Explore Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. Travel Guide

Chosen by George Washington for its tactical location between the South and the North, and for its accessibility to the sea via the Potomac River, the capital of the United States is situated in a district specifically created to avoid the establishment of the capital city in any one state. Washington DC (District of Columbia), with its low-profile skyline, is a city of green parks and open spaces, grand buildings, historic landmarks, marbled monuments and impressive museums, with character-filled neighbourhoods that support a thriving cultural scene with scores of top-notch restaurants, shops and night time entertainment.<br /><br /> This thriving, cosmopolitan city is an international hub of power and diplomacy, commanding the political centre stage for one of the most powerful nations in the world, and representing all the democratic ideals that the country takes pride in. After politics, tourism is the capital's main industry. The city plays host to millions of people annually who come to explore famous sights such as the domed US Capitol, the stately White House, Lincoln Memorial and the soaring Washington Monument. The most well-known sights are located along the National Mall, a green park stretching from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial on the Potomac River, and include several memorials to great US presidents of the past, as well as the outstanding museums of the Smithsonian Institute. As an added bonus, almost all major attractions in the city are free.<br /><br /> Besides political and historic sights, Washington is a city of interesting neighbourhoods, each with its own character and culture. The most famous of these is historic Georgetown, with elegant colonial houses, boutiques, fancy restaurants, and a lively nightlife. One of the most colourful neighbourhoods is the bohemian district of Adams-Morgan with an assortment of funky shops and ethnic stores, while the arty suburb of Dupont Circle is an affluent business and residential area, with excellent restaurants, art galleries and shops that forms the centre of DC's gay community.<br /><br />

National Mall

Address: Washington DC

Admission: Free The park is open 24 hours daily.

Telephone: (202) 426 6841 (Visitor information)

Extending for more than two miles (3km), from the US Capitol to the Potomac River, the tree-lined grassy strip known as the National Mall is the central hub of tourist activity in Washington DC, containing many of the city's most famous attractions. It is home to the tapering Washington Monument; the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson Memorials; the Capitol building; the White House; the museums of the Smithsonian Institution; and the National Gallery of Art.<br /><br /> The Mall is at the heart of the city's social life, the site for many celebrations and festivals throughout the year, and used by scores of joggers, picnickers, food vendors and strollers daily. It is also a popular site for rallies and protests ranging from a few dozen to a few million people. The Tidal Basin, a beautiful lake famous for its spring show of blossoming Japanese cherry trees, lies to the south.<br /><br />

US Capitol

Address: Capitol Hill Washington DC

Admission: Free. Access is by guided tour only, and tickets must be booked in advance online. Some tickets are usually available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Telephone: (202) 226 8000

The heart of US government is also Washington DC's most prominent landmark, the US Capitol, situated on the top of Capitol Hill, with its giant white dome visible from all over the city. It is one of the city's top tourist attractions, as well as one of the most recognised symbols of democracy in the world, and contains the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. Under the magnificent dome, US governmental policy is shaped and the law of the land is practiced.<br /><br /> The interior is richly embellished, with hundreds of statues filling Statuary Hall in honour of important people in the country's history, while paintings and murals decorate the hallways and walls of the Rotunda, depicting 400 years of American history. The enormous circular hall capped by the 180-foot (55m) high dome is the hub of the Capitol, with a symbolic fresco masterpiece at its centre. The Rotunda links the north and south wings, the two halves of the Capitol that contain the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, and flags flying over either wing indicate which part of Congress is in session.<br /><br />

White House

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave Washington DC

Admission: Free Free guided tours are the only means of exploring the White House. American citizens can book these tours through their Member of Congress and foreigners must book through their embassy in Washington DC. Tours should be booked as far in advance as possible.

