Washington, DC City Guide

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Visiting Washington, D.C.

For its small size, the nation’s capital is jam-packed with attractions: world-class museums, a plethora of historical sites, top-notch theaters and art galleries and a first-hand look at America’s three branches of government. And, for those who want to take it all in, an expanding network of bicycling and walking facilities connects it all.

Accordion

There are already 400 miles of trail throughout the capital region, more than 70 miles of on-road bike lane in the city and a handful of bike share options. In 2016, Washington, D.C., even earned bragging rights as one of the top 10 most bicycle-friendly U.S. cities as ranked by Bicycling.com. But it gets better: The Capital Trails Coalition, led by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, RTC and the National Park Service, envisions adding 285 more miles of interconnected multiuse trails that will encircle D.C. in a bike/ped beltway and extend outward into neighboring Maryland and Virginia.

Enjoying the city by stroll or roll, travelers will find plenty of things to do without stepping foot indoors. Iconic landmarks, including the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the banks of the Tidal Basin, as well as Rock Creek Park—the city’s expansive natural oasis—can all be explored by trail. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, the FDR Memorial and our country’s war memorials are all contemplative places to be experienced at a walker’s thoughtful gait.

Popular routes for biking include the Mount Vernon Trail, which links D.C. to George Washington’s historical estate, the C&O Canal Towpath dotted with old canal features and spanning nearly 185 miles, and Virginia’s picturesque W&OD Trail, which has a proud place in the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

Whether it’s just an overnight, or you’re planning to spend several days exploring the area, D.C. is truly a unique and important place that every citizen and visitor to America should see. Its growing and increasingly connected trail system just makes doing so even easier and more fun.

Planning your visit

calendar

Best Time to Visit

D.C. is a tourist town, so the best time to visit is during the off-peak season. The summer is a busy time, as well as the spring, especially during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Crowds tend to be down in the fall and winter (with the exception of winter break in December); you’ll definitely want a warm coat, but there’s generally little snow.

transport

Public Transportation

Metro’s subway and bus system makes it easy to get around D.C. and its suburbs. Trains run along six lines—Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Green and Silver—and you can easily transfer between them. To ride Metro, purchase a refillable SmarTrip card at any Metro station or at wmata.com. Bicycles are permitted onboard, except during weekday rush hours.

bicycle

Bike Share Options

Capital Bikeshare offers more than 400 stations across D.C., Virginia and Maryland. The bikes are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be picked up and returned at any station in the system. Dockless bikeshare systems in the area include: Mobike, LimeBike, Spin, Ofo and Jump. These GPS-tracked bikes can be left nearly anywhere; they’re locked and unlocked using a smartphone app.

transport

Getting There

Washington, D.C. is serviced by three major airports. The closest is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which is on Metro’s Yellow and Blue Lines for a short ride into downtown. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Baltimore–Washington International Airport (BWI) are both about 30 miles from the DC core.

Museum Metropolis

In addition to being the nation’s center of government, D.C. is also a hotspot for history and culture. The Smithsonian’s 19 museums (si.edu/museums) and the National Zoo have no admission fee. And there are many other museum standouts, which do charge admission, including the International Spy Museum and the Phillips Collection. Some museums require timed entry passes, so be sure to visit their websites beforehand for details.

Travel Resources

Check out these helpful websites for planning your travel in Washington, DC.

Self-Guided Tours

Things to see and do in Washington, DC

Georgetown Waterfront Park

3303 Water St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.nps.gov

Georgetown's picturesque park along the Potomac River offers fun features like a labyrinth, fountain rain gardens and pollinator gardens.

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Georgetown Waterfront Park

3303 Water St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.nps.gov

Georgetown's picturesque park along the Potomac River offers fun features like a labyrinth, fountain rain gardens and pollinator gardens.

Abner Cloud House

4940 Canal Rd. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.nps.gov

Built in the early 1800s by a miller, this house is the oldest structure on the C&O Canal.

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Abner Cloud House

4940 Canal Rd. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.nps.gov
Built in the early 1800s by a miller, this house is the oldest structure on the C&O Canal.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

301 14th St. SW, , Washington DC, 200228
www.moneyfactory.gov

Take a tour through this museum to learn how our paper currency is made.

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Bureau of Engraving and Printing

301 14th St. SW, , Washington DC, 200228
www.moneyfactory.gov
Take a tour through this museum to learn how our paper currency is made.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl. SW, DC, Washington, 20024
www.ushmm.org

This moving museum is memorial to the Holocaust.

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United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl. SW, DC, Washington, 20024
www.ushmm.org
This moving museum is memorial to the Holocaust.

National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20008
nationalzoo.si.edu

Situated in the D.C.'s Rock Creek Park, the 163-acre zoo is home to 1,500 animals.

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National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20008
nationalzoo.si.edu

Situated in the D.C.'s Rock Creek Park, the 163-acre zoo is home to 1,500 animals.

Dumbarton House

2715 Q St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
dumbartonhouse.org

This Federal-style building (circa 1800) helps educate the public about life in the city during the countries early years.

