Washington D.C. Solo

Washington D.C. Solo

Why I Was There:

This solo trip was for a work conference.  A work conference is a great way to get a taste of a new city. There’s always a time to explore a little bit in between other obligations.

Where I stayed:

J.W. Marriott Washington D.C. because that was the conference hotel and I got a good conference rate. This was a great location, just a few blocks from the National Mall.

Getting around:

Since I was traveling alone, I walked to nearby locales in safe areas and used Uber the rest of the time.

How I got there:

I flew into Reagan National. It was about 15 minutes from my hotel, and is the closest airport to the main metro area of the three Washington D.C. area airports, which also includes Dulles and BWI. I often see cheaper flights into the other airports, but have learned the hard way that there may be no ultimate savings and much more inconvenience.

BWI is a solid 45 minute drive or train ride. When we flew out of BWI on a family trip, we couldn’t coordinate out travel times with a limited train schedule on Sundays, and paid over $100 for a private car for a Sunday morning flight.

What I did:

Ford’s Theater

My first evening I arrived early with time to kill. I decided to go see Ragtime at Ford’s Theater. Yep, THAT Ford’s Theater, where President Lincoln was assassinated. I had no idea that it was still in use as a theater. One of the great things about Washington D.C. is that there are so many amazing historic places everywhere you turn.

It turns out that Ford’s Theater was just a few blocks from my hotel, so I was very comfortable making the walk alone, even after dark. And going to the theater is a great activity when traveling alone. You can’t really talk to your companions anyway, and I was able to score a great seat last minute at a sold out show because I was only buying a single ticket.

My seat was in the balcony, and I had a great view of Lincoln’s box.

I highly recommend seeing a show here if you have the opportunity.  And even if you can’t make a show, there are tours available during non-show times.

National Museum of African American History & Culture

The next night, I was super fortunate to attend a private reception hosted at the National Museum of African American History & Culture. This museum is amazing and tough to get into. Although the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. are free, this one allows access via timed tickets to control crowd sizes. You’ll have to plan well in advance or be flexible if you want to visit this gorgeous museum. All of the locals attending the reception invited extra guests because the tickets are so hard to get.

Tickets become available about three months in advance online. Otherwise, a limited number of tickets are released online for same day entry and a few are available for walk-ups.


Photo Credit: Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC

You can’t miss this museum when strolling along the Mall–the architecture is so different from all of the other buildings. The entire exterior is clad in bronze-colored latticework reminiscent of the ironwork crafted by southern slaves.

The interior is also stunning–an oversized elevator takes you 70 feet below ground to begin the journey from the beginning of the slave trade through the civil rights era to modern times. You work your way up to ground level as you progress through time.

The Washington Post has an excellent interactive article with details about the museum.

This is a not-to-be missed stop in D.C.

What I ate:

After visiting the museum, I had dinner with colleagues at Del Campo. All of the food was served family style, with cuts of various meats served on a huge butcher block. All of the food was delicious and the service was impeccable.

Tips for Traveling Solo in D.C.:

Washington D.C. is a great place for solo travel.  It is very walkable and has a great public transportation system. Just find a hotel near a Metro stop and you’re all set.

You can spend days exploring the 19 Smithsonian museums and zoo without worrying about anyone else’s preferences or schedule. Or head to Georgetown for some local charm and shopping–perfect for a solo day. We stayed in this area when we visited with the kids, but they had no patience for wandering into shops and no taste for upscale restaurants! They sure didn’t mind stopping in Georgetown Cupcakes, though.

D.C. Solo

I am a 40-something lawyer and mom of 3 teenage girls. I love exploring new places, and when I can't be on the road, I'm planning my next trip. Over the years, I've learned a lot about how to travel in a pack of five. Our trips range from budget-friendly road trips with the family, to more luxurious trips for work, either solo or with my husband, Kenny.

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