The capital city of the USA is home to some of the country’s most important museums, memorials, monuments clustered around the National Mall and The White House, the official residence of the President of the United States. There’s nothing quite like the Smithsonian Institution, a collection of 19 behemoth, artifact-stuffed museums, many lined up in a row along the Mall. The National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, Freer-Sackler Museums of Asian Art – all here, all free, always. Alongside the museums, Washington’s monuments bear tribute to both the beauty and the horror of years past. They’re potent symbols of the American narrative, from the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial to the powerful Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the stirring Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.
Washington is the showcase of American arts, home to such prestigious venues as the National Theatre, the Kennedy Center and the Folger Theatre. Jazz music has a storied history here. In the early 20th century, locals such as Duke Ellington climbed on stages along U St NW, where atmospheric clubs still operate. The president, Congress and the Supreme Court are here, the three pillars of US government. In their orbit float the Pentagon, State Department, World Bank and embassies from most corners of the globe. If you hadn’t got the idea, power is why Washington exerts such a palpable buzz.As a visitor, there’s a thrill in seeing the action up close – to walk inside the White House, to sit in the Capitol chamber while senators argue about Arctic drilling, and to drink in a bar alongside congresspeople likely determining your newest tax hike over their single-malt Scotch.
A lot of history is concentrated within DC’s relatively small confines. In a single day, you could gawp at the Declaration of Independence, the real, live parchment with John Hancock’s, er, John Hancock scrawled across it at the National Archives; stand where Martin Luther King Jr gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on the Lincoln Memorial’s steps; prowl around the Watergate building that got Nixon into trouble; see the flag that inspired the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at the National Museum of American History; and be an arm’s length from where Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theatre.
A homegrown foodie revolution has transformed the once buttoned-up DC dining scene. Driving it is the bounty of farms at the city's doorstep, along with the booming local economy and influx of worldly younger residents. Small, independent, local-chef-helmed spots now lead the way. And they're doing such a fine job that Michelin deemed the city worthy of its stars. When Andrew Jackson swore the oath of office in 1800, the self-proclaimed populist dispensed with pomp and circumstance and, quite literally, threw a raging kegger. Folks got so gone they started looting art from the White House. The historical lesson: DC loves a drink, and these days it enjoys said tipples in many incarnations besides executive-mansion-trashing throwdowns.
With its historical and cultural wealth, stunning scenery, vibrant restaurants and world-class shopping, Washington D.C. is truly an iconic destination.
Things to do
The National Mall
The National Mall symbolises the democratic values and everything that the United States of America stands for. The National Mall is the beautiful green stretch in the middle of the capital city from the foot of the United States Capitol to the Potomac River. It is the premiere civic and symbolic space in the nation. You can see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.
Built to honor George Washington, the United States’ first president, the 555-foot marble obelisk towers over Washington, D.C. George Washington was once the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Located due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, the monument is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk. Tickets are required to visit the interior of the monument.
The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. Built in the form of a Greek Doric temple, the Lincoln Memorial contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” Beneath these words, the 16th President of the United States sits immortalized in marble as an enduring symbol of unity, strength, and wisdom. Many famous speeches were made here, including Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, during the rally at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The U.S. Capitol Building
The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., is a symbol of the American people, their government and representative democracy. It is also the meeting place of the nation’s legislature. The Capitol also houses an important collection of American art, and it is an architectural achievement in its own right. It is an office building and popular tourist attraction. Construction of the U.S. Capitol began in 1793. The United States Capitol is among the most symbolically important and architecturally impressive buildings in the nation. It has housed the meeting chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate for two centuries.
The White House
Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, The White House is one of the world’s most famous buildings. You could plan a visit to learn more about its art and architecture and the Presidents and First Ladies who have lived there.
West Potomac Park
West Potomac Park is a U.S. national park in Washington, D.C., located next to the National Mall. It includes the parkland that extends south of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, from the Lincoln Memorial to the grounds of the Washington Monument. You can visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and the surrounding land on the shore of the Tidal Basin, an artificial inlet of the Potomac River created in the 19th century that links the Potomac with the northern end of the Washington Channel.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial in Washington, D.C., in honor of Thomas Jefferson, (1743–1826), one of the most important of the American Founding Fathers. He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the first Secretary of State for the United States of America. The neoclassical Memorial building on the Tidal Basin off the Washington Channel of the Potomac River was designed by the architect John Russell Pope and built by the Philadelphia contractor John McShain. Construction of the building began in 1939 and was completed in 1943. The bronze statue of Jefferson was added in 1947. Dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on April 13, 1943, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial stands in a straight line with the White House.
