Washington, DC Travel Guide

See what's going on in Washington, DC in 2023

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Washington, DC is a city rich in history and proud in its heritage. With its memorials, monuments and historical sites making it a must-see place for every visitor, it is also great value for money with many of its iconic sights and museums FREE of charge! Offering activities and attractions for everyone, very few cities in the world provide the same access to world-class museums, one-of-a-kind events and incredible displays as Washington, DC.

Washington, DC is a city made up of clean, green open spaces and a multitude of neighbourhoods, where restaurants and pubs buzz and the city is on view from a vast array of roof terraces. There’s so much to love about each one of DC’s neighbourhoods, from history on Capitol Hill and high-end boutiques in Georgetown to performing arts in the Penn Quarter and 24-hour dining in Adams Morgan. Get familiar with the lay of the land and find your place in DC.

Located between Virginia and Maryland, Washington, DC is full of surprises, you just won’t want to leave!


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Monuments and Memorials

No trip to Washington, DC is complete without touring our celebrated monuments and memorials. At the heart is the National Mall, a two-mile green expanse from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial.  Along the way, visitors will see the Washington Monument, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial to name a few.

While visitors can freely discover these attractions on their own, a tour offers a way to learn the history associated with each.  The highly-acclaimed Bike and Roll offers guided bicycle tours of the monuments with stops at all of the major attractions along the National Mall and also offers evening tours so that visitors can experience magnificent views of the attractions illuminated at night. For a truly unique way to see the city, glide across town on a Segway, all whilst taking in the sites of Washington, DC.


Washington, DC is in a class of its own when it comes to high quality museums. Collectively called the Smithsonian Institution, this world-renowned museum and research complex in the District consists of 17 museums, galleries and a National Zoo. Explore and learn about everything from the origins of man and the future of flight to the history of art across multiple continents with nearly 140 million objects, works of art and specimens to discover. And you won’t have to pay a penny to experience it as admission is free at every location.

Or why not visit the International Spy Museum, there’s something for the spy in all of us. Guests adopt a cover, break codes, identify disguised spies, and become the subjects of covert surveillance throughout their visit. Through intense interactive experiences and immersive environments, the Museum examines actual events, reveals true stories, and presents hundreds of authentic tools of the spy trade.

The International Spy Museum is now at a brand-new, purpose-built facility at Washington DC’s L’Enfant Plaza, a short walk between the National Mall and The Wharf.

There are plenty more amazing museums for you to feast your eyes on such as the Museum of the Bible, the National Geographic Museum, the Law Enforcement Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and much more!


Washington, DC is made up of many neighbourhoods, each with its own flavour and flair. A huge variety of architecture, festivals and eateries solidify the city as a global crossroads, while farm-to-table restaurants, indie shops and galleries, busy outdoor markets and intimate music venues speak to the city’s local minded-side.

The diverse neighbourhood of Adams Morgan is mostly known for its nightlife thanks to all the bars and restaurants dotting the 18th Street corridor. Centred at the intersection of Columbia Road and 18th Street, sandwiched between U Street Corridor, Mount Pleasant, Kalorama, Dupont Circle, Columbia Heights, and Woodley Park, the area might be less than 5 square miles, but there’s a lot for you to explore including historic row houses, the DC Arts Centre, an art gallery and performance space that supports emerging artists in the city.

Capitol Hill is one of the city’s most popular places to live, with 19th-century rowhouses and a market plus a vibrant dining and nightlife scene. Head to the neighbourhood both for its government buildings like the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court and the surrounding historic, walkable, restaurant-filled blocks.

With the U.S. Capitol as its beacon, Capitol Hill (lovingly named by Thomas Jefferson) has served as the centre of politics in Washington, DC since the early 19th century. But there is much more to the Hill than suited staffers and America’s most famous cast iron-domed structure. Hop off a Metro train at Eastern Market or Capitol South and begin a day filled with history, culture and dynamite eats.



Explore Dupont Circle and you’ll discover dozens of bistros, bars, boutiques and museums, as well as the vibrant stretch along 17th Street. This cosmopolitan neighbourhood offers a little something for everyone. An array of unique shops and exciting restaurants along Connecticut Avenue, one of the busy streets in the neighbourhood, is exciting enough to keep you going all day. Or why not join the throngs of locals on Sundays who visit the year-round Dupont Circle farmers’ market in front of the Metro station entrance on Q and 20th streets.

