How to See Washington DC for Free!


Happy new year everyone! :D

Hope you had an awesome evening and great first day of the new year. :) How did you celebrate last night?

We kept it low key, hung out, played some pool and rang in the new year with a smooch and some champagne. Beforehand, we continued our tour de DC with a trip to the Old Post Office!

Oh! First we stopped at Five Guys for lunch!! It was my very first time, and omg my cheeseburger and cajun fries were incredible. I didn’t believe Ben when he promised it would be better than In-N-Out Burger (my favorite/the only fast food cheeseburgers I’ll eat) buuuuut, it definitely might be. It might be! The fries for sure, anyways. :)


Ok, THEN it was off to the Old Post Office! :D

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The old post office was completed in 1899, and is the third tallest building in downtown DC. It’s massive bell tower soars to 315 feet.

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This extremely ornate, intricately designed building could be anywhere in Europe, but it’s actually just a few blocks away from the White House.


The inside is equally as stunning as the outside, and I was so surprised to learn that the building was actually supposed to be completely demolished in 1971!

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Luckily local protestors saved the place and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Phew. ;)


While it served as Washington DC’s post office for only 15 years, the old post office is now office space for the government and private businesses, with an “eclectic”, shall we say, food court in the bottom floor.

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The reason we went is because you can take an elevator ride to the top of the bell tower, where you can see ALL of DC, for FREE – whee!


After a 12 story ascent in an elevator that feels like it’s original to the building (…) the doors open to reveal an open-air observation deck 270 feet above the ground. Ben was freaking out. He hates heights!


Me? I couldn’t get enough! The Washington Monument anchored our view, which just kept going…


and going…


and going!!!!


It was the coolest thing – and all for free! :D


We came down, so Ben could resume breathing, and headed over to the National Harbor in Maryland next.


After walking along the beautiful shops and coastline, we kicked off our New Year’s Eve celebration a bit early with a nice, cold brewsky. :)


Today we have taken it totally easy. It’s our last day here, so we are lounging as a fam, watching multi seasons of 30 Rock, eating Ben’s Mom’s famous lasagna, and baking mid-afternoon cinnamon rolls. You know, the usual. ;)

Happy 2012 from us to you, and don’t forget to start your Index Card Journal today!! :D

See ya’!

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  1. Cristy 01.01.2012

    Thanks for the index card journal reminder!!! Awesome photos. Happy New Year!

  2. Happy 2012!! I’ve never been to DC, so I love the “free view” very cool!!

  3. What a fun trip! I’ve never been to DC but would love to go. Looks so historic and fun.

    Last night John and I stayed in, drank some wine, ate sushi, and then rang in the new year with a virtual toast with our friends Jamin and Lisa who live two hours away. It was memorable for sure!

  4. Lauren T 01.01.2012

    you look so cute. I love your jacket!

  5. kellyo 01.01.2012

    Our NYE was very quiet at home, just the way I like it! Can’t be a Five Guys burger and their fries…the best! They are actually grown about 20 miles from me. Enjoy your last day in DC and safe travels!

  6. Angie 01.01.2012

    Gorgeous photos – sounds like an amazing trip! And, yes, Five Guys = so totally awesome :)

  7. Mae 01.01.2012

    Looks beautiful! I’m a kind of new reader, but is that a little stuffed animal panda looking out the window in the first Washington Monument picture, or am I going crazy?

  8. heather 01.01.2012

    there’s a five guys right by where i work(heh–around the corner from trader joe’s, actually). i’m glad you liked it, and i hope you took advantage of the free peanuts and toppings. i’m thinking you might become an East Coast convert soon enough!

  9. dawn 01.01.2012

    Love the journal idea! cute!

  10. Michelle B. 01.01.2012

    I saw the index card journal on pinterest and completely forgot about it until you mentioned it – I think I might work on that tomorrow!

  11. Great tip! I’ll have to remember that when I make it back to DC sometime. Looks like you’re having so much fun out there.

