Monuments and memorials, eclectic neighbourhoods, true local flavour – Washington, DC is a place unlike any other. Many people think DC starts and ends with the federal government, but this 68-square-mile city has so much more – and it’s at the top of its game. Michelin-starred masterpieces. Pre-Broadway premieres. Hands-on history. Find out what the District is really all about. Here’s our top seven things to see and do.
1. TAKE A STROLL DOWN THE NATIONAL MALL
Join the many visitors that have made the National Mall the most visited National Park in the United States. This large strip of parkland runs right through the middle of the city and most of the major attractions are located on its fringes including the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Washington Monument, FREE Smithsonian Institution museums, and the Lincoln Memorial.
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The National Mall area is quite large, so a bike tour is a great way to get to the main monuments and memorials. The biking is easy as it is all flat and you will get some great local insights from your guide. Ask your local House of Travel consultant about an evening bike tour where the crowds are less dense, the weather is cooler and the views of the illuminated monuments are magnificent.
2. UNIQUE FESTIVALS
You won’t want to miss the signature events and festivals – many of which are family-friendly and free to attend – that take place every year in Washington, DC. The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the arrival of spring in DC with over 3,000 blooming cherry blossom trees and a celebration festival to honour American and Japanese cultures. The trees generally bloom between mid-March and mid-April and are absolutely beautiful. Passport DC is a month-long festival in May that pays tribute to Washington, DC's thriving international culture. As part of the festival, the first two Saturdays in May are devoted to embassy open houses. Thanks to this only-in-DC experience, you can step inside a foreign embassy with the Around the World Embassy Tour and the EU Open House.
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The National Cherry Blossom Festival will run between 20 March – 13 April 2020 and there are lots of family-friendly activities and exciting events on during this time all over the city. If you are travelling to Washington, DC during this time make sure you book your accommodation well in advance to avoid missing out.
3. ADMIRE THE VIEW
Washington, DC is full of green parks and beautifully designed buildings, all of which are easily viewable due to a building height restriction in the city. Viewing decks are available at the Washington National Cathedral and at the National Park Service’s Old Post Office Pavilion. The Washington Monument also includes a viewing deck however, this is closed to visitors until August 2019 due to construction. The unobstructed skyline also allows for rooftop dining and nightlife opportunities that are truly only in DC experiences.
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While the Old Post Office Pavilion has been converted into a luxury hotel the Clock Tower observation deck with panoramic views of the city is still open to the public.
4. THE CULINARY CAPITAL
When you visit Washington, DC, you’ll experience a dining scene as colorful and eclectic as America itself. The District is rolling in accolades, as the city received its second Michelin Guide and was named restaurant city of the year by Bon Appétit and hottest food city by Zagat in 2016. That means you can expect each meal at every restaurant to be different. From crave-worthy dishes served by celebrity chefs to chili-smothered half-smokes served at a diner, DC’s local flavor has one thing in common: it’s all delicious.
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Washington, DC’s global community lends the dining experience to be truly authentic. While in town, delight in Ethiopian food – being home to the most concentrated number of Ethiopians outside of Africa, this is truly a worthwhile experience.
5. EXPLORE THE REAL DC
Venture further afield and make your own discoveries in some of the diverse neighbourhoods that make up Washington, DC. Live like a local by seeking out some of the best bars, shops, markets and restaurants outside of the tourist hot-spots.
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U Street is a buzzing area that used to be famous for its incredible jazz bars, and there are still some great jazz bars to discover. From here walk down 14th Street towards Logan Circle and you’ll be spoilt for dinner choice as this is a vibrant area with loads of eateries. Ask your local House of Travel consultant about a food tour to make sure you visit all the good spots. Georgetown is another one of our favourite suburbs boasting beautiful mansions, tree lined streets, high-end shops, riverfront restaurants and the picturesque Georgetown University. Make sure you pick up a sweet treat from Georgetown Cupcake.
6. ENJOY THE WATERFRONTS
When visiting Washington, DC, hop on a water taxi or river cruise and plan to take advantage of one of the nation’s greatest collections of riverfront communities. Reinvigorated waterfronts are connecting the city back to the water at The Wharf and Capitol Riverfront. Take advantage of the water activities and kayak, paddle board, or enjoy the monuments on a sightseeing cruise.
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The Wharf has transformed into one of DC’s most exciting waterfront destinations. The area features an accessible riverfront, including four different piers, 20 restaurants and 3 live concert halls.
7. MUSEUMS, MUSEUMS, MUSEUMS
Washington, DC is home to an absolute plethora of world-class museums. Some popular options include the International Spy Museum which on 12 May opened its doors at a brand-new, purpose built building at L'Enfant Plaza, the awesome Museum of Women in the Arts, and of course, the Smithsonian Institution’s collection of 17 FREE different museums and the National Zoo.
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Children and adults alike will enjoy the Superheroes exhibition at the National Museum of American History on until 02 September 2019.