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When planning your trip, Google what marches, parades, and festivals are occurring around your trip | © MBandman / Flickr
When planning your trip, Google what marches, parades, and festivals are occurring around your trip | © MBandman / Flickr
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6 Tips to Escape the Tourist Crowds in Washington, D.C.

Picture of Kirsten Ballard
Updated: 16 April 2018
Annually, an estimated 22 million people visit the nation’s capital. The Cherry Blossom Festival alone sees an average of 1.5 million visitors over the four-week period. To put that in perspective, just over half a million people actually reside within D.C. on a ‘normal day.’ Nothing ruins a vacation like weaving among tourists, school trips, and strollers while trying to get the perfect picture of the Tidal Basin. Enjoy your trip to the District by using these six tips to escape the crowds.

See Cherry Blossoms at the LBJ Memorial Grove

Memorial
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LBJ's Memorial Grove was originally Lady Bird Johnson's favorite place to introspect
LBJ's Memorial Grove was originally Lady Bird Johnson's favorite place to introspect | © Cliff / Flickr
Instead of fighting the crowds around the Tidal Basin, enjoy scenic waterfront views of the blossoms from this quiet alcove. The grove was erected in honor of the 36th president and was one of his and Lady Bird Johnson’s favorite spots to stroll and get away from the pressures of D.C. This quiet oasis is the perfect place to get away from it all and still see the famous cherry blossoms.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
12:00 am

Accessibility & Audience:

Dog Friendly

Services & Activities:

Free

Atmosphere:

Outdoors

Avoid the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

Shop
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When you come to D.C., hit the National Mall instead of this behemoth shopping center. With four floors of shops and department stores, it’s a trap for visiting high-schoolers and youths. You can shop at home or online and eat at one of D.C.’s famous restaurants instead of the food court.
More Info
Mon - Sat:
10:00 am - 9:30 pm
Sun - None:
11:00 am - 6:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair), Family Friendly

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Loud

Tour the monuments at night

The Jefferson Memorial is open 24 hours a day, allowing for night time viewing when crowds are smaller.
The Jefferson Memorial is open 24 hours a day, allowing for night time viewing when crowds are smaller. | © SabreGuy29 / Flickr

Most of the monuments and memorials are open 24 hours a day. Skip the crowds and head to the mall after dark. You’ll miss the tour groups and throngs of families – and there’s something magical about the Jefferson at night.

Book your stay in North D.C.

Get out of the hustle and bustle – look for hotels or AirBnBs in Columbia Heights, Petsworth, and Woodley Park. These smaller neighborhoods have great rentals and are far less crowded than staying in the Arlington area.

Check out the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Memorial
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This beautiful scenic park takes a look back on the four phases of FDR's presidency
This beautiful scenic park takes a look back on the four phases of FDR's presidency | © Matt Wade / Flickr
While Washington, D.C. is known for the big three: Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson, it offers many more presidential landmarks. Find peace and serenity away from the crowded mall at the FDR memorial. The man-made waterfalls offer a soothing change of pace from the honking of cabs around the District.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair), Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Free

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Scenic

Skip the Line at the National Museum Of African American History And Culture

Building, History Museum, School
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The Mall’s newest museum saw 2.5 million visitors the first year. Plan ahead and book your (free) tickets in advance on the website. You can book two months in advance, or wake up at 6:30 a.m. and go for same-day tickets.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair), Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Free

Atmosphere:

Indoors