Washington Travel Guides

Named for the first president of the United States, Washington, D.C., became the country's capital — with George Washington himself having a hand in creating its cityscape — in 1791. Washington commissioned surveyor Alexander Ralston to lay out the city and Pierre Charles L'Enfant to design it. Many of the centuries-old elements remain to this day, including a "grand avenue" that evolved into the National Mall. Today, Washington is a bustling hub of politics, business, museums and monuments. In addition to its local residents, those from nearby Maryland and Virginia commute to work in Washington every day, and an estimated 19 million tourists venture there annually.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Washington generally are selected by their geography. If your desire is to be near the action of Capitol Hill, you'll want to stay at a hotel on the eastern end of the National Mall, with the advantage of easy access to transportation at Union Station. Downtown hotels are plentiful and in close proximity to the city's many monuments and museums. Or you can stay in Georgetown, northwest of the National Mall and set along the Potomac, where, as the legend goes, George Washington threw a silver dollar across the river! If you'd like to stay on the outskirts of the city, choose Alexandria, Virginia, which has an Old Town for strolling, shopping and dining. If you're visiting your favorite George Washington University student, book your stay at a hotel in Foggy Bottom.


With two major airports serving Washington, you'll have your choice of flights. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, named for the 40th president of the United States, is located in Virginia and is closer to Washington. It has a metro stop, as well as access to taxis that can take you into the city. Washington Dulles International Airport is also in Virginia, but is about 30 miles from Washington.

Top Things to Do

If you're into outdoor activities or you just like to experience something new, take a bike tour of Washington or rent a boat and paddle the Potomac! Whether you join a tour group or take in the sights on your own, be sure to visit as many historical places as possible, such as the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Museums and Zoo. If it's entertainment you're after, check out what's going on at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. There's no shortage of exhibitions and sights, including some that are free! And don't miss out on all the great dining and shopping, no matter where you are in the city.

Weather/Seasonal Information

Although the summer months in Washington have an average high temperature in the 80s, you're in for typical brisk and beautiful East Coast weather during September and October. Bring your heaviest jackets if you're planning to visit in winter and early spring months, because you'll be sure to shiver as temperatures average in the 30s and 40s!

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