The capital of the United States of America, Washington DC is a political powerhouse but its appeal extends to a wide range of visitors...
Holidays in Washington DC can be filled with sightseeing, museums and galleries – it’s a city break destination with plenty to offer on the cultural front.
The capital is not in a state, it's in the District of Columbia, which sits on the Potomac River on land donated by neighbouring Maryland. It can be found inland and a little north of the midway point of the eastern coast.
The main pulling power of Washington DC is the sightseeing. No trip would be complete without sneaking a peek at the White House – the home to every American president since John Adams. Or stand on the National Mall and gaze at the great white dome of the Capitol Building in one direction, while you can turn to spy the obelisk that is the Washington Monument. From there you can read thousands of names on the haunting Vietnam War Memorial, or stare in wonder at the giant seated statue of Abraham Lincoln, inside his Greek temple home at the Lincoln Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial is another to tick off your list of must-see iconic tributes to the nation's past.
Washington DC's museum scene is staggering. Within the mighty museum complex that is the Smithsonian there are 19 museums alone. You can also discover new things at the Holocaust Museum, the US Mint's engraving and printing tour, the International Spy Museum, the National Museum of Crime & Punishment or maybe even take a tour of FBI HQ. The national cultural centre, the Kennedy Center, is also worth a few hours and offers an excellent venue to catch performing arts.
Sightseeing in Washington DC is concentrated on the central area and there isn't much to see in the outlying areas.
Washington DC's two neighbouring states also offer day trips from the nation's capital. In Virginia you'll find Arlington Cemetery, where the nation's service personnel are laid to rest, plus the home of the department of defence, the Pentagon. In Maryland you can visit the lovely city of Annapolis.
Road trips are popular from Washington DC, with the eastern cities of Philadelphia and New York within easy reach.
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If the weather is an important element of your trip, read on to find out when to book holidays to Washington DC...
Summer is a hot and humid affair in Washington DC. Expect to feel the heat with temperatures regularly pushing past 30C, while the humidity brings storms, and July is the rainiest month. Spring is pleasantly warm, winters can get cold and snow is common, while autumn is mild with less rainfall and fewer crowds.
It’s possible to find cheap holidays to Washington DC throughout the year. Summer is extremely busy with visitors from across the US so you’re likely to find cheaper Washington DC holiday packages in spring, autumn and winter, with the possible exception of peak holiday seasons such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The capital celebrates and commemorates the past and the present throughout the year...
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr; January: The great American civil rights campaigner is honoured around his January birthday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where he delivered his “I have a dream” speech. A military guard leads the salute.
Earth Day; April: The whole family can learn more about caring for the planet while taking part in a variety of activities around Earth Day. There are celebrity speakers, musicians and rallies to join.
National Memorial Day Parade; May: Be in the nation's capital for the ceremony honouring people who have served their country in the military. Thousands line the streets alongside war heroes and celebrities as the parade moves through Washington DC.
Independence Day celebrations; July 4: See the sky above Capitol Hill lit with a spectacular display of fireworks during this most patriotic of events. There are parades and parties a-plenty throughout the day and night.
National Christmas Tree Lighting; December: Enjoy a pre-Christmas party at this prestigious tree-lighting ceremony where big music acts and local choirs provide the entertainment.
Washington DC is a destination for everyone. Find out what to do in the nation’s capital...
Kids and teens: The museums of the Smithsonian Institution are absolutely fantastic. Young film fans will recognise the site from the second Night at the Museum movie starring Ben Stiller. There’s a museum to suit your family, whatever fans the flames of their young minds.
Free and cheap: It costs nothing to see most of the sights in Washington DC, as the big monuments are outdoors and readily accessible. Have fun recreating famous movie moments at some truly memorable places (just don’t go wading through the Reflecting Pool like Jenny in Forrest Gump!).
Shopping: It's not a city for shopping, though there are excellent boutiques and restaurants in the historic neighbourhood of Georgetown.