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Washington, DC, is a city filled with history and culture. From the iconic monuments and memorials to the vibrant neighborhoods and bustling nightlife, the nation’s capital has something to offer everyone. So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning traveler, this Washington, DC, travel guide will provide you with all the information you need to plan the perfect trip. From the best places to stay and eat to the must-see attractions and activities, this guide has it all. So, let’s get started!
The place was chaotic when the federal government relocated to DC in 1800. The Capitol Building, the President's House, and many other buildings were still disrepair. Many areas of the city were also swampland and had muddy roads.
Most people who visited the city were from Europe and curious about the democratic governance in this young nation. Skvarla writes that Andrew Jackson's election was hailed as "the beginning of the common era of man" and that thousands flocked to DC to see his 1829 inauguration. Some Americans also moved to Washington in response to growing civic engagement. Visitors would also travel to see historical debates between distinguished speakers.
However, although Washington didn't have many sights in those years, there were still many things to see. Many people loved the Capitol building, mainly because its "towering dome" stood out from the brick and wood buildings surrounding it. Tourism also became a significant industry in the city during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. Americans began to travel more due to better transportation and more leisure time.
April to June or September to October is the best time to visit this city. The temperatures in late spring and early summer are also warm and inviting. Besides, in September and October, there will still be warmth without the crowds of tourists.
Moreover, Washington's Cherry Blossom Festival is from late March through early April. The blooms peak between the first and second weeks of April. This university town welcomes graduates in May. Furthermore, the Fourth of July is a joyful spectacle, but it can also lead to a very crowded weekend in the capital. July and August are the peak seasons, as they are the year's hottest months.
These are the top things to do and places to visit in Washington, D.C.
Even if you are only visiting Washington for a brief visit, the White House and Washington Monument - two of the U.S. marble symbols - are a must-see.
The Washington Monument, which stood just shy of 555 1/2 feet tall, was the world's tallest structure when it was built in 1884. However, you can now ride the elevators that take you to the observation deck at the top of the monument to a full view of the city. These views are always a hit with visitors. Besides, you can explore the exterior for free 24 hours per day. However, National Park Service rangers can only answer questions between 9:30 and 10 p.m.
The monument is open every day between 9 am and 5 pm. Also, same-day tickets are distributed each day. The ticket window opens at 8.45 am. But you will have to wait in line. The nearest Metro station to the monument is Smithsonian Metro.
The World War II Memorial is dedicated to thousands of people who died during the conflict. The Rainbow Pool is dominated by a 56-column circle, which represents the U.S. territories and states from that era. This memorial can look quite beautiful at night when the lights are shining. A wall with more than 4,000 gold stars is also visible - one for each 100 Americans killed in the conflict.
Visitors have expressed gratitude for the World War II Memorial and felt inspired. Although there might be a lot of tourists during the summer and spring, past travelers recommend that you still visit the memorial to take advantage of its water features.
The National Mall is a great starting point for visiting some of the city's most iconic museums and monuments. The mall is a stretch of grassy park and water pond that runs from the Capitol Building in the east to the Lincoln Memorial in the west. Besides, you can take a walk along the mall on a sunny day. It is also one of the most popular places in Washington, D.C., to stroll.
The Capitol building is home to the U.S. Senate. It is full of politicians and lawmakers who help decide the country's future. It is also one of the buildings that visitors can visit and tour.
If you are a US citizen, your Senator or Representative will be able to give you access to the Capitol. If you are visiting from another country, tickets can be purchased for an official tour. It's a beautiful area. It's impossible to miss.
This museum attracts millions of visitors each year. It houses a collection of famous aircraft, such as Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B. The Einstein Planetarium, an IMAX theater, and flight simulators are also some of the exhibits. Parents beware! The gift shop is massive, so prepare for pleas from your children.
This is the most extensive library in the world and the oldest cultural institution in the country. A free one-hour guided tour is also available of the building. This is an excellent option for history buffs. It's truly unique and one of the most beautiful places in Washington, D.C. You will also find various galleries and exhibitions that showcase some of the Library's finest collections.
While the District has been home to many history buffs, lobbyists, and power players for a long time, it is now growing in diversity thanks to its revitalized neighborhoods and thriving shopping, restaurant, and nightlife scene. Moreover, people from all over the country, as well as other countries, are attracted to the city by its universities and high-power jobs.
However, there are some unspoken rules that you should follow when visiting the capitol. If you don't want your presence noticed while using the metro, the right side of the elevator is only for standing. The left side is open for those who need to hurry up and down.
This city also has deep roots in black history and the civil rights movement. Besides, D.C. has had a large black population. This was because formerly enslaved people from the Upper South would come here to find work. That is what shaped the Washingtonian culture. Frederick Douglass and Duke Ellington were both born in D.C. Ellington played jazz at venues along the U Street Corridor and was a key player in shaping the city’s music scene. Furthermore, many attractions pay homage to the city’s civil rights ties. Throughout the year, there are many music, art, and nature festivals in the District.
