Not to be confused with the United States’ Washington State in the West Coast, Washington D.C. is the country’s capital located on the East Coast, in the District of Columbia. Washington D.C. is a territory of the US named after George Washington, the country’s first President. Nestled along the Potomac River and sharing borders with the states of Virginia and Maryland, Washington D.C. is where the hub of the US Government is located, including the three branches of the federal government — Capitol, Supreme Court, and the White House where the President of the United States resides. It also hosts the world’s important financial organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Characterized by impressive neoclassical buildings and historic monuments, Washington D.C. is also home to must-visit museums and performing arts venues including the iconic John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Visitors looking for fun need not fret for Washington D.C. offers a wide variety of exciting shopping, dining and nightlife.
1. World-Class Performing Arts and MusicWashington D.C., a certified theater town, has a sophisticated and cosmopolitan performing arts and music vibe that all artists and culture vultures will love. After all, it has produced world-class acts such as the National Symphony Orchestra and Washing Ballet, for instance. Whether it’s big venues like the Kennedy Center and National Theater, or something more cozy and intimate such as the Shakespeare Theather Company and the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, visitors will have some memorable performing arts experience while in town. Music lovers will sing paeans to the town where jazz legengs Duke Ellington, David Grohl, and Chuck Brown were discovered. Whether it’s blues jamming at Pearl Street Warehouse or indie music at Union Stage, there is no dearth to musical treats here.
2. Easy Public TransportationWashington D.C. is commuter friendly with lots of options for public transportation. It is said that 37% of people in the district commute to work using public transportation, making it the second highest in the country in public transport-riding population. Quite a number of people also choose to walk to work, or use the bicycle. Tourists wanting to visit Washington D.C. will need to be familiar with the City Rapid Transit System and the Metrobus. There are 86 stations spanning about 106 miles of tracks in the metro system, with an average of a million trips daily. Metrobus, meanwhile, takes in more than 400,000 daily commuters. Besides three airports, the district is also home to the Union Station, which gets an average of 70,000 commuters daily. Other options for visitors wanting to see the sights all over town are hop-on-hop-off bus services and bus tours. One of the more fun ways of experiencing the town is via pedicabs, or bicycle rickshaws, plying National Mall and nearby places. The rickshaws can accommodate up to three adults with extra room for children under 10 years of age, who could sit on laps and squeeze into extra spaces.
3. Plenty of Museum ToursWashington D.C. is one of those places where a visitor who is also a museum buff can spend hours upon hours going from one museum after the other. The district is home to the nation’s highly valued museums and historic monuments, many of which are open free to the public. Located at the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art adjacent to the Sculpture Garden has massive collections of priceless art pieces, including 75,000 prints and illustrated books. The National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History are must-visits. The Holocaust Museum is a somber reminder of the world’s recent past and how humanity should not make the same mistakes again. The district’s East End boasts the National Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum and the National Archives, while the West End has the Kennedy Center and Textile Museum, among others.
Washington Tourist Spots
1. Downtown Washington D.C.: An Epic Epicenter of HistoryThe downtown of Washington D.C. offers a variety of attractions one of the primary ones being the National Mall, an area that runs through the Capitol Hill, Washington Monument, White House, and the Lincoln Memorial. This National Park is a picturesque two-mile stretch consisting of a sprawling parkland area comprising of a cluster of the city’s iconic monuments as well as the world-famous Smithsonian museums. This is where the a variety of memorials, such as the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Vietnam War memorials can be found, as well as a host of free museums and US government buildings. Located at the West End part of the district are George Washington University and the Kennedy Center, while the East End offers both cultural attractions and Chinatown. For some leisurely activities, the Waterfront offers some nice open-air seafood market.
2. Smithsonian Museums: One-of-a-Kind Museum Cluster ExperienceThe Smithsonian Museum clusters are one of those attractions that any tourist can’t miss. The massive collection and tons of information one can get from said museums are simply jaw dropping. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has over 126 million artifacts on display and receives millions of visitors each year. Here replicas of giant whales decorate a 23,000-square foot of space, while the David Koch Hall of Human Origins takes visitors back to more than 6 million years of human history. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum offers amazing exhibits such as Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis plane and Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 58. The Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservatory Biology Institute has over 1,500 animals on display in its 163-acre space.
3. Arlington National Cemetery: A Peaceful, Reflective RespiteLocated in Arlington, Virginia across the Potomac River, the Arlington National Cemetery is often pictured in print publications and photographs as a sprawling green space filled with white crosses all symmetrically arranged. The one-square mile area is where more than 400,000 soldiers, veterans, and their families are buried and honored. Tourists are welcome to visit the John F. Kennedy Gravesite, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Memorial Amphitheater. They can avail of the Trolley Tour, which stops at the cemetery’s top sites. One important thing to remember is to be respectful as you visit the cemetery and its monuments.