Washington DC, is a federal state carved out of land taken from the states of Maryland and Virginia.

However, you cannot really call it a state and as such, seeing as the USA refers to the 50 States and Washington DC. Strange, but true.

What makes Washington unique? Well, it is an immaculately planned, spotlessly clean city (personally I think it could even be polished at night when nobody is looking) and packed full of tourist friendly activities. Any trip to North America that doesn’t include at least two nights in Washington will be an opportunity missed.

While two nights might not seem like much when wanting to explore, there are some great spots that you can consider when visiting Washington….

The National Mall stretches approximately 4km in distance from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building complex. Along this route you will encounter several memorials and photo points (dare I say – let me first take a selfie?)

  1. The Lincoln Memorial
  2. The lake of reflection
  3. The World War two memorial
  4. The Washington Monument (The needle or pencil as locals refer to it)
  5. The Capitol Buildings and finally the Library of Congress
  6. Scattered on either side of the Mall, you will find the following museums:
  • American National Museum of Natural History
  • National Museum of the American Indianairplane-963366_1280
  • National Gallery of Art
  • US Botanic Gardens
  • The National Air and Space Museum
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • Smithsonian Institution Information Center in the Castle
  • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture

Unbelievably, all of the mentioned museums offer free entrance to visitors. You will need a few days to truly explore all of the museums, however, I should mention that all of the memorials and monuments are easily managed in a good stroll. However, should you be on a tight schedule, I do recommend visits to the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History (at least). Also, one of the most impressive visits along this route would be the National Library of Congress. Entrance, again, is free of charge and it is certainly worth the visit.

Also try to make your way to the Arlington cemetery which is sure to leave a lasting impression. Since 1864, the cemetery has been used as a military burial site and is currently the resting place of over 400,000 servicemen and their families in addition to famous figures including John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Onassis.

Also be sure to make your way to Georgetown, famously known as the original settlement along the Potomac River. The current waterfront area, now used for pleasure craft – is where the old harbor used to be before it had to give way for the development of larger ships. The area is also where the University of Washington is based, and as a result, a tremendous collection of shops, bars and restaurants have assembled along the main street. As a suggestion, visit the Old Glory bar and restaurant on M Street for a taste of American Barbeque style food in a saloon type bar full of Americana.

As a destination, you won’t find a more tourist friendly city that can offer so much in so little space, any trip to the USA should definitely include a break in Washington.

Book your spot to Washington with United Europe’s three-night Washington DC package available from R7, 340 per person sharing. The offer is valid from October 1-30 and includes:

  • 3 nights’ accommodation in Washington DC at the 3-star Normandy Hotel (or similar).
  • Return shared shuttle transfers, Airport / Hotel / Airport.
  • 48-hours Big Bus Hop-On/Hop-Off Ticket.
  • Four course meal at Pinstripes in Georgetown
Updated – January 2018

Mark Buck is the Managing Director of United Europe Travel Services (Pty) Ltd, a travel wholesaler based in South Africa

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