What is it like to visit Washington

Washington D.C. - The capital of the USA is provincially cozy

Famous landmarks, renowned museums, historical monuments, center of power. All of this and more is Washington D.C., the capital of the United States that was once created on the drawing board. But Washington D. C. is so much more than the seat of government, history and culture. It's a place that pulsates with life, with great restaurants to discover, nice shops, lovely little boutique hotels and a vibrant nightlife.

Table of Contents
Figures, data, facts about Washington D. C. | District between Maryland and Virginia | Weather and Climate in Washington D. C. | Tickets for attractions and activities | Washington D. C. population | The Democrats are ahead in politics | Many employees work for the state, institutions and foundations | Perfect for tourists: DC Circulator | Education in Washington D. C. | Hotels, Apartments and Vacation Rentals | Washington D. C. for tourists | The most beautiful parks in Washington D. C. | Washington D. C. for children | Washington's cultural offerings | Things to do in Washington | Worthwhile day trips from Washington D. C. | Washington's story

Washington D.C.
Capitol | Lincoln Memorial | Pentagon | Smithsonian Institution | White House

In addition, metropolises like New York City and famous sights like Niagara Falls are not too far away from the seat of government. The official name of the city is District of Columbia, where Columbia is derived from the name of the navigator Columbus. The city of Washington owes its name to George Washington.

In addition, as the seat of government, the District of Columbia also has its own flag. The flag is based on a banner with the coat of arms of the first US president.

Figures, data, facts about Washington D. C.

  • Federal District: District of Columbia
  • Number of inhabitants: 702,455 (estimated 2018)
  • surface: 177 km²
  • Population density: 4,436 / km² (2018)
  • founding year: 1790
  • Altitude difference: 125 meters
  • Time zone: Eastern (UTC-5 / -4)
  • prefix: + 102
  • mayor: Muriel Bowser (D)
  • Official Website: https://dc.gov/


District between Maryland and Virginia

America's capital Washington D.C. is located on the east coast of the USA in the District of Columbia, between the borders of the states of Maryland and Virginia. Geographically, the seat of government is about 35 kilometers west of Chesapeake Bay at the confluence of the Anacostia River with the Potomac River on the left bank of the Potomac.

The capital of America was once created on land that was ceded by the states of Maryland and Virginia to create an area that eluded the individual states. Originally, the district was 100 square miles square, with each corner pointing in one of the four cardinal directions. However, the area that had originally been given up by the state of Virginia was returned to the state in 1846, as the city grew more slowly than expected. Today the district only covers an area of ​​177 square kilometers.

Washington D. C. is divided into the four quadrants Northwest (NW), Southwest (SW), Northeast (NE) and Southeast (SE). The boundaries of the quadrants meet at the Capitol. In addition, the city is divided into eight districts. Since the city was planned on the drawing board, it is quite clear. The streets in the seat of government are mostly straight and numbered, the large diagonal streets are called avenues.

The streets that run in the east-west direction are sorted alphabetically, those that run in the north-south direction are numbered.

Did you know, that…

… There are no skyscrapers in Washington D. C.? This peculiarity is due to the fact that no building may be taller than the width of the adjacent street. Only three buildings do not fall under this special regulation, which prohibits skyscrapers, as they already existed or were in the planning stage before the law came into force. Exceptions are the Washington Monument, the National Cathedral and the tower of the Old Post Office.

Weather and climate in Washington D.C.

The capital of the United States of America is located in the subtropical climate zone with continental influences, whereby the temperature a year averages 14 degrees Celsius. It gets warmest in July with up to 31.4 degrees Celsius. The coldest month is January. Precipitation falls mainly in July and August. The months with the lowest rainfall are February and April. Most rainy days are in May. Frost can occur in December and January. Spring and autumn are considered the best travel times.

Tickets for attractions and activities

Tickets to attractions and activities in Washington D.C. can be found at www.getyourguide.de.

