When to fly
The busiest seasons for tourist activities and flights 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. The National Cherry Blossom Festival in March/April is one of the city’s largest and most celebrated events. Cultural performances come together with food and music, over three weeks, to celebrate the 1912 gift of 3000 cherry trees to Washington D.C by the mayor of Tokyo. Other busy periods include the time 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. It is recommended to book flights in advance during this season.
The best time to visit Washington D.C, weather-wise, is spring and autumn, when the weather is at its most pleasant and warm. Summers in Washington can be off putting for some tourists as it can get very hot and humid. Temperatures usually sit between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius but sometimes reach around 40 degrees. Winter is cool, with the average temperature from mid-December to mid-February being around 3 degrees. Washington D.C can also experience some snow during this season. The quietest times are late August into early September and the period between Thanksgiving (4th Thursday of November) and mid-January. As these times are also when Washington D.C is the coldest, you are more likely to find cheaper flights and better hotel rates.
When booking flights and accommodation to Washington D.C, it is important to consider that major annual events can cause prices to increase, therefore it is sensible to book in advance. One such example is the Independence Day Festivities, taking place in July. What better place to celebrate this significant event than the capital of the United States of America. The highlights are the Fourth of July parade along Constitutions Avenue, which includes 100 marching bands, the musical entertainment, such as the National Symphony Orchestra and, of course, the iconic fireworks display. If you are a budget traveller you may want to consider booking during other periods for better deals.
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.
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.
There are several airports serving Washington D.C. Dulles International Airport (IAD) is 26 miles (42 km) west of the city in Dulles, Virginia. It is connected to the city by bus and coach services, as well as a shared shuttle service that runs to any location in the D.C. area.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is about 4 miles (6.5 km) south of Washington, just across the river from the city, a few minutes by car and 15-20 by Metro.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) is located some 31 miles (50 km) north of Washington. You can reach the city by the Metro.
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.