Words and Images by Jessica Burdge

Old Capital columns at the Arboretum.

Old Capital columns at the Arboretum.

National Arboretum

National Arboretum

My husband and I have lived in D.C. for almost 5 years now. I remember feeling so lost when it came to city traffic, parking garages and metro stops. Now I can hail a cab with the best of them!

Here are a few helpful tips and hidden gems of the city. 


*stroller -if you have children
*backpack -you will be walking a lot and this frees your hands to be more comfortable
*tennis shoes -cute is great, but comfortable is better (I usually stash flip-flops in my bag in case it gets hot) 
*water bottles/snacks -this saves a lot of money and time and are welcome in most of the Museums

There are several ways to navigate the city. You can drive into Dc and use a Parking Garage or take an Uber; but I recommend the Metro. You can download the app "DC Rider" and this shows you all of the metro stops across the city. Besides, the children love it if they aren't used to public transit! 

D.C. is known for its beautiful cherry blossoms. If you have never seen them, they are truly breathtaking. This is a time of year where thousands of people are at the Mall. You can go onto The Cherry Blossom website to see the projected dates for peak season. If you don't want to brave the crowds I highly recommend going at sunrise. You won't regret it! There aren't many people out, it's a warmer time of year, and when the sun rises the memorials are beautiful! You can walk the entire Mall and Tidal Basin within an hour without crowds. If you have any allergy problems be sure to take Benadryl several days leading up to your visit. There is so much pollen in the air it can cause a flare up. 


*The Botanical Gardens - on the grounds of The Capitol. It's beautiful to walk through and has exhibits on plants and vegetation (free admission)

*The National Arboretum -a great place to have a picnic and walk through the gardens. It's the third year a pair of bald eagles are nesting there, appropriately called Mr. President and First Lady. You can easily spend 3 hours here. (free admission)

*The Museum of Natural History -they have a terrific butterfly conservatory on the second floor. You can buy your tickets beforehand but on Tuesday mornings it is free-first come first serve.

*The National Gallery of Art -they have a tunnel downstairs made of lights and on the top roof they have a gigantic blue rooster. Random, but that’s what makes cities so fun! 

The Mall

The Mall

*Georgetown - this isn't near The Mall but the walk along the canal is a must. There is a lookout right by the water where you can see D.C.'s cityscape and a historic house right on M Street where you can tour with a beautiful garden full of History 


* Peregrine or Compass Coffee - best coffee in the city
&Pizza - they have a fresh twist on pizza (kid friendly)
* Union Market - indoor and outside seating with lots of food options (kid friendly) 

I hope this helps for the next time you visit DC. It's truly a wonderful place to call HOME. 

Jessica Burdge is a family and newborn photographer based in Washington DC. People have always intrigued her. She thrives on capturing her clients’ vibrant personalities and stories as individuals. She grew up on a rural farm in Pennsylvania but now calls DC home. She is a wife to her best friend - Daniel - and together they dream of adopting one day. View more of her writing and stunning photography at Jessica Burdge Photography.