Recently, I had a short but fulfilling trip to the Nation’s capital and enjoyed every minute of it and I wanted to share my trip with you in hopes that you will take a little time to become apart of the living history that breathes there also. If you are looking for a place that caters to visitors of all nationalities and provides a safe and secure environment, then Washington DC is the place for you. It is a place of wonderment, educational surprises, tons of free sights for the intellectually and mentally stimulated visitors of the world. If you love to interact with other cultures, read up on very interesting historical information about past presidents, First Ladies of the White House, or find something interesting off the beaten path, then Washington, DC is a city that will help you to fill your curiosity and increase your basic knowledge of the Nation’s Capital. Washington, DC is a huge tourist spot, embracing so many cultures and providing safety to its visitors. Imagine visiting a city that has the President as it’s resident, and also being able to connect with others from around the world. The downtown area of Washington, DC is filled with informative people from the street vendors, multi-lingual hotel staff, to city staff members who guide the traffic and field questions from visitors allowing them to get to their proper destinations.
The smartest thing a new visitor to this city can do is to organize the trip before they get to DC and using the site Virtual Tourist (google.com) can help a lot with that trip. This site is very informative and gives you tips on hotels and accommodations, general tips, suggested restaurants, as well as things you should not do while visiting the particular town in question. When I embarked on my Washington DC trip, I used Virtual Tourist to research my hotel that I chose (JW Marriott) and also read up on local eateries and places to visit. Because of my research on the site, I was able to plan and organize a great trip filled with educational highlights and some local eateries that filled me with delight.
Knowing that you are visiting a FEDERAL city, you should know that you will have to be searched while visiting and touring the sights. Because the downtown area is really close to the White House, be aware that you will have to go ahead and have your personal belongings checked when entering most of the buildings. This means you may have go come in contact with a lot of homeland security type of secured measures. Why not make it easier on yourself and the security at these buildings. Make sure to take out your belongings from your pockets before entering the scanners. Try not to carry too many bags as they will have to be checked as well. Don’t worry, the viewing of your items is very small and not that time consuming. It’s simply, that they need to make sure you are not carrying any items that will harm or hurt anyone. I found all of the secured measures to make my visit even enjoyable. Why? Because mainly it was not a big deal, the security officers at the Smithsonian, Ronald Reagan Building and other museums were just doing their job and it only took a few seconds for my belongings to be searched. I did not feel like it was a personal thing at all. So when you are visiting, make sure you make their job easier by just allowing them to do their job. With ease and care!
The educational sights are many in this town that are filled with culture and history. Many visitors walk down the National Mall, Washington Monument, or snap pictures at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King vocalized his “I Have a Dream” Speech. Many of the museums in the downtown area are easy to get to and within walking distance of downtown hotels. During my visit, I browsed the Smithsonian Museums, the National Mall, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, John F. Kennedy Center, and enjoyed dining at the soulful Georgia Brown restaurant. Mixing your trip with educational and local sights adds to the essence of the sightseeing experience.
Being smart about carrying your valuables with you during such a trip can help out a lot also. I found myself not carrying a lot of cash at all. To minimize making yourself a victim of any crime, I would suggest you carry anything you want in your pocket or a small fanny pack. This ensures that you have with you at least your personal identification card (you will need this at most of the area hotels), some cash, and or credit cards with you. The other things you may have with you should be close to you like your digital camera or your video camera. Again, you may not want to log a lot of things with you while visiting because many of the popular monuments and memorials will have a lot of people crowded in the area. You may not want to have bulky purses or bags with you.
Planning a short shopping trip separate from your educational sightseeing may help a lot as well. The last thing you want to do is carry a whole bunch of bags while trying to walk to the monuments or other sights you want to see. When you go shopping, you can take your time selecting your items, and taking them back to your hotel.
Enjoying the cultural delights in the downtown area can be as simple as listening to all the vernaculars of the visitors. During my trip, I heard Italian, German, Spanish, and other languages fluently spoken by so many different ethnic groups. The city is a drawn to the international visitor as well as the domestic one. This is one of the pluses that adds to the essence of visiting the Nation’s capital.
During your visit, you should walk around and the city not just by using your feet, but by taking the Metro system. It’s fairly easy to use, and if traveling by train you will only pay $1.35 each way on the train and many of the trains go to major destinations like the African American Civil War Memorial (Green Line), or the John F. Kennedy Center (Blue Line that connects to a free shuttle that leaves every 15 minutes from Foggy Bottom – GWU stop). Using the metro is great and if you are not sure if the train or bus will take you to your destination, ask the Concierge of your local hotel. They are great resources that can assist you in your trip. My Concierge was very helpful and gave me excellent directions to get to Georgia Brown restaurant.
If you are interested in visiting the White House, please note that you have to put a request into your local Congressman at least six months in advance. Currently, the White House is closed to the public, however the wonderfully historic White House Visitor’s Center is a resource that I was able to utilize during my trip and that took about 2 hours in itself to browse and learn more about the First Ladies of the White House, see original artifacts, and read up on personal information about the past presidents. I would highly suggest you visit the center and be ready to read up on some very interesting material during the early hours. If you attend after 10 am, it tends to get very crowded.
Whether you decide to visit the city by using local transportation, cabs, buses, or drive, enjoy this wonderfully historic city. It is living breathing history. While you visit, you become apart of the landscape.
I would suggest this as a city to introduce your children and family too. It has everything for everyone. Shopping, great restaurants, and museums await you all in the downtown area that is beautifully clean.
If you really want to get up close and personal with the Nation’s Capital, check your local airlines for specials, especially South West Airlines, and fly up to DC, which not only is a great place to visit but a bridge way to Maryland and Virginia.