Photo Credit: Andy He/UnSplash
DMV Travel Guide: Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia
The Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, commonly referred to as the DMV, offers a blend of national landmarks, amazing views and fantastic food. The unique atmosphere is sure to make any traveler want to stay again. Springtime in the DMV brings beautiful cherry blossoms, relaxing getaways and gorgeous rolling hills of seasonal foliage. The DMV is easy to visit and perfect for travelers who love history and want to visit some unique places.
- Best time to travel: March through May and September through November
- Time zone: Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- Noteworthy: National Cherry Blossom Festival (March through April), Baltimore Jazz Fest (June), Neptune Festival (Year-round)
- Best for: Historical Visit, Foodie Trip, Couples Trip, Friends Trip, Family Getaways
Play: Things to Do in the DMV
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC)
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination. Located in Washington, D.C., the museum exclusively is devoted to sharing the African American history through exploration, documentation and exhibitions.
Slavery and early Black American history exhibitions are highlighted, along with fine art and artifacts from Black icons. With exhibits about hip hop and afro-futurism, this nationally renowned museum has must-see galleries and incredibly moving art pieces. Any traveler will appreciate this experience and learn from on their trip.
The Escape Quest is an interactive experience of solving puzzles, uncovering clues and deciphering codes. Participants will have 60 minutes to solve the puzzle. The themed rooms include different difficulty levels and a mix of adventure, mystery and medieval genres. There are two locations in the DMV area: one in Bethesda, Maryland and one in Alexandria, Virginia.
3-Hour DC Nighttime Monuments Guided Sightseeing Bus Tour
Travelers can enjoy a three hour bus tour to witness the city’s iconic monuments illuminated by the night sky. Some of the famous landmarks, such as the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. Travelers enjoy a fully narrated tour with a professional local guide with photo stops at ten top attractions. There are some upgrade packages available for travelers to purchase including self-guided entry into the Washington Monument.
Washington DC Signature Scenic Buffett Cruise
This 2-hour buffett cruise is a relaxing way to enjoy beautiful views of Washington D.C.’s famous landmarks. The weekday or weekend lunch buffet cruise offers a cash bar, live DJ and the captain’s expert narration. Travelers will learn about the city’s history and culture, while cruising along the Potomac River. The modern dining ship, which is called The Spirit of Washington, provides a comfortable and stylish atmosphere.
The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization in Maryland that offers visitors an amazing look at marine life. There are behind-the-scenes tours with shark tanks and dolphin training sessions. The company’s mission is to inspire a conversation about conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.
There are animal care and rescue tours to learn more about the Aquarium’s local, regional and global conservation initiatives. The National Aquarium is as fun as it is educational.
Gourmet: Best Restaurants in the DMV
Bammy’s Navy Yard
This Caribbean-fusion cuisine restaurant is in the heart of Arlington, Virginia. Bammy’s Navy Yard is co-run by Michelin-Starred and James Beard-nominated Executive Chefs Chris Morgan, Gerald Addison and Peter Prime. The menu is inspired by their travels throughout Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados.
The team behind Bammy’s Navy Yard has personal ties and a general love for Caribbean food. They also have an appreciation for the people and the culture. It’s a well-known local favorite with mouthwatering menu items, such as grilled oxtail, Trinidadian-style potato curry and red snapper dishes. The desserts leave a refreshing finishing touch. Some of the top options are coconut chocolate chess pie, key lime pie and Jamaican banana-nut muffin.
The Duck & The Peach
The Duck & The Peach is a women-owned and operated restaurant featuring an all womxn-made and owned wine list. The menus are curated by Chef Kat Petonito, pastry chef Rochelle Cooper and wine sommelier Danya Degen. The natural and organic ingredients make for an impressive menu that’s as decadent as it is comforting.
Some items on the list include specialized salads, fresh seafood, lamb chops and short ribs. As a nod to D.C.’s iconic floral landscapes, the menu also includes a seasonal Cherry Blossom Sundae dessert.
