Washington, D.C. Guide

 Washington, D.C. is one of the most-visited cities in the country for tourism. The National Mall is a main anchor point for tourists to enjoy, providing easy access to the Smithsonian Museums, Capitol Building, White House, and more. Many local neighborhoods offer lots of place to eat, shop, and sleep, allowing visitors to spend all their time inside the capital instead of traveling to and from each day.

 

FAST FACTS ABOUT WASHINGTON, DC

Currency – $USD

Electricity – 110V – Type A & Type B Standard Plugs

Time Zone – Eastern Time Zone (GMT -5 hrs)

Popular Tourism Seasons – The most popular tourism season is June – August as millions of visitors embark on family vacations. The shoulder seasons in May and September are popular for young couples without children or retired couples whose children have flown the nest years ago.

 

GETTING THERE & GETTING AROUND

Primary Airports – Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

Primary Train Stations – Union Station (WAS)

Major Highways – Interstates 95, 66, and 270 pass through the city. Interstate 495, also know as The Beltway, can relatively quickly get you around the outskirts of the city.

Best Transportation – I cannot stress how important public transportation is in Washington, D.C. Flying in and out of the city is easy, but I recommend using Reagan National since it is the only one of the three major airports to have a connection to the DC Metro (subway system). Speaking of the Metro, use it instead of a car. Even if you drive to the city, it is far better to get around using the Metro to access all the tourism attractions and neighborhoods. Amtrak has great service through Union Station, which is also a major hub for the Metro.

 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

 

 

map-dc

 

CHOOSE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Capitol Hill

The Capitol Hill neighborhood includes the Capitol Building, Union Station, and Eastern Market. The Capitol Building has lots to explore around the grounds, which are generally open to the building all the time. Union Station is a hub for just about everything that happens in Washington, D.C.: Amtrak, Metro, shopping, and eating. There are also museums nearby, bicycle rentals, DC Duck Tours, and a place to leave your car if you need to.

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle is one of the infamous roundabouts in the city that was originally designed to humble visiting heads of state. Today it just frustrates visitors who don’t know which lane to be in to make that next right turn. The Dupont Circle area has a few monuments to explore, a fantastic weekend market, and lots of shops and eateries to keep visitors busy for days.

National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is one of the few places in the city you actually need a car to easily access, especially with the miles of roads that meander through the scenic gardens. There is a large visitor center with several themed rooms to explore, and lots of nice places to take a walk.

Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian Institute has always been known for having a long row of museums along The National Mall between the Capitol Building and Washington Monument, and they are adding more. Museums like the National Museum of the American Indian, National Air and Space Museum, and National Museum of Natural History are just a few. The National Zoo is located nearby in part of the Rock Creek Park neighborhood. The National Air and Space Museum Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport is another Smithsonian Museum that would require a car to reach, although plans are in motion to extend the DC Metro to eventually reach this airport.

The National Mall

The National Mall is the heart of tourism in Washington, D.C., attracting millions of visitors a year. Nearly two miles in length, it’s difficult to walk the entire mall area in a single day, but it’s also not necessary. Visitors can rent bicycles by the hour or day, hop on one of the sight seeing buses, or take the public transportation to get around the Mall quickly and easily.

Many of the most popular national monuments are situation on or around the Mall. The Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial anchor one end of the Mall opposite the Capitol Building, with the Washington Monument in between. The Basin is a popular place for paddleboats to get out on the water and enjoy the hiking trail around the edge that takes visitors to the Jefferson Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, and DC War Memorial.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY MAP

Scroll through the map and click on any marker to view photography from that location.

Loading map...

Loading

 

BLOG POSTS MAP

Scroll through the map and click on any marker to view travel stories I have written about that location.

 

RECENT POSTS

Here are a few of the most recent blog posts about Washington, D.C. Click here to view all posts about the state.

Exploring America’s Front Yard at the National Mall

The NPS's National Mall and Memorial Park, known as The National Mall, has a large collection of monuments and memorials dedicated to past presidents and wars.

Going Undercover at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

My name is not Bond, James Bond. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t learn how to be a spy at the International Spy Museum. From real world cameras hidden in brief cases and a German enigma machine to one of Bond’s famous cars and Jaws’ metal teeth, the museum was ready to educate and entertain. […]

A Day at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Everyone knows about the various Smithsonian museums along the National Mall in Washington, D.C. but did you know they also operate the National Zoo? This 163-acre park on a hillside is a thrill to explore with lots of animals from around the world. It’s fairly easy to reach the zoo and even easier to walk […]

My 15 Favorite Travel Photos from Washington, D.C.

For three years in a row I spent a week around my birthday in Washington, D.C. I explored the National Mall and visited several monuments, visited the Smithsonian Museums, found some great local places to eat, and hiked miles and miles. Each year I found something different to do and some new neighborhood to explore. […]

National Mall Monuments: The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

I wish I could have met Martin Luther King, Jr. If he was anything like the monument found along The National Mall in Washington, D.C., he must have been a powerful, imposing man because that is how I felt at the memorial. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is one of the newest in […]

Day Trip: Hiking Around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

Maybe I shouldn’t use the word hiking to describe this little day trip in Washington, D.C. When I think of hiking, I picture the rugged terrain of the Appalachian Trail. Still, this is exactly what you can do around the Tidal Basin while exploring some monuments and memorials, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and learning about […]