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Washington

Known for Universities, Zoo and Culture

National treasures, American history and international politics take center stage in the U.S. capital city. 

How do you get to Washington?

Washington D.C., or “D.C.” as locals call it, was founded in 1791. As the epicenter of American politics, a visit to the nation’s capital isn’t complete without a trip to the White House. This is where America’s presidents have lived and worked for more than two centuries. Next door is the National Mall where you’ll find many of the country’s most revered landmarks. You can’t miss the towering Washington Monument, a 555-foot (169-meter) marble obelisk. Make your way up to the elevated U.S. Capitol Building for a breath-taking view across the Reflecting Pool towards the Lincoln Memorial. It was here that crowds gathered for Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

The National Mall showcases tributes to the nation’s patriots and heroes. These include the Korean War Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and World War II Memorial. It’s also home to the U.S. Botanic Garden and the National Gallery of Art. The revered Smithsonian Institute, the world’s largest museum and research complex, has most of its 19 exhibit halls on the mall. These include the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum. Use the wide, tree-lined sidewalks around the mall to explore the sights on foot or by hired bike.

Public transportation in D.C. is fast and easy. The DC Circulator bus stops in a number of districts, including Rosslyn, which is close to the Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the Iwo Jima Memorial. In the historic district of Georgetown you’ll find 18th-century architecture and modern-day shops and cafes. For nighttime entertainment, head to the U Street Corridor in the Shaw neighborhood where jazz legend Duke Ellington used to play nightly.

Washington D.C. hosts many lively festivals year round. Join in one the nation’s largest Independence Day celebrations on July 4. Each April film buffs from around the world enjoy the Washington DC International Film Festival. Music lovers gather every June for the DC Jazz Festival. The city also has a thriving theater scene. See a live stage show at The National Theatre, walking distance from the White House. The Shakespeare Theatre Company gives free performances throughout the year at the Sidney Harman Hall in Downtown D.C.

Be prepared for humid weather in summer and snowfall in winter. Visit Washington D.C. in spring and you may be lucky enough to catch one of the city’s most spectacular displays: for just a few days in March or April, some 1,600 cherry trees around the Tidal Basin burst into bloom.

Best time to visit Washington, D.C.Peak Season: From March through June, expect higher rates as tourists flock to the city for the cherry blossoms and Congress finishes up its session.

Value Season: September and December are your best bets for great hotel deals and shorter lines. July and August are also good for travel bargains, but expect humid weather.

Things to do in Washington

Explore the home and workplace of the president of the United States. See entertainment areas and state rooms and learn about the history of this famous building.

Inspiring architecture, magnificent museums and the icons of American history await on Washington’s famous two-mile (three-kilometer) strip. 

Centerpiece of the National Mall, America’s tribute to the country’s founding father stirs the soul while offering superb views from the top.

Walk around the campus of George Washington University, a well-known college in Washington. Add the area's notable monuments or shops to your travel plans.

Epic words, exceptional architecture, and an inspirational view combine in this stirring tribute to America’s 16th president.

Trover photo by Cassandra 📷

You can browse the exhibits at National Museum of Natural History, a museum with a storied past, during your trip to Washington. Experience the area's entertainment choices and acclaimed theater scene.

The shadowy world of espionage comes under the spotlight in a museum where nothing is quite as it seems. 

Trover photo by Chris Jones

Catch an event at Nationals Park during your trip to Washington. Experience the area's acclaimed theater scene and fascinating museums.

Tickets & Tours

Jump on a double-decker bus to explore Washington, D.C. at your leisure. As the authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service, this is the official tour of the National Mall and an ideal way to explore the Nation’s Capital.

Tickets & Tours

Delve into the African American heritage of the United States and its capital city on this local-led tour of D.C. Visit landmarks like Frederick Douglass' house and the Martin Luther King Jr.

Tickets & Tours

Glide along Pennsylvania Avenue and the National Mall during a guided Segway tour that shows you all of Washington, D.C.'s most important landmarks. Dive head-first into U.S. history while admiring monuments, museums, and memorials dedicated to the nation's formative years.

Tickets & Tours

Zip around Washington, D.C. with a hop-on hop-off pass that lets you design your own schedule. Visit iconic monuments, moving memorials, and esteemed institutions at your own pace, with more than 25 stops and frequent departures that keep you moving around the nation's capitol.

Tickets & Tours

Your tour begins at the US Navy Memorial and loops around the National Mall, stopping at iconic landmarks and powerful tributes to key moments in American history along the way.

Tickets & Tours

Explore 3 of the most popular museums and attractions in the nation's capital at a discounted price while enjoying the convenience of visiting each on your own schedule. With your Explorer Pass in hand, grab your camera and your walking shoes to immerse yourself in the history and culture of Washington, D.

Best neighborhoods to visit in Washington

Experts share insider tips on their favorite spots in town

Visitor guides from our travel experts

Local experts explore every corner of Washington for you

LGBT destination guide: Washington, DC

Discovering the LGBT side of the nation’s capital

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LGBT destination guide: Washington, DC

Food trucks in Washington, DC

Finding meals to go from food trucks in the nation's capital

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Food trucks in Washington, DC

Capital theater scene

Exploring the theater options in Washington, D.C.

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Capital theater scene

Kids in the City: Washington, D.C.

Maximizing the family vacation in Washington, D.C.

Expedia Guest Author
Kids in the City: Washington, D.C.

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