Looking to visit the capital? We share tips for vacationing in Washington DC including the best time to visit & things to do in D.C.
Established as the capital of the U.S in 1790 and home to the White House, Washington D.C is an amazing city to visit. Best known for its museums and memorials it is also recognized as one of the most educational destinations in the U.S.
Whether you enjoy the outdoors, want to soak up a bit of history, or are looking for a fabulous family vacation destination, it has something for everyone. Here are some things to consider when vacationing in D.C.
Reasons to visit Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. is one of the most visited cities in the USA and for good reason. There are plenty of historic landmarks, a dozen of interesting museums, and amazing food.
Visiting in Spring will offer glorious blue skies and beautiful cherry blossoms, along with a mixture of culture, music, film, and art festivals.
Washington D.C. is also a hub of amazing flavors. You can expect food from all over the world; check out Kyirisan for a fusion of French and Chinese food whilst Thip Khao offers spicy Laotian food. You can also tour local distilleries or sample craft brews at one of the many happy hours on offer around the city.
Best time to visit Washington D.C.
The best time to visit Washington is during April and May, when the city is full of Cherry Blossoms. March to May and September to November offer cool, pleasant weather with fewer tourists too.
As with most places in America, July to August is the high season for tourists and the city gets very hot.
Visiting in the fall before Thanksgiving is the cheapest time to head to Washington DC and hotels drop in price between Thanksgiving to New Year too but check the weather forecast when planning a trip.
Getting to and from the airport
Whilst there are 3 major airports serving Washington D.C. Washington Dulles airport, located in Virginia approx. 26 miles away, is the primary international airport for this region.
Around 40 airlines operate non-stop flights to and from Dulles International Airport (IAD). The airport has a dedicated access road making getting to and from it fairly easy by car, taxi or shuttle.
If, however, you want to travel more comfortably and add a bit of luxury to your journey then you might want to consider booking an IAD car service. A chauffeur-driven vehicle will collect you from the airport and take you straight to your destination.
Where to stay in Washington D.C.
You will never be short of accommodation choices when it comes to staying in D.C. There are hundreds of hotels and other venues offering differing levels of accommodation to suit all budgets.
Downtown D.C is a great choice if you want to be in the heart of the city. There are many galleries, museums, and historical locations to visit nearby. Dupont Circle area is very popular due to its proximity to an eclectic mix of restaurants.
It also hosts a great range of bars and shops, and many museums are within easy reach. It is a good idea to research the many different areas within the city so you can narrow things down.
Getting around Washington D.C.
Whilst D.C is very walkable, there are also some good public transport options available. The Metrorail and Metrobus services are cheap and accessible to all.
Metrorail, the local underground, operates daily. With 6 lines and around 91 stations, it makes getting around very quick and easy. The Metrobus offers return services out with the city should you want to go slightly further afield.
Outdoor attractions in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C hosts thousands of museums and other indoor activities but there are many things you can do outdoors too. Whether you enjoy hiking, want to rent cycles for the day or just want to wander around some of the city’s beautiful parks, there are a host of different outdoor attractions to choose from.
The National Arboretum is almost 450 acres in size and has a wonderful array of flora and fauna on display as well as many beautiful walks. Spanning around 163 acres, Smithsonian’s National Zoo is one of the country’s oldest zoos. You can see thousands of animals there, the most famous being the giant pandas. It’s guaranteed to be a great day out for adults and children alike.
Visit during the Spring to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms in Washington DC or visit in the Winter for festive vibes.
Best things to do in Washington D.C.
Lincoln Memorial – As one of the most iconic monuments in the world, history buffs must make a visit to the Lincoln Memorial. The entrance is free and we recommend visiting in the evening when the monument is lit and there are fewer crowds.
Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials – This is a moving memorial, often referred to as ‘the wall’; a long balaclava wall with more than 58,000 names of those that lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial – Alongside the Tidal Basin, is the 30-foot granite memorial of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is a powerful memorial and beautiful designed so make sure to visit this during your time in D.C.
The White House and the Washington Monument – These two famous landmarks and symbols of the free world, the White House and the Washington Monument are must visits for every visitor to Washington D.C. Head up the glass-encased elevators of the Washington Monument, to get 360 degree views of the city then head over to the White House to appreciate the grand design of this iconic building.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – This space museum is home to a variety of aircraft exhibits, including Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B and Orville right’s 1903 Wright Flyer.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – With other 126 million artefacts on display, this natural history museum is one of the best in the world. Visit the Butterfly Pavilion, experience the IMAX Theatre and see the replicas of giant whales.
World War II Memorial – Over 400,000 Americans died during the Second World War and this memorial offers visitors time to stop, reflect and remember. Stand in the circle of 56 pillars, looking over the rainbow pool and take in the calm environment this memorial brings with it.
National Archives Museum – Visit the treasure trove os United States founding documents at the National Archives Museum. Here you can see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Arlington National Cemetery – Head across the river from Washington D.C. to visit this beautiful cemetery. Spanning almost 1 square mile, here you will find the final rest place of more than 400,00 service members, veterans and their families, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the John F. Kennedy gravesite.
The Tidal Basin – Spend an afternoon walking along the Tidal Basin, a 2 mile long pond that offers views of some of the best sites in Washington D.C. During the spring and summer months, you can rent a paddle boat to explore the waters a little more.
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What to pack
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