A weekend in Washington D.C.

For my first article I take you to the capital of the United States: Washington D.C (District of Columbia) which I visited during a 3-day weekend in September 2016. It seemed essential to me to visit THE federal capital of which we hear so much. The White House, the Capitol, the memorials and the many museums aroused my curiosity: Washington is a very large city with many different neighbourhoods to visit, so make sure you wear good shoes as you will be walking!

Practical information

TRANSPORT: Washington is about 4 hours by road south of New York, or about 1h20 by flight (fares from 120 USD round trip). Bus fares are very variable. Depending on the airlines you can find tickets from 1 Dollar in particular with the Megabus company but generally count about 60 Dollars a round trip from NY. You can also take the train, Amtrak is the local SNCF, but you will not save time or money. It should be noted that the American rail network is really not exceptional and is not comparable to our French network.

Washington

MOVE: You will find several metro lines to get around but also buses. I used the “Circulator buses which are $1 a trip.

ACCOMMODATION: As usual I stay in a youth hostel because it is often the most economical solution when travelling alone. The hotel is obviously more comfortable but the single supplement makes the weekend bill a little expensive. So I chose a very nice and cocooning High Road Hostels hostel in the also very nice Adams Morgan area. To book a hotel or youth hostel, feel free to visit FindHotel.

What to visit in Washington?

The Mall Memorials: walking from one memorial to another

The part called “The Mall Memorials” includes many beautiful memorials, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial,….the list is long.

The impressive statue, more than 5 m high, of Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States) is located in a magnificent Greek style building. It was at this place that Martin Luther King was his famous speech “I have a dream…”

From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial you can admire a very beautiful view of the Washington Monument, which is the city’s emblematic obelisk, surrounded by American flags

As you continue your journey you will find the magnificent Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial which is a gigantic statue of this famous character key to the history of the United States. It was inaugurated by Barack Obama in 2011

The Korean War Veterans memorial is just as impressive with its 19 steel statues representing soldiers in combat

Of course you will not be able to miss the famous and unique White House with 132 rooms including the famous oval office located in the west wing

Washington Museums

In my opinion, Washington’s best deal is the free admission of a large number of museums, especially given the high fees generally charged in American museums, located in the “The Mall’s Museums” area, which is the other part of the Mall after the memorials. In other words, one weekend is not enough to visit them all in addition to the other sites. Your children will also find it interesting because American museums often have play spaces dedicated to them.

Here is an example of the museums you can find in Washington:

  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • The National Museum of Natural History
  • The National Museum of American History
  • The National Museum of the American Indians
  • The National Museum of Air and Space
  • National Gallery of Art

Being very interested in the cultural and political history of the United States, I decided to visit the National Museum of American History. I loved this museum, it is very well constituted and interactive. You will be able to see objects that have marked the history of the United States through events or celebrities. There is also a whole very nice part about the first ladies.

The Capitol district

On this Monday morning of Labor Day (public holiday in the US) everything is desert! This makes the Capitol site even more impressive. It is possible to book your guided tours in advance to visit this historic place.

A little further away you can see the Library of Congress, which is the largest library in the world! It is also possible to participate in guided tours. Unfortunately for me I only admired it from the outside because it was closed for a holiday.

This splendid building, below, inspired by a Greek temple, is the Supreme Court, the highest place of judicial power in the United States.

Georgetown Neighbourhood

Georgetown is my favorite neighborhood in Washington! Along the main street called “M Street” you will find many restaurants, trendy bars and shops. Beautiful houses, cobbled streets, a young and relaxed atmosphere make you fall under the charm of this district very quickly

Georgetown is also the location of many scenes from the 1973 film The Exorcist

It is also very pleasant to walk along the Potomac river (Waterfront Park) and admire a magnificent sunset!

Adams Morgan’s neighborhood

The Adams Morgan district is very lively, a little bohemian with many bars, restaurants and pretty little shops, and much of its charm also lies in the architecture of Victorian-style houses. I really liked this part of Washington which is more frequented by locals and is not flooded with tourists.

Here is a summary of the highlights to visit during your visit to Washington. Feel free to give your opinions and share your good addresses!

WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON?

A trip to the capital of the United States? Discover with us where to stay in Washington!

Otherwise known as the Washington District of Columbia – to avoid confusing it with Washington State – the American federal capital is an independent city with 646,449 intramural inhabitants covering an area of 177 km² and 5.8 million inhabitants throughout the urban area. It is the 7th largest city in the United States and the seat of many American political institutions: the White House, the Capitol, the World Bank, the American Federal Reserve (known as the FED), the Supreme Court and 176 embassies. As is often the case in the United States, the price of accommodation to sleep in Washington will be quite high.

Perhaps the most interesting districts in Washington are National Mall, Dupont Circle, Anacostia and Adams Morgan. Each of them – and others such as Southwest, Waterfront, Capitol Hill, Penn Quarter, Foggy Bottom or Georgetown – offer a unique atmosphere. Here’s where to stay in Washington.

NATIONAL MALL

Located on the banks of the Potomac River, National Mall is the district of must-see sites, very popular with tourists. Many buildings, museums, monuments and memorials are concentrated there: the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Second World War Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the White House and the Capitol, etc. This institutional district houses all the country’s major museums, from the National Museum of American History, to the National Gallery of Art, to the National Air and Space Museum. In addition to these world-famous monuments, a gigantic eponymous park stretches from east to west, from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. It is therefore the ideal place to stay in Washington if you visit the city in a short period of time. However, staying at National Mall will be expensive.

CIRCLE BRIDGE

Dupont Circle – or Rond-point Dupont – is a vibrant and lively, cosmopolitan district north of National Mall, where there are many historic homes, bars and restaurants to dine in. It is one of Washington’s most popular neighborhoods for the capital’s gay and lesbian community and the nightlife is very lively. Local sociology is made up of families living in residential dwellings, while a stone’s throw away are the main boulevards, occupied by young students. By choosing to look for a place to stay in Dupont Circle, there is something for everyone!

CAPITOL HILL

Capitol Hill is Washington’s institutional district: it is home to the Capitol, which hosts the United States Congress, but also to 19th century Victorian architectural houses, many shops for shopping and terraces for dining. Living in Washington, D.C. in the Capitol Hill district will be expensive, as the population is quite affluent. Finding cheap and comfortable accommodation in Capitol Hill would be like looking to buy a cheap apartment in the 16th arrondissement of Paris: impossible!

Located north of the city center, Adams Morgan is frequently cited as a pleasant place to stay in Washington. It is a multicultural, colourful area – Victorian architecture is prominent -, cosmopolitan and lively where most of the nightlife takes place. If you want to party with thirsty night owls – especially on the U Street Corridor – this is the place to book accommodation to sleep in Washington. Located between 16th Street and Connecticut Avenue, the district attracts young professionals and students, and for good reason: it is home to a large concentration of bars, restaurants, discos, cafés, bars, art galleries, bookstores and trendy boutiques. The inhabitants of the district come from different nations and cultures, which makes it a very cosmopolitan district. On the other hand, by choosing to stay in Adams Morgan, you will be a little far from the city centre.