Washington, DC—the capital of the United States, and home to several federal government agencies— is a world-class city of private sector employers, a vibrant food scene, great nightclubs and performing arts venues, and stunning monuments and museums. Here’s the scoop on all things DC.
Getting Around The District of Columbia is remarkably easy to get around, given its compact footprint, sensible grid street pattern and transportation options—including the Metro subway system. It’s best to orient yourself on a map first, and remember a few key navigational pointers:
• Washington, DC is divided into four unequally-sized quadrants – Northwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest – with the U.S. Capitol building at the center. Street addresses often repeat across these quadrants, so always note the NW, NE, SE or SW elements in any address so you’ll be sure to get to the right place. Numbered streets run north-south, streets with words or letters for names run east-west, and streets named after states radiate outward from the several European-style traffic circles throughout the city that overlay the American-style grid.
• For quick trips throughout the city or into the suburbs, try the Metro. While it’s a mainstay for working commuters, it was also designed to be easily accessible for Washington’s millions of annual visitors from around the world.
What to See and Do For even a short stay in Washington, DC, there’s certainly plenty to see and do:
• Whether or not your business revolves around government policy and legislation, a trip to the Capitol building is always impressive. Contact the office of your Representative or Senator before you visit, as some areas in the building require special passes. While you’re on Capitol Hill, one of the most famous neighborhoods in the District, take time to stroll along the tree-shaded streets and admire the residential architecture. Some of the finest Victorian townhomes are located here.
• Monuments and museums are obviously top on the list of DC attractions, and the biggest concentration of them are found on and near the National Mall. With the Capitol at one end, the Lincoln Memorial at the other, and the Washington Monument in the middle, “America’s Front Yard” is ringed with the museums of the Smithsonian. Monuments like the World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial Wall and the Korean War Memorial are adjacent to the Mall, and memorials to Franklin Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thomas Jefferson overlook the nearby Tidal Basin.
• For an unexpected museum experience, visit the Newseum. Celebrating the free press in America, it’s where you’ll see iconic artifacts like sections of the Berlin Wall, and the extensive 9/11 display is truly moving. Also moving is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, immediately south of the Mall on 14th Street SW.
• For kids of all ages, there’s the National Zoo in Northwest DC’s leafy green Woodley Park area. It’s actually part of the Smithsonian system, and is one of America’s most visited zoos.
Where to Stay In the core of downtown DC near the Mall and The White House, elegant hotels abound:
• There’s the Hay-Adams, the global flagship Marriott, Trump International Hotel, and the famed Willard Intercontinental, which happened to have been Ulysses S. Grant’s favorite accommodation before his presidency.
• Other fine selections are the stately Omni-Shoreham near the Zoo, the Mandarin Oriental and several Kimpton boutique hotels dotting the city.
• And we would obviously be remiss to not mention some of BridgeStreet’s many options, too, like The Woodward, City Center or Meridian at Gallery Place, all in Northwest DC.
Where to eat Most outsiders don’t realize what a fantastic range of eateries the Nation’s Capital offers. It’s a foodie’s paradise, to be sure: • From classic lunch counter fare at Ben’s Chili Bowl in the U Street Corridor, to steak frites at Le Diplomate in Logan Circle, to seafood restaurants in The Wharf neighborhood in Southeast near the Nationals ballpark and award-winning Japanese at Sushi Taro on 17th Street in the Dupont Circle area, you could fill a week just visiting restaurants and skipping the monuments and museums. • Want a side of history with your main course? Tuck into oysters on the half shell at Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House, like patrons have for over 150 years. Or, have Sunday brunch at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown, and sit in the booth where JFK proposed to Jackie in 1953. • DC is also a food truck mecca, so don’t be surprised if you just happen upon one of the best lunches you’ve had in months while you’re just out for a stroll. This is only a snapshot of what DC has to offer. To really get a sense of this vibrant and exciting city, your best bet is to plan a trip to the city and experience it for yourself.