Destination D.C.'s free, 85-page publication, the Official Visitors' Guide, is full of sightseeing tips, maps, and contacts. You can order a copy online or by phone, or pick one up in their office (enter on I Street).
The most popular sights in D.C. are run by either the National Park Service (NPS) or the Smithsonian, both of which have recorded information about locations and hours of operation.
Events and Attractions
National Park Service (202/619–7275 "Dial-a-Park". .)
Smithsonian (202/633–1000; 202/633–5285 TTY. .)
State of Maryland (866/639–3526. .)
Virginia Tourism Corporation (800/847–4882. .)
Destination DC (901 7th St. NW, 4th fl., Downtown, Washington, DC, 20001. 202/789–7000 or 800/422–8644. .)
Before your trip, be sure to check out what other travelers are saying in the Forums on www.fodors.com.
All About Washington, D.C.
The Smithsonian website (www.si.edu) is a good place to start planning a trip to the Mall and its museums. The National Gallery has its own website, too (www.nga.gov). You can check out the exhibitions and events that will be held during your visit.
Cultural Tourism D.C. (www.culturaltourismdc.org) is a nonprofit coalition whose mission is to highlight the city's arts and heritage. Their website is loaded with great information about sights, special events, and neighborhoods, including self-guided walking tours.
Billing itself as D.C.'s online community for the Web, dcregistry.com (www.dcregistry.com) lists more than 4,000 home pages with everything from arts and entertainment to real estate. There are discussion forums and a chat room, too.
Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District (www.downtowndc.org) is a nonprofit that oversees the 140-block area from the White House to the U.S. Capitol. The website has special events, shopping, and dining listings and information about the wonderful red, white, and blue uniformed D.C. SAMs, roving hospitality specialists linked to a central dispatcher by radio. In spring and summer, SAMs (which stands for safety, administration, and maintenance) are available to help visitors with directions, information, and emergencies. You'll spot their hospitality kiosks near Metro stops and major attractions.
Gay and Lesbian
Washington, D.C., is a very inclusive town, with an active gay community and plenty of gay-friendly hotels, nightlife, and events. In addition to news and features, both Washington Blade (www.washingtonblade.com) and Metro Weekly (www.metroweekly.com) have guides to gay bars and clubs, including a calendar of events.
Kids and Families
washingtonfamily.com (www.washingtonfamily.com) features a "Best for Families" as voted on by area families. Families may also want to check out washingtonparent.com (www.washingtonparent.com) and kidfriendlydc.com (www.kidfriendlydc.com), a blog with loads of kid-friendly events, deals, and activities
News and Happenings
The website of the Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) has a fairly comprehensive listing of what's going on around town. Also check out the site of Washington CityPaper (www.washingtoncitypaper.com), a free weekly newspaper. The Washingtonian (www.washingtonian.com) is a monthly magazine. For personalized emails of things to do, member reviews, and listings of half-price show and event tickets in D.C. and other major cities nationwide, register for free at www.goldstar.com, an online entertainment company. The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington (www.ticketplace.org) also has an online listing of half-price tickets to theatre, dance, music, and opera performances.