This city is the epicenter of American politics. Washington, D.C., is also home to a diverse clientele, and its restaurant scene reflects this diversity. There are many restaurants to choose from along Dupont Circle and Georgetown. You can also find delicious dishes like succulent oyster shots and spicy Spanish bites.
Besides, you can go to Florida Avenue and the U Street Corridor for some of the most popular Black-owned restaurants in this area. A strip of ethnic restaurants in the Atlas District offers Japanese, Asian, and Belgian cuisines. A guided tour can let you know all the dining options available in the city.
Farmer's markets are also a popular fixture in the area. Washingtonians can be found browsing the colorful markets for organic and healthy fruits and vegetables on Saturdays and Sundays. Freshfarm´s Market in Dupont Circle and Eastern Market are local favorites. Union Market and the dining room at Café Riggs are also favorites.
Here are some highlights of DC - the best areas to stay. There is a wide selection of 5-star hotels in town. All have a fitness center and some an indoor pool. Some hotels overs rooms overlooking the Tidal Basin or views of the White House.
Washington's downtown is the most popular area to visit. This is where you will find the best luxury hotels, restaurants, shops, and other amenities. You might also see politicians, newscasters, or other public figures stopping by a local bar or restaurant for a drink. Moreover, many people travel to DC because of the many available cultural and historical institutions. The White House, Smithsonian, and National Portrait Gallery of Art are all here.
Downtown DC also offers shopping and dining. Visit CityCenterDC for a selection of 40 top-rated restaurants and shops. CityCenterDC is an expansive mixed-use development that boasts more than 2 million square feet of commercial and residential space. This is a great place to start your trip. Everyone should visit the Smithsonian and White House at least once. It's also the most expensive place to stay in DC.
Logan Circle is named after a traffic circle located at Rhode Island Avenue and Vermont Avenue intersection. It is also a popular neighborhood for the young and hip. Here, you will find trendy boutiques and small galleries, as well as gay nightclubs, cafes, and other amenities that make it one of the most fashionable areas in DC. There are also many bars and pubs in the area.
However, the main action is on 14th Street, one block west of the traffic circle. The Logan Circle neighborhood borders DC's Dupont Circle. Many landmarks are also within walking distance.
Capitol Hill is the home of the national government. Here, you will find the United States Capitol, Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court buildings. It also houses the Library of Congress and Folger Shakespeare Library, as well as the United States Botanic Garden.
Moreover, the area is home to beautiful neighborhoods of row houses. Capitol Hill's food scene is unparalleled. After work ends, the neighborhood's pubs and oyster bars come alive. Besides, Barracks Row is one of the most popular spots on Capitol Hill. This is the place to be if you are a foodie! Here you will find top-quality meats, cheeses, and delicious baked goods. On weekends, vendors bring in antiques and crafts.
If you want to feel as if you are watching the political process unfold around you, Capitol Hill is a great place to live.
If you are looking for authentic culture, Chinatown is a fun and eclectic place to visit. A Chinese gate, the Friendship Arch, marks the neighborhood. You will find it at 7th Street and H Street. Chinatown has a total of 20 Asian and Chinese restaurants. This neighborhood is also home to the Capital One Arena.
If you are looking for a more authentic experience of Washington D.C., Chinatown's laid-back, high-end residential atmosphere is a great place to stay. There are also affordable hotels around Chinatown. You can reach Chinatown via the Gallery Place Washington Metro station, Yellow Line.
Georgetown is a thriving neighborhood that offers everything from fun college bars and a riverside promenade with bike paths. Besides, Georgetown University's main campus is the most prominent reason many people know Georgetown. It also houses the embassies of Iceland, Sweden, France, Cameroon, and more.
You'll also find a lot of great restaurants, high-end shops, and bars at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. The Georgetown Park shopping center is also available. If you are looking for the best restaurants, head to the Washington Harbor waterfront. Georgetown is safe and an ideal area to stay for families.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority provides the best public transportation system to get around the city. Most residents and travelers use Metro trains and buses or go on foot. You can even take the Metro bus or train to get into the city from Arlington, Virginia, which is Virginia's nearest airport. However, it is not recommended to rent a car here. This city has been consistently ranked among the most dangerous places to drive. Taxis are also an option.
The city is also served by Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), which is approximately 31 miles northwest. Besides, you can take the MARC Train to Union Station to get to Baltimore/Washington Airport. The Metro is the best option for travel to Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. Take the Metro or the 5A bus from Dulles Airport to get to the city. All airports have taxis and rental cars.
Although you won't encounter significant crime while visiting D.C. as a tourist, it's still wise to be cautious when walking around the city. Be sensible when walking around. Avoid quiet streets, especially if you're alone or not sure where you are going. Also, keep your wallet and purse safe. At night, travelers should be especially cautious in the Southwest areas such as Capitol Hill and Atlas District.