Telephone: (202) 456 1414

The White House has been the private residence and administrative headquarters of every President of the United States since 1800. Today an American flag flies over the house whenever the president is in residence. Situated at the edge of the National Mall, the palatial building has undergone numerous alterations over the years, which have included refurnishing and expansion, the addition of the first toilets by Jefferson, and electricity added during Harrison's presidency, as well as personal inclusions by each of its presidential occupants. The White House was adapted to the needs of Franklin D. Roosevelt who suffered polio and a swimming pool was installed; Jacqueline Kennedy developed the famous Rose Garden; Clinton added a jogging track, hot tub and humidor; and the most recent addition is the vegetable garden planted by Barack and Michelle Obama.<br /><br /> Tours visit several rooms on the Ground and State Floors, including the Oval Office, the State Dining Room with seating for 140 dinner or luncheon guests, and the Gold and White East Room that is the publicised scene of presidential receptions and other social events. The top two floors are private. The custom that allows free public tours of the president's private home is only stopped during wartime. The visitor centre provides interesting historical information about the residence and its occupants.<br /><br /> Security is understandably very tight and travellers wanting to visit will need to provide personal details in their application through the appropriate Washington DC embassy.<br /><br />

Washington Monument

Address: 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW Washington DC

Admission: Although admission is free, a ticket is required to enter the monument and ascend to the top. Advance ticket reservations are subject to a small fee per booking.

Telephone: (202) 426 6841

In recognition of his leadership in the fight for American independence, George Washington earned the title 'Father of the Nation', and was the first president of the United States. The Washington Monument was built in memory of this great leader. As the tallest structure in the city, situated at the western end of the Mall, the gleaming white obelisk offers 360-degree panoramic vistas with some of the most familiar sights in the world in view, including the White House, US Capitol, Smithsonian museums and the Lincoln Memorial.<br /><br /> Constructed out of loose granite blocks without the use of cement to hold them together, the monument is the tallest freestanding masonry structure in the world, a 555-foot (169m) marble obelisk that stood uncompleted for 37 years. A change in the colour of stone is visible about halfway up and marks the two building phases. In 1888 a steam elevator transported visitors to the top, a 20-minute ride that was restricted, for safety reasons, to men only. Women could walk up the 897 stairs. Today climbing the steps is prohibited, but a free elevator conveys visitors to the gallery that provides unparalleled views of Washington DC and across the Potomac River.<br /><br />

Lincoln Memorial

Address: 23rd Street Washington DC

Admission: Free Open daily 24 hours.

Telephone: (202) 426 6841 (park information)

The grandiose Lincoln Memorial is a tribute to the 16th US president, who preserved the Union during the Civil War and ended slavery. It also serves as a Civil War memorial, symbolising the ideas of Freedom and American Democracy. The use of classical architecture, modelled on a Greek temple, is to remind people of the ancient Greeks who were the first modern culture to have a democratic government. In the centre of the memorial, surrounded by 36 white columns representing the 36 states in Lincoln's Union, is a huge marble statue of Abraham Lincoln who, seated, stares out over the Reflecting Pool towards the Washington Monument and Capitol Hill. Carved in the walls of the memorial chamber around the statue are inscriptions of two of his most famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address, and above each is a painted symbolic mural.<br /><br /> The memorial is the site of numerous demonstrations committed to justice, most notably the Civil Rights March in 1963 when Martin Luther King delivered his classic 'I Have a Dream' speech. A bookshop and museum, detailing a photographic history of famous events that occurred on the steps, are nearby.<br /><br />

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Address: 935 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC

Officially named the J Edgar Hoover FBI Building, after its notorious long-time director, this rather ugly concrete structure is headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Public tours have been suspended indefinitely, but were once the most popular attraction in Washington DC. Guided tours took visitors through the Material Analysis Unit and crime laboratories where fingerprinting, DNA and ballistics testing takes place; past displays of thousands of confiscated weapons, and illegal items seized during narcotics operations; exhibits on crime fighting techniques and counterintelligence operations; as well as other presentations on terrorism, agent training, some famous cases, and photographs of the FBI's 'Ten Most Wanted List'. Those in search of espionage history, however, should go to the nearby International Spy Museum.<br /><br />

International Spy Museum

Address: 800 F Street Washington DC

Admission: $21.95 (adults); $14.95 (youths aged 7 - 11); free for children under six. Other concessions available. Open daily from 9am to 7pm.

