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D.C. really does have a little bit of something for everyone. But there are also a lot of ways you can make a misstep that has an irrevocable impact on your trip. So with that in mind, here are a few things NOT to do while visiting Washington, D.C.

1. Don’t Go During the Summer
It’s hot, muggy, and packed with tourists trying to squeeze in a vacation before their kids head back to school.

It’s worth it to take your kids out of school early for a few days. Trust me, there’s more than enough educational opportunities in D.C. to balance out a few missed days.

2. Don’t Drive
Washington D.C.’s metro line is big, clean, and extremely extensive. Anything and everything you could possibly want to reach is about three blocks away from a metro stop (max).Don’t bother with driving a car, the traffic is terrible and the city is confusing as hell to drive in anyway.

3. Don’t Go to Pentagon City
It’s just a huge mall. There’s little cultural significance to it beyond the fact that it’s seriously massive. If you want to get some good shopping done, head to Georgetown. It’s full of funky boutiques you can’t find anywhere else.

4. Don’t Go to Arlington National Cemetery.
Though it’s home to JFK’s crypt and eternal flame, don’t go to a real cemetery in a tourist mindset. It’s rude. Also, the eternal flame isn’t that impressive either.

5. Don’t Spend All Your Time in the Smithsonian
If you can afford to spend an entire month in the city, then by all means take your time but, if you’re in town for a week, make sure to hit one or two interesting branches of the Smithsonian, but keep some hours open to simply wander around.

6. Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Your Plans
For everything in Washington, D.C. that you know you want to do (hit the Lincoln Memorial, see the White House, etc.) there are ten things in the city that you didn’t know existed.

7. Don’t Go To the National Mall on the Weekend
The place is crawling with locals and tourists alike, who are wandering around in a daze just gumming up the works. The National Mall on a Tuesday is perfect.

8. Don’t Pass Up the E Street Cinema
Tucked into an expansive basement in the middle of the city’s commercial district, the E Street Cinema is always playing the newest and most exciting works of independent and foreign cinema. Seriously, if you’re a cinephile, it’s not something to be missed.

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