With a metropolitan population of over 6 million Washington DC (District of Columbia) is the capital of the United States of America – it has thus also become the sixth largest metropolitan statistical area there. Stretching upon an area of 177 square kilometres, and named after the first president of its parent country, George Washington, it was founded in 1791. Since then Washington has only grown and expanded into the modern-day juggernaut that it is. This and its magnificent, historically-significant sights made it an ideal tourist destination.
The pride of the United States is located within the bounds of the humid subtropical climate zone but in terms of temperatures, it often acts as though it were in the temperate one. Experiencing four distinct seasons and perceptible temperature fluctuations, Washington has warm to hot summers and cold winters. Its transitory months are mild and significantly wet but they are by no means insupportable. Note that, though winters do not tend to get extreme, hefty blizzards can occur every four to six years. The best way to travel to Washington is to keep a close eye on the forecast – in that way, the worst thing that can happen to you is that they’re wrong (wink).
Washington is served by the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport located 5 kilometres south of the city centre and bearing the name of two presidents: Ronald Reagan and George Washington. Funnelling more than 21 million passengers each year and operating with three asphalt runways, it manages to handle the entire Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area on its own. Stretching upon an area of 7.3 hectares, the airport serves as an important hub for the American Airlines. Note that the establishment is well-served by ground-based transport and there are direct links to the city as well. These include taxis, rail-based vehicles, shuttles, and even rideshare options.
Before you consider the obvious options of cabs, metros or even buses, know that Washington DC is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States of America. With over 1,300 bike racks installed throughout the city and over 72 kilometres of dedicated lanes, it does nothing else but urge you to go as eco-friendly as possible. In fact, Washington has the sixth highest number of people commuting via bikes in the USA (and that is something to say about a capital city). If you choose to cruise around on two wheels, you might want to keep a lookout for the SmartBike DC and the Capital Bikeshare programs.
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
No visit to the capital of the United States would be complete without taking a look at the majestic Lincoln Memorial. Dedicated to the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, the monument was a joint operation including master architect Henry Bacon, Daniel Chester French, the Piccirilli Brothers and Jules Guerin. Since the abolition of slavery is attributed to Lincoln, the monument has become an inadvertent nexus of positive race relations. This makes it one of the most visited landmarks of its parent city (over 6.5 million visitors each year) and a place often represented in movies and TV series.
Next up, we recommend that you hop over to the renowned Washington Monument, a majestic obelisk directly visible from the previous landmark and towering over everything else around it. Situated proudly upon the National Wall and soaring at a stately height of 169 metres, it is the world’s tallest stone structure and tallest obelisk. Visited by nearly 700,000 people each year, it spiritually competes with massive monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Cologne Cathedral and others. Designated a U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1966, it is made entirely of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. Definitely a must-see!
If you are up for some scientific exploration, you should head over to the National Museum of Natural History administered by the renowned Smithsonian Institution. Encompassing millions of years of evolution and of natural splendour, the establishment has a vast array of exhibitions called: the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals; the Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology; the Hall of Human Origins; the Hall of Mammals; the Insect Zoo; the African Voices; the Ocean Hall; the Butterflies + Plants: Partners In Evolution; the Korea Gallery; the Teleology: Hall of Bones; and the Western Cultures Hall. If you happen to be travelling with your children, make sure to not leave this one out.
Oh, and besides the obvious magnificence of the White House, we also recommend that you take a few glances at the National Air and Space Museum and the International Spy Museum as well (wink). Who knows, you might encounter some American version of 007. Just kidding, have a nice time!
Washington DC is one of those cities that are bound to leave you with a slack jaw. A vast plethora of national treasures, great food and plenty of things to do define an unparalleled tourist destination. Pick up those backpacks and plan your trips now!