Telephone: (202) 393 7798

One of Washington's newest museums, the International Spy Museum is said to feature the largest collection of publicly displayed international espionage artefacts in the world. It is the result of years of planning and advice by former officials of the CIA, FBI and KGB, as well as some of the nation's top experts in intelligence. It aims to educate the public about espionage and its vital role and impact on historic and current events.<br /><br /> Interactive exhibits cover the history of spying, famous spies, spying during the World Wars with an exhibit on unheeded intelligence that warned of the Pearl Harbour attack, sophisticated espionage techniques of the Cold War, and the latest spy trends and challenges of 21st century espionage. There is also a section dealing with high-tech gadgets such as bugs, tiny cameras and ingenious disguise techniques, with interactive stations exploring surveillance, disguises, code breaking, threat analysis and more.<br /><br /> Operation Spy is an interactive experience in which visitors get to be a spy; hands-on activities include safe-cracking and conducting polygraph tests, experiences which are combined with special effects and live action. The museum complex includes a restaurant, spy-theme cafe and shop.<br /><br />

Smithsonian Institution

Address: Smithsonian Castle Visitor Center, 1000 Jefferson Drive Washington DC

Admission: All museums are free. Opening times vary depending on the museum - see the official website for details.

Telephone: (202) 633 1000

One of the world's finest research centres, the Smithsonian Institution incorporates 19 excellent museums and galleries and a zoo spread over Washington DC, New York, Virginia and Panama. Most of the museums are located in Washington DC. The centre was the idea of British scientist James Smithson who stipulated in his will that lacking heirs his entire fortune would go the United States 'to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men'. The Institute's original home was in the red brick building known as The Castle that stands on the Mall. The need to accommodate facilities for scientific research as well as housing all the science and art collections amassed resulted in the construction of more buildings along the Mall. Today the Castle houses the Smithsonian Information Center, which provides an overview of all the museums and the zoo.<br /><br /> The museums contain collections of historical importance on almost every subject. Museums include the National Air and Space Museum, packed with full-size space and aircraft, including the Wright brothers' plane; the Natural History Museum, with the Hope Diamond and the world's largest stuffed blue whale; and the American History Museum, displaying the original Kermit the Frog. Other museums include the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art, the African Art Museum, the American Indian Museum, the Arts and Industries Building hosting changing exhibitions, the Hirshborn collection of modern art, the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Postal Museum.<br /><br /> The Smithsonian Museums are a fantastic attraction for families in Washington DC, and a wallet-friendly one as admission is free.<br /><br />

National Gallery of Art

Address: National Mall, Constitution Avenue Washington DC

Admission: Free. Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 6pm.

Telephone: (202) 737 4215

Two buildings, the West and East Wings, make up the visually stunning National Gallery of Art that is the most popular art museum in North America. Together they house one of the world's leading collections of Western paintings, graphics and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, and walking from the West Wing to the East provides a near chronological display of European art.<br /><br /> The West Wing, the original building, is a marble architectural work of art with a domed rotunda over a fountain that houses most of the permanent collection. More than 100 galleries display modern and contemporary art with masterpieces by famous artists arranged by nationality, including what is considered to be the finest Renaissance collection outside of Italy, as well as an outstanding Impressionist collection. The gallery's newer addition is the ultramodern East Wing, composed of two glass-walled triangles, and is devoted to 20th-century paintings and sculptures.<br /><br /> The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is a large park outside the museum, which features a huge central fountain with some of the museum's permanent collection of sculptures on display.<br /><br />

US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place Washington DC

Admission: Entry is free year-round, but between March and August timed passes are required for the permanent exhibition. These passes can be booked in advance through the official website. Daily 10am to 5.20pm.

Telephone: (202) 488 0400

One of the city's best museums, but also the most disturbing, is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum that hauntingly commemorates the abuse and murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The permanent exhibition is divided into three floors, starting with the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Holocaust, and finally the after-effects of the war and liberation of the camps, with a moving film in which Holocaust survivors recount their personal experiences. The Hall of Remembrance is a quiet, meditative place with dozens of burning candles lit in memory of the victims.<br /><br /> Exhibits vividly convey the scale and nature of the horrors of the Holocaust using films, voice recordings, personal belongings of Jewish victims, photographs and Nazi propaganda. The permanent exhibition's graphic content is extremely disturbing and is not recommended for children under 11 years of age. A different section of the museum contains an exhibit designed for children, called 'Daniel's Story: Remember the Children'.<br /><br />

Ford’s Theatre

Address: 10th Street NW Washington DC

Admission: Ticket prices vary for tours, performances and museum admission. See official website for details. Opening times vary day to day - check the website for details.

