Flights to Washington D.C. (DCA, IAD)
It's the proud capital of the United States of America, a fact that’s abundantly clear every time you visit its glorious monuments. Drive along the Potomac River, take in the majestic Lincoln Memorial, marvel at the stunning simplicity of the National Monument - not to mention the iconic Capitol building - and you will be awed.
But this is a living city, too - a travel destination with premier universities like Georgetown and George Washington. And it’s got world-class shopping with a modern design center downtown as well as shopping streets dedicated to furniture and accessories, antiques and fashion.
And then there are the museums - for fine arts, decorative arts, beaux arts, fashion, culture, textile, history and international art. It’s a melting pot in microcosm, making it a very big small town. Visit a restaurant or attend an art show, and you may feel a little like a resident because they are not blasé. They appreciate that they reside in an area rich in cultural and entertainment opportunities.
The Washington, D.C. area has two major airports to choose from. Ronald Reagan National Airport is located just outside the District in Arlington, Virginia ¾ a quick three miles south of downtown. Dulles International Airport is 26 miles west of downtown in Chantilly, Virginia. While Reagan National Airport primarily serves as a “short-haul” airport, offering non-stop service to destinations within 1,250 miles, Dulles International Airport services farther-flung and international destinations. Both airports feature plenty of shopping and dining choices, along with free WiFi, pet relief areas, charging stations and nursing rooms for mothers.
Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA)
Dulles International Airport (IAD)
THE NATIONAL MALL
In Washington, D.C., the Mall is the place to be. This two-mile stretch of greenbelt - dotted with the city's most important monuments and the legendary Smithsonian museums - is a great place to experience the city.
In 1829, James Smithson, an English chemist, bequeathed his estate to the United States to found in Washington “an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men.” Today the Smithsonian is made up of 19 museums and galleries on the Mall, along with the National Zoo in the Woodley Park neighborhood ¾ all of which charge no admission.
Be sure to visit the National Air and Space Museum, one of the Smithsonian’s most popular establishments, and see the Apollo 11 Command Module and the Spirit of St. Louis among many other exhibits. The National Museum of the American Indian features more than 800,000 objects dedicated to telling the stories of American Indians native to regions ranging from the Andes and Amazon to the Great Plains and the Northwest Coast.
And you won’t want to miss the National Gallery of Art. Though separate from the Smithsonian, it’s also free of charge and located on the Mall. It features one of the finest collections of art in the world, spanning from the Middle Ages to present day.
ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE
Washington is home to storied theatrical institutions including the National Theatre, the Kennedy Center and Ford’s Theatre. Throughout the District you’ll find local bars and music venues that celebrate the city’s close connection to jazz (it was the hometown of jazz pioneer Duke Ellington).
HISTORY & POLITICS
Proximity to power is a theme that’s well associated with Washington. It’s an idea that locals take for granted when their morning commutes are interrupted by the Presidential motorcade. Get a taste of the action by touring the U.S. Capitol or visiting the White House Visitor Center (pro tip: contact your Congressional or State Representative for tickets to a more exclusive tour). And visit the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence and the National Museum of American History to see the flag that inspired the “Star Spangled Banner.”
In recent years, Washington has seen an explosion in its restaurant scene. For upscale dining, hit downtown's West End and East End or trendy food destinations like 14th Street and Shaw; these neighborhoods offer everything from steakhouse power meals to minibar, in Penn Quarter, a one-of-a-kind, communal eatery that serves a 30-course meal. Or head to Capitol Hill and try Rose’s Luxury, recently named the best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit.
D.C. is also the place for international cuisine. You'll find excellent Ethiopian, Chinese, Salvadoran, Italian and Columbian food to satisfy your taste buds. Then treat yourself to the spoils of the capital's cupcake wars. Georgetown Cupcakes’ around-the-block line is proof their confections are a serious business; Baked and Wired or Sprinkles will make you smile, too.
Washington winters are usually chilly with some snow while its summers are hot and humid. Spring and fall, on the other hand, are mild to warm. The former season is famous for bringing with it the blooming cherry blossom trees around the D.C. Tidal Basin. Average winter temperatures are around 38°F and the July daily average temperature is about 80°F.