|Washington is a unique city in that it’s not situated within a state, but just in the District of Columbia and it can get confusing if you say you’re going to Washington as to whether you mean the state of Washington (which is actually on the west coast) or whether you mean the capital city. The capital city is most familiarly known as just D.C. to avoid confusion!
Washington was a planned city, planned specifically to be the capital of the United States and most visitors to the capital think immediately of the White House. This and the majority of Washington’s other famous monuments and sights and in an area called ‘The Mall’ or the National Mall which is a National Park.
You can view the White House from the outside, but if you want a tour these can only be arranged for groups and must be planned months in advance, plus the tour doesn’t take in the most important parts of the White House anyway as these are obviously closed off for security reasons.
Down from the White House is the Washington Monument. This is a 550 feet high monument which you can go to the top of, giving you great views on a clear day. Tickets are free but are limited to a certain amount each day. Another place for a great view without the ticket hassle is the nearby Old Post Office Tower. This tower is smaller at 315 feet but entrance is again free and you don’t get so many crowds here.
The Lincoln Memorial is a large memorial building in honour of President Lincoln for his part in ending the Civil War. From here you have a great view of the Mall, looking across the Reflecting Pool and beyond.
There are many excellent museums in Washington, and amongst the most famous is the Smithsonian. However the Smithsonian isn’t a single museum but is actually made up of 18 museums and all of these are free of charge. In the nearby Penn Quarter are some of the Smithsonian museums as well as many of the city’s other museums too. This area is also known for being Washington’s theatre district as well as the home of Chinatown and many very good restaurants.
The best place to go for nightlife in Washington is the Adams Morgan area which is said to really get going from around 2am on a Friday or Saturday night!
To get a taste for the old United States, visit the Georgetown area. This neighbourhood actually pre-dates the city itself and is an attractive area to walk around, enjoy the architecture, shops and restaurants.