National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC (Smithsonian Institution)

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC (Brand X Pictures)

Metro train, Washington, DC (WDCCVA)

FDR Memorial, Washington, DC (WDCCVA)

National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC (National Air and Space Museum)

Capitol building with tulips, Washington, DC (Joe Sohn/Digital Vision/Getty)

Berlin Wall Gallery at the Newseum, Washington, DC (Newseum)

Adams Morgan neighborhood, Washington, DC (Capital Region USA)

Vietnam Memorial and Washington Monument, Washington, DC (Photodisc)

Supreme Court, Washington, DC (Photodisc)

U.S. Capitol steps, Washington, DC (Corbis)

National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC (National Air and Space Museum)

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool, Washington, DC (Stockbyte)

Washington DC Skyline (iStockphoto)

Jefferson Memorial, National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C (iStockphoto)


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What to do in Washington, DC

According to many aspiring politicians, Washington, D.C., is a greedy cesspool. But tourists quickly discover what the locals know: Washington is a pleasant and extremely manageable city. Confining your visit to downtown lets you easily accomplish your to-do list, from the Capitol to the Smithsonian museums to the great marble monuments. But there are rewards for wandering off the National Mall and into D.C.’s neighborhoods. Shopping in Georgetown, the hepcat vibe of the U Street corridor, or the nightlife of Adams Morgan will give a warmer impression of the city than dodging school groups among iconic attractions. Buy an all-day pass for the Metro (the subway system). A local might even help you operate the machine that dispenses passes—despite John F. Kennedy’s assertion that D.C. is “a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.”

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Traveler Reviews of Washington, DC

Dana rates Washington, DC
I went many years ago on a college trip. It was a lot of fun and would like to return with my husband.
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Tiera rates Washington, DC
I'm a local and I still think Washington, D.C. is a great place to visit. There is always something new to see and most of it is free. The Smithsonian has many museums and most of them are clustered on The Mall (the Capitol's front or back yard, depending on how you view it.) For the first time last week, I toured Hillwood, a house owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post - not free, but worth the $15.00 entrance fee. You can save money by becoming a member for $50.00 and you receive 4 free guest passes. It has an exceptional collection of Russian art, and it was decorated for the Christmas holidays. The gardens are fabulous and I can't wait to return in the Spring. Sometimes when you are visiting a city, you need a break from the hubbub. My favorite nearby getaways are a stroll along the C&O Canal or Roosevelt Island.
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Pamula rates Washington, DC
Just North of the National Mall is the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro (Red, Yellow, and Green Metro lines) where the Smithsonian's Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery are. Free to enter, both have incredible exhibits of American artists and Great Americans' portraits.Good rainy day places to visit. Within 3 blocks of these attractions are the Spy Museum and the Crime and Punishment Museum. You have to pay to get into these but if you follow James Bond, CSI, or a law enforcement series, you will enjoy them. There are a number of fine restaurants with menus ranging from reasonably priced BBQ to exotic budget-busting. The Verizon Center is where Wizards, Mystics, & Capitals play and other entertainments. H Street offers a variety of Asian restaurants and shops. The Circulator bus ($1/ride) runs from this area to the Mall.
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Larry rates Washington, DC
Just six blocks east of the U.S. Capitol is historic Eastern Market, housed in a recently restored building first opened in 1873. A block from the Eastern Market Metro station, it is the only public market left in DC. Open every day but Monday, it offers an old fashioned Southern breakfast and on the weekends hosts a farmer's line and an extravagant flea market. Restaurants and bars abound, both adjacent to the market and on nearby Barracks Row on 8th Street S.E. Barracks Row is also the home of the headquarters of the Marine Corps. A retreat parade on Friday nights during warmer weather features close order drill and the Marine Band. On the Anacostia Riverfront just blocks away, one can find a biking trail, Canal Park, Nationals Park (the home of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club) and much more.
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Lacy rates Washington, DC
DC is a wonderful city for all types of groups to visit. For families: as long as your kids are old enough, the monuments are something every kid should see. And if you come during the spring or fall when it isn't too hot, they can run off all their energy zipping between each attraction. The National Mall is a great place to bring a ball and bat and a picnic blanket and just hang out as a family. For 20-somethings: DC isn't exactly known for their nightlife but it is an awesome city to come have a drink. There are nightclubs (though many of them are questionable) and classy after-work cocktail bars that are great for socializing and meeting new people. There is also an active music scene and some wonderful options to dine.
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Pam rates Washington, DC
The Metro is an efficient way to get around. Many wonderful sites are free. But most of all the historic and cultural value is superb
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Pieter rates Washington, DC
DC is a great place to visit for either families or young folks. The best part is it doesn't need to be expensive. Walking around the monuments (starting at the Jefferson, walking through the FDR, then the new MLK, and on to the Licoln, WWII, and Vietnam memorials) takes a full day and won't cost you a dime. The museums are mostly free too. And don't miss the non-Mall neighborhoods like U Street (jazz clubs) or Georgetown (shopping).
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Alistair rates Washington, DC
I have been living in the DC area for over ten years and find it's a great place to be, given all the events, museums, and eclectic international flavors. The National Mall is obviously a great first stop, with my favorite museums being the Sackler (Asia art), Museum of Natural History Museum, and Museum of the American Indian (kids will love the ImagiNations zone). The zoo is also a perennial favorite. Away from the Mall, there are loads happening 'hoods with some fun restaurants and bars (U and P sts. are really fun, as is the area up around Columbia Heights). If you can, go for some local flavors too in places like Falls Church's Eden Center (Vietnamese pho and lemongrass chicken; nearby, XO Taste serves up tasty and cheap Hong Kong-style dishes).
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