Many simply call it ‘The District.’ Others refer to it as Washington. Still others fling the rather casual ‘D.C.’ sobriquet around, as though it’s not one of the most powerful cities in the world. But whatever you call it, there’s no questioning the significance of Washington D.C. on the American landscape.
The United States’ capital since 1790, what was once called the District of Columbia is these days simply known as Washington D.C. It’s a decidedly powerful town, what with boasting the United States Capitol and all, but did you know there’s plenty more to ol’ Columbia than just politics? Take a look with our list of great reasons to visit Washington D.C.
The Museums and Memorials
While plenty of visitors come to see The White House, often squinting in the sunlight to catch a glimpse of far-flung activity, there’s plenty more to see in Washington D.C. A city of monuments and memorials, some of the best include the famous Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument on The National Mall, the Jefferson Memorial overlooking the Potomac River and the sombre, starkly beautiful Vietnam War Memorial.
The Historic Sites
Boasting over 200 years of history, it stands to reason that Washington D.C. is home to many historic sites. The Old Stone House in Georgetown – built in 1765 – is still standing, while the United States Capitol dates back to 1793. Ford’s Theatre gained infamy in 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in the Presidential Box during a play, while the Watergate Complex also played a key role in another president’s downfall, as the site of the infamous 1972 burglary which ultimately cost the disgraced Richard Nixon his job.
The Free Stuff
There’s no doubt you can drop some serious cash in the capital, yet Washington is also one of the best places to explore for free. The National Gallery of Art houses one of the world’s finest art collections, while every gallery and museum at the Smithsonian Institution likewise boasts free admission. If you’d prefer to simply stretch your legs, take a stroll along the scenic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in Georgetown, or drop by and smell the flowers at the United States Botanic Garden.
In a city replete with art galleries, theatres and museums, it’s no surprise that Washington is a great place to enjoy the arts. The sprawling Kennedy Center on the banks of the Potomac River is one of the best places to enjoy them, with the multi-venue Performing Arts centre producing a staggering 2,000 performances a year. There’s plenty of live music around town too, from punk shows at The 9.30 Club to the legendary jazz scene around the eclectic Shaw neighbourhood.
For all its high-brow entertainment, Washington is still a great city in which to let your hair down at a sports game. One of just 12 American cities to host teams in all four major sports – baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American football – Washington boasts the newly-built Nationals Park and some seriously popular teams. The Wizards and Capitals respectively play their NBA and NHL games at the Verizon Center, while the Washington Redskins play just across the district’s border in Landover, Maryland. The students of the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team are the city’s most beloved college outfit.