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Solo Things to Do in DC ( Solo Traveler’s Guide)

Washington D.C. has always been one of my favorite places, and every time I visit, I can’t help but get excited by its rich history, vibrant culture, and incredible sights. 

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or anything in between, there’s something for everyone in this amazing city. 

In this blog post, I’ll take you on a journey through my must-visit spots, share my favorite local products, and offer some tips to make the most of your trip to the capital of fun!

What to do in Washington DC as a Solo Traveler

I recently took a solo trip to the beautiful city myself, and trust me, it was all kinds of awesome!

DC is the capital of the United States of America; I’ll give you the lowdown on the best time to visit, great food, and where to stay while remaining budget-friendly. 

One option for solo travelers is to take a self-guided walking tour of the city. 

You can create your own itinerary or follow a pre-made route, such as the National Mall or Georgetown. Walking tours allow you to move at your own pace and discover the city’s architecture, history, and culture on your own terms.

Another solo activity to consider is visiting D.C.’s many museums and galleries. 

While some may think of museums as group activities, they can be just as enjoyable solo. 

When I first visited Washington D.C., I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I the city cramped with tourists, doing all the same touristy things? Or would I find hidden gems that only locals know about? 

Well, I’m happy to report it was both! 

There are tons of things to do and see in the capital city, and I’m here to tell you all about the must-visits. 

The great thing about traveling solo is you can take your time exploring exhibits that interest you, without feeling rushed or obligated to keep up with others.

Plus, many museums in D.C. offer free admission, making it an affordable option for solo travelers.

Best Time to Visit Washington DC


The best time to visit is late March to early April. Why? Because it’s cherry blossom season, of course! 

Beautiful places like the Tidal Basin and the National Mall are adorned with pretty pink petals that make your TikTok-creating moments even more Insta-worthy.

By the way, the easiest way to avoid any travel costs sneaking up on you is by booking your flights and accommodations ahead of time. 

Dedicated sites like Booking.com make it super easy to find amazing deals on hotels, while my go-to for flight bargains is CheapOair.

The Washington Metro
If there’s one thing that drives me completely crazy, it’s paying a fortune for transportation in a major city. 

Thankfully, that’s not a problem in DC. Grab a rechargeable SmarTrip card and navigate like a pro on the extensive Washington Metro network. Trust me, it’s a lifesaver during rush hour.

History Lovers 

A solo trip to DC is incomplete without a tour of the historical sites and museums. 

Here’s my personal hit-list:

  • Tour of the White House
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Modern Hebrew Bible Walkthrough

And in case you didn’t know, I’m a big fan of The Exorcist too, so a visit to the iconic Exorcist Steps in Georgetown was a must!

If you’re as obsessed with learning about our amazing planet as I am, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is an absolute must-visit. 

With millions of artifacts and specimens, there’s something for everyone

Holocaust Memorial Museum

A profoundly moving experience, the Holocaust Memorial Museum offers a powerful and thought-provoking glimpse into a dark chapter of human history. It’s a somber reminder of the importance of tolerance and empathy in our world.

Museum of the Bible

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the Museum of the Bible. I was genuinely impressed by the rich history, immersive exhibits, and incredible architecture.

Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art

As a big fan of art, I can’t help but gush about the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

This impressive museum boasts an extensive collection of American art, spanning from the colonial period to present day. It’s a must-see for all art enthusiasts, and the best part is that it’s completely free!

Jazz in the Garden; Sculpture Gardens, National Mall

One happy discovery I made during my visit was the Jazz in the Garden event. 

Held every Friday from May through August, this free concert series is hosted in the beautiful Sculpture Gardens of the National Gallery of Art. 

Pack a picnic, bring your friends, and enjoy live jazz music amidst a lush, green setting.

Ice Skating: Sculpture Gardens, National Mall

For those visiting during the winter months, you’re in luck! 

The Sculpture Gardens transform into an enchanting ice-skating rink. It’s a memorable experience, skating amidst beautiful sculptures, and it’s just $10 per person.

Artechouse

In the age of social media and TikTok, interactive art exhibits like Artechouse are the future! 

This immersive art experience is perfect for snapping captivating photos and will leave you in awe with its digital installations.

Yoga at the National Building Museum

What better way to relax and unwind than some yoga in a unique setting? 

