• Washington DC is a city for walkers and has even been known as one of the fittest cities in the US. Get out with your own two feet and explore America’s capital.
  • Check out the historic neighborhood of Georgetown.
  • Check out some parks not called The Mall.
    • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
    • Meridian Hill Park
    • C&O canal Towpath
  • Go running or cycling at Rock Creek Park
  • Explore Roosevelt Island and get away from most of the tourists.
  • Go see some blues bands play in the Shaw neighborhood.

Why you should add Washington DC to your RTW travel list

  • Spend hours wandering the Smithsonian Mall and its 13 museums and galleries
  • Visit the halls of power in the Capitol Building and the White House
  • Get shushed in the world’s largest library, the Library of Congress
  • Take a day trip out to the somber Arlington Cemetery
  • Imagine yourself as Mulder or Scully in the J Edgar Hoover FBI Building

Why you should not add Washington DC to your RTW travel list

  • It can be pretty pricey, and if you don’t get away from The Mall, you will be surrounded by tourists.
  • If you come in the summer, prepare to be hit in the face by a wall of humidity.

Overview

Washington DC: the ultimate social studies field trip. Millions of schoolchildren tour the United Sates capital each year, ohhing and ahhing at the historic White House, sitting in awe at Lincoln's Memorial, and gaping at the Washington Monument. Adults cannot help but do the same.

After the federal government, DC survives on tourism. It's the number two industry - and with good reason, as there's never a shortage of things to do.

What to do

Washington DC has more monuments than you can shake a stick at, and you'll be seeing at least a few of them from the outside even if you try to avoid it. The tall obelisk of the Washington Monument and the grand Lincoln Memorial are two of the best known, but in the same area you've got the museums of the Smithsonian. These are all free to enter, but the lines can be long. The Air and Space museum always has big crowds, but it's really worth it once you get inside.

Those with a passion for shopping and cafe culture should check out Georgetown, with restaurants, art galleries and the glamorous Kennedy Center.

If sports are your passion, no worries. DC is home to the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Washington Redskins, Washington Mystics and the new Washington Nationals - if you prefer to play, most head out of the city into greener pastures, but the Potomac River kayaking should not be overlooked.

Getting there

There are three major airports in the area so it's pretty easy to find a cheap flight to Washington DC. Two of the airports are very close to the city center and Baltimore's major airport is close enough that it's worth flying in there if the price is low enough, but usually it's easy to find good fares into the Dulles or Washington National.

Where to stay

There are plenty of hotels in Washington DC, and most of them tend to be quite expensive. If most of the centrally located hotels are out of your price range it's better to book a place in nearby Virginia than in the remote parts of DC itself. There is a strip of cheap hotels there, but the area is not near anything and it's quite dangerous at night. There are a few hostels in Washington DC as well, so if yor budget is limited you might consider a private room in one of those instead of a far-away hotel.

Our friends at USA Tourist have guides to various U.S. cities, including a Washington DC Travel Guide, specifically geared toward visitors from outside the country.