Washington, DC is the capital of the United States and the seat of all legislative, administrative and judicial branches of government. However, this unique “district within a state” offers far more than government alone. This city is host to a wide spectrum of attractions as well as some of the best restaurants, pubs, theaters and museums in the world. As it is so vital to the country, arriving here is quite easy from any major city.
The Best Times to Visit Washington, DC
There is indeed no “wrong” time to visit Washington, DC. However, there are some useful guidelines to keep in mind. The summer will naturally offer the best climate; particularly for those who are not keen on the snow (it can get quite cold here). It is still a fact that the holidays are extremely popular due to the parades and other festive events. As a general rule of thumb, the majority of visitors will arrive between April and November of each year.
Washington, DC is very close to New York and flight times are usually no more than one hour. It is also very common for direct flights to be chosen. The primary airport that serves this metropolitan area is Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport (DCA). It is found only 3 miles to the south in Arlington, Virginia. The other hub is Washington Dulles International Airport. This option is located 26 miles from the city and generally caters to international flights although some domestic services apply. The main airlines which provide travel to and from include Jet Blue, US Airways, Delta and American Airlines (they have a massive hub at Dulles).
Most arriving here will tend to want to stay close to the Smithsonian and the National Mall. Therefore, it is likely that tourists will choose a hotel located within the East End of the city. However, we should note that convenience is often more important than the landmarks themselves (as the city is quite large). Those who prefer to be within walking distance to mass transit options such as subways will therefore opt for hotels found within districts such as Dupont Circle or Logan Circle. The neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and the West end are known to be upper-class options for those who have a bit more money. Examples such as the world famous Willard Hotel are testament to the high standards of service offered with such a choice.
Things to do in Washington, DC
From a visual point of view, many visitors will first select the National Mall as their primary destination. This section of the city is home to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial while the White House is literally a stone’s throw away. Other monuments that are excellent examples of a divers history as well as unsurpassed photo opportunities include the massive reflecting pool, the World War 2 Memorial and the Declaration of Independence Memorial.
As mentioned previously, there are countless museums to enjoy while here. Some of the most notable are the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History. For those who are technologically inclined, the National Air and Space Museum is not to be missed. One of the most common misconceptions is that the Smithsonian is actually separate from these. In fact, these are but a few different components of the Smithsonian as a whole. There are a total of 19 different museums all within close proximity to the aforementioned National Mall.
While the center of Washington, DC is certainly impressive, there are other areas worthwhile exploring. The Tidal Basin district is a perfect example. During the summer, there are numerous parks here which can provide a breath of fresh air away from other tourist-laden locations. There are also some very interesting attractions to be seen. A handful of examples include the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (it is even possible to visit here!), the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the famous Jefferson Memorial. Visiting hours will vary, so it is always best to plan ahead.