The DC area is a great place to visit! There are many things to see depending on your taste. Getting around the city is fairly painless using the Metro system. To reach our wedding site, however, you will need a car.
(Our wedding was during the government shutdown — bah! — so many of these suggestions were not available to our guests. Super disappointing, but what can you do?)
- In DC, the Smithsonians are absolutely the best. And they’re free! My favorites are the Natural History Museum, the Portrait Gallary and American Art Museum (love the top floor!). The American History Museum, American Indian Museum, and Air and Space Museum are also great. There are also art museums galore. If you are a real air and space buff, there is another museum out near Dulles (one of the airports), which has lots of historical planes and the space shuttle Discovery.
- In Baltimore, Brian introduced me to the amazing Visionary Art Museum, which has outsider and found art. You’ll probably love it even if you normally don’t like art museums. The National Aquarium is also in Baltimore, and it’s great (and also where we went on our second date). It is NOT free, however (quite the opposite, unfortunately).
History and Culture
- I visited the Frederick Douglas House for the first time last year, and it was fascinating! I believe you need a reservation to tour the house, but it is free.
- If you’re feeling presidential, Lincoln Cottage (where Lincoln stayed while president and probably wrote the Emancipation Proclamation) is wonderful. You need to book a tour in advance. Mt Vernon is also close by.
- I’m told downtown Frederick is quite lovely and historic. Someday I hope to find that out for myself!
- There are two places full of history that are an easy day trip from Frederick: Gettysburg and Harpers Ferry. I haven’t been to Gettysburg since my middle school trip from Indiana, so I have no tips, but Harpers Ferry is great! It’s really worth the trip and is in a beautiful historic area where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet.
- DC has lots of monuments, most clustered near the National Mall. If the weather is nice, they’re particularly nice at night (and less crowded!) The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was recently opened. My favorite is the FDR Memorial. It’s interactive and very thoughtful.
- I haven’t explored the trails of Gambrill State Park, although I’ve heard they’re very nice. Gambrill is right next to two wonderful parks: Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, which is a national park. I’ve camped and hiked at both, and they’re both extraordinarily beautiful. Catoctin Mountain Park is also the location of Camp David (I guess if it’s good enough for FDR, Winston Churchill, and Obama, then it’s good enough for us!). The hike to Chimney Rock is definitely worth the effort for a beautiful overlook of the mountains and valley (thanks to Sooya for introducing me to it!).
The map below is a bit cluttered, but it shows some of the noteworthy places in the area. The question mark symbol represents a place of historical significance, the flag represents a museum, and the tree represents a natural, outdoors spot.