Telephone: (202) 347-4833

On April 14th, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while watching a performance at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. His killer, an actor named John Wilkes Booth who sympathised with the Confederates in the ongoing Civil War, then jumped to the stage and shouted 'Sic simper tyrannis' (Thus to all tyrants) before fleeing the theatre. The US Government bought the theatre and prohibited it from use as an amusement venue. It was used for various storage and clerical purposes until it was restored and reopened for performances in 1968. Today, Ford's Theatre is both an active performance venue and historical site, and the Ford's Theatre Museum contains artefacts related to the assassination, including the Derringer pistol Booth used. Across from the theatre is the Petersen House, which is where President Lincoln finally died early the next morning.<br /><br /> Tours of the theatre are available, lasting about an hour and limited to groups of 20 people at a time. Tours should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.<br /><br />

National Archives

Address: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington DC

Admission: Free Open daily 10am to 5.30pm (last admission at 5pm).

While looking at historical papers may sound dull compared to some of Washington DC's more 'fun' museums, the National Archives is one of the most popular attractions in the city, housing priceless documents from US history, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, and even the 1297 version of the Magna Carta. All these documents are displayed to the public in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, along with other collections of photography and historical memorabilia. Apart from the historic documents, the grand building and aura of importance make a visit to the National Archives exciting.<br /><br />

Washington National Cathedral

Address: 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW Washington DC

Admission: $11 (adults), $7 (children aged 5 - 17). Visits for worship, prayer or religious services are free. Visiting hours vary depending on the day and the planned church services - check the official website for details. Guided tours are conducted at 10.15am Monday to Saturday and at 1pm on Sunday.

Telephone: (202) 537-6200

One of the largest cathedrals in the US, the Washington National Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, is a magnificent Neogothic structure standing 301 feet (91m) tall. The interior of the cathedral is just as grand, with the long, narrow sanctuary framed by buttresses, chancels, transepts and beautiful stained glass windows. The most famous of these is the Space Window, which contains a piece of moon rock brought back by Neil Armstrong from the Apollo 11 mission. The cathedral was finished in 1972, making it very young compared to most cathedrals of its stature. It is the final resting place of noted figures such as Helen Keller, President Woodrow Wilson and his wife, and Admiral George Dewey.<br /><br />

Kennedy Center

Address: 2700 F Street NW Washington DC

Admission: Tours are free; ticket prices for performances vary. Tours depart roughly every 10 minutes.

Telephone: (202) 467-4600

One of the most prestigious performing arts centres in the US, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is also its busiest, hosting roughly 2,000 performances each year for an audience totalling nearly two million people in its eight separate performance halls. It is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, and has commissioned hundreds of new works in various disciplines. The centre was first conceived by Eleanor Roosevelt as a way to employ actors during World War II, and opened in 1971 with the premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass. Each year five artists or groups are awarded the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contribution to American culture and the performing arts in a gala ceremony televised nationally.<br /><br /> There are a number of interesting tour options for those who don't have the time or money to take in a performance.<br /><br />

National Zoo

Address: Rock Creek Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW Washington DC

Admission: Admission is free. 9am to 6pm (closes 4pm between October and mid-March).

Telephone: (202) 633 4888

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is a great attraction for families on holiday in Washington DC. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the zoo has no entry fee and offers visitors the chance to explore 163 acres of habitats containing more than 1,800 animals. The star attractions of the zoo are definitely the giant pandas. Other popular exhibits include the Great Ape House, Elephant Trails, Lion/Tiger Hill, Cheetah Conservation Station, and Seals and Sea Lions Exhibit. The National Zoo was the home of the original Smokey Bear, who was a symbol of forest fire prevention and lived at the zoo from 1950 to 1976.<br /><br />

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Where: Tidal Basin,Washington DC