The National Building Museum hosts yoga classes every Saturday morning, right within their awe-inspiring Great Hall. At only $20 per session, your mind, body, and Instagram followers will thank you.

Now, we can’t talk about D.C. without mentioning the fabulous museums! 

One of the best things about the plethora of Smithsonian museums (e.g., National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History) is that they’re completely free. 

I suggest investing in a [Skip-the-Line pass](affiliate link) to bypass those long queues and save precious time.

When it comes to museums, Washington D.C. has it all. I was swept away by the blend of art, science, and history, and I just couldn’t get enough. 

One of my first stops was the Smithsonian Institution, a group of 19 free-to-enter museums and galleries that offer something for everyone. 

I spent hours wandering through the vast halls of the National Museum of Natural History, admiring the pristine Hope Diamond and marveling at the life-size giant squid. 

Their official app made navigating the exhibits a breeze and ensured I didn’t miss an important highlight.

For art enthusiasts, make sure you visit the National Gallery of Art, which is home to my favorite masterpiece, Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night Over the Rhône.” Entry to the gallery is free, but if you want an expert tour, I recommend downloading the excellent audio guide, which was both informative and engaging. 

And if you’re looking for something more off-the-beaten-path, I stumbled across the International Spy Museum, where I felt like a secret agent through interactive exhibits and had a blast experiencing their virtual reality recon mission.

If you’re a solo traveler in Washington D.C., visiting museums and galleries is one of the best things you can do.

The city is home to some of the best museums and galleries in the world, and they are a great place to spend a day exploring on your own.

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Here are some of the best museums and galleries to check out during your solo trip:

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is a must-visit for anyone interested in art. The museum is located on the National Mall and is home to an impressive collection of American and European art. You can easily spend a whole day here, wandering through the galleries and admiring the works of art. Be sure to check out the West Building, which is home to the museum’s collection of European art, and the East Building, which houses the modern and contemporary art collection.

Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian Museums are some of the most popular tourist areas in Washington D.C., and for good reason. With over 19 museums and galleries to choose from, there is something for everyone. The best part? They’re all free. Some of the most popular museums include the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the National Museum of Natural History. Each museum is unique, so be sure to check out the ones that interest you the most.

Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Holocaust Memorial Museum is a sobering reminder of one of the darkest times in human history. The museum is located near the National Mall and is dedicated to educating visitors about the Holocaust. The exhibits are powerful and emotional, and it’s a good thing to visit alone so you can take your time and reflect on what you’re seeing.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a great way to learn about the people who have shaped American history. The museum is located in the Chinatown neighborhood, just a short walk from the National Mall. The collection includes portraits of presidents, first ladies, and other notable figures. One of the best ways to experience the museum is to take a self-guided tour, which is available on the museum’s website.

No matter what your interests are, there’s a museum or gallery in the DC area that’s perfect for you. The best way to see them all is to plan your visit ahead of time and make sure you have enough time to explore each one.

As you walk, you’ll come across numerous iconic monuments such as the Washington Monument, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, and World War II Memorial. 

Washington D.C. is steeped in history, and there’s no better place to immerse yourself in this past than by visiting the city’s iconic monuments and memorials. 

I started my journey with a guided tour of the National Mall, which features prominent landmarks, such as the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. 

A poignant moment during my trip was visiting the National Holocaust Museum.

The powerful exhibits and personal stories left me with a deeper understanding of this dark chapter in history.

Tickets are free but require reservations, so be sure to book ahead.

If you’re a history buff, the nation’s capital has plenty of options for you to explore. DC is home to some of the most iconic monuments and memorials in the country.

Here are a few must-see spots:

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is a tribute to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. This iconic monument is located on the National Mall and is easily accessible by public transportation. You can take the metro to the Foggy Bottom station and walk a short distance to the memorial. 

Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a larger-than-life statue of Lincoln and surrounded by beautiful marble columns. The Lincoln Memorial is a great place to take a stroll, reflect on history, and take in the beautiful views of the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument.

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is another must-see landmark located on the National Mall. This towering obelisk is a tribute to the first President of the United States, George Washington. 

You can visit the monument by taking the metro to the Smithsonian station. From there, you can take a short walk to the monument. Once you arrive, you can take an elevator to the top and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city.

Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. This memorial is located on the Tidal Basin and is easily accessible by public transportation. You can take the metro to the Smithsonian station and then catch a bus to the Jefferson Memorial. Once you arrive, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful cherry blossom trees and stunning views of the Tidal Basin.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a tribute to the men and women who served in the Vietnam War. This powerful memorial is located near the Lincoln Memorial and is easily accessible by public transportation. You can take the metro to the Foggy Bottom station and then walk a short distance to the memorial. Once you arrive, you’ll see a long black granite wall inscribed with the names of the soldiers who lost their lives in the war.

Overall, these monuments and memorials are a great way to explore the history of the nation’s capital. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a great place to take a stroll, these landmarks are a must-see.

If you’re looking for a nice peaceful trip, visiting some of DC’s beautiful parks and gardens is a great way to spend a day. 

The DC Metro area has plenty of things to see and do, but sometimes you just need to take a break and enjoy some fresh air and greenery. Here are a few parks and gardens that are worth checking out:

United States Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden is a must-see for anyone who loves plants and flowers. Located near Union Station, this garden is home to over 10,000 plants from all over the world.

You can take a walking tour of the garden or just wander around on your own. Some of the highlights include the orchid collection, the rose garden, and the tropical rainforest exhibit.

Admission is free and the garden is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day.

Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park is a beautiful place to go for a walk or a hike. This park covers over 1,700 acres and has over 32 miles of trails.

You can also rent a bike or go horseback riding if you prefer. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and birds.

The changing leaves make for a particularly beautiful sight if you’re visiting in the fall.

National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is a great place to go if you want to learn more about trees and plants.

This park covers over 400 acres and has a variety of gardens and exhibits. Some of the highlights include the bonsai collection, the azalea collection, and the National Capitol Columns.

The arboretum is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day and admission is free.

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Whether you’re having a hard time or just looking for a random thing to do, visiting one of DC’s parks or gardens is a great way to spend a day. 

These outdoor activities are easily accessible from the major airports and a short walk from the George Washington or Union Station.

The cherry blossoms in the spring are one of DC’s favorite things, but any time of year is a great time to explore the city’s beautiful green spaces.

The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center is one of the most iconic performing arts venues in Washington DC. It is home to several theaters, including the Opera House, Eisenhower Theater, and the Terrace Theater.

Kennedy Center hosts a variety of performances, from Broadway shows to classical music concerts.

It is also the home of the National Symphony Orchestra. The Kennedy Center offers guided tours of the building, which includes a visit to the Hall of States and the Hall of Nations.

Shakespeare Theatre Company

If you are a fan of Shakespeare, then the Shakespeare Theatre Company is a must-visit.

The company is known for its productions of Shakespeare’s plays, but it also stages productions of other classic plays. The Shakespeare Theatre Company has two theaters, the Lansburgh Theatre and the Harman Center for the Arts. The company also offers educational programs, including workshops and classes, for those interested in learning more about theater.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is a non-profit theater that is known for producing innovative and thought-provoking plays.

The theater is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of DC and has a 265-seat theater. The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is committed to producing plays that challenge audiences and spark conversations.

The theater also offers a variety of programs, including post-show discussions and workshops.

Whether you are a theater enthusiast or just looking for a unique cultural experience, DC’s performing arts scene has something to offer everyone.

The Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company are just a few of the many theaters in the city that offer world-class performances and educational programs.

My favorite part of traveling is trying new foods and drinks (you know me!). I quickly realized that D.C. is a foodie heaven.

From the buzzing scene at Union Market with its food trucks and diverse stalls to the lively nightlife and Happy Hours on H Street, I couldn’t get enough of the local flavors.

But what really stole my heart was Adams Morgan. Here, I embarked on an unforgettable food tour, where I had the opportunity to sample dishes from around the world while learning about the history and culture of the area.

 It was incredible, and I highly recommend it for solo diners, food enthusiasts, or anyone looking to meet new people and enjoy delicious cuisines.

When it comes to food in Washington D.C., there is no shortage of options. From food trucks to farmers markets, and brewery and distillery tours, there is something for everyone.

Food Truck Scene

If you’re looking for a quick and convenient meal on the go, the food truck scene in D.C. is not to be missed.

With a variety of cuisines ranging from Korean BBQ to Mexican street tacos, you’re sure to find something that will satisfy your taste buds.