Washington D. C. population

The population of the capital of America with the official residence of the president is relatively mixed. Over half of the population are African American, around 40 percent of the population are white. Asians, Indians, Pacific islanders and Hawaiians are also represented to a lesser extent among the inhabitants.

Among the religious communities in Washington D.C., the Roman Catholic Church ranks first, followed by the American Baptist Churches USA, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Anglican Episcopal Church. Over 60,000 inhabitants are followers of the Islamic faith, over 25,000 are followers of the Jewish faith.

The Democrats are ahead in politics

D. C. has the status of a federal district and is therefore subject to its own administration and is the seat of the political representatives of the United States of America. The official seat of the President of the USA is located here. The city is subject to the United States Congress, which also has the power to make decisions. The delegates from the Senate and House of Representatives meet in the Capitol.

Voters can only elect the president, but cannot send members who are entitled to vote. There is therefore no representative of the district, but there is a delegate who is allowed to participate in the committees of the members in the House of Representatives, but has no voting rights. In contrast to the House of Representatives, the Senate does not have this symbolic representation by a delegate who is not entitled to vote. The citizens cannot vote for a senator.

All in all, Washington D. C. is clearly part of the democratic electorate. The Democrats can usually win over 80 to 90 percent of the vote.

Incidentally, the fact that the residents of Washington DC can vote for the president was not always the case. For this, an addendum to the constitution was necessary. This amendment, which allows residents to vote in the election of the president, did not come into force until 1961. However, the addition also says that only as many electors as in the most populous state may be cast. Thus, the District of Columbia currently has three electors.

Many employees work for the state, institutions and foundations

Washington D. C. is well positioned economically. This is mainly due to its status as the administrative and political center of the USA. The tourism, finance, education, health and research sectors play an important role in the economy. Much of the workforce in Washington is employed by the state and by diplomatic institutions and private foundations.

The unemployment rate in 2019 was between 5.4 and 5.6 percent, and the gross domestic product in 2018 was USD 140,279.90. Despite this good economic position, Washington is known for its social problems and is also one of the most dangerous cities in the United States of America due to its high crime rate.

Washington D. C.'s infrastructure is well developed. There are three airports with the Baltimore / Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport / BWI, the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport / DCA and the Washington Dulles International Airport / IAD. Dulles is controlled from Germany for example from Frankfurt and Munich.

Numerous Amtrak trains stop at Union Station in Washington and offer the possibility of transferring to other trains on the Amtrak lines. Washington Union Station, where the trains stop, is in the center of the city.

In Washington D.C. itself, the best way to get around is on foot. If you want, you can also use the metro to get from A to B. In addition to the metro, buses, taxis or bicycles are other ways to explore the city without having to rely on your own rental car.

Perfect for tourists: DC Circulator

The DC Circulator bus system was introduced in 2005. The DC Circulator buses are buses that, similar to shuttle buses, run according to a fixed timetable between the main attractions and popular parts of the city. Visitors have the opportunity to travel by bus from one attraction to another within a few minutes.

Education in Washington D.C.

There are a total of five universities in Washington. Georgetown University is one of the most famous. Georgetown University was founded in 1789. George Washington University and Howard University are also venerable and well-known.

Hotels, apartments and holiday homes

Hotels, apartments and vacation rentals in Washington D.C. can be found at www.booking.com.

Washington D. C. for tourists

Wonderful avenues and boulevards that run towards the Capitol in a star shape, lush green parks and gardens, beautiful squares, diverse architecture and sights that are second to none. But also scene, night life, numerous worthwhile shops and culinary specialties.

There are many reasons to visit the US capital and its diverse neighborhoods, often referred to as the center of power. We would like to introduce some of them to you here. Because it is not only worthwhile to turn your gaze towards Washington during the campaigns surrounding the fight for a place in the White House. A separate campaign was even dedicated to this endeavor, “Discover the Real DC”.

Cultural sights in Washington D.C.

