United States

Washington, DC

There's only one place where you can walk to brunch through America's oldest urban national park, where you can see a show in a living presidential memorial, and where you can enjoy a nightcap with a view of some of the USA’s most important monuments…That place is the country’s epic capital Washington, DC – the political heart of America with its incredible culture and history.

No destination in the country can compete with DC’s sheer number of monuments, memorials, and museums. As well as the venues mentioned in this guide, other highlights are the National Museum of American History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of the American Indian, National Gallery of Art, including works by Da Vinci and Van Gogh, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

But these venues are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the incredible things to see and do in dynamic, multi-cultural, ever-changing DC, which is also a world-class city when it comes to arts, culture, sports, theatre, outdoor activities, green spaces, shopping, dining, and nightlife. One fantastic thing to do is catch a sports game by one of DC’s four native sports teams: DC United, Washington Commanders, Washington Wizards, or Washington Capitals. And it’s worth noting that among this unmatched list of experiences are a huge number of free things to do.

Most of the public transport in the city is paid for on the SmarTrip app, which we’d recommend downloading before your visit. This cover covers the Metrorail, Metrobus and DC Circulator, making getting around Washington D.C. by public transport straightforward and easy.













Interesting fact

Despite the fact that the city was named after him, America's first president never lived in Washington, DC. However, George Washington did choose the specific site for the founding of the national capital in 1770, along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, from land belonging to the states of Maryland and Virginia.

Interesting fact

Situated on the National Mall between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument was the world’s tallest building when it was completed in 1884, before being overtaken by the Eiffel Tower in 1889. Soaring to a height of 169 metres, it’s still the tallest stone structure and obelisk on the planet.

Interesting fact

The 3,000 cherry blossom trees lining Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin were a gift to the city from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo in 1912, in a gesture of friendship. Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates this event and the ongoing relationship between the USA and Japan.

Interesting fact

The football huddle was invented at Gallaudet College, Washington, DC in 1894. Gallaudet is a world-renowned college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The Gallaudet Bisons played two other deaf teams that season and needed a way to prevent their opponents from stealing their signals.

Interesting fact

Washington, DC has the highest population of Ethiopians outside Ethiopia. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 allowed for more immigration from non-European countries, and the establishment of Ethiopian businesses and community networks in turn attracted more Ethiopians to come.

Interesting fact

There are more than 70 museums across the city, providing something for everyone, no matter what your age and interests. Many of them help you delve into the city’s past and in doing so understand its present and future, others look at the likes of natural history, aviation, and even espionage.

Visit the huge array of Smithsonian museums

This world-famous museum and research complex brings together 17 cultural venues covering everything from the origins of humankind (Natural History Museum) to the future of space exploration (Air and Space Museum). Incredibly, the Institution’s combined total of 150 million objects, works of art, and specimens can all be viewed for free.

Take a stroll around the National Mall

Nicknamed ‘America’s front yard’ as well as being home to several monuments and memorials honouring American forefathers and other heroes, including the Lincoln Memorial, this park is a national stage where movements and celebrations have taken and continue to take place, including Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Grab a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl

Grab a half-smoke (spicy hot dog; see Five Must-try Dishes) at Ben’s Chili Bowl and soak up the history at this neighbourhood institution and a staple of the U Street community – a historically black-owned business that originally opened in 1958 and is still run by the Ali family.

See a show in a living presidential memorial at the Kennedy Center

President John F. Kennedy loved and promoted the arts, and President Lyndon B. Johnson laid the cornerstone for this venue shortly after he was assassinated in 1964 (it opened in 1971). A performing arts powerhouse, it hosts around 2,000 performances a year.

See and photograph the spring cherry blossoms

See and photograph the spring cherry blossoms from the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial on the banks of the Tidal Basin or from a two- or four-person paddleboat out on the water, giving you wonderfully immersive views of the blooms.

Try an authentic Gin Rickey

Unique to the city, DC’s own cocktail the Gin Rickey (gin, lime juice, and soda) was invented in Shoomaker’s bar in the late 1880s which, despite being a dive, was the place to drink in DC. Originally made with bourbon, the drink is even mentioned in F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby.

Sample Ethiopian Cuisine

The highest population of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia makes Washington, DC a great place to try the African nation’s cuisine. Among the best places to sample classic dishes such as yemsir wot (a spicy red lentil stew) are Das Ethiopian in Georgetown and farm-to-table Letena in Columbia Heights.

Visit Ben's Chili Bowl

The dish of the city, best sampled at Ben’s Chili Bowl, is the half-smoke. Bigger and spicier than regular hot dogs, with more coarsely ground meat (usually half-pork and half-beef), it’s smoked and served with herbs, onion, and chili sauce.

Explore the Maine Avenue Fish Market

The Maine Avenue Fish Market – operating non-stop since 1805, making it the oldest continuously functioning fish market in the USA – is a great place to try local seafood, including blue crab, shucked oysters, clams, and shrimps.

A plethora of brunch spots

Bottomless mimosas or drag queen performances with a side of eggs. These are just some of your brunch options in DC. Choose from ricotta pancakes, frittatas, homemade pop tarts, and plenty more at venues, including Café du Parc with its terrace with views of the Washington Monument and nearby sights.


Washington, DC is especially magnificent during the cherry blossom season, when its 3,000 Sakura trees hit peak bloom – and are celebrated with a lively festival packed with events, activities, and cuisine to suit everyone, including a giant parade with elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country, and celebrity entertainers.


Sunny days, lots of free things to do, and a cultural scene that doesn’t take a summer break make Washington, DC a cool place to be even in the hotter months. Free festivals and museums lure people to the National Mall, and there’s also thrilling baseball action at Nationals Park and activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding at waterfronts in different neighbourhoods, along with tempting riverfront restaurants.


The fall foliage makes this a lovely time to come to Washington, DC, with colourful trees providing a wonderful backdrop as you stroll the National Mall or along the Tidal Basin. There are also festivals and brilliant Halloween events, and the weather is usually mild here until Thanksgiving.


December sees fewer crowds in DC. During this time, expect sparkling decorations all over the city and plenty of special events, including illuminations, parades, and pop-up bars. There’s also the Downtown Holiday Market which, as well as eclectic artisan shopping and seasonal music, offers local treats ranging from mini donuts to Christmas cocktails.