Founded in 1791, for well over two centuries the US capital city, Washington DC, has been the focal point of American politics. It is the seat of the US government and home of the President himself – indeed many visitors flock to visit the White House, where presidents have lived and worked since the days of George Washington, the man who gave the city its name. Next door you’ll find the National Mall with its landmarks like the needle-shaped Washington Monument. Further afield, you’ll find the US Capitol Building elevated above the plains, offering a magnificent view towards the Lincoln Memorial, from which Martin Luther King Jr. once declared “I Have a Dream”.
Among the other monuments you can see are tributes to World War II and Korean War veterans, as well as to former Presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a particularly dramatic showpiece. The world-renowned Smithsonian Institute and its 19 exhibit halls are also located on the Mall.
It is easy to get around DC by public transport, with the DC Circulator bus stopping at various districts, including Rosslyn – close to the Arlington National Cemetery - the Pentagon and the Iwo Jima Memorial. Check out the Georgetown area too for great shops and cafes in traditional 18th century buildings, not to mention the U Street Corridor where Duke Ellington once played.
There are all kinds of festivals on show throughout the city during the year. The Independence Day celebrations held here every 4th July are the biggest in the country. In April, the Washington DC International Film Festival comes to town, while in June music lovers get together for the Jazz Festival. Culture vultures should check out the local theatre scene which includes the National Theatre just a short walk from the White House. The Sidney Harman Hall also hosts shows throughout the year by the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
Summers in DC can be rather humid, whilst snow is typical during the winter. In springtime, however, Washington DC comes alive when for a brief few days in March or April, the 1,600 cherry trees around the Tidal Basin blossom creating a remarkable show of colour.