The USA features on most travel bucket lists; the dazzling lights of Vegas, coastal drives in California, shopping in New York City – the lot. But there’s one city that offers a genuine slice of American flair and that’s the capital: Washington DC. You’ll visit for the obvious, but love it for so much more, as Flight Centre UK’s Adam Vanstone found out last month. Here’s his guide to the best bits of this understated metropolis:
Get on your bike!
When you’re time-poor, a great way to see the sights of the city is by bike. Several companies offer tours with knowledgeable tour leaders sharing insightful titbits and useful background information about the landmarks you came to see. Did you know the Washington Monument is the tallest freestanding masonry landmark in the world? I do now!
Eat your heart out
Washington is a haven for foodies. With new districts being popularised and restaurants and bars popping up all over the city, the food and drink scene has really taken off. Taste the sugar-rush-inducing delights of a home-made pop tart at Ted’s Bulletin on 14th Street, join the list of celebrities that regularly visit Ben’s Chili Bowl for a Chili Half-Smoke (a half beef, half pork smoked sausage) or head to the Shaw neighbourhood for your pick of oysters and cocktails.
Shop ‘til you drop
Boasting several large malls, streets lined with all the top brands and the odd establishment to drop into and rest your weary feet, Washington DC makes an excellent alternative to the crowded streets of the Big Apple at Christmas. Prime spots include Tysons Corner Centre and the scenic streets of Georgetown. Metro links will soon stretch as far as the airport too, so retail therapy is always an easy (and fun!) option.
Remember the fallen
Time your trip right and you’ll be lucky enough to experience some of the most touching moments of remembrance that any American city can offer. Visit in April to see the cherry blossom trees – gifted by Japan as a symbol of peace – in full bloom and coating the city. Or watch war veterans pay their respects to fallen comrades when visiting the poignant Korean and Vietnam War Memorials.