48 Hours in Washington D.C. | What to See & Where to Eat

Ever since my exciting trip to Boston, I’ve been dreaming of exploring another city close to home that I could take a bus to (budget traveler here). Even though it’s mid-January, Washington D.C. has been at the top of my list. It was below freezing during our whole trip, but that didn’t stop us from discovering 48 hours in Washington D.C.

Ideally if you are planning a trip to Washington D.C., I recommend trying to visit when the cherry blossoms are blooming depending on the weather usually happening between mid-March and mid-April.

However, with only 48 hours in Washington D.C. we filled up our itinerary exploring monuments, museums, and delicious restaurants. Hope you enjoy this Washington D.C. guide!

48 Hours in Washington D.C. | Day One

Arriving by Bus & Hotel Check-In

I really love taking the bus to destinations that are within a 5-hour driving range.  The ride from NYC to Washington D.C. took about 4.5 hours and we arrived just before noon.

We checked into our hotel in the Downtown Neighborhood, just a few blocks from the White House. This neighborhood is great if you want to be in close proximity to the Monuments and Museums.. During the day, this area is bustling with workers and visitors. At night, this neighborhood becomes sort-of like a ghost town, but nonetheless you can find wonderful restaurants and shops between H Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

If I were to stay in Washington D.C. again, I would love to stay in Georgetown. I immediately fell in love with the charming community! More on that later on Day Two.

Union Station Washington DC

Cappuccino Start at Compass Coffee

Started off the day with a delicious cappuccino from one of D.C.’s best known coffee shops Compass Coffee. They have multiple locations and serve only the freshest coffee!

Trying the freshest coffee in Washington DC: Compass Coffee.

Renwick Museum

The Renwick Museum was at the top of my list out of all the Smithsonian Museum’s in D.C. Mainly because I wanted to check out the newest Murder is Her Hobby exhibit. It was a little busy since it was a Sunday, but manageable to see everything comfortably. This is a great museum for people who value and appreciate modern art.

Eastern Market

We then headed to the Capitol Hill neighborhood to check out the local Eastern Market. This is definitely geared toward local residents as the sell fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and other fresh culinary goods; as well as souvenirs and girts. When it’s warm out the vendors will also set up shop outside on the surrounding streets.

Eastern Market in Washington DCEastern Market in Washington DCFlower shop inside the Eastern Market in Washington DC

If you enjoy walking through markets, I would definitely check it out. The surrounding neighborhood is also charming. Of course I was immediately drawn to the handmade rugs at Woven History & Silk Road, and unique bookstore with books covering all the windows, Capitol Books.

Capitol Hill Bookstore

Unique Bookstore in Capitol Hill

Walking the National Mall

When you think of D.C. you most likely picture monuments in your head from the National Mall. Starting with the Capitol Building, Library of Congress, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, not to mention the beautifully curated Smithsonian Museum collection. Just from typing all of those made me immediately exhausted! Looking at a map view, these monuments and museums may seem easily walkable to each other, but in reality they are not. If you really prioritize seeing all the monuments up close, I would recommend taking a Big Bus tour to see everything more efficiently.

Washington DC Capitol Building

On our trip we walked to the Capitol Building and explored the National Gallery of Art. We realized that we wouldn’t be able to see every monument up close, so we took a cab to the Lincoln Memorial to watch the beautiful sunset.

Lincoln Memorial at Sunset Lincoln Memorial at Sunset Lincoln Memorial at Sunset

Sangria Hour at Jaleo

After the sunset over the Lincoln Memorial, it was time for a sangria and tapas at JaleoFrom 4 PM-6 PM, the ‘sangria hour’ is available with a variety of discounted tapas. We ordered our hearts out on our favorite spanish specialties like patatas bravas, croquetas, and Gambas al ajillo. The food was actually delicious and for a reasonable price during happy hour!

Jaleo Washington DC

48 Hours in Washington D.C. | Day Two

Breakfast at Founding Farmers

To start the morning off with a hearty breakfast, we headed to Founding Farmers. I recommend making a reservation in advance because our wait was over an hour. We ended up getting bar stools and enjoyed our meal at the bar.

The food was delicious! I especially enjoyed the Chicken and Waffles and the 7 Cheese Mac and Cheese.

Founding Farmers Washington DC

Exploring Georgetown

After breakfast we headed to Georgetown. This neighborhood was full of charm and gorgeous curb appeal. We first wandered through the quaint streets north of M Street to take in the architecture. While walking I met the cutest dog named Houndini and chatted with his owner about the neighborhood!

Georgetown Washington DC

Georgetown Washington DCGeorgetown Washington DC

If you want to shop your heart out, Georgetown has you covered. Walk along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue for shops like the Gap, Forever 21, etc, as well as local boutiques.

Wisconsin Avenue Georgetown

Sweet Snack at District Doughnut

After working off our hearty breakfast walking around Georgetown, we snuck in a sweet snack at District Doughnut. I am a huge fan of doughnuts and these did not disappoint. I had the Brown Butter doughnut tossed with cinnamon sugar topped with a brown butter drizzle. They also have doughnuts for the non-sweet tooth like their Everything Cream Cheese doughnut.

District Doughnut Washington DC Georgetown District Doughnut Washington DC Georgetown

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

With a few hours to spare before the Smithsonian’s National Zoo closing time at 5PM, we decided to check it out. We took a short car ride from Georgetown to the Zoo and walked right in. Because the Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian collection, the entrance to the Zoo is free!

Since it was mid-January, some of the animals weren’t on exhibit due to the cold. However, we were in luck to see elephants, cheetahs, zebras, lions and other animals outside! All of the indoor exhibits were open as well. And because of the cold, the Zoo was nearly empty, except for people working out. It was kind of amazing to have it all to ourselves!

Smithsonian's National Zoo

Dinner at Rose’s Luxury

After doing my research on D.C., Rose’s Luxury came up on almost every single list for dinner and for a good reason. The menu is somewhat limited compared to other restaurants, but every dish is packed with awesome and unique flavors. We tried the Brussels Caesar Salad, Bucatini al Pomodoro, and the Japanese Fried Chicken. This was the best chicken I have ever had! I can’t describe the flavors, but take my word for it. If you only order one dish in D.C. make it the Japanese Fried Chicken.

Rose's Luxury Washington DC Rose's Luxury Washington DC

I hope you enjoyed this 48 Hours in Washington D.C. guide!

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How to spend 48 Hours in Washington DC


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