Itinerary for Washington, DC & Georgetown
As I stand in the power centre of the world, surrounded by mammoth structures of white stone, built to intimidate anyone within the 12 mile radius of the town that is DC, I am thinking of how I can make this trip a little more interesting for myself. For those of you who are here for the first time, there are some very obvious places you absolutely must go to!
Things to do in Washington DC for your maiden visit
1.Tour monuments along The National Mall
The National Mall is the rectangular park that stretches from the US Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. The White House South Lawn, World War II Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial are some of the highlights of the monuments along the National Mall.
2. Visit the Smithsonian Museums
The Smithsonian Museums like the Air & Space Museum, Natural History Museum, and many of the most visited museums in the world are along the National Mall.
A recent addition to the list of museums here is the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The exhibits are beautifully created to tell you the story of the African American community in the United States, from their struggles as slaves to their triumphs in the modern world.
Once you are done with the MUST DOs in DC, and if you still have time to explore, check out my next two recommendations, which personally were the highlights of my trip to the DC area.
The House of the Temple- Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
A majestic building a little ways off from the National Mall is what piqued my curiosity- the Masonic temple & museum.
Why did I want to visit?
The Freemasons, a brotherhood dating back centuries, has been shrouded in controversy owing to their many secret rituals which remain unchanged since its inception. It is considered the most powerful secret society in the world, and why wouldn’t it be, especially when 14 Presidents of The United States of America were Freemasons! ( George Washington, Franklin. D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, to name a few.)
It is said that Freemasons value their brotherhood above all, and this has interfered with the national security of the world’s most powerful countries. This could all be a conspiracy theory, or maybe not, but the many theories such as this that I had come across over the years, was the reason for me to prioritise this visit above all in DC.
Daily Guided Tours
There are daily guided tours of the Masonic Museum starting at 10 AM, on Mondays to Thursdays.
There is no need to purchase tickets to the House of the Temple as admission is FREE.
Symbolism in the architecture
The building was designed by John Russel Pope, the same architect who designed the Jefferson Memorial, National Gallery of Art, and National Archives.
Masonic symbolism can be identified in the architecture of the building by the trained eye. For example, there are 33 columns that are 33 ft high on the outside of the building.
Of the sphinxes, the one on the left is depicted with its eyes open symbolising power, while the one on the right is depicted with its eyes half open symbolising wisdom.
Religion & Freemasonry
One of the main requirements for membership into the Freemason fraternity, is the belief in a higher power, and so, the holy books of the major religions of the world are displayed at the altar in the Temple Room.
This can come as a shock to people who believe that Freemasons are a cult of devil worshipers and atheists.
The Main Library
Their main library is beautiful with books stacked up to the ceiling on either side of the room. One of the rare books at the library is the first masonic book printed by Benjamin Franklin in 1734.
The best part about the library is that anyone can walk in and spend time there browsing through their enormous collection!
The library also has many artefacts that are of relevance in masonic history, like the robes and rings worn by previous masons.
Overall, a visit to the Masonic Museum is extremely interesting especially if you have any burning questions about the conspiracy theories that you read online; they are happy to clear any doubts during the tour.
Things to do in Georgetown
Georgetown, stone’s throw away from Downtown DC, is a historic district with beautiful pastel buildings lining the streets on either side. For people like me who needed a break from the imposing monuments of DC, Georgetown was a welcome change.
1. Walk around admiring the architecture
I spent all day walking around falling in love with the pastel buildings, and photographing them from every angle.
Georgetown was home to many famous names Julia Child taught cooking lessons and wrote for her first cookbook whilst living at 2706 Olive Street!
My tip for a foodie!
Sometimes, when I’m spoilt for choice and pressed for time, instead of eating one big meal from one restaurant, I go to many restaurants and cafes to have smaller meals- this way I experience more of the food scene at the place than I would have otherwise!
2. Shopping in Georgetown
Since the DC area was one of my last stops before returning home from my long stint in the US, I did the majority of my shopping from Georgetown! All the big retailers have an outlet here, so if you are looking for a different shopping experience than what a mall can offer- Georgetown is certainly the right choice for you!
There are many homegrown brands here that offer something different from the usual fare you would see elsewhere in the city. The antique stores here have a great collection of knick knacks and larger pieces for your home that have been curated from within the USA and abroad.
Most of the shops are on M street and Wisconsin Avenue, and exploring all that catches your fancy can take you more than a day!
3. Check out the Georgetown Flea Market
If you are in town on a Sunday, you should head to Georgetown to experience the flea market; one that has been functioning since 1972!
Items on offer include books, collectibles, antiques, paintings, pottery, and much more. The flea market’s charms are difficult to elude even for celebrities- so if you are lucky, you might spot someone famous here while you shop.
The flea market is open every Sunday from 8AM - 4 PM. It is an open market, so keep in mind the weather on the day that you plan your visit, as it may affect the number of vendors on the day.
The flea market is located at 1819 35th St NW Washington, DC. (Hardy Middle School is the closest landmark.
How to get to the Flea Market
The DC Circular Bus stops opposite the Flea Market.