Washington D.C.

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Seal of Washington, D.C.



The capitol of the United States, Washington D.C. (District of Columbia) boasts a veritable cornucopia of sites to see, events to attend, and people to meet. The diaspora spans practically every nationality and ethnicity: said diversity evident in the food, sight-seeing destinations, and events available in the D.C. Metropolitan region.

Things To Do

There is a lot to do here. DC is a political powerhouse, with a lot of government history. There is also a vibrant cultural life, including nightlife.

Government Buildings and Museums

Capitol Hill

National Mall

The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C. Officially termed by the National Park Service the National Mall & Memorial Parks, the term commonly includes the areas that are officially part of West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the west, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center.

Smithsonian Museums

  • Postal Museum'- Located across First Street from Union Station, the Postal Museum is one of the most overlooked museums of the Smithsonian. It's more than mere stamp collections; it's an unique lens through which to view American history and technological innovation.
  • National Museum of the American Indian- The building is among the newest additions to the National Mall. Its architecture is unlike any other structure in the District, comprised of organic curves and naturally rough surfaces, rather than the smooth columns of Roman style architecture or more modern angular constructions seen throughout downtown D.C.
  • National Gallery of Art- The East Wing contains modern art, including works by Andy Warhol.
  • Air and Space
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • Arts and Industries
  • African Art
  • Freer and Sakler Galleries
  • The Castle
  • Natural History
  • American History- (Closed for renovation until Summer 2008)
  • National Archives
  • Navy Memorial
  • Holocaust Museum
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Potomac River Basin

  • Washington Monument
  • Jefferson Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • WWII Memorial
  • Roosevelt Memorial
  • Vietnam Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

  • JFK: The Eternal Flame
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: The Changing of the Guard
  • Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
    • Millennium Stage
  • Watergate Complex
  • National Zoo
    • Pandas
  • Embassy Row
  • National Cathedral
  • Eastern Market
  • International Spy Museum
  • Rock Creek Park
  • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
  • National Arboretum
  • Frederick Douglass House (Anacostia)

Culture

  • Dupont Circle
    • The intersection of Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts Avenues and P and 19th Streets, Dupont Circle is a hub of activity. Restaurants, bars, cafes, bookshops, fashion boutiques, galleries and other places of interest about.
  • Chinatown
  • Capitol Hill

Tips for using public transportation

Metro - MetroBus & MetroRail

The Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (http://www.wmata.com/) known locally as "Metro" is a system of inter-connected above ground and underground (subway) heavy gauge rail trains (MetroRail), and above ground buses (MetroBus). Note that many people also use the term "Metro" to mean the MetroRail. The Metro system also interfaces with numerous local and regional bus systems as well as other railroads (Amtrak,VRE, MARC) and the three airports in the Washington, D.C. region. Metro is a great way to get around the city of Washington, DC, especially in the downtown area for much less money than a taxis.

Fares:

Temporary (paper) fare cards, as well as daily and weekly fare passes may be purchased at MetroRail stations and select commuter services retail outlets for use on the MetroRail (subways). If you are going to be in the Washington, D.C. region for more than a couple days you might consider purchasing a Metro SmartTrip card for $5.00 which is a permanent plastic card that can be used on MetroRail, MetroBus, and many connecting local bus services (see below) AT A DISCOUNT over regular farecards and using cash. These cards are permanent, assigned to you, may be "recharged" or fare value added with cash or credit card, and are refundable if lost or stolen (provided you have registered your card online). SmartTrip cards may be purchased at MetroRail stations, consumer commuter outlets, and at many CVS Pharmacies and other retail outlets in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. (http://www.wmata.com/fares/smartrip/). Although MetroRail required the purchase of either a temporary paper fare card, daily or weekly pass, or SmartTrip card, MetroBuses will accept cash ($2 or $1.70 exact change as of current writing, for non-senior-citizens and non-students on a non-express line). MetroBuses do not accept paper fare cards. See here for more information on passes: http://www.wmata.com/fares/purchase/passes.cfm

MetroRail Courtesy:

An important thing to remember when using Metro is to stand on the right when using escalators (if they are running). It is often "rush-hour" on the Metro, and the left side of escalators is for riders who are on the move. If you are carrying large pieces of luggage, pushing a baby carriage, or bringing a bicycle on Metro, use the elevators. These items are not welcome on escalators. Standing on the left is a sure sign that you are a tourist, and will not only be a hazard but also greatly annoy fellow Metro riders.

Bicycles on Metro:

There is bicycle parking at most MetroRail stations. Bicycles are welcome on the MetroRail any time except weekdays from 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. There is a 2-bike rack on the front of all MetroBuses which you can use any time. Please consult the Metro (WMATA) website for information see: Getting Around Bike to Bus & Rail

Other Local and Regional Buses

There are several publicly owned and run bus systems interconnected with the Metro System (MetroRail and MetroBus) that provide complimentary transportation service within the City of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding cities and suburbs. These include (but not limited to):

Most (if not all) of these bus systems are integrated into Metro's Trip Planner tool (http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/tripplanner/tripplanner_form_solo.cfm)
where you can put an Origin and Destination to see transit options.
And all accept the Metro SmartTrip card for fares (at a discount).

Other Rail Services

There are three rail services which also inter-connect with the Metro system to provide rail service to outlying communities and suburbs; as well as to the U.S. national rail system and more distant cities. Amtrak and MARC provide connections to Baltimore, Maryland as well as Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

All three rail services connect at Union Station, near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC as well as at various other Amtrack and MetroRail stations. Currently, VRE and MARC are "commuter" rail services which do not run late at night or on the weekends.

Taxi Cabs

As of June 1, 2008, Washington DC taxis are required to use time and distance based metered rates and are no longer on zone based rates. For more information, please go to http://dctaxi.dc.gov.

   * Tolls & airport charges may not be included.
   * $1.00 Gasoline Surcharge
   * $1.50 each additional passenger
   * $19.00 Maximum fare for trips within District of Columbia

(extra charges include: multiple passengers, rush-hour, gas price increases, and multiple stops), passengers' and drivers' rights, and identification for the driver are required to be displayed prominently in all taxicabs.

Many D.C. taxi drivers are not from America, some having arrived very recently and others having lived in the U.S. for decades. They often talk on the phone while driving, and you may hear dialects from Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, or any number of other countries. D.C. taxi drivers frequently are politically savvy, and rides often consist of conversations regarding politics and world events.

Seasonal Events

  • Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival
  • Capitol Fringe Festival

Wireless Internet / Hotspots

These are all free. Why pay?

  • Crumbs & Coffee (1737 Columbia Rd NW)
  • Tryst Coffeehouse (2459 18th Street, NW, no internet sat/sun)
  • Java House (1645 Q St. NW)
  • Columbia Heights Coffee (11th between Park and Monroe)
  • Busboys & Poets [Various locations http://www.busboysandpoets.com/]
  • Caribou Coffee (several locations, www.cariboucoffee.com)
  • Java Shack (2507 N. Franklin St., in Arlington, Virginia, accessible via the Orange Line)
  • St. Elmo's (Alexandria, Virginia, http://www.stelmoscoffeepub.com/)
  • McDonald's
  • Dunkin' Donuts

Also visit the following for more information: