Washington, D.C., the capital city of the United States, is home to neoclassical monuments, world-class museums, parks and green space. This city is also a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. If you’re planning a holiday to this place, you can get to know about the music, arts, food and traditions of different countries from across the globe.
Places to visit
1. International Spy Museum
Image courtesy: Sofrep.com
If you’re a James Bond fan, you cannot afford to miss this spy museum. It is a treasure trove of information and actual props from James Bond films. Catch a glimpse of the Aston Martin DB5 that you’ve seen in the 1964 film Goldfinger equipped with bulletproof shield, a dashboard radar screen, tire slashers, ejector seat, rotating license plate and machine guns. One of the floors is dedicated to real life spies which include John Walker, Robert Hanson, and Aldrich Ames with details of the tools and methods they used to spy on the United States. This place focuses on the history, techniques and technology of espionage. You’ll find historic spy artefacts; popular among them is the Enigma cipher machine that deciphered the Nazi codes in World War II.
2. The Lincoln Memorial
Your vacation in Washington is incomplete, if you haven’t visited the Lincoln Memorial. Nestled on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., close to the Washington Monument, this memorial houses a 19-feet marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln sitting in contemplation. This is the glorious place where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his epic speech ‘I Have a Dream’ on August 28, 1963.
3. National Zoological Park
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoological Park is a hotspot among wildlife enthusiasts. It houses more than 2,000 different birds, animals and reptiles. The giant pandas are a major attraction of this park. On your visit to this park, catch a glimpse of red pandas, western lowland gorillas, Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, white-naped cranes, cheetahs and North Island brown kiwis. You can also visit the Amazonia exhibit to check out the colourful marine life of the Amazon. At the Cheetah Conservation Station, you can see cheetahs, vultures and Grevy's zebras.
4. The White House
This place needs no introduction. Yes, this is the White House, the official residence of the President of the United States. During the public tour, you will be taken through the Blue Room, Red Room, Green Room, the State Dining Room and a view of the White House Rose Garden. You can also visit the White House Visitor Center and get to know
about the White House and the presidential families.
5. Washington Monument
Built in honour of George Washington, the first President of the United States, this monument is the tallest stone structure of the world. Standing 555-feet tall, the Washington Monument is made of bluestone gneiss, granite and marble. Take an elevator to the top and soak in the panoramic view of Washington.
6. The Capitol
Designed by Dr. William Thornton, the Capitol is well-known for its architecture. The home of the United States Congress, this building has a white exterior and neoclassical architecture. It also houses statues of important historical figures. You’ll be impressed by the interior which is adorned with frescoes and paintings depicting the scenes from American history. On your tour of this building, you can learn more about the interesting facts of this imposing building.
7. Smithsonian Museums
If you’re a history buff, you must visit the Smithsonian Museums. It houses 19 museums and galleries. From scientific specimens to historic artefacts to works of art, you’ll find them all here. Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Smithsonian National Postal Museum and Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture are some of the interesting museums that you can explore on your visit to this place.
The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's thriller novel was set in Washington, D.C. This bestseller mentions places like the Washington Monument, Capitol Building, Masonic Temple, House of the Temple, Smithsonian Castle and the National Cathedral.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
If you’re planning to visit Washington between 20th March and 15th April 2018, you can experience the National Cherry Blossom Festival. You can treat your eyes to the colourful parade which is scheduled for 14th April, 2018; it runs for 10 blocks along the Constitution Avenue to the National Archives to the Washington Monument and many more. From giant helium balloons and elaborate floats to fireworks and performers, you’ll find a number of reasons to be a part of this beautiful festival.
This is the Jefferson Memorial during the Cherry Blossom Festival - splendid, isn’t it? Dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, the third US president, this memorial houses a 19-feet bronze statue of a standing Jefferson. To the right, you’ll see excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. One of the best sights you’ll witness is this monument’s reflection on the Tidal Basin. These cherry trees were gifted by the Japanese in 1912.
The 1992 American legal drama movie ‘A Few Good Men’ starring Tom Cruise and Demi Moore was shot in Washington, D.C. It is an adaptation of a play by the same name written by Aaron Sorkin. Tom Cruise plays a military lawyer who defends two U.S. Marines, charged with the murder of a fellow Marine. It depicts the troubles faced by the lawyers while they defend their clients and uncover a conspiracy.
Cuisines to relish
When in Washington, D.C., you can tease your taste buds to mouth-watering cuisines like Chesapeake blue crab, Korean fried chicken, chicken and mumbo sauce, Peruvian polla a la brasa, Chesapeake oysters and Salvadoran pupusas. Must-try restaurants include Jaleo (Spanish Restaurant), Le Diplomate Restaurant, Ben's Chili Bowl, Founding Farmers, Graffiato (Italian Restaurant), Red Hen, Occidental Grill & Seafood, Churchkey, Old Ebbitt Grill and Little Serow.
Souvenirs to pick
Image courtesy: shop.whitehousehistory.org
You can buy souvenirs from the following places:
International Spy Museum: Spy gadgets, accessories and t-shirts.
Hill’s Kitchen: DC statehood glassware.
White House History Shop: White House Christmas Ornaments.
The official language is English. Regional languages include Spanish, French and Native American languages.
Washington, D.C is home to America’s first museum of modern art, the Phillips Collection. It was found in 1921 by Duncan Phillips and Marjorie Acker Phillips. You’ll find works by Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and other famous artists in this historic museum.
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln which freed slaves in America. Washington D.C. became home to the freed slave population.
This city houses various monuments that honour legendary figures which include Martin Luther King Junior Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
The construction of the White House was supervised by America’s first president, George Washington. But it was John Adams, his successor, who was the first to move in the White House.
Best time to visit
September to November is the autumn/fall season and the perfect time to visit Washington, D.C. The next best time is from March to April, the spring season when you can also experience the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
How to reach here
By flight: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport or Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Author : Vijaylaxmi Thakur