A multi-tiered dome with columns

Planning Your Trip

Between its political powerbrokers and cultural landmarks, Washington, DC offers plenty of reasons to curate your packing list. Add in the mercurial weather and stylish nightlife, and the equation becomes even more important to get right. Here’s what to bring, whether you are planning a vacation, a business trip or a little of both.

Sunset view across a long pond of a tall obelisk
Sunset view across a long pond of a tall obelisk
What to Pack

Pack a camera! You’re in a city bursting with federal masterpieces and you’re going to want good photos at the end of your trip. If you’re relying on your phone’s camera, bring a portable cellphone charger so you won’t have to worry about losing battery life while you’re out and about.

Business Travel

While D.C. defies many of its stereotypes, do keep in mind that this is still a conservative town when business, politics and diplomacy are involved. Office dress codes, compared to other cities, are decidedly more formal.

  • Dark-colored suits are the norm for men, paired with solid pressed shirts and discreet silk ties.

  • Suits are also commonplace for women.
Exploring the City

From meandering through the city’s grand neoclassical monuments to eating your way through U Street, D.C. is wide, diverse and packed with all kinds of treasures. Optimize your wardrobe for versatility and comfort.

  • The city is best explored on foot — comfortable shoes (sneakers, flat sandals or boots, depending on the season) are a must.

  • Winters are decidedly cold. Pack accordingly: gloves, hats, scarves, sweaters, wool or down jackets.

  • And summers are warm and humid. Bring appropriate shorts, linen or cotton dresses, lightweight shirts, polos, boat shoes, sunscreen. Add in a light sweater or wrap for the air-conditioned indoors.  
Evening Chic

Whether you want to rub shoulders with the city’s elite at posh restaurants, sip on inventive cocktails at one of its many chic bars or spend a few hours at an iconic jazz club, D.C. becomes an assorted playground of bipartisan entertainment at night.

  • For upscale establishments, men should pack a sport jacket and nice dress shoes.

  • Ladies, consider bringing a cocktail dress or two for fancier places.

  • Strappy sandals or a pair of sleek pumps for women will elevate a daytime look. Throw in a tailored blazer and colorful accessories.
Fireworks explode above a domed building with columns
Fireworks explode above a domed building with columns
What to Reserve

Planning a successful trip to Washington, DC isn’t about who you know. It’s about what reservations you make. Whether you hope to try the latest restaurant or see the newest exhibit, tour the White House or step back in time at Mount Vernon, this is what you need to book ahead.

A banquette-lined room with a fireplace, bookshelves and a tufted "table"
A banquette-lined room with a fireplace, bookshelves and a tufted "table"

With its landmarks, shopping, dining and wealth of tours, Washington, DC offers something for everyone. Begin your expedition with these suggested itineraries, which distill the essence of the city into two approachable experiences: a weekend getaway and a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation.