Washington D.C. was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. The country’s capital is home to the President of the United States, the Senate, the House of Representatives and hundreds of memorials paying homage to the country’s vibrant, and often turbulent, past. It also has some of the nation's most important historic monuments.
There’s more than politics to this city, however. Its museums and art galleries are famed around the world. Entertainment gurus will awe at the sight of Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Fonzie’s leather jacket at the Smithsonian American History Museum. Take a walk through the Hall of the First Lady’s and admire the inaugural gowns of Lady Bird Johnson, Jackie Kennedy and more. The National Mall – a green park stretching from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial – is a common ground for protests and demonstrations. Other attractions include the National Zoo and the International Spy Museum.
You will discover some great seafood restaurants, steak houses, sushi bars, Italian restaurants and nearly any cuisine you crave. Some of the world’s best chefs have restaurants in the D.C. area. If you like sports, the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Washington Redskins football team are the two prominent professional franchises in the city. There are numerous discos and nightclubs in the Georgetown area. There are also intimate comedy clubs featuring some terrific political comedians. Check out the National Museum of Health if you have time. It’s a museum you won’t soon forget.
When to fly to Washington
The busiest seasons for tourist activities are between March and August, in particular during the time when the cherry blossoms bloom and when schools are out for spring break and then summer holiday. In addition, when Congress is in session and from mid-January through June, hotels and restaurants are full of lobbyists, and the streets are often full of demonstrations. Spring and autumn have the most pleasant weather. Summers in Washington are hot, sometimes exceeding 38 degrees Celsius, and very humid. The quietest times are late August into early September and the period between Thanksgiving (4th Thursday of November) and mid-January. This is also when Washington, DC is the coldest but it's likely you'll find cheap hotels and airfare deals to Washington, DC and discounted hotel rates if you travel during this time.
Getting around Washington
Washington is an easy city to get around: the centre is the area around the National Mall. This area is easily accessible on foot, with most museums and monuments within easy walking distance. The streets in Washington are laid out in a grid, with numbered streets going in one direction and alphabetised streets going the other. The city is divided into four quadrants, with the Capitol building in the centre. Most of the major sights are within walking distance, but you can easily take the Metrobus or Metrorail if you get tired of walking. Bicycling is also very popular in the city; both locals and tourists cycle. Washington can get very hot in the summer months, so light clothes and plenty of water are recommended.
Washington insider information
Security concerns mean that many Washington, D.C. attractions won't let visitors bring their bags or cameras in with them. Storage is sometimes available, but don't count on it; it's best not to carry too much that won't fit into a pocket while visiting.