Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia) is the capital of the United States of America, boasting a myriad of venues from which to explore American history, culture and politics. Officially, the District of Columbia is a federal district containing the city of Washington, named after the first American president. The District of Columbia is located between Maryland and Virginia, but it is not considered a part of either state. As a city, the U.S. Congress officially governs it, but Congress allows the city to be run by a municipal government.
Washington, D.C. is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, largely because the city is full of some of the finest and most interesting museums, architecture, and governmental structures in the world. Truely a showpiece of American culture and history, it is a fascinating destination both for Americans and for visitors from around the world.
The District of Columbia was founded on July 16, 1790, by combining land from the borders of Maryland and Virginia. The name "Columbia" is a poetic reference to the United States. The District of Columbia was a planned city, which was initially made up of four sections; one being Washington City, which was named after America’s first President, George Washington.
The original White House and much of D.C. were burned down by British forces during the War of 1812, but the city was later restored. In 1864 the American Confederate Army made a brief raid on the D.C., but the city has never completely fallen into enemy hands.
During the twentieth century, the capital was host to several riots and marches sponsored by civil rights agitators and war protesters. The most popular site for these demonstrations was and continues to be the National Mall, a national park that stretches from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol and which includes the Washington Monument. The tradition of using the park as a platform for public demonstrations continues to this day.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The trick to making the most of a visit to D.C. lies in the planning. There is no way to see and do everything in a week or even two weeks, so travelers will be rewarded by reading up on attractions and prioritizing their itineraries accordingly. Most of Washington's museums offer free admission; however, tickets must be acquired early and return visits are subject to scheduled times. The best strategy is to decide ahead of time which museums are must-sees for your group of travelers. Many of Washington's most popular attractions are right there on the Mall, or within walking distance.
For more distant destinations, D.C.'s excellent train system makes it easy to navigate. Between the red, blue and yellow lines, visitors can use the trains to get to virtually all the landmarks in the city. The city also offers service from Union Station to the surrounding cities, including Baltimore and New York.
The trains are an especially good idea for visitors, as parking in the capital can prove difficult, especially around the National Mall. Most metered spots have a two-hour limit, and while some parking lots are available, they do not accommodate larger vehicles and can charge upwards of $15 a day.
The White House
National Holocaust Memorial Museum
Library of Congress
US Supreme Court?
National Gallery of Art
National Air and Space Museum
International Spy Museum
National Museum of American History
Arlington National Cemetery
World War II Memorial
International Wine and Food Festival
Jazz in the Garden
Las Tapas Restaurant - In the capital of a country famously described as "The Great Melting Pot", it is no surprise to find gems like Las Tapas offering an authentic taste of one of the many cultures transplanted to the U.S. This restaurant offers the largest selection of Spanish tapas in Washington, D.C. To add to the Spanish ambience, Flamenco dance performances on Tuesday and Thursday evenings make for an unforgettable dining experience.
Sushi Taro: One of the best sushi places in Washington, D.C, the space is neatly designed and the sushi is fresh and delicious.
My Brother's Place - A hidden favorite among D.C. locals, this restaurant and bar is famous for its happy hour, starting at 4 p.m., when a beer starts at just a dollar, and then increases in price by 25 cents each hour. Locals choose My Brother's Place for after-work drinks, and the food is delicious as well.
Ella's Wood Fired Pizza - Although the aroma and taste of the wood fired pizza is mouth-watering, Ella's has much more to offer than that. An array of salads are there to veg out on, as well as small plates featuring innovative combinations you're likely to not find in other places: artichoke and fontina ravioli in basil butter, sliced melon with prosciutto, and suppli a telefono, which are mozzarella filled risotto balls. If you do decide to order an individual or large pizza, try not to be overwhelmed by the selection of toppings: over 30 choices!
Ben’s Chili Bowl - For a look at how the District was in the '50s, check out Ben's Chili Bowl on a busy night. The large neon "Home of the Famous Chili Dog" sign out front harks back to times gone by. So do the red 1950s-style bar stools and Formica counters. Even the music on the jukebox is retro (a mixture of Motown, Stax-Volt, reggae and a few modern soul tunes thrown in). The staff are cheerful and efficient, a rarity in such a high-volume, high-turnover place.
CityZen - Located in the deluxe Mandarin Oriental Hotel, CityZen's dining room is temple-like: cathedral ceiling, dimly lit, with a coterie of acolytes flitting back and forth between tables and kitchen. Chef Ziebold presents modern American cuisine in three menu variations: a three-course prix fixe menu, six-course chef’s tasting menu, and six-course vegetarian tasting menu.
Capitol City Brewing Company- Just steps from Union Station, Capitol City Brewing Company serves up its own brewed beer and the menu offers salads, burgers and pizza. The restaurant has gotten mixed reviews, but is popular in the summer for happy hour.
Hotel Rouge - Hotel Rouge is a chic, glamorous boutique hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. Nestled along fashionable Embassy Row, just four blocks from DuPont Circle, the hotel is just steps away from exciting attractions, landmark monuments, famous museums, trendy shopping, historic theaters, popular restaurants, festive events and exhilarating nightlife.
D.C. Guesthouse - A charming bed and breakfast with colorful decor, the Guesthouse boasts an impressive art collection that adds character to the house. Each of the unique rooms has a color theme, from the Gold Room to the new Cinnamon Room. The Guesthouse offers a free hearty breakfast and is situated just a short walk from the city center.
Hay Adams Hotel – The Hay Adams Hotel is as close as anyone can get to staying at the White House, short of being invited by the President. Originally designed in the 1920s as a residential hotel, the Hay Adams carefully emulates the ambiance of a distinguished private mansion on Lafayette Square.
Phoenix Park Hotel - America's center of Irish hospitality, Washington's Phoenix Park Hotel combines Celtic charm and a European ambiance with an ideal Capitol Hill location. Contemporary convenience and old world luxury distinguishes the Phoenix Park's deluxe accommodations.
Hilltop Hostel – This suburban hostel offers excellent value and is located just seconds from the metro station.
Hotel Helix - Once you pass the sprawling mural outside, you will find yourself bombarded with vibrant colors and spiral patterns, perhaps making you feel as if you've walked into the center of a giant, swirling lollipop. This is the sort of place where you can't help but smile.
Donovan House Hotel- Located on 14th Street, Donovan House Hotel is part of Thompson Hotels. The 126 rooms feature leather furniture and leather headboards on the beds, as well as cocoon spiral showers in the bathrooms. The roof of the hotel sports an outdoor pool with a rooftop bar, known as ADC (Above DC) overlooking 14th street. The first floor of the hotel feature Zentan, an Asian cuisine restaurant offering sushi and sashimi.
DC at Night by Amanda Torres