What to See and What to Skip in Washington, DC

The spotlight is clearly on Washington D.C. this month.

But no matter who occupies the White House, or who inhabits the halls of Congress, D.C.'s draw as a traveler's playground remains intact.

A plethora of free attractions creates value in our nation's capital. Throw in competitive pricing from a bevy of brand new hotels -– 14 grand openings in 2016 and at least 16 more planned for this year -– and Washington just became an even bigger bargain. That's why it's on Travelzoo's WOW Deal Destinations list for 2017.

If you're planning your own D.C. visit, these expert suggestions are a solid start.

Skip the Cab, Walk

Don’t Skip the Guide

Skip Room Service, Be a Foodie

Stephanie Rosenblum, a PR account executive in New York City who lived four years in D.C. while attending George Washington University, says Founding Farmer's in Foggy Bottom has "one of the best breakfasts in D.C., everything is farm-to-table," and she suggests Busboys & Poets for a memorable brunch. For dinner, she likes Lincoln in downtown D.C., where "the floor is made of pennies," and the grub at Ben's Chili (a President Obama favorite, rumor has it), is good any time of day. For her sweet tooth, Rosenblum heads to Georgetown, home to Georgetown Cupcake (starring in the TLC show, "D.C. Cupcakes") and famous District Doughnut.

For a taste of history, dine at Old Ebbitt Grill, D.C.'s oldest restaurant. Dating back to 1856, the antique gas chandeliers and the marble stairs that lead to the federalist-style Corner Bar are classic, while the raw bar remains one of the best in town.

Skip the Restaurant, Visit the Market

After the Smithsonian, Visit These Museums

And then there's the hottest ticket in town: the brand new National Museum of African American History and Culture. "People can't get a ticket -– they're still waiting three or four months out," Evans says. But planning ahead is worth it. The museum, which opened in September and is managed by the Smithsonian, houses tens of thousands of objects related to topics from segregation, civil rights and slavery to family, religion and community. Among the notables: items once owned by Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Louie Armstrong, James Brown and Muhammad Ali.

After Lincoln, Visit These Landmarks

Ride into Union Station, Stay Awhile

Skip the Mall, Do Georgetown

Don't Miss These 'Hoods

"This is a lot of fun to visit –- the metro ride is pretty short," she says. "They have a big gallery where you can watch artists paint and sculpt, and there are a lot of restaurants and cute shops around the waterfront."

And Chinatown "is not a must-see or a must-do," she says, "but they have a cool archway that's nice to look at if you're in the area. You may end up walking through this neighborhood anyway, since it's pretty central and close to a lot of other stuff downtown."

See the Island, Skip the City

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Gabe Saglie is Senior Editor for Travelzoo, which features exclusive deals on New Zealand hotels, flights, activities, restaurants, spas and shows at www.travelzoo.com.