Washington DC Essentials:

How big is Washington DC?
Washington DC is just over 63 square miles in size. It's the capital of the US and isn't actually part of any state but was purpose-built to serve as the home of the federal government.
How many people inhabit it?
As of 2007, DC was home to almost 590,000 people. This almost doubles during the work week when commuters push the numbers up.
What are the language and the currency?
The main language is English and the currency is the US Dollar.
  • Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum Inside the National Building Lincoln Memorial Washington Monument by night Smithsonian American Art Museum The National Mall to the United States Congress Vietnam Veterans Memorial Monument in the distance White House

Things to see in Washington DC

The White House
What is Washington DC's number one attraction?
That would be The White House.
Why's it so popular?
Well, considering it's probably the most famous house in the world, it's not surprising that visitors flock here each year. Home to the US President, the White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW. This huge, 132-room house has been closed to the public since 9/11. However, there is a visitor's centre nearby, filled with exhibits about the White House's history.
Anything else which shouldn't be missed?
If you're looking for lots of things to see and do in the one area then check out the National Mall, which is home to a number of must-see attractions. In this huge national park, you'll find the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Completed in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial commemorates Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation of the slaves. Here is where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous 'I have a dream' speech. The Washington Monument is a 555-foot tall obelisk, constructed from marble. It was finished in 1888 and was built in honour of America's first president, George Washington. Huge numbers of people come to pay their respects or find the names of their loved ones at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This monument consists of two granite walls with the 58,209 names of the soldiers who died during the war inscribed upon them. Many people leave tributes here.
On average how much does it cost to get into Washington DC's top museums?
A lot of Washington's top museums are free, including the National Museum of Natural History, which is also located in the National Mall.
Say I want something a little less cultural; where is a good area to shop in the city?
Georgetown is well worth a visit. Not only is it home to the famous Georgetown University, this wealthy area is also home to some of the best shopping in Washington DC, from large chains and top designers to independent book and record shops.
Where can you find Washington DC's most characteristic architecture?
Fine architecture is varied and visible across the city, with examples of many different styles on show, including Georgian, Victorian, Gothic and Modern.

Going out in Washington DC

Night lights
Where are most of the bars found?
The area around Georgetown University is a good place to go to find some lively bars, thanks to its large student population. It's also a good idea to check out Downtown and Dupont Circle as these areas are also home to a lot of bars and clubs.
Any places you'd recommend?
If you're looking for a younger crowd, check out The Common Share on 18th Street NW. Cheap beer is the name of the game here so it's a good place to start your night. After that, why not try Felix? This club covers three floors and is packed with people dancing the night away. If you need a bit of a breather, have a wander around until you find the room showing some of the James Bond movies. For something a bit quieter, you could visit The Pharmacy Bar. It's got a relaxed atmosphere and an interesting interior. This bar used to be a drug-store and is now decorated with medicine jars and pill bottles.
Do I need to carry my ID with me when going out?
Yes. The legal drinking age in the US is 21 and this is rigorously enforced in bars and clubs, which means you'll need to have ID on you when you go out.
Is there anything to do that doesn't include alcohol?
Of course! Washington DC has a long theatrical history, and today only New York City has more theatre seats on offer. It's an important US city in terms of the performing arts, so there's always an interesting play or performance for you to catch. A good place to check out is the National Theatre in Adams Morgan. Free performances are often held here.
Anything else I need to know?
To find out what's happening around the city, pick up the Washington Post on Fridays, as the 'Weekend' section is filled with a range of listings. There's a free weekly newspaper that's also worth checking out for listings - the Washington City Paper.

Eating Out in Washington DC

Is it expensive to eat out in Washington DC?
It can be, but you should be able to find somewhere to suit any budget. If you want to spend less, maybe try one of the many ethnic restaurants scattered across the city.
Where is the best selection of restaurants in the city?
Different neighbourhoods have different types of restaurants. For example, if you're looking for something a bit trendier, then check on the large selection of restaurants in the Adams Morgan suburb close to downtown.
Are international cuisines well-represented?
Definitely. In fact, there are a huge number of places to try, representing many different nationalities, in the Dupont Circle area just north of downtown.
Any places you'd recommend?
One of the restaurants in trendy Adams Morgan is the New Orleans. Known for its scrumptious Cajun food and low prices, this place tends to be quite busy. The Afterwords Café on Connecticut Avenue behind Kramerbooks is really popular with the locals. Kramerbooks is a well-known cultural institution in the city and the café holds its own, too. Open until the early hours, it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as offering brunch on the weekends. Mayur's Kebab House in K Street is a great spot for an all-you-can-eat lunch. The restaurant has a German feel to it and offers a wide range of dishes, including chargrilled chicken. For something a little different, why not try Zed's Ethiopian Cuisine. It's located in the Georgetown area, which has a large student population so prices are low. There's a wide selection of traditional Ethiopian dishes for you to try here.
What times do restaurants close?
Various restaurants and diners around the city stay open until the wee hours of the morning, so chances are there'll always be somewhere for you to find some food.

Transport in Washington DC

A DC Circulator bus
What's the transport system like in Washington DC?
Transport-wise, it's a very well-served city. As well as having frequent bus services to all parts of the country, Washington DC is home to the second-busiest railway station in the country - Union Station.
What about public transport throughout the city itself?
Well, the Metrorail subway system, which locals just refer to as the Metro, has five lines and spans the city. A one-day Metrorail pass for unlimited trips costs $14. The Metrobus service also runs all over the city and most trips cost $1.80. There's also the DC Circulator bus service. This operates along three routes in the centre of the Washington from 7am to 9pm, 7 days a week. Buses generally arrive at 5-10 minute intervals. The fare for these buses is only $1.

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