Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America
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Washington is that rare thing – a capital which is often overshadowed by noisier rivals. Despite the fact it may not have the bright lights of New York, or the glitz of Los Angeles, Washington is steeped in culture – both monumentally impressive and downright odd – as well as being the seat of power for the United States. From shopping to a vibrant nightlife and down-to-earth dining culture, there’s plenty to do in Washington for kicks, but there’s also lots to learn and explore during the day. Not to mention paying a visit to a certain resident’s rather grand house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Things to see

The neoclassical architecture of The White House is noteworthy in its own right, but the first thing on most visitors’ minds isn’t the outside, but the hotbed of activity going on within its corridors. This is the seat of the President of the United States, and has been since 1800, and while you won’t be able to stroll around inside and have a chinwag about global policy, getting up close to this iconic and important building is at the heart of a visit to Washington. The National Mall isn’t, despite its name, a shopping center – rather it’s a huge national park which is home to a large number of memorials and other must-visit landmarks, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Constitutional Gardens. For something more educational, and offbeat, the Smithsonian Institution is home to 19 museums and galleries celebrating everything from science and culture to the nation’s folk and artistic heritage.

Hotels in Washington

Given the fact that so many of the great and good have to jet into the city for business, or pleasure, there’s no shortage of high-end hotels in Washington. You’ll be able to find five-star luxury among the recognisable chains as well as in independents, but what is constant is that these top-end options should all offer WiFi, flat-screen televisions, and either MP3 dockings stations or CD players in-rooms. Additionally expect to find indoor pools, spas and health clubs, and plenty of business facilities on hand too. You'll also find plenty of mid-range and budget hotels in Washington well geared to families and business visitors travelling without a bottomless expense account.

Where to stay

Whereas once it was a mostly commercial center, Downtown is these days becoming more residential and is an increasingly popular place for visitors to stay, as it puts them within walking distance of theaters, bars, and restaurants as well as the city’s most noteworthy museums. A mix of rowhouses and Federal school blocks, Downtown feels quite office-based, but there’s plenty to see and do. Dupont Circle also has a booming nightlife, and is a little artier, with plenty of bookstores and a more bohemian vibe. Capitol Hill isn’t just famed for its monuments, there are lots of shopping facilities on hand, but often inflated prices for accommodation.

How to get to

The city’s main transport hub is Ronald Reagan International Airport, which is located in Arlington. Transferring from the airport to Downtown is quite easy and convenient thanks to the city’s Metro system, but there’s a limited number of flights into Reagan due to security measures – you’ll also find heightened security onboard planes headed for this airport. Dulles International Airport is in Virginia, around 26 miles away from the center of Washington. Transfers are available and inexpensive, on the Washington Flyer – as this airport’s not served by the Metro - usually taking around 30 minutes to get to the heart of the city. .

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