  12. Ahhh… I live like 2 shakes from the National Harbor on the VA side. There was a disastrous 15K at the Harbor at the beginning of December… can you imagine 22K people running through there? It was crazy. I’ve never been to the Old Post Office, you’ve inspired me to get down there to see it!

  13. Liz White 01.02.2012

    Glad you found the Old Post Office. That’s always where I recommend people go to really see the city.

    There are so many great burger places around here. Next time you’re in town you should check out Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington. That’s my favorite. Z burger is also really good and Good Stuff Eatery.

    Love your blog. Hope you loved D.C.


  14. Allison 01.02.2012

    The National Harbor is beautiful during the holidays! My momma has been saying we need to tour the Old Post Office for years but we’ve never been… Gotta stop the “oh we live here, we can do it another time” attitude and start visiting all of the fabulous sites!

  15. Five Guys > Shake Shack > In n Out (although it’s unfair to compare those two to In n Out since In n Out is wayyy cheaper and more like a bazillion times better McDonald’s). I thought Good Stuff was meh. Ray’s is the best, but it’s more like restaurant burger than a fast food burger. Glad you’re enjoying DC. Happy New Year!

  16. Jennie M 01.02.2012

    We went to DC on our honeymoon back in 2008 and also went to the Old Post Office. Alas, we came at the end of the day and the elevator was just closing. Now you’ve shown me what we missed! Will have to make it back one of these days (now that the American History museum is open too …)

  17. Whitney 01.02.2012

    For real!?! I’ve been to DC several times in the past few months and have never heard of the elevator to the top of the Old Post Office! Too bad I read this a day or two after getting back from there! Guess I’ll have to go again!

  18. Fran 01.02.2012

    Thanks for the free view of DC, love seeing pictures of great places to go visit. Hope you and your family will have a great 2012

  19. Jeralyn 01.02.2012

    You are one tough chick! I’ve tried several of your workouts and they kick my butt every time! I’ve started a new workout blog if your interested check it out

  20. Emily 01.02.2012

    This is my favorite view of DC! Such a deal and a beautiful building.

  21. Beautiful photos. I’m getting the travel bug!

  22. D.C! My neck of the woods! Isn’t it a great place? So much history, great restaurants and fun places to visit! On your next trip, you’ll have to check out the National Zoo. It’s amazing! Seems like you had a fantastic time. Happy New Year!

  23. Krista 01.03.2012

    I’ve heard Five Guys is coming to DSM…on University near Beauty Brands!

  24. I created an index card journal last January 1st so this year I get to start comparing one year to the next. I’m sure some of the days will be eerily similar and others will be miles apart. I love my index card journal. Super easy to keep up on and a great way to preserve memories!

  25. Tom H. 01.05.2012

    Kristin, I keep going back to this post in my RSS and checking out your amazing pictures!

    I was born & raised an hour from DC, but went to college in Virgina and moved to Des Moines immediately after graduation. Needless to say that despite taking multiple field trips to the national mall each year of grade school, I was never able to fully enjoy and appreciate all that the district has to offer as an adult! Especially love reading your posts and perspectives of the area; I’m definitely taking mental notes!

    My family and I were actually just in the area for the holidays as well, but didn’t make it down to Washington. Sure enjoyed (multiple) trips to Five Guys though! Love the site, PS…it’s a daily read!

  26. Becky 01.09.2012

    We live 45 minutes from DC and never go there! So after reading this post my husband and I decided to use our day off today to venture around the city. Thank you so much for posting about the Old Post Office. I never would have known it was there….it was such a great way to see all of DC!!

  27. Jess 01.02.2014

    Did you ever do the free walking tours in DC? When I was there for 3 days I went and it was amazing. We did the 3 hour walking tour that started around 6 or 7 and ended around 9ish. It was a professor that did the tour and it was way better than anything I would have imagined. He knew everything and gave all the good inside tips for DC! Here’s the link!

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