Information & Facts
While the city of Washington DC's weather is highly seasonal
with extreme variations between summer and winter; it has been
known to be unpredictable too. Summers tend to be very hot and
humid, the conditions exacerbated in the heart of the city with its
concrete and steel. Fall and spring are the best seasons, when
chilly but bright, perfect days are the norm. Sudden rain or
snowfalls are possible though. In winter the city is subject to
heavy snowfalls, averaging 17 inches (43cm) a year, and sudden
arctic blasts or frozen rainstorms.
The city's many politicians and their expense accounts ensure
that Washington DC has some fantastic dining options to suit every
budget and taste. From glamorous upmarket restaurants dripping with
style, to roadside stalls and eateries, this city has all kinds of
Fresh seafood, crab, oysters and rock fish are among the most
popular on restaurant menus, with special emphasis on dishes
focuses around or being created with locally-caught crabs, such as
crabcakes, blue crabs, crab legs, crab soup and even Crab Chips, a
brand of potato chip unique to Washington DC. A popular spice is
Old Bay, which is locally made and used to season just about
everything from peaches to popcorn.
Most restaurants are centred round the Midtown, downtown and
Penn Quarter areas with the very upmarket eateries close to Capitol
Hill and frequented by a largely business crowd. Dupont Circle and
the West End are also great areas for restaurants of all
nationalities. A tip of 15% is expected in restaurants and it is
customary to make reservations before dining out.
Getting around Washington DC is relatively easy as most
attractions are within walking distance of each other. The city is
laid out in a circle around the White House, with 'spokes'
radiating out from it. Washington DC has an excellent public
transport system that includes buses and the Metrorail subway,
which has stations at or near almost every tourist attraction. The
system operates until midnight during the week, and metrorail
stations stay open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. The
efficient Metrorail subway system provides services throughout the
city and to the Virginia and Maryland suburbs and is used by means
of a computerised fare card.
The extensive Metrobus network fills in the gaps, but is more
complex to use and is slower due to heavy traffic; bus transfers
are free and valid for two hours from boarding. Both buses and
trains charge a standard fare. Bus, train or combined one-day
passes are also available. Although most visitors to Washington DC
arrive by car, it is often easier to use public transport as
traffic is heavy, and parking in the city is difficult and
expensive. Taxis are a good way of getting around for short
distances and they are cheaper than any other major city in the US;
instead of meters they operate on a zone system with flat rates
displayed, although several surcharges apply, including ordering
one by phone.
Washington DC offers many unforgettable attractions for kids on
holiday. Children will love seeing rockets and airplanes at the Air
and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, and learning to pass
secret messages at the Spy Museum.
On nice days, the National Zoo is a great kids' activity in
Washington DC, offering the only opportunity to see Giant Pandas in
the US. The city's many parks and gardens are great for running off
excess energy and enjoying the beautiful weather in spring and
autumn, and children will love the cotton-candy pink Cherry Blossom
trees in the Tidal Basin each April.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
Most people tend to associate the Capital City with politics,
the White House and Capitol Hill, but in fact the nightlife in
Washington DC will leave any hardcore party animal hard-pressed to
find somewhere they don't like.
Atlas District is DC's newest and trendiest bar and club scene
while other popular areas include Adams-Morgan; Dupont Circle along
Connecticut Avenue, the Penn Quarter and Georgetown. Here is where
most of the city's hippest nightlife can be found, with just about
everything from dance clubs, jazz bars, rock bars, pubs and gay
clubs in Dupont Circle.
Arlington Row is a more laid-back area that attracts a crowd of
all ages where excellent live music is the order of the day. If a
comedy show is what you're after, check out the Warner Theatre to
see who's appearing. If you can't decide what you want, the
Boomerang Bus stops at half a dozen venues, giving tourists a
chance to sample the best of Washington DC nightlife.
Washington DC also has a first-rate performing arts scene,
presided over by the renowned Kennedy Center. On any given night
there is a wide variety of local and international performances
ranging from Shakespeare, opera and ballet to jazz, rock bands, and
Broadway shows. Ticketmaster and InstantSeats.com offer tickets to
pretty much any event, while TICKETplace at 407 7th Street offers
discounted last-minute tickets to anything that isn't sold out.
Shopping in Washington DC almost competes with politics for
attention. The USA's capital also offers everything from trendy
boutiques and shopping malls to 24-hour bookshops and renowned
farmer's markets. Visitors to Washington DC will walk (or fly) away
with their bags full!
The nation's oldest neighbourhood, Georgetown boasts up-scale
designer boutiques and The Shops at Georgetown Park, which is home
to designer labels like Ann Taylor, Polo and Ralph Lauren. The
Georgetown Flea Market is good for antiques, jewellery, books,
rugs, toys and linens. The Dupont Circle neighbourhood has a GLBT
bookshop, Lambda Books, as well as designer boutiques such as Betsy
Fisher and vintage shops like Secondi. There is also the FreshFarm
Market to enjoy here.
Adams Morgan, previously dilapidated, now boasts a tredny
reputation and a number of eclectic independent shops and
boutiques. Penn Quarter is a great place to find antiques, art,
home decor and collectibles.
On Pennsylvania, the White House Visitor Center and Political
America sell authentic and reproduction campaign buttons, signed
photos, letters and other American memorabilia. Weschler's Auction
House on E Street holds public auctions each Tuesday. The National
Mall has great gift shops and museum stores, and is the best place
to find popular Washington DC souvenirs like miniature replicas of
the White House and various monuments. The National Archives Gift
Shop also offers reproductions of the Declaration of Independence
and other famous documents.
Shoppers should keep in mind that a non-refundable sales tax is
charged, but not included on the sticker price of items. Tax is
added at the register in Washington DC shops, so prices will be
higher than first expected.
The bustling and exciting city of Washington DC boasts a number
of must-see attractions. Visitors will love the iconic statues,
buildings and museums that have become synonymous with Washington
DC and have made regular appearances in TV shows and movies.
Visit National Mall, the place where Martin Luther King Jr made
'I Have a Dream' speech, marvel at the Washington
Monument, have your picture taken outside the White House, and see
the Capitol Building. The Lincoln Memorial is a must for history
buffs, as is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Culture lovers will
enjoy the National Gallery of Art and kids of all ages will love
the International Spy Museum. Another popular attraction on any
tour of Washington DC is a drive along Embassy Row.
Visitors should purchase the Washington DC Power Pass, or
VisiTicket, which entitles the bearer to admission to many of the
top Washington DC attractions and is available in one, two, three
or five-day durations. The cost of the pass starts at $27 per day.
However many of the best things to see in Washingto DC, including
the Smithsonian Museums, the National Archives, and Ford's Theatre,
are free to the public, making sightseeing in Washington DC a very