“The American Experience” is exactly what visitors can expect when they arrive in “The Federal City” of the USA. This is Washington, DC to a T, thanks to its history, culture, waterfront and parks. The two miles of the National Mall contain some of the country’s most famous monuments and memorials, while neighboring Capitol Hill is the center of America’s political life. The 100-square mile diamond-shaped national capital is formed by the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, separating it to the west from Virginia and surrounding it to the east, north, and south by Maryland.
A total of 19 percent of Washington, DC’s area is made up of parks that are popular for hiking, and biking, while its waterfront areas are ideal for canoeing and paddle boating and watching the beautiful cherry blossoms in summer. The National Mall is known as a spot for protests, pigeons, monuments, and museums, but it is also a great place for a picnic, a jog, or a game of Frisbee. In the winter, visitors can enjoy ice skating outside of the National Gallery of Art, while in the summer visitors can enjoy a mule-drawn canal boat ride through the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Washington, DC is busiest in the summer months so reservations are highly recommended for ensuring suitable accommodations, though rates can be at their highest. Georgetown and West End offer the most expensive accommodations, while the somewhat overlooked Capitol Hill area has some great smaller hotels and local bed and breakfasts. Hot dogs straight from a stand is a culinary tradition, as is fresh crabs and fish from the Waterfront area, though cuisine from nearly any country in the world can be savored here.
Taking a scenic drive along the George Washington Memorial Parkway is recommended, as is walking or cycling along the Mount Vernon Trail or the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Across the river is the city of Alexandria, which is home to close to 4,000 historical buildings, while Arlington is home to the Pentagon and the resting place of John F Kennedy, the Arlington National Cemetery.
Washington DC has four distinct seaons: in the winter the temperature drops to a frigid 38-degrees F, and in the summer it can soar to as high as 100-degrees F. Spring and fall are generally warm, although once in a while the city will get swamped by a passing hurricane (so definitely bring some rain gear of you plan on visiting during hurricane season). Despite this Spring and fall are still the most popular time for American tourists to visit the capitol because of the gorgeous cherry blossoms of spring, and the vivid colors of fall. Washington DC is relatively empty during winter, so the museums are relatively empty and there is ample room for ice-skating in the National Mall.
Virginia’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is the closest airport to DC and is connected by its extensive metro system. Visitors that arrive by car usually do so via the I-95 from Baltimore (Maryland) or Richmond (Virginia). Amtrak trains arrive at Union Station from all over the country, while commuter trains link it to suburbs and cities in both Maryland and Virginia.
- Soak up spectacular views of the city from the Fort Stanton Overlook
- Enjoy a picnic at the National Mall while gazing at the White House
- Walk around the National Zoo
- Bike along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
- Go ice skating in the National Mall’s sculpture garden
- Paddle boat around the Tidal Basin
- Gaze at world-class art collections at the National Museum of Art
- Browse through funky boutiques along U Street