When: 20 March to 15 April 2018

One of Washington DC's most famous events, the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the arrival of spring, and commemorates the original gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city from the people of Tokyo in 1912 as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. Visitors flock to the city to admire the beautiful pink and white blossoms that surround the Tidal Basin and to join in the festivities that include a cultural blend of music, dance and art demonstrations and performances from Japan and Washington, a fireworks display and parade. The Parade is the festival's biggest event with spectacular floats, marching bands, costumed dance groups and giant helium balloons. A Japanese Street Festival after the parade exhibits the traditions, arts and food of Japan. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is claimed to be the best place outside of Japan to see cherry blossoms.<br /><br />

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Where: National Mall,Washington DC

When: 29 June to 9 July 2017

The Folklife Festival is a unique Washington DC tradition and is the largest annual cultural event in the city. It is a living cultural exhibition that celebrates the heritage of different states and regions as well as international communities, and includes music and dance performances, craft demonstrations, storytelling, exhibits, traditional food and cooking demonstrations, and workshops. Festival-goers should be prepared to spend plenty of time outdoors in the hottest part of the year, but visiting the air-conditioned Smithsonian Museums is a good way to cool off and further indulge all cultural impulses. Check out the official website listed below for more details.<br /><br />

National Independence Day Celebration

Where: National Mall,Washington DC

When: 4 July annually

One of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in the country, the capital puts on a grand show to celebrate the nation's birthday, with the city's biggest and most impressive annual parade, music concerts, arts and crafts, an evening performance by the National Symphony Orchestra on the steps of the Capitol building, and one of the country's largest fireworks displays. The official website listed below includes all necessary details for planning attendance to the festival. As one would expect, there is no better place in the US to indulge in an extravaganza of patriotism than Washington DC on the Fourth of July.<br /><br />

1789 Restaurant

Address: 1226 36th Street NW Washington DC

Food Type: American

Located in an 18th-century federal townhouse, 1789 is divided into five themed dining rooms with fireplaces and period furniture, and the setting combines with the food to make this a premiere dining experience presided over by chef Nathan Beauchamp. His 'keep it simple' approach is enhanced by the best quality ingredients, and complemented by excellent wine pairings. Fish and meat dishes are followed by a list of decadent desserts. There is also a good-value pre-theatre menu available, as well as an 'after hours' menu catering to those who prefer a post-performance dinner. Reservations essential. Open for dinner nightly.<br /><br />

Vidalia

Address: 1990 M Street NW, Dupont Circle (Downtown) Washington DC

Food Type: American

The sweet Vidalia onion is a speciality in season at this charming, lively restaurant below street level. The regional Southern cuisine features such specialities as crab cakes, shrimp on yellow grits and the renowned lemon chess pie; homemade corn bread is served with every meal. Reservations recommended. Open for lunch and dinner, but no lunch on weekends.<br /><br />

Zaytinya

Address: 701 Ninth Street NW, Edison Place Washington DC

Food Type: Greek

Zaytinya is one of Washington DC's top restaurants, Greek or otherwise. Travellers with adventurous palates can dig into mezze delicacies like goat flatbread, crispy veal sweetbreads and grilled octopus, while vegetarians will find plenty to choose from. There is a reduced-price lunch menu offering sandwiches, salads and shawarmas, and even a brunch menu available until 2.30pm.<br /><br />

Belga Café

Address: 514, 8th Street, SE Washington DC

Food Type: Belgian

For Belgian cuisine at its very best, look no further than Belga Café. This stylish eatery with tasteful décor is a favourite in Washington DC with locals and out-of-towners alike. With unforgettable dishes, you won't soon forget this trendy restaurant. There is also a large selection of Belgian beers and wines to complement your meal. Sample the four , two croquettes of 'four cheeses' with a frisee-bacon salad and balsamic dressing - delicious! The , bacon-wrapped monkfish fillet with Jenever beurre blanc, yellow potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli on a bed of red onion confit, is also excellent. Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner. Saturday and Sunday brunch and dinner only.<br /><br />

Bombay Club

Address: 815 Connecticut Avenue NW (Downtown) Washington DC

Food Type: Indian

By far the smartest Indian restaurant in town, the ambience created by the ceiling fans, wicker furniture and potted palms is straight from the British colonial era. Bombay Club is known for its setting, as well as for its gourmet regional Indian cuisine and personalised service, and was a favourite spot for the Clintons when occupying the White House across the road. Delicious naan flatbread complements dishes ranging from fiery green chilli chicken and tandoori dishes, to rogan josh, biryanis, dhals and lobster malabar. The Sunday champagne brunch is popular. Lunch Monday to Friday, dinner daily. Reservations essential.<br /><br />