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Dumbarton House

2715 Q St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
dumbartonhouse.org
This Federal-style building (circa 1800) helps educate the public about life in the city during the countries early years.

Tudor Place

1644 31st St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.tudorplace.org

This elegant home belonged to descendants of George Washington.

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Tudor Place

1644 31st St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.tudorplace.org
This elegant home belonged to descendants of George Washington.

Hillwood Estate

4155 Linnean Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20008
www.hillwoodmuseum.org

This former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, whose parents founded the Post cereal empire, serves as a museum, showcasing extensive collections of Russian and French art. Its grounds also feature...

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Hillwood Estate

4155 Linnean Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20008
www.hillwoodmuseum.org
This former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, whose parents founded the Post cereal empire, serves as a museum, showcasing extensive collections of Russian and French art. Its grounds also feature landscaped gardens.

United States Botanic Garden

100 Maryland Ave. SW, DC, Washington, 20001
www.usbg.gov

Established in 1820 and one of the oldest botanic gardens in the country, this is a worthwhile attraction located on the east end of the National Mall.

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United States Botanic Garden

100 Maryland Ave. SW, DC, Washington, 20001
www.usbg.gov
Established in 1820 and one of the oldest botanic gardens in the country, this is a worthwhile attraction located on the east end of the National Mall.

The Georgetown House

1061 31st ST NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.thegeorgetownhousedc.com

If you're in D.C. to ride trails, you can't get much closer than The Georgetown House, a boutique hotel located on the C&O Canal Towpath.

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The Georgetown House

1061 31st ST NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.thegeorgetownhousedc.com
If you're in D.C. to ride trails, you can't get much closer than The Georgetown House, a boutique hotel located on the C&O Canal Towpath.

Americana Hotel

1400 Jefferson Davis Hwy., A, VA, Arlington, 22202
www.americanahotel.com

Decorated with an early 1960s vibe, this hotel is tucked between two busy shopping and dining meccas just outside D.C.: Pentagon City and Crystal City. To head into D.C., you're only a few blocks from...

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Americana Hotel

1400 Jefferson Davis Hwy., A, VA, Arlington, 22202
www.americanahotel.com
Decorated with an early 1960s vibe, this hotel is tucked between two busy shopping and dining meccas just outside D.C.: Pentagon City and Crystal City. To head into D.C., you're only a few blocks from the Metro.

Old Colony Inn Alexandria

1101 N Washington St, Alexan, VA, Alexandria, 22314
www.oldcolonyinnalexandria.com

Located in Virginia's Historic Old Town, this hotel offers a good value if you don¿t mind being outside of D.C. proper. This quaint hotel is only blocks from the popular Mount Vernon Trail and the...

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Old Colony Inn Alexandria

1101 N Washington St, Alexan, VA, Alexandria, 22314
www.oldcolonyinnalexandria.com
Located in Virginia's Historic Old Town, this hotel offers a good value if you don¿t mind being outside of D.C. proper. This quaint hotel is only blocks from the popular Mount Vernon Trail and the Potomac waterfront, as well as a three-quarters-of-a-mile walk to the Metro.

Pod DC Hotel

627 H St. NW, DC, Washington, 20001
thepodhotel.com

This moderately priced hotel is located in D.C.'s Penn Quarter, across the street from the city¿s Chinatown and just a few blocks from the Metro and the National Mall.

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Pod DC Hotel

627 H St. NW, DC, Washington, 20001
thepodhotel.com
This moderately priced hotel is located in D.C.'s Penn Quarter, across the street from the city¿s Chinatown and just a few blocks from the Metro and the National Mall.

Kimpton Hotel Madera

1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20036
www.kimptonhotels.com

Located in the trendy Dupont Circle area, this hotel has an artistic sensibility and is only about a half mile from the Rock Creek Park Trail.

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Kimpton Hotel Madera

1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20036
www.kimptonhotels.com
Located in the trendy Dupont Circle area, this hotel has an artistic sensibility and is only about a half mile from the Rock Creek Park Trail.

Old Glory BBQ

3139 M St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.oldglorybbq.com

This Georgetown offers finger-lickin' good barbecue from different regions of the U.S.

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Old Glory BBQ

3139 M St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.oldglorybbq.com
This Georgetown offers finger-lickin' good barbecue from different regions of the U.S.

il Canale

1065 31st St., NW, DC, Washington, 20007
ilcanale.com

Craving wood-fired pizzas, authentic Italian cuisine and a bottle of wine? Look no farther than this well-loved restaurant decorated with colorful contemporary art and located less than a block from...

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il Canale

1065 31st St., NW, DC, Washington, 20007
ilcanale.com
Craving wood-fired pizzas, authentic Italian cuisine and a bottle of wine? Look no farther than this well-loved restaurant decorated with colorful contemporary art and located less than a block from the C&O Canal Towpath in Georgetown.

Filomena Ristorante

1063 Wisconsin Ave., NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.filomena.com

Serving delicious Italian food in Georgetown for more than three decades, this is a go-to place for a hearty meal after a ride on the nearby C&O Canal Towpath.

