Washington DC Guide
Being the capital of the United States comes with its perks. For a history lesson with a view, Washington DC has it all. DC boasts a high volume of American icons – the Washington Monument is just one of many with serious wow factor and an emotional undertone. There are plenty of free things to do and guided Washington DC tours, especially in the warm summer months, while a rich cultural scene brings artists and performers to DC for countless festivals throughout the year. Here, musical theater, spoken word poetry and cherry blossom trees are all celebrated in grandeur, and you can retrace the footsteps of country leaders while political worker bees buzz around you
Washington DC is the heart of American patriotism, home to several poignant monuments and museums, the majority of which are located around the National Mall. Their sheer size and historical significance make them must-see Washington DC attractions. One of the best ways to experience treasured federal icons, like the Lincoln Memorial, is of an evening when the crowds disappear and statues glow with backlighting. The ultimate tourist to-do is, of course, the White House. If you are the organized type, you can book a self-guided tour by contacting your country's embassy or local Member of Congress in advance. History buffs will have their fill of civil war memorabilia and presidential lodgings – wear your walking shoes to follow heritage trails and explore grand estates.
Brush up on some history at the...
- Lincoln Memorial
- National Museum of National History
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
Eat and Drink »
If you want to experience fine dining at Washington DC restaurants, head to the West End, East End or Georgetown areas for several-course meals that will make your wallet shudder. Georgetown is also a hotspot for live jazz and upscale bars. With a huge number of international embassies, cuisine in DC is quite varied. Visit the popular pocket of Little Ethiopia for flavor-filled cheap eats bursting with spices and slowly stewed meats. Undoubtedly a city where politics and business converge, there are still plenty of places in Washington DC to let your hair down. Sink a beer in Adams Morgan. Sip a cocktail in Dupont Circle. Catch America’s favorite pastime at Nationals Park, or check out a jazz club in Georgetown. There’s much more to the District of Columbia than meets the eye.
For easy access to restaurants and the National Mall, look for accommodation in the East End. Washington DC hotels a little further from the city center in Capitol Hill or Dupont Circle offer a different side of DC with less tourist attractions and a more local vibe. Book your stay in a suburban area connected to the Metro train line if you want to keep expenses low. DC is reasonably small, and the city is only a short trip from most neighborhoods. If you don't mind sharing facilities, there are a number of charming guest houses offering a warm, homely stay including breakfasts and delightfully decorated rooms. For star power and refinement, look to the West End for luxury stays.
Check out the nightlife in...
- Georgetown – mix with the students
- Adams Morgan – an eclectic enclave
- Shaw (and a revitalised U Street)
Shopping in Washington DC will surprise you – there's more than the expected "stars and stripes" souvenirs. For a bit of window shopping, Logan Circle's boutique art galleries are filled with unique pieces that might tip your budget over the edge. Fashionistas will enjoy a trip to the vibrant U Street Corridor where shops, cafes and galleries will weigh your arms down with shopping bags. There are also bookstores galore from larger retailers to smaller, niche stockists. If you are a bargain hunter on a mission with your own wheels, the outlets at Potomac Mills and Leesburg Corner are under an hour's drive away.
Washington DC like a Local
The true Washington is far from a stuffy, boring political venue. Soak in the fine Washington weather and enjoy the local atmosphere at the Eastern Market on Capitol hill, browsing through antiques, books and independent artworks on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Get your daily cardio fix with a long bike ride through Rock Creek Park, breathing in the fresh forest air and spotting a deer or two along the way. Football fans should jump on the Metro, head out to Maryland and catch NFL champions the Washington Redskins on their home turf.
Get around town on…
- Two wheels, in this bike-friendly city
- An extensive Metro railway network
- Foot – especially on the National Mall