game
  • Take a tour on the Hop On Hop Off bus
  • See a show at the Kennedy Center*
  • See who’s playing at the 9:30 Club
  • Try to catch an annual festival, like the Cherry Blossom Festival*

These items are extremely Instagrammable!

You can see my in-progress D.C. bucket list below:

Click through to see a bucket list of 74 ideas for exploring and experiencing Washington DC! AND, download your own blank, fillable pdf of the bucket list for your next trip!
Click through to see a bucket list of 74 ideas for exploring and experiencing Washington DC! AND, download your own blank, fillable pdf of the bucket list for your next trip!

I’ve traveled the world, and I still truly love this city. Compiling this bucket list has only shown me how much more if it is there is to love, and how much I want to share this city’s lovely secrets!

The activities I look forward to doing the most include the infamous Renwick Gallery, having a game night at Board Room with friends, visiting the African-American History Museum, and hopefully one day getting a helicopter tour of the city.

74 Ways to experience #WashingtonDC—a free, downloadable bucket list for your DC trip Click To Tweet

You can download your own copy of this bucket list PDF by signing up for my email list using the form below. Once you do, you’ll get a confirmation email with a PDF of the bucket list, blank, and ready to be filled out by you!

You can print it out, and fill it out during your stay in D.C. If you do use this bucket list and check some things off, send me a photo of your filled out list 🙂



Be sure to use the share buttons at the bottom of this page to share this with your other friends visiting Washington D.C.

If you find this bucket list helpful, let me know in the comments below. Like I said, I’m a DMV local who wants to knock more things off of this bucket list too, so if you’re in town drop me a line and maybe we can hit some of these things together!

Click through to see 74 exciting ideas on where to eat, what to do, and what to see in the United State's capital! #WashingtonDC #ThingstodoinDC #DC

Click through to see a bucket list of 74 ideas for exploring and experiencing Washington DC! AND, download your own blank, printable pdf of the bucket list for your next trip. #WashingtonDC #ThingstodoinDC #DC

Compiled by a DMV local, take this free pdf download on your trip to the capital for ideas & tips to experience #WashingtonDC at it's best. #ThingstodoinDC #DC

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14 thoughts on “A Washington D.C. Bucket List: 74 Ways to Experience the Nation’s Capital

  1. Emma

    OH awesome !! That is so usefull. Never been to Washington , but would love to plan a US road trip and I would surely include DC in the stopover !
    Thanks a lot for sharing 😀

  2. Kristin

    74?!? Wow! I’ll need more than a week, more like a month =)

    Love D.C., especially in the summertime. I’m hoping to visit my friend who just relocated there in the spring, so I’ll definitely reference this list when I do!

  3. Ali Dunnell

    Great post – and you are so lucky to live in such an exciting city. I visited Washington DC nearly 20 years ago, so I guess it has changed quite a bit, but your post still brought back some great memories. Thanks

  4. Anisa

    I have not spent very much time in the DC area. I think the top of my list is to see the cherry blossoms in peak bloom. I’ve seen the pictures and it looks amazing.

  5. Louise

    Wow, this is such a comprehensive list – I truly wish I’d read it before I visited last year! My friend and I only had a day there but if we’d known there was so much to do we may well have spent longer there…..looks like I’ll have to make another trip 🙂

  6. Carrie

    Great list! I’ve lived in DC for five years (although I used to live in Richmond and miss it terribly!), and have done a little over half of these, so great to have some new ideas for being a tourist at home! Turns out I’ve been to like none of the Smithsonians…and the only nightlife thing I’ve done on this list is 18th St. Lounge.

  7. Anshula

    I love this post! I’m also really disappointed in myself after reading it. I lived in DC for 8 years and have only visited 35 of these (tears…). I guess, I need to make another trip back to D.C.

  8. Megan

    Love this. I’m from Richmond and went to DC so many times growing up, but never properly saw the city until I was an adult (and still haven’t really seen it all). I will be stoked to use this next time I am there when I can show my boyfriend the city as he’s never been and is from Europe 🙂

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