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Insiders Guide to Washington DC

National Mall Washington
White House Washington
View of Washington
Embassy Washington
Alexandria Washington
Georgetown Washington
Old Ebbitt Grill Washington
Washington Museum

Insiders Guide to Washington DC

story by: Tom Ricketts

1) TAKE A STROLL DOWN NATIONAL MALL
This large strip of parkland runs right through the middle of the city and most of her major attractions are located on its fringes including the State Capitol, the White House, the Washington Monument, several Smithsonian museums, and the Lincoln Memorial.
HOT Tip: Ask your House of Travel consultant about cycling tours which make it much easier to get around and are heaps of fun.


2) HELLO MR PRESIDENT
Yes! It’s actually possible to visit the White House! We very much doubt you’ll bump into the president, or anyone important for that matter, but you never know…
HOT Tip: Visits must be organised at least three weeks in advance, but of course it takes a long time to organise (give yourself at least two months). To do so, contact your respective embassy in Washington.


3) ADMIRE THE VIEW
Washington DC is full off parks and beautifully designed buildings, but due to zoning restrictions, lacks the skyscrapers of neighbours like New York and Philadelphia. However, viewing decks are available at the Washington Monument, the Washington National Cathedral and the Old Post Office Pavilion.
HOT Tip: The Old Post Office Pavilion lacks the queues of the other two viewing platforms and has views of the Washington Monument and even the Pentagon across the river.


4) GET BEHIND THE SCENES IN A REAL EMBASSY
Usually the only time you need to visit an embassy is if you’ve lost your passport, or if you’ve been really naughty! However in 2014 nearly 30 embassies in Washington opened their doors for an open day that was so popular, it’s now an annual event. It’s only European embassies participating at this stage, but we’re sure the Kiwis will get in on the fun in coming years.
HOT Tip: Most embassies have a supply of their national delicacies for you to try. Visit the Spanish for some tapas, wash those down with wine from the French, and finish it off with some chocolate from the Belgians!


5) EXPLORE THE SUBURBS
Before the city of Washington was established, several small towns already existed in the area. Today they’ve been swallowed up by the urban sprawl of the city, but still retain their historic charm and character.
HOT Tip: Two of our favourites are Alexandria and Georgetown.


6) DINNER AND DRINKS AT THE OLD EBBITT GRILL
Established in 1896, the Old Ebbitt Grill is Washington’s oldest restaurant and bar. Many presidents have enjoyed a drink here, and its award winning restaurant is still one of the finest in town.
HOT Tip: Ask to take a peek at the private dining room downstairs, decorated with beautiful paintings and antique furniture.


7) MUSEUMS, MUSEUMS, MUSEUMS
DC is home to an absolute plethora of museums. Over 200 to be more exact. Some popular options include the International Spy Museum, the awesome Newseum, and of course, the Smithsonian’s collection of 19 different museums.
HOT Tip: Read all about our favourite museums here.

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