Bar Spero has a delicious seafood-forward and expertly crafted cocktail menu with a lively atmosphere. Inspired by the spirited energy of the Basque cultural scene, Bar Spero draws inspiration from traditional open-fire grilling and freshly shucked seafood. Award-winning chef Johnny Spero created a menu that uses world-class ingredients, like imported Spanish turbot and Autumn Olive pork. The cocktail menu complements the fresh cuisine with modern classics and creative recipes.
Guests can enjoy cold dishes, like fresh Nantucket Bay Scallops, or hot dishes, like fire-roasted squash with carrot brown butter. The inviting minimalist decor includes warm wood dining spaces that add warmth and comfort to the dining experience.
Ben’s Next Door
Ben’s Next Door is a Black-owned and family-owned restaurant that should be at the top of the list when visiting the DMV. Located next to their original restaurant, this foodie spot has exceptional customer service, a bottomless mimosa brunch and a delectable lunch menu. For dinner, indulge in a mouth-watering crab mac and cheese, jerk penne pasta or blackened salmon with braised kale.
Creole on 14th
Owned by Jeffrey Miskiri, a Takoma Park native, Creole on 14th is an authentic New Orleans restaurant in Washington DC. The menu boasts southern comfort classics with unique twists, such as crab mac n’ cheese eggrolls, stuffed panko-spiced lamb chops and loaded Creole pasta. The menu also features impeccable desserts, like Creole bread pudding with vanilla Whiskey and a classic chocolate chip skillet cookie. Foodies will enjoy culturally rich brunch packages with bottomless mimosas at this local Black-owned business.
Stay: Best Places to Stay in the DMV
Salamander Resort & Spa
BET co-founder Shelia C. Johnson personally designed this lavish Washington D.C. stay. The elegant resort boasts 168 rooms and suites on 340 acres in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The property has an equestrian center, a fishing pond, ziplining, archery, tennis courts and more. There are indoor and outdoor pools, which are great spaces for travelers to relax. Lawn games, such as croquet, bocce ball, corn hole and life-sized chess, offer family-friendly activities every day.
Ingraham Alley Inn
Ingraham Alley Inn is close to the hidden gem of the 16th Street Heights area. With the entire unit for guests, the comfortable space and convenient Washington D.C. location are ideal for those who want to explore. Converted from an over one-century-old carriage house, the modern amenities guarantee a restful stay.
The king-sized bed is located upstairs in the loft area with a full bathroom, kitchen, and washer and dryer. The private patio is peaceful outdoor seating that’s private and secure. This stay is close to the 14th and 16th Street bus lines and a bike-share station.
Spacious Apartment in the Heart of the Capital
This spacious apartment is located in the cultural hub of U Street Corridor. It is near the city’s most popular restaurants, bars, shopping and concert venues. Nestled between two metro subway stations, this garden-level Victorian rowhouse has a full kitchen, a private patio and a on-street parking permit. Complementary items, such as coffee and tea, shower gel, fresh linens and pillows, make it an ideal stay.
Get Away: Getting To and Around the DMV
Three major and easily accessible airports serve Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV): Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Dulles International Airport. Direct flights to Washington D.C. are available from all over the world and as a major hub of United Airlines. Travelers should plan flights and transportation in advance to avoid rush hour traffic in the city.
Navigating the DMV area by car can be challenging during heavy rush hour traffic. There are toll roads that can help save time, but finding parking may be difficult. Public garages and ride-sharing services are useful for anyone visiting for the first time.
By Public Transit
The extensive public transit system in the DMV area makes it the easier option to get around. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority operates the metrorail subway system and metrobus, which connects the entire DMV area. Several regional bus services, like the MARC Train, Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak, provide intercity connections. To use public transit, purchase a SmarTrip card. Real-time transit information is available through WMATA’s website, mobile app and third-party apps.
Explore the DMV on Foot
Exploring the DMV area on foot is a great way to see the sights and get some exercise. Many of the region’s most popular attractions are clustered together with many museums and monuments within walking distance. The National Mall in D.C. is a great place to start. The charming neighborhoods of Georgetown and Old Town Alexandria offer unique shops and local restaurants.
To plan a walking route, use Google Maps or CityMapper. Guided walking tours also are a great way to learn about the history and culture of the DMV. Take into account the weather and the best shoes for walking long distances.