I fell in love with Washington DC on my first visit; I found the people to be warm and welcoming, as well as the city itself. There is a lot of green space which makes it an attractive city, but it also holds a substantial amount of history and there is so much to see and do!
The first time I visited DC I was on a school exchange and through connections we were lucky enough to step inside the White House for a private tour. This is definitely a highlight of not just my time in DC, but also of all my travelling experiences. It was fantastic to see inside such a sought after home and to hear the history of the White House from someone who works there on a daily basis. We visited in the middle of the presidential election in 2008, so it was an exciting time to be allowed inside!
The US Capitol Building is beautiful both inside and out, and is a big attraction for many tourists. It’s a working office building, so there is a lot to learn about US politics here; we did a Capitol Tour to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I would definitely recommend booking a tour in advance to make sure you get a space – the best thing is that the public tours are completely free! As well as being a government building filled with interesting history, the Capitol is also home to a significant art collection; this means there is something for both art and history lovers. Whilst you are there make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to stand in exactly the middle of DC.
Similarly to the Capitol there are tours of the Pentagon available to the public, which are free of charge; make sure to book this quite far in advance, as they are extremely popular. For me, the tour of the Pentagon was even more fascinating than the Capitol because we got to grasp more of an understanding of the US military and DOD, as well as US politics. Taking a tour also means that you will walk 1.49 miles through the World’s Largest Low-rise Building. A visit to the Pentagon cannot be complete without spending time in the 9/11 Memorial, which is located west of the Pentagon. Arlington Cemetery is also close by and allows for a great space to gather your thoughts whilst taking in fantastic views of the Pentagon.
George Washington was the first president of the United States and is whom this monument was built to honour. The Washington Monument is both the World’s Tallest Stone Structure and the World’s Tallest Obelisk, this means that it offers brilliant views of DC; once again, there is no fee to enter the Washington Monument. As well as the views, this monument boasts a great space for relaxing, and soaking up extreme amounts of history as it is located on the National Mall. The walk from the Washington Monument, passed the Reflecting Pool is the perfect opportunity to remember those who fought in WW2 before being greeted with the impressive structure that is the Lincoln Memorial.
The Lincoln Memorial is the front cover of my Lonely Planet East Coast USA guide book, so I knew it would be a very grand piece of art, but I hadn’t realised quite how vast it would be in size. Although many tourists flock to see the Lincoln Memorial itself, they also visit to see where famous speeches have frequently been made, including Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Not far from the Lincoln Memorial you will also find memorials for Martin Luther King Jr, Roosevelt and Jefferson.