Visit Washington, D.C., USA

America’s capital city was named after Founding Father and first president of the United States, George Washington, and D.C. stands for District of Columbia, in honour of explorer Christopher Columbus. As well as federal government buildings, the city is home to several famous landmarks and monuments.  But there is plenty more about D.C. to visit and enjoy, from the free Smithsonian museums, the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, to concerts, cultural events, half-smokes and cupcakes!

Jess shares the top spots from her recent visit to Washington, D.C.


Getting around


Something that took us by surprise when in D.C. was the extreme hot weather, and this is because of the humidity levels being above 70% on average. It can make walking around pretty unbearable, so we highly recommend getting around via electric scooter! This was a fun and relatively inexpensive way to see the city. There are plenty of options, but the Uber lime scooters were very easy to use – you just scan to ride across the many cycle paths, and then park and end your trip when you have arrived at your destination.


Historic buildings & monuments

Washington, D.C. has plenty of historic buildings to visit, located conveniently near each other off Constitution Avenue.


The White House

You can’t really visit Washington D.C. without paying a visit to the White House, the residence of every US president since John Adams in 1800. It can be a little complicated to book a tour inside the White House – foreign nationals must apply to their country’s embassy or consulate in Washington, D.C. However, it’s at least worth viewing the White House from the outside.


US Supreme Court

Just like the White House, the US Supreme Court is a pivotal institution in American history. It is the highest court in the federal judiciary with the ultimate jurisdiction over all US federal court cases. Visitors can view a limited amount of public parts of the building, but it is certainly another spot to be enjoyed from the outside.


US Capitol Building

Located on Capitol Hill, the US Capitol is the most recognised symbol of democratic government in the world. Since it was opened in 1800, it has housed the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is the place where Congress meets and where the presidents are inaugurated and deliver their annual State of the Union messages. It is also a museum of American history and art. The US Capitol offers daily guided tours that are free of charge.


Washington Monument

Designed in the style of an Egyptian obelisk to reflect the timelessness of ancient civilizations, this monument was built to honour George Washington.  The 555ft marble structure towers over D.C. At the time of its completion in 1884, it was the tallest building in the world.  It used to be possible to climb stairs to the top, but the staircase is now shut and replaced by an elevator. From the observation deck, you can see nearly 25 miles in every direction. Tours become available daily for the following day, so be sure to keep an eye on their website.


Lincoln Memorial

This iconic memorial was built to honour the 16th US President. Resembling a Greek temple, the structure has 36 columns, to represent the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. Along the top is an intertwining rope of laurel to represent unity, and 58 steps leading up to the memorial: 56 to represent his age, and 2 for the number of terms he served as President.  Walk alongside the Reflecting Pool, to see the shimmering reflections of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  It is particularly impressive at night when the memorial is illuminated.


Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a prominent leader in the modern civil rights movement in the 1960s, and a tireless advocate for racial equality. This monument, located in downtown Washington D.C., honours his legacy and the struggle for freedom, equality, and justice. The inspiration for the design was a line from Martin Luther King’s famous speech: “I Have a Dream“: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” This very moving memorial covers four acres, with a 30-foot statue of Dr. King as its centrepiece.


Other things to visit


National Museum of African American History and Culture

This is a place to learn about the richness and diversity of the African American history, alongside the struggles from slavery to modern day. Out of everything we did in DC, it was one of my favourites as I learnt so much.  The way the museum is mapped out is very clever, with lots of different exhibits. There is also a changing programme of events, talks and workshops. Be sure to allow enough time to explore all the exhibits you want to see; we were there for three hours and that was only enough to see the basement!


Explore Georgetown

Georgetown is a charming area in the Northwest of Washington D.C., where the past meets the present. For good reason, it’s popular with tourists and locals.  Stroll along the cobblestone streets where you’ll find top fashion and design shops alongside small boutiques and galleries.  Enjoy a bike ride along the peaceful C&O Canal, stopping for a waterfront picnic. Save room for the famous Georgetown Cupcakes! Nightlife in Georgetown spans lively bars, traditional taverns and live music lounges. Be sure to grab a drink or bite to eat from Martin’s Tavern, as this is where JFK proposed to Jackie Kennedy in 1953.


Favourite food & drink spots


Ben’s Chilli Bowl

This is the home of Washington D.C.’s original ‘half smoke’ (type of spicy hot dog) and is an iconic destination to visit, celebrating African American culture and character. Be sure to try one of Ben’s beloved classics  – mincemeat in a hot dog bun.


Old Ebbitt Grill

Established in 1856, Old Ebbitt Grill is one of D.C.’s oldest saloons. It is located near the White House, and serves delicious plates – well-known for their tasty BBQ ribs. Due to their reputation, it is worth booking a table ahead of time to avoid disappointment.


Dua DC Coffee

This is D.C.’s first Indonesian speciality coffee shop that is woman-owned, and they serve a pretty mean cuppa coffee.  Located in the North district of D.C., it’s a great spot to grab your caffeine hit before a day of sightseeing.


Visit more in the USA:


Cape Cod

Summer Camp USA: Considerations Before Applying