The beauty of Georgetown’s cobblestone sidewalks, grand homes and peaceful C&O canal are only part of the draw to this tree-lined historic neighbourhood – as home to some of the city’s top shops, tastiest restaurants and most luxurious hotels, Georgetown’s river waterfront is home to tons of great restaurants and plenty of outdoor activities. In summer, children (and adults, too) can splash in the sprinkler-style water fountain, watch the boats and feed the ducks. In winter months, the region’s largest ice rink opens for skating.

North of Dupont Circle – and across Rock Creek Park from funky Adams Morgan – genteel Woodley Park was one of several uptown neighbourhoods where 19th and early 20th-century Washingtonians escaped the summer heat. It still boasts historic architecture, including two grand hotels, plus the modern buzz of good restaurants with sidewalk cafés. The neighbourhood features a few iconic sights, including a Marilyn Monroe mural and two spectacular bridges, the Taft and the Duke Ellington. Its biggest attraction, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, which backs up Rock Creek Park, is home to the city’s famed giant pandas.


When visiting Washington, DC, you should know you’re entering a city where locals love to hike, walk and play outside. If you want to eat healthy, explore nature or tap into the city’s local fitness bug, you can do it all in Washington, DC. Recreation is also plentiful. DC’s ultimate outdoor mecca is Rock Creek Park, a 4.4-square-mile expanse that includes numerous trails for hiking, biking and exploring. Plus, a nature centre, picnic areas, riding stables, tennis courts and historic site Peirce Mill. Enjoy kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding at Key Bridge Boathouse. Experience the tranquillity of floating on the water combined with breath-taking views of DC’s monuments, Teddy Roosevelt Island’s wildlife and the Georgetown Waterfront. Bring a picnic for a post-paddle lunch by the water.

The Wharf reestablishes Washington, DC, as a waterfront city and destination. This remarkable, mile-long stretch along the Potomac River comes to life with restaurants, retailers, residences, and businesses—all complemented by monumental views and a vibrant culture. Home of the award winning Anthem concert hall, multiple intimate music venues, a host of local retailers, and the nation’s oldest operating fish market, The Wharf offers a truly unique DC experience.

The Wharf is one of the most connected and accessible neighborhoods in Washington, DC. With Metro and VRE in easy walking distance, Reagan International Airport and Union Station ten minutes away by car, underground parking, Capital Bikeshare onsite, and daily water taxi access, getting to The Wharf is a breeze.


Head to the heart of Downtown DC for its newest shopping sensation, CityCenterDC, bustling with 10-acres of shops, cafes, restaurants and public space. Head to the hip hunter’s paradise where U Street’s old-school-cool vibe intertwines with trendsetting restaurants and shops along 14th Street. The historic U Street neighbourhood is exploding with funky furniture stores and edgy clothing outlets and cool boutiques.

Georgetown features a little bit of everything, from indie specialty shops to home design to high-end boutiques to national and international retail stores.

Tysons Corner is a favourite for the international shopper. Take Metro’s Silver Line to the retail mecca located in McLean, Va., and browse through goods from more than 300 shops at Tysons Corner Center, including brands like Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor and C. Wonder.



Washington, DC’s sports teams are a blast to cheer for, any time of the year.  The Washington Nationals stadium in Capitol Riverfront offers magnificent views of the Capitol dome and Washington Monument along with one of the National League’s most exciting teams.

Did you know that D.C. United is one of the most successful soccer teams in the country? Catch a game at Audi Field which opened last July with the familiar Wayne Rooney leading the team out.

The Washington Redskins regularly take the field in front of a packed stadium, and FedExField is home to one of only two marching bands in the NFL, a group that joyously plays “Hail to the Redskins” after every touchdown. Head to the Capital One Arena for a Washington Wizards basketball game to see All-Star John Wall in action. The arena is centrally located in DC’s bustling Penn Quarter & Chinatown neighbourhood, so after the game you can grab dinner, sightsee at a museum or relax with a nightcap at one of the neighbourhood’s buzzworthy bars. 

Dining Out and Entertaiment

Beyond national treasures and historic buildings, Washington, DC’s neighbourhoods buzz with lively cafes and restaurants, rich culture and music of all kinds. It’s the real DC at its finest.

Dig in to one of the hottest restaurant scenes in the nation. When you visit the nation’s capital, you’ll experience a food scene as colourful and eclectic as America itself. That means you can expect each meal at every restaurant to be different. From crave-worthy dishes served by celebrity chefs to world-famous chili bowls served from a diner, DC’s local flavour only has one thing in common: it’s all delicious.  The city received its first Michelin Guide in October 2016 signifying to the world what the locals already know; it’s a true culinary destination.

With an unparalleled music and nightlife scene, U Street draws locals and visitors looking to stay up late and have a good time. From underground dance clubs to industrial-chic spaces where you can sip artfully crafted cocktails and everything in between, this popular area in the District has every option to suit your vibe.


Festivals and Events

You can find amazing events taking place all year long in Washington, DC. Explore everything that’s going on, from annual festivals and holiday celebrations to new museum exhibits, concerts and so much more.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. It includes spectacular weekends and daily events during March and April, promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit.  Each year, the Festival commemorates the anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival during June and July is an international exposition of living cultural heritage annually produced outdoors on the National Mall of the United States in Washington, DC, by the Smithsonian Institution’s Centre for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Free to the public, like other Smithsonian museums, each festival typically draws hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Watching the fireworks is one of the highlights of DC’s Independence Day celebrations, and there are lots of interesting sites from which to view them. For example, you’ll find excellent vantage points from a few rooftop bars, sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or across the river in Arlington. Or why not head to the National Mall, one of the best but busiest places to watch the fireworks. Stake out your spot with a blanket, beach chairs and a picnic basket full of food.

Top Things to Do in Washington, DC

National Mall
Besides well-known landmarks like the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall also features over 60 other monuments and memorials for you to visit.

National Mall at Dusk
Touring the National Mall during the day is delightful, but for a truly magical experience, visit at dusk. That’s when the lights come on, bathing Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, as well as the Washington Monument, in an otherworldly glow.

U.S. Capitol Building
The U.S. Capitol Building is one of the most recognisable buildings in the world and the center of American democracy. The world-famous domed building is home to the United States House of Representatives and Senate; where America’s congressmen and congresswomen conduct business, debate laws and pass bills on behalf of the American people. The U.S. Capitol and U.S. Capitol Visitor Centre are free to visit and are one of DC’s most popular monuments and museums which welcomes millions of visitors each year.

Bike or Segway Tour
Why not orientate yourself with the city by taking a guided bicycle or segway tour of the with stops at all of the major attractions along the National Mall and surrounding sites.

Culinary Food Tour
Treat your taste buds to a culinary food tour exploring DC’s iconic neighbourhoods and learning about the local history at the same time.

National Zoo
At the National Zoo, visitors can find all sorts of animals; lions, tigers, giraffes and the zoo’s beloved giant pandas are just some of the 2,000 animals that call the 163-acre park home. The zoo’s habitats feature animals from 400 different species and about 25 percent of the zoo’s residents are endangered.

Rock Creek Park
Hike through Rock Creek Park – DC’s ultimate outdoor mecca is Rock Creek Park, a 4.4-square-mile expanse that includes numerous trails for hiking, biking and exploring. There’s more to like about the park, too, like a nature centre, picnic areas, riding stables, tennis courts and the historical site of Peirce Mill.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is the nation’s greatest springtime celebration, held in Washington, DC. Each year, the Festival commemorates the anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan with spectacular weekend and daily events.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s most treasured burial ground, is home to more than 285,000 honoured dead. Among the thousands of white headstones are the graves of President John F. Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, world champion boxer Joe Louis and the Tomb of the Unknowns. Visit Arlington National Cemetery to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

National Air and Space Musuem
The National Air and Space Museum takes visitors to the sky, showcasing the amazing technological achievements that have progressed aviation and space exploration throughout the last century. Our fascination with flight is still alive and well, as the museum is one of the most visited in the world year after year. Glimpse the 1903 Wright Flyer, run your hands over moon rock and experience the larger-than-life world of aviation and space travel.

Eastern Market
Visit Eastern Market on weekend mornings to browse the work of local artisans and sample farm-fresh produce and concoctions. Market Lunch’s blueberry buckwheat pancakes are a must-try in the market itself.


Washington, DC is a very walkable city, but the Metrorail and Metrobus are the most convenient ways to get around and operates from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekends. Taxis and Uber are plentiful and economic in DC or alternatively hop on a bike and explore all that DC has to offer.