"Washington, DC: Justitia omnibus" Washington D.C. by seagoingJLW

Washington D.C. Travel Guide: 5,669 reviews and 15,144 photos

Capital City

Washington, DC, in addition to offering so many interesting things to see and do, is a culturally diverse city. Take advantage of this diversity when you visit Washington.

The peak seasons in Washington are twofold...when Congress is in session and springtime, especially during Sakura Matsui. Congress is in session from the second week in September until Thanksgiving and then from mid-January through June.
Families and school groups usually are in Washington from mid March through June. It is entirely too hot to visit Washington in July and August.

At least 21 million people visit Washington each year. They all want to see the same places. Go to the Capitol, but get there by Metro, which is safe and convenient. The best time to visit the the museums on the National Mall is in the morning. In other words, do the tourist thing early and then do what the Washingtonians do...find a sidewalk café, jog on the mall, browse through Kramerbooks, etc. At night enjoy the clubs along Connecticut Avenue.

There are two places where you can use a computer connected to the internet for free. The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library at 901 G Street NW (202-727-1111) has one computer limited to 15 minutes' use and one limited to one hour's use. they are in great demand. Kramerbooks and Afterwords at 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW (202-387-1400) has one computer available for free internet access.

The photo shows the Capitol building.

Orientation

Washington has great sweeping Avenues, named for the states, crossed by numbered and lettered streets. Key intersections have traffic circles ( or roundabouts) with monuments, statuary and fountains. These circles were originally strategic command posts to ward off invaders or unruly mobs.

The U.S. Capitol marks the center of the city. From there four quadrant comprise the city. NW (northwest,)
SW (Southwest,) SE (Southeast,) and
NE (Northeast.) Almost all of the tourist areas are in northwest. All addresses include the abbreviations mentioned above, since the lettered and numbered streets run in each quadrant number outward from the Capitol.

Dividing the quadrant on the north is North Capitol Street, on the east is East Capitol Street, on the South is South Capitol Street and on the west is the National Mall. The Mall is bounded on the north by Constitution Avenue and on the south by Independence Avenue. The primary artery is Pennsylvania Avenue (pictured here,) where parades, inaugurations, etc. occur.

Massachusetts AVenue is the longest avenue running past Union Station, DuPont Circle, Embassy Row, the Naval Observatory (where the home of the Vice President is located,) Washington National Cathedral, American University, and on to Maryland.

Connecticut Avenue starts at Lafayette Square , crosses DuPont Circle and then reaches the National Zoo before going on to Maryland. Downtown Connecticut Avenue has shops and restaurants.

Wisconsin Avenue starts in Georgetown. It is there, near M Street, where you will find antique shops, boutiques, discos, restaurants, and pubs. Wisconsin Avenue also goes out to Maryland where it goes through Chevy Chase and Bethesda.

History

The site George Washington selected for the new nation's "federal town" was little more than a mosquito infested swamp. A French soldier and engineer, Pierre L'Enfant was brought in to design the city. He designed Washington with broad avenues, spacious circles and monuments.

The cornerstone of the Capitol was laid in 1793. When the north wing was completed in 1800, congress moved here from Philadelphia. The President's House (now the White House) was first occupied by John Adams

On August 24, 1814, 5000 British troops defeated 7000 Americans (War of 1812) and soon after entered the city and set fire to thePresident's House, the partly finished Capitol, and all the public buildings except the Post and Patent Office. Rebuilding began as soon as the war ended. The fire-blackened surfaces of the President's House were painted white, which is how the White House got its name. See the photograph of the White House. The active trade centers of Georgetown and Alexandria, the rapidly growing railroad system and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal contributed to Washington's growth.

Since we now live in Alexandria, we visit DC very often. It is a beautiful city and has much to offer. There are museums and monuments all around the national Mall (Which is not a group of stores, but a beautiful stretch of green grass.) There are galleries and historical sites. There are embassies and statuary throughout the district. You never know what you will discover.

The most popular museum in Washington is the Air and Space Museum.

Miscellaneous Information

If you are into walking and would like to do something a little bit different, go to The DC Heritage Coalition Page and click on "Walking Tours."

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Washington is a fascinating city. There is so much to see and do here.
  • Cons:Traffic is awful--some of the worst in the country.
  • In a nutshell:It's worth a visit. If you can take the Metro, do so.
  • Last visit to Washington D.C.: Apr 2005
  • Intro Updated Apr 1, 2005
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Reviews (96)

Comments (31)

  • Jan 12, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Where do the Congressmen live? Capitol Hill area for many. Matter of fact, go by 517 6th St. S.E. and see the one-time Gary Hart townhouse where he had his tryst will Donna Rice.

  • ZanieOR's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2008 at 9:42 AM

    I enjoyed reading all your tips; they make me want to visit DC more than ever.

  • Nov 7, 2007 at 10:42 AM

    What a silly review. This just says one thing. Inept. Don't like to spend the money while you're out and about? Then stay home and order a pizza.

  • AnemonaDeAlacant's Profile Photo
    Sep 30, 2007 at 12:30 AM

    I wil try the cruise for my next birthday, thanks.

  • ForestqueenNYC's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2006 at 11:47 AM

    Hi Joan, Good tips. I remember when the OAS building housed the National Symphony. Also Blackie's was the first restaurant I went to when I went to Washington to go to college. Good memories. Thanks.

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2006 at 8:38 AM

    What a find here! Outstanding photos/tips. Worked in DC during the 60's and back only when my daughter graduated. Will return often - oops, I'm off to Mysic. So happy to find you. Ciao, Carol

  • zanzooni's Profile Photo
    Nov 14, 2005 at 12:28 AM

    OMG!! I love the Freer Gallery, and ABSOLUTELY LOVE the "Peacock Room"...I shall never forget the moment I entered that space..I was totally enveloped by the creativity, as well as the emotions.~

  • nygaston's Profile Photo
    Dec 2, 2004 at 4:00 PM

    Thank you for all the tips and details ! Tom

  • pedersdottir's Profile Photo
    Nov 4, 2004 at 12:36 PM

    Thank you for the handy Walking Tours link and DC background information.

  • daffodil's Profile Photo
    Sep 16, 2004 at 2:36 PM

    Great Page Joan! I am excited to try out some of your restaurant suggestions when we go in October. Cheers!

seagoingJLW

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