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While many think of Washington, DC as a center for policy and procedure, it takes just a stroll down the National Mall, a show at the Folger Theatre or a meal along the Georgetown waterfront to prove this world-renowned city has much more to offer amidst its historic monuments and modern-age architecture. The US Capital brings travelers an exciting escape around every turn, literally, thanks to the abundance of historic neighborhoods and commitment to cultural preservation.

City Tips

Facts & Fundamentals

The National Air and Space Museum is the most popular museum in DC and the world. Just one of over two hundred ornate stained-glass windows in the Washington National Cathedral, the Space Window contains a piece of rock from the moon. Residents of Washington, DC were granted the right to vote for president on March 29, 1961. There are 715 libraries in Washington, DC, whereas NYC has 833. Capital city residents have put them all to good use, as 42% have attained at least a bachelor’s degree (second only to Silicon Valley The Pentagon has 17.5 miles of corridors, 6.5 million square feet and the largest “no-hat no-salute” zone with the five-acre central plaza. The statue on top of the Capitol Dome is 19.6-feet tall and weighs about 15,000 pounds. John Adams was the first president to live in the White House. Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, DC. In 1912 the Japanese people presented 3,020 cherry trees to the people of Washington, DC. Today there are more than 3,700 cherry trees which bloom every spring. The White House was first painted white when it was reconstructed after the British set fire to it in 1814. The Smithsonian Institution is comprised of 19 museums and the National Zoo. The National Museum of Natural History is home to more than 126 million specimens and artifacts. There is no charge to visit any of the SI’s museums in Washington, DC.

Weather

The Washington, DC region offers visitors four distinct seasons, each framing the capitol with its own special beauty. Spring is synonymous with cherry blossoms and picture-perfect views along the Potomac under sunny skies and temps that hover between 37 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, on average.

June ushers in summer’s humidity and sends travelers into air-conditioned museums, as rising temperatures average a high of 85 degrees and can top 100. Gorgeous fall foliage and milder temps herald the return of politicos to DC in the fall.

Winter’s shorter days can be chaotic thanks to cold Canadian air meeting warmer air from the Gulf. DC averages between 15 and 18 inches of snow and is no stranger to storms that can dump 12 inches at a time.

City Detail

Marble memorials and museums, graceful cherry trees in bloom, corridors filled with the powerful, and a stately white house are the iconic emblems of one of the world’s most important cities: Washington, DC. Established by constitutional decree and erected on a site chosen by President George Washington, today the nation’s capital covers 68 square miles. Visitors are enchanted by the restored city plan that reflects L’Enfants’ vision of broad boulevards, ceremonial spaces and four quadrants converging on the center of power: The U.S. Capitol.

With upwards of three million visitors descending on the city annually, tourism is second only to government. With more than 70 museums, exhibits cover all subjects from aircraft to spies and everything in between. Historic homes, the National Archives and The White House offer glimpses into the past, where history truly comes alive.

The sweeping, nearly two-mile National Mall is graced by iconic memorials and museums. The Mall is anchored by the impressive Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool on the west end and the U.S. Capitol Complex to the east. Soaring to a height of 555 feet at the center of the Mall, the Washington Monument honors our first president and is the tallest edifice in the city. Between the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol Complex, the Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle) joins a host of world-class museums that include the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum.

But Washington, DC is more than memorials and museums. Festivals celebrate the cherry trees in bloom, folklife and cultures from around the globe, holidays and music. The performing arts take center stage at the country’s premier venue for theatre, dance and music: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. With more than 45 companies, including Studio Theatre, Arena Stage and Folger Theatre, national tours of Broadway musicals and cutting-edge contemporary dramas are everyday affairs.

Between passing legislation, brokering deals and catering to tourists, DC loves its sports teams. Baseball (Nationals), basketball (Mystics and Wizards), football (Redskins), hockey (Capitals) or soccer (United) thrill fans all year long. Golfers test their skills on three courses on an island in the Tidal Basin. Historic neighborhoods, 102 parks and 232 miles of rails-to-trails encourage visitors to see the city by foot. In fact, DC was named the most walkable city in 2007 by the Brookings Institute.

Walking makes it easy to admire futuristic glass cubes juxtaposed next to 19th-century Federal Revival rowhouses. Adams-Morgan, Dupont Circle, Georgetown and U Street are just a few of the neighborhoods with distinct personalities that appeal to visitors. Urban adventurers enjoy exploring the lively mix of ethnic restaurants, architectural styles and hip shops that thrive next to public gardens, museums and official buildings.

