If you are on the East Coast, there are a great many cities in a nearby vicinity that make Two Day Travels for $200 very easy to do! Recently I was in New York City, so I decided to make a trip down to Washington DC.
The thing I especially like about Washington DC is that the National Mall is a wonderful resource of our nation’s history and iconic memorials. And, it’s almost all free. You could easily spend days here, walking thru the museums, buildings, gardens, and memorials. Some of the buildings offer free guided tours but may require reservations ahead of time, so if you really want to take a tour of, say the White House, be sure to plan ahead as it’s unlikely you can get a tour on the day.
The National Mall is filled with memorials to the people who helped shape our country over the years. Seen here are those for Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here are some of the more iconic buildings, including the US State Capitol, The Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress. And, of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have lunch at the West Wing Cafe!
One fun find was the US Botanic Garden!
Across the Potomac River, sits Arlington National Cemetery. From one vantage point in the Cemetery, you can see across to the Lincoln and Washington Memorials. While there is a hop-on-hop-off type shuttle service available at the Cemetery for $12, you can also choose to walk the grounds on your own for free. In the top left, you can see the Space Shuttle Challenger and Space Shuttle Columbia Memorials. Below that is the Eternal Flame at President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite (and, beside his is the gravesite of his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis). On the bottom right is the Korean War Contemplative Bench.
Arlington Cemetery is probably most known for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The US 3rd Infantry Regiment guards the tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. One thing I was especially struck by in the ceremony I attended, was the Veterans seated along the perimeter of the area, as you can see here, behind the Sentinel. Based on their age, I’m assuming they were all WWII Veterans. While the ceremony itself is an emotional experience, seeing these men there too made it even more so. (Although, I was also quite charmed at the number of them who were taking pictures with their smartphones!)
I have some friends that live in the DC area, so I met one of them for dinner in the beautiful Old Town Alexandria. The fall colors were beginning to show, giving the area a quaint small time feel. There’s a free trolley that circles the city, running from the metro station to the waterfront, making it easy to get around. We had a wonderful dinner at the Hen Quarter Southern Cuisine & Bourbon Bar!
My visit there, being only Two Days, barely touched the surface of the many things I could do in DC.
Because so many activities can be had for free, and the Washington DC Metro is very easy to navigate, I was able to keep to my $200 budget. The DoubleTree in Crystal City overlooks the Pentagon and was walkable to a Metro station. I took an Amtrak train from NYC to Washington DC and got to enjoy 3 hours of fall scenery there and back.