What to Wear When you visit Washington DC

Jogging around the US Capitol. Athletic wear is very popular during the daytime.

First, welcome back to traveling! It’s so exciting to have our city open and welcoming visitors again. You can find what’s open at Washington.org.

The Smithsonian museums are opening up. You can use the bike and scooter rentals to get around.

For now, transportation systems in Washington DC still require all travelers to wear face coverings. In most museums, government buildings, and shops, masks are required at the moment, but that’s evolving.

At the DC Wharf Intercontinental Hotel pre-pandemic.

If you want to pack the right clothing for a summer visit, plan to be warm and cold. Warm because of the heat and humidity, and cold because every building is air conditioned. It’s likely to rain, so check the weather before you leave.

Local restaurants are casual, especially now that we eat outdoors so often.

You should consider bringing a rainproof top with a hood or hat for those afternoon storms. Hats are very important to protect you from the sun, of course, but when choosing headgear, make sure to bring something that won’t blow off when it’s windy.

Out for a coffee shop run in Arlington.

Everyone should slather on and carry sunscreen, and seriously consider bringing a light sweater to deal with the air conditioning. 

The brew bus in Clarendon is a fun way to gather with friends.

You should plan to walk a lot (the National Mall is 2 very long miles), so especially in hot weather, pack double sets of thin socks rather than too-thick ones, and carry some precut moleskin bandages: They offer the best possible protection and won’t sweat off. I think flip flops are not a good idea at all, but if you must, just wear them for part of the day. YOu’ll thank me for it.

Walking in DC requires comfortable shoes, a hat, jacket and sunscreen.

Shorts are perfectly fine during the day of sightseeing. They don’t look that great at night, so consider packing a skirt, jumpsuit, leggings and dress for those inclined. Shorts are frowned upon at the nicer restaurants. But since many restaurants and bars still feature outdoor dining, shorts will work fine in the summer. Sneakers and sandals too.

Pre-pandemic museum visit.

It’s not the trendiest place, so you’ll feel comfortable wearing casual, classic clothes. If you want to fit in with the locals, consider wearing a collared shirt, nice top, jeans/dress pants, and nice sneakers. The younger set are wearing platform sandals with their cropped pants. Jean jackets and sweaters are the perfect layers.

Sunset at the Lincoln Memorial.

Hope that helps you plan! Can’t wait to see you!

Okay I threw this one in for fun, but truthfully, people do like to dress up with the cherry blossom trees for photos!

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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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