Whether the agenda includes walking tours, sightseeing or business, Washington, DC can keep visitors busy with its cornucopia of attractions, restaurants, events and museums. Envisioned as a world-class city and mandated by the Constitution, it has truly become representative of all fifty states and the world at large.

Restaurants

Five Guy Burgers and Fries

1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC, DC 20004

Named as the Washingtonian Magazine’s readers’ choice for #1 burger in DC and making Zagat’s survey every year since 2001, this is the place to go for the quintessential burger and fries in the capitol. Fans include President Obama, who was spotted ordering a burger while being interviewed by Brian Williams

Phone

+1-202-393-2135


Kinkead’s

2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC, DC 20006

The outstanding seafood offerings are what make Kinkead’s a perennial favorite of celebrities and politicians. The menu varies from day to day, but diners can count on the entrees being fresh and a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. The wine list includes more than 300 selections.

Phone

+1-202-296-7700


Komi

1509 17th St NW

Washington, DC, DC 20009

A young, daring chef, smart and attentive servers and the absence of a menu might surprise the uninitiated. But fans of Chef Monis’ tiny restaurant (12 tables) know that they can expect a Greek-inspired, multi-course feast over the 2.5 to 3-hour meal. There is nothing else quite like it in the region.

Phone

+1-202-332-9200


Proof

775 G Street, NW

Washington, DC, DC 20001

From a location across from the National Portrait Gallery, this eatery is as visually appealing as its neighbor’s masterpieces. The outstanding wine list, with more than 1,000 options and 50 wines by the glass, may get the most buzz, but the inventive, Modern American cuisine more than holds it own.

Phone

+1-202-737-7663


1789

1226 36th Street NW

Washington, DC, DC 20007

Clearly at home in a 19th-century Federal townhouse in the upper crust neighborhood of Georgetown, 1789 features classic American fare from a menu that changes daily. You can dine against a backdrop of historical prints, silk-shaded lamps and working fireplaces while keeping a sharp eye out for socialites, politicos and media moguls.

Phone

+1-202-965-1789


Fresh faces and celebrity chefs helped put the capitol city on the "foodie map." From Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen enshrined at the American History Museum to trendy eateries, casual burger joints and power lunches hotspots, there’s plenty to love about Washington, DC cuisine. And just like political alliances, the faces and menus change frequently.

As you might imagine, given the presence of 182 foreign embassies, there are plenty of chances to try excellent ethnic cuisine. Adams Morgan is well-known for the sheer variety of international restaurants that span the globe. Ethiopian cuisine is the highlight of Meskerem, and if Brazilian food and fun cocktails are on the agenda, then head over to Grill from Ipanema.

Forty restaurants in the metro area have garnered Zagat scores of 25 out of 30 or better. Generally acknowledged as the best in town, Komi has no menu, just a set 18-22 multi-course dinners with optional wine pairings, a veritable tour de force from the young chef, Johnny Morris. On the opposite end of the spectrum, On The Fly’s lime-green smartkarts are eco-friendly and sell fresh food made by local eateries at a variety of locations throughout the city, including the National Zoo. Prices are low, quality is high and everyone wins.

The posh streets of Georgetown boast some of the best restaurants in the district. While this neighborhood may be home to countless chi-chi clubs that attract many students, the real stars are the outstanding restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for 1789’s historical ambiance and Federal-style architecture with a classic meal, spicy Indian curries at Aditi or Chef Michael Richard’s California-French fusion at Citronelle, you’ll be treated to winning dishes.

Downtown DC and Foggy Bottom cater to the movers and shakers, so it’s no surprise that lunch reigns supreme around here. Don’t miss a chance to dine at Old Ebbitt Grill, a favorite of presidents that has been around since 1856. Charlie Palmer, known for its artisan beef cuts and a wine cube with over 3,500 bottles of exclusively American wines, is a favorite for power lunches where the agenda is as important as being seen. Kinkead’s, one of the most popular eateries in the city, is the place for great seafood and people watching if you’re looking for senators or celebrities.

Dupont Circle just might offer more choices than any other neighborhood in the city. There’s everything from high-end cuisine to fast food that’s easy on the wallet. Among the standouts are Komi’s Greek-inspired dishes, the charming and historic Tabard Inn Hotel’s dining room with its cheery green and white checkerboard floor and whitewashed walls, the informal Hank’s Oyster Bar and the five-course tasting menu at the inventive and unpretentious Eola.

Penn Quarter and U Street are becoming the place to go for the trendy eateries and bistros that are providing upscale options. Just as in DC’s other neighborhoods, there’s a wide range of cuisine and prices available. From the decidedly upscale Proof to the comfort food of Marvin, there’s literally something for everyone

Events

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The National Mall

Washington, DC, DC 20024

[June and July] For two weeks each year, the National Mall becomes the site for a free festival. Each year’s theme offers guests fresh perspective on “living cultural heritage,” which topics such as US food culture and the Peace Corps. Activities, traditional craft demonstrations, performances and presentations offer visitors the chance to see, engage and learn


Dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr National Memorial

West Potomac Park

Washington, DC, DC 20245

[August] The 48th anniversary of the seminal speech “I Have a Dream” is the perfect choice for the dedication of a national memorial to the Civil Rights leader. Concerts, a gala, a prayer service and a public expo are also scheduled. The ceremony, a culmination of the week’s events, is free and open to the public.


Adams Morgan Day Festival

18th St NW, between Florida Ave and Columbia Rd

Washington, DC, DC 20009

[Second Sunday of September] Celebrating the Adams Morgan neighborhood’s cultural diversity, this annual festival showcases food from across the globe, music, dance, artists, vendors and everything else that constitutes a lively street festival, including Chinese lion dancers. Multiple stages, sidewalk cafes and pavilions for information about health and living green keep the party humming.


Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Washington, DC, DC 20566

[October] Joining an illustrious group of humorists that includes Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, George Carlin and Bill Crosby, Will Ferrell will be honored with the 2011 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center. The evening will feature performances and tributes by some of the biggest names in comedy today.


Army vs. Navy College Football Game

FedEx Field

Landover, MD 20785

[Mid-December] With a bit of advance planning this year, visitors can join 91,703 fans for the 112th meeting of these two service academies. The legendary rivalry dates back to 1890 and fans can expect to be treated to plenty of pomp and ceremony, as well as an exciting gridiron contest.


History, a multi-cultural population and special interest groups may explain why there’s no shortage of fascinating festivals and events to attend in Washington, DC. The yearly calendar is chock full of outstanding events to engage the senses, feed the soul and enlighten the mind. Each season provides plenty of opportunities to explore the best of the city.

   
Summers might be hot and humid, but those sunny days encourage the throngs of visitors to join local residents at one of the many outdoor concert series, such as the Marine Band’s series. The Smithsonian Institution hosts an annual two-week long fest on the National Mall that highlights the arts, crafts and food from the honored country and select US states. Designed to offer interactive events, the festival is conducive to meeting and speaking with traditional artisans and learning about a culture first hand.


The Blues Festival, Caribbean Festival, Dance Africa and Screen on the Green offer the chance to enjoy a more focused celebration. Every Sunday, the Georgetown Flea Market offers some of the best bargain hunting for antiques and collectibles. While the market is open year round, take advantage of the locals’ exodus for vacation and snap up costume jewelry, vintage linens and political memorabilia.


Labor Day may signal the end of summer, but it sets the stage for grand opening nights for the performing arts community. Less formal and just as engaging is the multi-cultural street festival called Adams Morgan Day. Celebrating the neighborhood’s diversity, this family-friendly event offers the chance to improve your salsa and rhumba skills, learn about health and green practices, engage in hands-on science experiments, sample a wide variety of ethnic food and, in general, have a good time. Other major fall events include the ever-popular Oktoberfest and the solemn ceremonies on Veteran’s Day at Arlington National Cemetery.


Winter brings the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and the National Hanukkah Menorah, ice skating amid the sculptures in the National Gallery of Arts outdoor garden and the five-week long ZooLights at the National Zoo. While those hoping to attend the tree lighting ceremony will need to enter the lottery for tickets, there is no need for tickets to see it after that first night, so plan to visit between dusk and 11pm. There are also beautifully lit trees on display at Union Station and the U.S. Capitol to admire. Dozens of light displays, a Gin-GRR-Bread Habitat contest and special Keeper talks entertain kids of all ages. Mount Vernon offers candlelight tours, costumed characters and Christmas carols over the course of four weekends. Those lucky enough to have secured tickets for a tour of the White House from their Congressional representatives will particularly enjoy the tour when the stately mansion is decked out for the holidays. F Street is the home of the Downtown DC Holiday Market which features unique gifts, specialty foods and live entertainment in a festive atmosphere. Football fans also have two great games to look forward to: the 112th Army vs. Navy Game and the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman. And with the arrival of the New Year, the cycle begins anew!


Reagan National Airport (DCA): Washington, DC

Airport Address
1 Aviation Circle
Washington, DC 20001 USA

Ticket Counter Location
Terminal A - Sun Country Ticket Counter Ticket counter closes 45 minutes prior to flight departure.

Click here for Reagan National Airport terminal A map.


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