A visit to the centerpiece of American democracy, Washington, D.C., can be the travel experience of a lifetime. Not only are vacations to the capital city of the United States memorable, a trip to Washington, D.C. will leave a formidable impression that you'll be talking about for years.
## **Things to Do in Washington DC **
When planning your visit to Washington, D.C., the most important thing to prepare is to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Although the city is conveniently accessible by a well-planned Metro transit system, at one time Washington, D.C. was ranked as the most walkable city in the U.S.
Start with the obvious choice, a visit to the White House. Pro tip: book your tickets months in advance if you fancy a tour inside the building. Visitors who prefer to observe free of charge and without advanced notice can get great views of the south lawn at the park called The Ellipse, a 52-acre park located at the southernmost point of the White House.
No visit to Washington, D.C., would be complete without stops at the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Washington National Cathedral, Library of Congress, National Mall, and National World War II Memorial, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Visits to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Zoo round out itineraries focused on history and are a pleasant way to add variety to your trip.
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## **Dining Out**
Locals know that dining out in Washington, D.C. can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Foodies will delight over the distinctive eateries that comfortably nestle among the tree-lined, charming enclaves of Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and Barracks Row. The city has recently experienced an emergence of exciting culinary options, making it a no-brainer to avoid the predictable, standard corporate restaurant scene.
For delectable French fare and a killer wine list, check out Chez Billy Sud in historic Georgetown. The brunch here is legendary and offers Southern French standards such as crepes, steamed mussels, and a Bloody Mary to die for.
Folks looking to stretch their dollar will love the happy hour and frequent all-you-can-eat “Beer-B-Q” events at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle. Head Chef Jamie Leeds has been recognized by Bon Appetit, among others, for her award-winning yet approachable twist on American cuisine.
Rub elbows with the locals at the Eastern Market, just north of the Barracks Row neighborhood. This historic food hall has been around since 1873 and knocks it out of the park with its incredibly diverse and fresh culinary offerings. Hundreds of local purveyors offer artisanal cheeses, handmade bread, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
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## **Nightlife and Entertainment**
Baseball is America’s pastime, and the Washington Nationals are the hometown favorite. But if sports aren’t your thing and you’re looking to cut a rug, get your groove on at the U Street Music Hall, a popular dance club and music venue in the hipster enclave, the U Street Corridor.
The 9:30 Club and New Vegas Lounge deserve honorable mentions and offer a unique glimpse into the trendy D.C. late night scene. If you prefer your evening entertainment to be a little more refined, look no further than the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts. Opera, the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber music, ballet, jazz and Broadway-style musicals are all hosted within the national cultural center.
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Several transportation methods are available for travelers visiting Washington, D.C. The Metro rail and bus, taxi, Uber or Lyft, or [renting a car](https://www.skyscanner.com/car-hire-from/iad/car-hire-from-washington-dulles-airport.html) are all viable options. Car rentals are available at all three major airports, offering the top rental companies to choose from. It’s worth noting that Washington, D.C. is notorious for its congested highways. Prepare in advance and allow extra time in your travel plans.
For travelers who prefer to explore on two wheels, Capital Bikeshare has bicycles for hire at 440 convenient locations.
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Washington, D.C., is one of the U.S. cities that truly experiences all four seasons. This means if you’re traveling to D.C. in the winter, prepare accordingly. The average winter temperature is 38 degrees Farenheit, although nighttime lows can dip well into the teens. Summers are quite warm, with the median temperature hovering around 80 degrees. Humidity can be a factor that will significantly increase the “feels like” temperatures. The fall and spring are delightfully moderate, although springtime in D.C. can be on the rainy side.
## **When to Visit Washington, D.C.**
If standing in long lines is your cup of tea, visit Washington, D.C. in the peak of tourist season-— the summer. Clever travelers plan their trip in the spring or fall, where you’re most likely to fit right in as a local. Eschewing the hoards queued for popular monuments and museums, the savvy traveler knows that the best sightseeing can be had if you plan your trip in accordance with the seasons. This means avoiding the summer if at all possible. Catch the cherry blossoms in early spring or enjoy the ambiance of the foliage changing in the fall.
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## **Flying Into Washington, D.C.**
There are important differences between the three main airports in Washington, D.C. Depending on your onward transportation and budget preferences, flights into [Ronald Reagan National Airport](https://www.skyscanner.com/flights-to/dca/cheap-flights-to-washington-ronald-reagan-airport.html) are your best bet if you’re looking to minimize travel time to and from the airport. You’ll pay a bit more for your flight but will save on time. Ronald Reagan National Airport is the only airport in the D.C. area that’s directly served by The Metro. Current rates connect you to Capitol Hill in as little as 35 minutes, for $2.35.
Passengers flying into [Baltimore-Washington International Airport](https://www.skyscanner.com/airports/bwi/baltimore-washington-international-airport.html) appreciate the cheaper flights and quicker security lines offered at this hub. Another pro is the handy shopping and dining options available to travelers. Thoughtful touches such as a meditation room and children’s playroom can enhance your travel experience. Plan ahead, though, if you choose BWI. A taxi to the center of Washington, D.C. takes 45 minutes and costs around $80.
[Dulles International Airport](https://www.skyscanner.com/flights-to/iad/cheap-flights-to-washington-dulles-airport.html) has advantages such as cheaper flights and high-end shopping available, including Montblanc, Coach, and Burberry. Getting to the heart of Washington, D.C. is easy but time-consuming. Taxi service, car rental, and connection to The Metro, offered by the Silver Line Express bus service, can place you in the center of D.C. in as little as 40 minutes for around $70.
Steeped in symbolism and cultural significance, Washington D.C. is a modern-day example of a city purposefully blending old tradition with innovation. With an excellent transit system, trendy dining scene, and historical monuments, a trip to Washington D.C. represents the quintessential American experience.
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