Capital Grille

Address: 601 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington DC

Food Type: Steakhouse

If you're in the mood for a steak, there's no better place to go in Washington DC than the aptly-named Capital Grille. The elegant mahogany-panelled dining room creates the perfect backdrop for the restaurant's famous dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood, accompanied by an extensive wine list with thousands of choices.<br /><br />

Fogo de Chao

Address: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington DC

Food Type: Brazilian

Carnivores will be in heaven at Fogo de Chao, Washington DC's top Brazilian restaurant. Skewers of meat are paraded around as you eat all you can stand and the churrascarias beef is something special. Vegetarians will have to content themselves with the salad bar and vegetable sides.<br /><br />

Birch and Barley

Address: 1337 14th Street NW Washington DC

Food Type: American

Serving the best American food in the most American city in the world, Birch and Barley is popular with locals and tourists alike for its delicious comfort food like pan-seared rainbow trout, honey-glazed duck breast, and their special bratwurst burger. The brunch menu is equally tasty with offerings that include waffles, French toast, sticky buns and even grits, but the real star of the menu is the draft beer list, which stretches to an amazing 555 varieties!<br /><br />

Most people tend to associate the capital city with politics - the White House and Capitol Hill - but the nightlife in Washington DC will satisfy even the most hard-core party animal.<br /><br /> Atlas District is arguably DC's trendiest bar and club scene. Other popular areas include the Adams-Morgan neighbourhood, Dupont Circle (along Connecticut Avenue), the Penn Quarter, and historic Georgetown. The city's hippest nightlife can be found in these areas, with just about everything on offer, including dance clubs, jazz bars, rock bars and pubs. The best place to go for gay clubs is Dupont Circle.<br /><br /> Arlington Row is a more laid-back area that attracts a crowd of all ages, where excellent live music is the order of the day. If a comedy show is what you're after, check out the Warner Theatre to see who's appearing. If you can't decide what you want, the Boomerang Bus stops at half a dozen venues, giving tourists a chance to sample some of the best of Washington DC's nightlife.<br /><br /> Washington DC also has a first-rate performing arts scene, presided over by the renowned Kennedy Center. On any given night there is a wide variety of performances, both local and international, ranging from Shakespeare, opera and ballet to jazz, rock bands, and Broadway shows. Ticketmaster and InstantSeats.com offer tickets to pretty much any event, while TICKETplace at 407 7th Street offers discounted last-minute tickets to anything that isn't sold out.<br /><br />
Shopping in Washington DC almost competes with politics for attention. The USA's capital offers everything from trendy boutiques and shopping malls to 24-hour bookshops and renowned farmer's markets. Visitors to Washington DC will walk (or fly) away with their bags full!<br /><br /> The nation's oldest neighbourhood, Georgetown boasts up-scale designer boutiques and The Shops at Georgetown Park, which is home to designer labels like Ann Taylor, Polo and Ralph Lauren. The Georgetown Flea Market is good for antiques, jewellery, books, rugs, toys and linens. Dupont Circle, also an attractive historic neighbourhood, has designer boutiques such as Betsy Fisher and vintage shops like Secondi, as well as a good farmer's market. The Adams Morgan area, previously somewhat dilapidated, now boasts a trendy reputation and a number of eclectic independent shops and boutiques. Penn Quarter is also a good shopping neighbourhood, particularly for antiques, art, home decor and collectibles.<br /><br /> On Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House Visitor Center and Political America sell authentic and reproduction campaign buttons, signed photos, letters and other American memorabilia which make wonderful patriotic souvenirs. The National Mall has great gift shops and museum stores, and is the best place to find popular Washington DC souvenirs like miniature replicas of the White House and various monuments. The National Archives Gift Shop also offers reproductions of the Declaration of Independence and other famous documents.<br /><br /> Shoppers should keep in mind that a non-refundable sales tax is charged, but not included on the sticker price of items. Tax is added at the register in Washington DC shops, so prices will be a bit higher than first expected.<br /><br />
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