Welcome to America's capital, where iconic monuments and vast museums meet buzzing nightlife, street festivals, innovative art exhibits, and more. This is a city steeped in history. The National Mall is home to iconic monuments including the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Look for the engraving on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that marks the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. To the east of the Mall, you can take a tour of the Capitol Building, which houses the activities of the U.S. Congress, or marvel at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's unique exhibitions.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture also flanks the Mall, and to the north, you cannot miss the White House. Tours must be arranged through your member of Congress or embassy, but there are fantastic photos opportunities outside the building. Once you have your fill of culture, pop by Meridian Hill Park, where you can picnic or join a yoga class. For a creative twist, head to Dupont Circle. This is a lively area with pastel-colored houses, farmers' markets, and Dupont Underground art gallery. Dining in D.C. can take you to almost any corner of the world. Indoor food market Union Market is popular if you want to sample local foods.
In nearby Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery is a poignant piece of American history, where you can visit the burial sites of American military. This popular site features memorials and tributes to soldiers who fought in both World Wars, plus Korea and Vietnam. Whatever you decide, D.C. is sure to entertain and excite.
If you decide to visit D.C. in the spring, you can time your visit to experience the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which usually occurs in March or April. Take pictures among the pastel pink and white lined streets during the few weeks of peak blooming season.
In addition to exploring on foot, you can take a boat tour of Washington, D.C., and cruise-style boats are available. They often offer lunch or dinner while you view the city from the Potomac River.
You can walk to most of the city's major attractions, but the public transportation is fast and affordable. The Metro system has six major lines that are easily navigated. Or, you can rent bikes through D.C's Capital Bikeshare for around $8 a day or $17 for three days.
The Lincoln Memorial is at its most impressive early in the morning or late evening, when it is illuminated. The crowds are likely to have dispersed and the light makes the reflecting pool look fantastic in pictures.
Georgetown is a colorful area to wander around and catch a glimpse of the Potomac River. The neighborhood is full of upscale restaurants, great dessert cafés, and views of sailboats in the sunset. The oldest house in Washington, D.C., is here and you can take a peek inside.