For an educational city break, Washington DC is the ideal choice! Famous as the capital city and political centre of the USA, Washington is home to a staggering number of monuments and museums, as well as a large number of government buildings and of course the White House. A popular choice for American school trips, Washington is the perfect place to come to learn about the USA’s political history.
Surprisingly small in size for a capital city, Washington’s large parks, wide streets and lack of high-rise buildings give it a spacious, open feel, quite different from the skyscraper-filled skylines of many other major US cities. There are a number of tour companies offering hop-on-hop-off experiences around the city, including the popular Old Town Trolley Tours, but in this compact city walking is the most pleasant and economical option.
There’s a lot more to Washington than just museums; the city is home to a range of diverse neighbourhoods offering great restaurants, art galleries and shops. Washington is also popular as a twin city break, as New York is only 3 and a half hours away by train.
A visit to the White House has to begin at the White House, home to every US President since John Adams. Tours of the interior are not always available, but you can still admire the impressive exterior, and sometimes access parts of the grounds. Next on the list is the Capitol Building, where the US Congress meets to discuss national policy. The Capitol Visitor Centre features an Exhibition Hall full of artefacts and interactive videos, and two large television screens allow visitors to watch live footage of the goings-on in the House and Senate.
From here the National Mall stretches all the way to the Washington Monument and beyond, past the WWII Memorial and the Reflecting Pool before ending at the Lincoln Memorial. Scattered along the Mall is the Smithsonian, a collection of art galleries and museums covering many aspects of American history and culture. The Jefferson Memorial is also worth a visit, the building housing an imposing statue of the president himself.
Once you’ve had your fill of museums, turn your attention to Washington’s other pursuits. Go shopping in the waterfront neighbourhood of Georgetown, find jazz bars on U Street, or watch theatre and music concerts at the Kennedy Center.
Washington has a huge spectrum of restaurants to offer, ranging from pricey restaurants catering for politicians in sharp suits to cheap and cheerful eateries frequented by locals. Capitol Hill is one of the more exclusive districts, where there’s always the chance of spotting a famous face from politics having a power lunch at one of the exclusive bistros.
For a more laidback dining experience, there are plenty of other options. Washington has begun to establish itself as a real ‘foodie’ city in recent years, and each neighbourhood offers a huge choice of restaurants, cafes and bars to suit every taste. Georgetown has long been the most popular tourist area or Washington, and many longstanding dining institutions can be found here. Adams Morgan is typically the neighbourhood most frequented by students, but this does mean that there are plenty of cheap eateries for those on a tight budget.
The beer gardens and wine bars of Shaw and the 14th Street Corridor are the places to spend your Friday and Saturday nights, while the hidden gems of H Street make up for the fact that it’s slightly harder to get to.