Washington D.C.

Foggy Bottom, Pentagon, Friendship Heights, Crystal City & Arlington Cemetery, these are some of the names of Washington D.C.’s metro stops. Once I’ve successfully used public transport in a city, it’s then that I start to feel smug, lift my head high, and begin to assume the identity of an accomplished traveler. 

Actually, an 11-year-old could navigate the D.C metro it’s so simple! But don’t spend the whole time travelling underground when it’s such a lovely city to walk across. Unlike London, New York or Paris the pavements (or sidewalks) are really generously wide and I would describe the city as having a calm atmosphere. Perhaps it’s because there are so many museums and attractions you can see FOR FREE!
I was there in December with pleasantly cool, crisp weather allowing us to stroll around enjoying the sights without the humidity I hear is a challenge in the summer months. There seems to be a heck of a lot of SPACE – to me as a Londoner anyway. And every one drives monster cars.
There is far less graffiti, rubbish and hussle-and-bussle than what I’m used to here in South East London! Disclosure... My in-laws work in D.C. and live in neighbouring Virginia so I’m lucky enough to have visited a number of times and have a real soft spot for it.
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Here are my absolute favourite things to do there:

 

  • Monuments at the Tidal Basin
  • The White House
  • Capitol Hill Tour
  • American History Museum
  • The National Zoo
  • Wander around Georgetown
  • Abraham Lincoln Assassination Tour
  • See an Ice Hockey Game

 

IMG_6334You can’t visit Washington DC without seeing the monuments at the Tidal Basin. They’re really lovely and softly lit at night (which is why my husband proposed to me there!) But I’d also recommend this free walking tour if you want to see it in the day time and like learning a bit of history on your adventures. The guide was absolutely brilliant and, as well as learning about each of the presidents that are remembered here, you also hear a lot about the city itself.

Seeing the White House is another MUST DO of course, just to get a selfie in front of it! We also did a Capitol Hill Tour which was excellent. You can’t take food or drink in and you need to book ahead of time but it’s a fantastic way to understand American politics and see where all those big decisions get made, or just discussed and argued over.IMG_6333

There are so many Museums to choose from but my two absolute favourites are the Newseum (you have to pay to get in but it’s so worth it). You can easily spend 4 or 5 hours there. The Newseum reminds you of all the most major, defining events of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are astonishing items including those found at the scene of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack, old newspaper front pages from the biggest historical happenings, the remnants of the car that exploded at the Boston bombings, and exhibits on the First Ladies, the FBI, the Vietnam war etc. The The American History Museum is free however and fascinating. I did an 11am highlights tour which was a fantastic way to understand the importance of each artefact. You’ll find the American History Museum  along side all the other Smithsonian museums.

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The national zoo is another fun free activity, as is wandering around Georgetown. The pretty town houses and shops have a British vibe and lots of character. There are nice bookshops and cafes and fabulous shopping. Here is a list of 17 things to do in Georgetown.

IMG_6250A real highlight of my days in D.C. was the Abraham Lincoln Assassination Tour. Perhaps we got a particularly passionate guide but the entire walk was like an immersive theatre performance, getting to imagine exactly what went on in the places that we stood and looked at. It’s a very engaging way to learn the history of the night but if you go in December, dress warm. They do it in the evening and I was shivering throughout. Click here to learn more about the tour. It takes about 2 hours.

Seeing my first ice hockey game was cool for us since it’s not so popular in the UK. We saw a Washington Capitals game which had fantastic atmosphere, we loved the fast pace, the loud music and dramatic production.

Random Washington D.C. facts

  • D.C stands for District of Columbia.
  • It’s the 23rd most populated city in the USA with 658,893 people.
  • The district has no representation in the U.S Senate.
  • The Washington Post, founded in 1877, is the oldest and most-read local daily newspaper in Washington.
  • D.C’s National Zoo is home to the very famous Bao Bao, a giant female panda cub.

 

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