YA City Guide: Washington, D.C.

Our regular readers know that we absolutely love doing travel guides based on books. Our previous guides include London, Paris, New York City and New England!

Today’s post is extra special because we’re from the Washington D.C. area. We love when we find a book set in our hometown because it’s fun to recognize where the characters go. If you plan on visiting our amazing city or just want some book recommendations, we hope you find a book that stands out to you.  

1. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne 

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The Wrong Side of Right follows Kate Quinn, who grew up not knowing her father’s identity. Unfortunately, the national media finds out first. Not only does Kate have a father, he’s also running for President of the United States. Suddenly Kate moves in with her surprise new family in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. If you love politics, this book is for you. Kate goes on a crazy adventure in D.C. through the different campaign events. Plus, she has some secret city rendez-vous with an off-limits guy.

2. White Hot Kiss series by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

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In the Dark Elements series, Layla just wants to live a normal life with her friends and finally get Zayne to stop seeing her as a little sister. But things aren’t easy when you’re half-gargoyle and half-demon. Layla lives with Zayne and the rest of his gargoyle family on a compound in Washington, D.C. At school she can be normal, but at night she has to use her power to stop demons. When an attractive demon named Roth starts at school, Layla knows she should stay away, but there’s something about him. Even with this being a fantasy series, Armentrout does a great job capturing the city. From Georgetown to Dupont Circle, Layla goes all over in this trilogy.

3. American Royals by Katharine McGee

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Alternate history is the main plot in American Royals. McGee tells us what would have happened if George Washington became king instead of president. Meet the House of Washington: Princess Beatrice, Princess Sam and Prince Jefferson. We absolutely loved this two-book series, which follows the royals and their friends. Plus, D.C. looks the exact same…except it’s a monarchy. You’ll recognize the National Mall, Mount Vernon in NoVa and plenty of other real locations.

4. The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter 

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While technically set in the fictional town of Rosewood, Virginia, Cammie Morgan and her friends are no strangers to the nation’s capital. These young female spies work for the government, despite still being students. Throughout the series, Cammie and the other Gallagher Girls have field trips and even adventures in Washington. One of the most memorable was the day they spent going through the different Smithsonian museums for a class exercise.

5. Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton

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Piper Baird can’t believe it when she receives a journalism scholarship from Chiswick Academy, an elite school in Washington, D.C. In the morning she crosses the Potomac from Arlington, Virginia to take classes with the children of politicians and diplomats. Piper thinks her biggest story could be an expose on her classmates: Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador. Too bad she’s falling for him. Embassy Row is one of the coolest places in the city. Embassies from countries around the world line the streets and even open their doors to the public once a year in May. Follow Piper at some of the more exclusive events.

6. Someday by David Levinthan

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Someday is the long-awaited sequel to Everyday by David Levithan. A is back and he’s trying to return to Rhiannon, who is now seeing Alex. One of the main themes of this book is social justice. Levitan was definitely impacted by current events and set a huge part of this book in D.C. at an equal rights protest. If you’re an activist, this book is perfect for seeing people come together to support each other.

7. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 

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Cassie never expected for the FBI to show up and offer her a spot in the naturals, a program dedicated to solving cold cases. After moving to Occoquan, Virginia with the other naturals, Cassie finds herself in the middle of an active murder investigation. One that takes her through D.C., Arlington and the banks of the Potomac River. If thrillers are more your thing, definitely check out this series!

8. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 

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Molly is about to start her senior year of high school in a Maryland suburb of D.C. One night when Molly and her twin Cassie go to a club, Cassie meets the girl of her dreams. Suddenly Molly is wishing she could get the courage to ask out a guy. Enter Will: the new girl friend’s bestie. But there’s also another guy, Molly’s co-worker Reid. For the first time ever, Molly has two options and may be willing to put her heart on the line.

One thing we liked about this book is that the characters felt like real natives of the area. They frequently take the metro into D.C. and go on plenty of adventures. Will even has a Ben’s Chili Bowl T-Shirt, a staple of the city.

9. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot 

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Everybody knows that D.C. is the U.S. capital. So when you go to a capital city, you might expect to see someone famous, like a politician. How about saving the president from an assignation attempt? Once Samantha Madison saves the most powerful man in the country, she’s a national hero and gets appointed as teen ambassador to the United Nations. While this book released in the early 2000s, the political aspects and even the romance are still super relatable. We still recommend you come to D.C., even if your trip isn’t quite as dramatic.

Published by I'm All Booked Up YA

We write recommendations and reviews for YA books.

14 thoughts on “YA City Guide: Washington, D.C.

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