Gone are the days of gritty, dangerous Washington D.C. –in the last two decades, the city has successfully revamped its image, now living up to the thriving, cosmopolitan expectations that one might have of the capital of the U.S.A.
What to see and do
Most visitors gravitate towards the Mall, the stretch of green space at the heart of D.C. Most of its iconic monuments and museums are here. It was planned to connect Capitol Building with the monuments of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the respective founder and rescuer of the republic. Consequently, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Junior, and several war memorials were added.
The other draw of the Mall is the Smithsonian, an extraordinary collection of free public museums of all types and sizes. See an IMAX movie at the National History Museum, or view collections of U.S spacecraft at the Air Space Museum, both public favourites. Finish off a tour with the White House and the U.S Supreme court for a fuller understanding of the division of power in the United States.
Now that you’ve ticked the tourist boxes, you can see the real D.C. North central is the hip side of town where one would frequent for live music and night haunts. Visit the Brewmaster’s Castle, the Victorian mansion of a successful real estate baron Christian Heurich. He kept at the brewtill the ripe old age of 102! Walk down Little Ethiopia in Shaw, for lip-smacking morsels. Shaw is also the heart of Washington’
Walk down Little Ethiopia in Shaw, for lip-smacking morsels. Shaw is also the heart of Washington’s music scene. Institutions such as the Lincoln and Howard Theatres and the Bohemian Caverns are all established here.
West is best known for Georgetown, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in D.C. Located on Potomac River, it was a major port in colonial times. Today, its vibrancy takes a modern twist with upscale shops and restaurants sitting alongside beautiful old homes on cobblestone streets. Visit the university, take a boat trip on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal or admire the neoclassical architecture of Tudor Place, a historic house and garden.
Lastly, continuing east from Capitol Building brings you on to Capitol Hill, a quintessential Washingtonian neighbourhood. Barracks Row, chartered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program, is the fruit of an intentional effort to revitalise struggling commercial areas, and is well reputed as a restaurant and shopping destination.
Visitors can get around via the metro rail and metrobus, the latter serving reaching locations not served by the former. The metro operates from 5am to midnight on weekdays and 7am to 3am on weekends. D.C. has one of the highest taxi-to-citizen ratios in America, and all taxis run by meter.
Getting to Washington
There are three international airports that one can fly into: Washington Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall. The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is the closest to the city centre, but serves only destinations in the United States. However, at all three airports, metro services, super shuttles and taxi services will bring you into the city. From within America, Amrak trains, Greyhound and Megabus are all convenient ways of getting into D.C.