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Filomena Ristorante

1063 Wisconsin Ave., NW, DC, Washington, 20007
www.filomena.com
Serving delicious Italian food in Georgetown for more than three decades, this is a go-to place for a hearty meal after a ride on the nearby C&O Canal Towpath.

Carmine's

425 7th St. NW, DC, Washington, 20004
www.carminesnyc.com

This Italian restaurant can be found just 3 blocks north of the National Mall.

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Carmine's

425 7th St. NW, DC, Washington, 20004
www.carminesnyc.com

This Italian restaurant can be found just 3 blocks north of the National Mall.

Old Ebbitt Grill

675 15th St,, NW, DC, Washington, 20005
ebbitt.com

This D.C. classic, founded in 1856 and located near the White House, serves upscale American food.

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Old Ebbitt Grill

675 15th St,, NW, DC, Washington, 20005
ebbitt.com
This D.C. classic, founded in 1856 and located near the White House, serves upscale American food.

Rasika

633 D St, NW, DC, Washington, 20004
www.rasikarestaurant.com

This four-star Indian restaurant is located in D.C.'s PennQuarter.

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Rasika

633 D St, NW, DC, Washington, 20004
www.rasikarestaurant.com
This four-star Indian restaurant is located in D.C.'s PennQuarter.

Mitsitam Café

Independence Ave. SW and 4th, DC, Washington, 20024
www.mitsitamcafe.com

Located inside the National Museum of the American Indian, this cafe features Native foods from the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso...

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Mitsitam Café

Independence Ave. SW and 4th, DC, Washington, 20024
www.mitsitamcafe.com

Located inside the National Museum of the American Indian, this cafe features Native foods from the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains.

Sweet Home Café

1400 Constitution Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20560
nmaahc.si.edu

Housed inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this cafe serves authentic African-American cuisine from different regions of the country, including the Agricultural South,...

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Sweet Home Café

1400 Constitution Ave. NW, DC, Washington, 20560
nmaahc.si.edu

Housed inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this cafe serves authentic African-American cuisine from different regions of the country, including the Agricultural South, Creole Coast, North States and the Western Range.

Bluefin

3073 Canal St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
bluefingeorgetown.com

Come here for fresh, high-quality Japanese cuisine in D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood.

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Bluefin

3073 Canal St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
bluefingeorgetown.com
Come here for fresh, high-quality Japanese cuisine in D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood.

Fletcher's Boathouse

4940 Canal Rd. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
boatingindc.com

Located on the C&O Canal Towpath, Fletcher's Boathouse offers plentiful options for enjoying the outdoors with rentals of bikes, kayaks, canoes, rowboats and paddleboards.

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Fletcher's Boathouse

4940 Canal Rd. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
boatingindc.com
Located on the C&O Canal Towpath, Fletcher's Boathouse offers plentiful options for enjoying the outdoors with rentals of bikes, kayaks, canoes, rowboats and paddleboards.

Capital City Bike Tours

502 23rd St NW, DC, Washington, 20037
dc.capitalcitybiketours.com

Located just a few blocks from the National Mall, this outfitter provides bike rentals and guided bike tours.

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Capital City Bike Tours

502 23rd St NW, DC, Washington, 20037
dc.capitalcitybiketours.com
Located just a few blocks from the National Mall, this outfitter provides bike rentals and guided bike tours.

Bike and Roll DC

955 L'Enfant Plaza SW North , DC, Washington, 20037
bikeandrolldc.com

With four D.C. locations, including one less than 2 blocks from the National Mall, this bike shop is a good bet for arranging your bike rental. They also offer guided tours by bike or Segway.

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Bike and Roll DC

955 L'Enfant Plaza SW North , DC, Washington, 20037
bikeandrolldc.com

With four D.C. locations, including one less than 2 blocks from the National Mall, this bike shop is a good bet for arranging your bike rental. They also offer guided tours by bike or Segway.

Big Wheel Bikes

1034 33rd St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
bigwheelbikes.com

Located at the corner of 33rd and M Street in Georgetown right near the C&O Canal. Has rentals of all kinds and also has trail-a-bikes, baby seats, and trailers.

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Big Wheel Bikes

1034 33rd St. NW, DC, Washington, 20007
bigwheelbikes.com

Located at the corner of 33rd and M Street in Georgetown right near the C&O Canal. Has rentals of all kinds and also has trail-a-bikes, baby seats, and trailers.

Accordion

Rock Creek Park Trails

District of Columbia - 8.5 miles

Located in the northwest section of Washington, D.C., Rock Creek Park is the oldest and largest urban park in the national park system. Established in...

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

District of Columbia - 184.5 miles

Following the Potomac River, the C&O Canal Towpath traverses the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park for 184.5 miles between Georgetown...

Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park (W&OD)

Virginia - 45 miles

The Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) is one of suburban Washington, D.C.'s most popular rail-trails. The heavily used trail is frequented by...

Capital Crescent Trail

District of Columbia - 11 miles

The 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail follows the former route of the Georgetown Branch rail line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. It begins in Silver...

Metropolitan Branch Trail

District of Columbia - 8 miles

Following the route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Metropolitan Branch rail line, the Met Branch Trail is a busy urban rail-with-trail that...

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