Some popular food trucks to check out include DC Empanadas, Fojol Bros, and Red Hook Lobster Pound.

Farmers Markets

For those who prefer fresh and locally sourced ingredients, D.C. has a number of farmers markets to choose from.

The most popular one is the Dupont Circle Farmers Market, which is open year-round on Sundays. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses and baked goods.

Other notable farmers markets include the Eastern Market and the White House Farmers Market.

Brewery and Distillery Tours

If you’re a fan of beer or spirits, D.C. has a number of breweries and distilleries that offer tours and tastings.

Some popular ones include the DC Brau Brewing Company, the One Eight Distilling Company, and the Cotton & Reed Distillery. These tours offer a great way to learn about the brewing and distilling process, as well as sample some of the local products.

Shopping and Fashion

Looking for some solo retail therapy in DC? The city has a variety of shopping destinations that cater to all styles and budgets.

Georgetown Boutiques

Georgetown is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. The historic neighborhood is home to a variety of high-end boutiques, including designer brands like Tory Burch and Rag & Bone.

If you’re looking for something unique, check out the independent shops along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

Some of my favorites include the vintage finds at Meeps and the handmade jewelry at Tuckernuck.

Eastern Market

If you’re in the mood for a more laid-back shopping experience, head to Eastern Market.

This indoor/outdoor market is open year-round and features local vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

On weekends, the outdoor area transforms into a flea market with vintage clothing, antiques, and other unique finds.

Take your time browsing the stalls and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Union Market

For a more modern shopping experience, check out Union Market. This indoor food hall features a variety of local vendors selling everything from artisanal cheeses to craft beers.

While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to shop at the market’s retail stores. You’ll find everything from trendy clothing at Salt & Sundry to handmade pottery at Handmade Habitat.

Whether you’re in the mood for high-end boutiques or laid-back markets, DC has plenty of options for solo shopping adventures.

Neighborhood Exploration

If you’re looking to explore D.C. on your own, neighborhood exploration is a great way to start. Each neighborhood in the city has its own unique character and charm, and there are plenty of solo activities to enjoy in each one.

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is one of D.C.’s most historic neighborhoods, and it’s a great place to explore on foot. Start by taking a stroll along East Capitol Street, where you’ll see some of the city’s most beautiful row houses.

From there, head to the U.S. Capitol Building and take a guided tour of the historic building.

You can also visit the Library of Congress or the Supreme Court, both of which are located on Capitol Hill.

Adams Morgan

Adams Morgan is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood that’s perfect for solo travelers. Start your exploration by grabbing a coffee at one of the neighborhood’s many coffee shops, then head to the Adams Morgan Farmers Market to pick up some fresh produce.

From there, wander the streets and take in the colorful murals and street art that adorn many of the buildings.

If you’re a fan of live music, check out the lineup at the famous 9:30 Club.

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle is one of D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods, and it’s easy to see why. Start your exploration at the Dupont Circle Fountain, then head to the Phillips Collection, one of the city’s best art museums. If you’re a book lover, be sure to stop by Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, a beloved independent bookstore and cafe. Finally, end your day with a cocktail at one of the neighborhood’s many rooftop bars, where you can take in stunning views of the city.

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Educational Workshops and Classes

National Savings and Trust Company in Washington

If you’re looking to learn something new while in DC, there are plenty of educational workshops and classes to choose from. Here are a few options to consider:

Cooking Classes

DC is home to a variety of cooking classes that cater to different skill levels and interests. From learning how to make classic American dishes to exploring international cuisine, there’s something for everyone. Some popular cooking classes include:

  • The Cookery: This cooking school offers classes on everything from knife skills to baking. You can take a single class or sign up for a series of classes to improve your skills.
  • CulinAerie: This cooking school specializes in international cuisine. You can learn how to make dishes from Italy, Thailand, and more.
  • Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital: This community center offers cooking classes for all ages and skill levels. You can learn how to make everything from pizza to sushi.

Art Workshops

DC has a thriving arts scene, and there are plenty of opportunities to take art workshops and classes. Whether you’re interested in painting, drawing, or photography, there’s a class for you. Some popular options include:

  • The Art League: This nonprofit organization offers classes in painting, drawing, and photography. They also have workshops on topics like printmaking and bookbinding.
  • Glen Echo Park: This arts center offers classes in a variety of mediums, including ceramics, glassblowing, and jewelry making.
  • Smithsonian Associates: This program offers a wide range of art workshops and classes, from watercolor painting to digital photography.

