Washington DC

Washington DC

  • Washington DC

    The capital of the USA, Washington, is also a major holiday destination. This vast and attractive city is an impressive sight, full of monuments, museums, buildings of interest and public parks. The East Coast city is defined by the Potomac River which runs from north west to south east. Washington is a fairly flat landscape with a few raised areas rising from the river level. The best know high spots are Jenkins Hill and Mount St Alban, the former is home to the Capitol, ie Capitol Hill, the other the National Cathedral. The main industry is administration and government but the city benefits hugely from tourism as well. It is a city which has something to offer everyone, not least in its abundant fine restaurants, bars and entertainment centres.

  • Travel

    Washington National Airport handles most of the city's domestic traffic and is accessible by the Metro subway. Washington Dulles International Airport 25 miles to the west serves longer distant flights. Baltimore Washington International is the other air alternative. Regular bus services connect the city with all three airports. Good train services, including Amtrak high speed services, connect New York to Washington at the historic Union station. Bus services, including the legendary Greyhound, regularly connect Washington to everywhere in the US. Washington is circled by The Beltway, a 60 mile circle motorway and the city can be entered by car by several major access roads. Driving can be challenging in and out of Washington due to its complex network of junctions and multi lane high speed highways.

  • Climate

    Washington's weather is humid year round, often oppressive in summer and cold in winter. Spring is a good season to visit although the most popular with tourists. Autumn is also pleasant and worth considering as there are fewer tourists to compete with for museums and accommodations.

  • Did You Know?

    Washington DC became the nation's capital on December 1 1800. The name stems from George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

  • Accommodation

    The quality of hotels and motels in the Washington area varies widely so it is best to research carefully your choice of accommodation. City centre hotels are more convenient for the major tourist sights. There are no camping or trailer park areas within the district of Columbia but there are several youth hostels. For these there is no age restriction but you must be a member to use them.

  • Safety

    Washington is an immaculate city in many ways with high standards of politeness and hospitality but like many major cities in the world it is best to take sensible precautions and safeguard valuables at all times. Avoid sparsely populated areas or any districts you feel unsafe.

  • History and Culture

    The role of Washington has grown significantly since World War Two and its population has steadily expanded upwards of 3.5 million. Since the sixties the Federal Government began huge growth in its role of dispenser of public services. Washington is the headquarters of America, the world leading superpower, and its central population is made up of thousands of diplomats, federal workers, journalists and lawyers, creating an atmosphere of power and influence unique in the world. With such a high powered population inevitably the city boasts a seriously impressive array of theatres, museums and galleries to visit as well as the numerous public buildings of note.

  • Recommended Sights and Attractions

    Capitol Hill

    The most important building in the US. It stands on the most prominent hill ensuring it is visible all over downtown. George Washington laid the cornerstone in 1793. The Senate and House held their first joint sessions in 1800.

    Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts

    On New Hampshire Ave on the banks of the river you can see leading international theatre, music and dance in a dramatic building in a dramatic location.

    J Edgar Hoover FBI Building

    The home of the world's most famous police intelligence agency. Organised tours reveal the history of the fight against organised crime and espionage.

    Ford's Theatre

    President Lincoln was shot here in 1865 but performances and musicals can still be enjoyed in the 740 seat auditorium.

    Jefferson Memorial

    On the south bank of the tidal basin John Russell Pope designed this memorial which was dedicated to Thomas Jefferson in 1943.[/P]

    National Archives

    Home of the nation's most important documents. The original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights are all here. The classical building is by John Russell Pope and opened in 1934.

    Supreme Court

    Near Capitol Hill this stunning classical building was completed in 1935 and hosts the most important legal battles in the land.

    White House

    Stately mansion which has been home to every US president except George Washington, who died before it was completed. Irish architect James Hoburn based his plan on Leinster Hall in Dublin.

    National Cathedral

    Magnificent place of worship atop Mount St Alban known as the 'last of the great cathedrals' due to it being cut in stone with traditional working methods.

    National Gallery Of Art

    Includes major gallery of Italian art and sculpture including work by Leonardo Da Vinci.

    Freer Gallery Of Art

    Major collection of art from the Middle East and Asia. Includes Japanese screens, Persian miniatures and Chinese paintings.

    National Air and Space Museum

    Celebration of the evolution of aviation and space travel. This gigantic museum includes Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis which hangs from the ceiling.

    Washington Monument

    This 555 foot high marble obelisk was designed by Robert Mills. The top can be reached by elevator and provides impressive views.

    Library of Congress

    This beautiful renaissance style building hosts the largest national library in the world. It also provides good views from its top floor café.

    Lincoln Memorial

    Very impressive memorial building in the Greek classical style. The statue of Lincoln is 19ft high made from 28 blocks of marble.