If you are looking for culture, you will definitely find it in the city on your trip. It is worth doing the Cultural Tourism DC Neighborhood Heritage Trail at the beginning. This is a series of footpaths on which you can find out more about the different districts through various information boards. Highly recommended to learn more about the black immigrant culture is, for example, a tour of the Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail. The Brightwood Heritage Trail is also frequently visited as part of a tour.

Tip: Many Germans are also closely connected to the city's history. On this tour (https://www.goethe.de/ins/us/de/kul/sup/deu/was.html) you can learn more about Washington's German-American history.

Be sure to plan a visit to these attractions:

  • Washington National Cathedral: With its neo-Gothic architecture, stained glass windows, medieval-style garden and eerie gargoyles, the cathedral looks ancient at first glance. But appearances are deceptive. The church was only built in the 20th century. Nonetheless, it is an impressive place for believers and those interested in architecture alike.
  • Library of Congress: The Library of Congress is located in the Thomas Jefferson Building and can be visited free of charge, as can the exhibition galleries. If you want, you can take a tour of the historic building or rummage through the countless materials in different formats and languages.
  • Jefferson Memorial: The Jefferson Memorial is on the banks of the Potomac just off the National Mall. The white building houses the 6.50 meter high bronze statue of the third President and founding father of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
  • Lincoln Memorial: The imposing Lincoln Memorial rises above the Reflecting Pool and forms the western end of the National Mall. It is best to approach the famous memorial with the statue of the President from the East. You can also visit the Washington Monument and the National World War II Memorial on the way.
  • Washington Monument: The Washington Monument was built in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States. It was once the tallest building in the world and is an indispensable part of views that show the city.
  • United States Capitol: The United States Capitol is a symbol of the American people and their government. This is where the United States Congress comes together. The House of Representatives meets in the south wing. As a senator, on the other hand, the north wing is the place of choice. The building also houses a significant collection of American art and is an impressive building in itself. With the metro you can reach the Capitol with the blue or orange line.
  • The White House: The White House and its compound serve as the seat of the President of the United States of America. It also serves as a museum for American history. With the metro you can reach the White House with the blue line, for example.
  • Pentagon: The Pentagon is the seat of the US Department of Defense. It is the tenth tallest building in the world and is right on the Potomac next to Arlington National Cemetery. The pentagonal Pentagon has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989 and has been listed on the National Historic Landmarks since 1992. Attention: The Pentagon can be visited, but it is not allowed to take a photo of the view.
  • National Mall: The National Mall is arguably one of the most famous avenues in the world and is home to numerous monuments and memorials that honor people who have put their lives in the service of the United States in a special way.

    At the east end of the park is the Capitol, where the House of Representatives meets, and to the north is the White House. The Smithsonian Museums, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and other famous landmarks and monuments are also located there.

    And anyone who shows interest in political events in the USA will certainly know the National Mall from documentaries. After all, it was there that some of the most memorable marches and speeches in American history took place. One of the most famous marches is the largest protest action against the Vietnam War, which was held there on November 15, 1969 and played an essential role in the classic film "Forrest Gump". But the speech by Martin Luther King in front of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 also went down in the history books. Because it was the speech of Martin Luther King who made him immortal with “I Have A Dream”.

    The National Mall can be reached by metro using the blue, orange and silver lines.