History Lectures

DC is steeped in history, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the city’s past. From lectures on the Civil War to tours of historic neighborhoods, there’s something for everyone. Some popular options include:

  • The National Archives: This institution offers lectures on a variety of topics related to American history, including the Civil War, the Cold War, and more.
  • The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.: This organization offers tours of historic neighborhoods and lectures on local history.
  • The Smithsonian Institution: This institution offers a wide range of lectures and workshops on history, science, and culture. You can learn about everything from the history of American music to the science of climate change.

Relaxation and Wellness

Woman Doing Yoga

Looking for a way to unwind and relax while in Washington D.C.?

The city offers a variety of options to help you de-stress and rejuvenate.

Here are some of the best places to find relaxation and wellness in the city.

Day Spas

Washington D.C. has a number of luxurious day spas where you can indulge in a range of treatments to help you unwind. Some of the most popular options include

  • the Red Door Spa,
  • Bliss Spa, and
  • the Mandarin Oriental Spa.

These spas offer a variety of services, including massages, facials, body treatments, and more.

Treat yourself to a day of pampering and relaxation at one of these top-rated spas.

Yoga Studios

Yoga is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Washington D.C. has a number of excellent yoga studios where you can take classes and practice your poses. Some of the most popular options include Yoga District, Flow Yoga Center, and Tranquil Space. These studios offer a range of classes for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

Meditation Centers

Meditation is another great way to reduce stress and improve your mental well-being. Washington D.C. has a number of meditation centers where you can learn how to meditate and practice with others.

Some of the most popular options include the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, the Shambhala Meditation Center of Washington D.C., and the Kadampa Meditation Center D.C.

These centers offer a variety of classes and workshops to help you learn how to meditate and improve your mindfulness.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing massage, a yoga class, or a meditation session, Washington D.C. has plenty of options to help you de-stress and improve your well-being.

One of the greatest things about Washington DC is how easy it is to get around.

On my trip, I was able to navigate the city with ease, thanks to a combination of the Circulator and the Metro station.

I’m all about that efficient lifestyle, so when I find something good, I stick to it!

The Circulator: A Budget-Friendly Way to Cruise Through DC

If you’re a penny-pincher like me – and proud of it – then the Circulator is your best friend in DC!

At only $1 per ride, it’s a steal considering how convenient and efficient it is. The bus routes cover most of the main attractions, from the National Mall to Georgetown and even to the bustling food scene on U Street. Plus, they run pretty frequently, so you won’t have to wait long for the next bus!

Bonus Tip: If you want to grab a Circulator Pass, they have a few options available: a 24-hour pass, a 3-day pass, and more. Choose what suits your needs best, and trust me, it’s worth it!

The Metro: Reliable, Eclectic and Your Best Travel Companion in DC

The DC Metro system is well-known, and for good reason. With clean, modern stations and an easy-to-use payment system, I found it incredibly seamless to travel.

Sure, some metro stations, like the ones at City Center and Northwest D.C., are busier than others, and you may encounter some annoying things during peak hours, but it’s all part of the adventure!

There are several metro lines that can connect you to almost every corner of the city.

Don’t forget, hopping on the Metro Rail is not just about reaching your destination; it’s also a great spot for people-watching and meeting new people. I mean, who doesn’t love observing the daily lives of others while sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned train?

Bonus Tip: While visiting DC, I used the Metro’s Trip Planner to map out each day’s activities, optimize transfer times, and locate the nearest metro stations. It saved me a ton of time and effort!

Washington DC is a fantastic destination for solo travelers. From historical sites and museums to delicious food tours and meeting new people, this city has it all. 

You can’t go to D.C. without visiting the National Mall. As a self-proclaimed history nerd, I was absolutely starstruck by the endless monuments and museums lining this iconic location. Let me just say, the Smithsonian Institution is a godsend!

With 19 museums and galleries most with free admission you’ll be entertained for days.

My personal favorite? The National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I spent hours there, truly moved by the powerful exhibits.

Don’t forget to share your experiences, I’m sure you’ll have a blast, just like I did! Safe travels, and happy exploring! 

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