World War II Memorial
The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004 and was dedicated one month later on May 29. It is located on 17th Street, between Constitution and Independence Avenues with the Washington Monument to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west. It is dedicated to the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people. The Second World War is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the National Mall’s central axis.
The Smithsonian Institution
Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities. Some significant places to visit include the Air & Space Museum, The American Art Museum, The American History Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, The National Zoo, The Natural History Museum and The National Portrait Gallery.
U.S. Botanic Garden
The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is a living plant museum that informs visitors about the importance and value of plants to earth’s fragile ecosystems and overall well-being of mankind. More than 200 years ago, George Washington had a vision for the capital city of the United States that included a botanic garden that would demonstrate and promote the importance of plants to the young nation. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1820, the U.S. Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America.
Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral is a place for spiritual enrichment and an architectural feat of stunning beauty. Whether you come for worship, a tour, concert, pilgrimage, or an insightful program, it is a place open to all—it is open to you.
Ford’s Theatre celebrates the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln and enriches the American experience through theatre and education. A working theatre, historical monument, museum and educational center,it is the best way to discover and commemorate Lincoln’s ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.
The Lounge at BOURBON STEAK invites guests to relax before their meal or indulge in a cocktail and a few tempting dishes to cap off the day. Chic, yet casual and warm, our bar is the ideal place for meeting friends and colleagues in Georgetown. Guests are surrounded by luxurious details including stained white oak flooring, leather topped tables and ceilings, with custom tables and leather-framed mirrors at the end of the Marrone marble-top bar. Enjoy the view of the urban garden and courtyard as you unwind at the bar, choose from a seasonal selection of finger foods, small bites and platters for sharing, and even order from the full lunch, dinner and dessert menus. Complement your meal with 25 wines by the glass, or a classic handcrafted cocktail incorporating fresh ingredients and premium small-batch spirits. A wide collection of rare Scotches, bourbons and cognacs is also available.
As the only Forbes five star rated restaurant in Washington, DC, Plume at The Jefferson hotel serves as a discreet and elegant backdrop to the artistry of our award-winning culinary team. Choose a cozy nook or a table by our inviting fireplace as you savor classic dishes crafted using traditional techniques and seasonal fine dining restaurant menus that are inspired by the harvest from Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen gardens at Monticello.
The Source by Wolfgang Puck
The Source by Wolfgang Puck has re-opened after a month-long interior redesign, featuring a renovated lounge and dining room, and new elements including a custom designed hot pot table for four and a special chef’s tasting menu counter for two. In the dining room, guests are now able to book a four person hot pot table experience. The custom table was designed by woodworker Art Drauglis, and features Chef Drewno’s 20-hour aromatic broth made with chicken feet, pork ribs, beef and chicken bones, whole chicken, Sichuan peppercorns, chilies and chili oil. As an homage to traditional Chinese hot pot found throughout the Sichuan region, Chef Drewno guides guests through an interactive tasting menu in which they participate in the preparation of the meal which features a progression of wagyu beef, pork belly, local rockfish, wild mushrooms, noodles and dumplings, coursed to build maximum flavor throughout the meal. Each hot pot comes with “hot pot enhancers,” such as house-made chili paste, soy sauce, sesame paste, and Sichuan peppercorns.
The weather is often warm during the day—in fact, if you are here in early fall, it may seem entirely too warm. But it cools off, and even gets a bit crisp, at night. By late October, Washington has traded its famous greenery for the brilliant colors of fall foliage.
People like to say that Washington winters are mild. But D.C. winters can be unpredictable: bitter cold one day, an ice storm the next, followed by a couple of days of sun and higher temperatures.
Early spring weather tends to be colder than most people expect. Cherry blossom season, late March to early April, can very often be rainy and windy. As April slips into May, the weather usually mellows, and people’s moods with it. Late spring is especially lovely, with mild temperatures and intermittent days of sunshine, flowers, and trees colorfully erupting in gardens and parks all over town. Washingtonians sweep outdoors to stroll the National Mall, relax on park benches, or laze away the afternoon at outdoor cafes.
Anyone who has ever spent July and August in D.C. will tell you how hot and steamy it can be. Though the buildings are air-conditioned, many of Washington’s attractions, like the memorials and organized tours, are outdoors and unshaded, and the heat can quickly get to you. Make sure you stop frequently for drinks (vendors are plentiful), and wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
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