  • War memorials and Arlington National Cemetery: Arlington in the state of Virginia is located immediately southwest of the federal capital Washington D. C. Here you can visit the Marine Corps War Memorial, the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater and more. Arlington National Cemetery is one of the United States' 139 national cemeteries and was established in 1864. John F. Kennedy, General John J. Pershing and William Howard Taft are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America: A historical church, catacombs, replicas of sanctuaries of the Holy Land in original size, a beautiful cloister and, last but not least, a beautiful rose garden invite those interested to spend a few pleasant hours here.
  • Old Post Office Pavilion: The Old Post Office Pavilion is located on Pennsylvania Avenue. The historic building now houses a hotel and is definitely worth the trip.
  • Daniel Webster Memorial: The Daniel Webster Memorial on Bataan Street was built in honor of the American statesman Daniel Webster. It is located near Webster's former home at 1603 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: The National Memorial is located near the National Mall and honors civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King. The exact location is on the Tidal Basin in a straight line between the Lincoln and the Jefferson Memorial. The monument can be reached in a few minutes by bus using the DC circulator system.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is also located on the Tidal Basin and honors the former US President. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was largely dependent on the use of a wheelchair, de Gestalter wanted to create a memorial with the monument at the Tidal Basin that is also accessible to people with physical disabilities. They succeeded. The memorial is about a two-minute walk from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
  • Dupont Circle: The name Dupont Circle describes on the one hand a square and on the other hand a historic district in the capital. The marble fountain in the middle of the square is particularly worth seeing.The fountain at Dupont Circle was created by Daniel Chester French, who also designed the Lincoln Memorial.
  • United States Supreme Court Building: When you think of a court in the United States, the first thing that comes to mind is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court. The court is housed in the United States Supreme Court Building. This "Temple of Justice" is very pompous and 28 meters high. The marble exterior is decorated with various figures, including the goddess of justice, Justitia. Inside there are friezes with well-known legislators as well as busts of the individual Chief Justices of the USA. A visit to the courtroom is possible.

Washington D.C. museums to visit

When you think of Washington, you think of the Smithsonian museums very quickly. Without exception, the institution's museums are an absolute must when visiting Washington. But it's worth giving other museums a chance while exploring the district, some of which are represented in Washington DC.

These museums, for example, are very interesting:

  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: The National Air and Space Museum is cult, one of the institution's best-known museums and leads through the history of American space travel with numerous exhibits. The museum is being expanded to include the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located near Washington-Dulles Airport and houses other exhibits from the history of aviation.
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: This museum deals with the history of the Holocaust, offers opportunities for research and has its own exhibition in which American contemporary witnesses have their say.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: The Foundation's Natural History Museum is located in the National Mall and includes more than 125 million exhibits from various themed areas of fauna and flora, including many fossils. The National Museum of Natural History is the most visited natural history museum in the world.
  • National Museum of American History: This facility deals with the past of the United States and its history from the creation of the United States to the present day.
  • Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens: The Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens is a decorative arts museum. It is the former residence of Marjorie Merriweather Post and is known for its large art collection, which is heavily focused on the Romanov house. You can marvel at Fabergé eggs here, among other things.
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture: The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted solely to documenting the life, history, and culture of African American people in the United States.
  • Ford’s Theater: Ford’s Theater on 10th Street is where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated during a performance. Today the building houses a museum where you can follow Abraham Lincoln from the beginning of his presidency to the moments before his assassination. Exhibits are also dedicated to the assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Washington D. C. for nature lovers

Even if museums and visiting architectural gems can be very entertaining, one often longs for a little relaxation in the countryside. Washington D. C. also has a lot to offer for nature lovers.

A brief overview:

  • United States Botanic Garden: The traditional Botanical Garden of the United States houses a living plant museum that educates visitors about the importance and often irreplaceable value of plants for human well-being and the earth's fragile ecosystems.
  • The Tulip Library: The Tulip Library is a show garden with nearly 100 species of tulips, making the garden a popular place for residents of the city themselves, photographers and picnickers. Here you can take beautiful holiday photos.
  • Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral: The grounds surrounding Washington's National Cathedral were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and are home to the actual Bishop’s Garden, Olmsted Woods, and more.
  • U.S. National Arboretum: The U.S. National Arboretum increases the economic, environmental and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscaped plants through long-term, multidisciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources and informative gardens and exhibitions.
  • Constitution Gardens: Officially established in 1965, the National Mall and Memorial Parks protect some of the older parklands in the national park system. Areas within this world-class park provide ample opportunity for visitors to commemorate the legacies of the presidents, honor the courage and sacrifices of war veterans, or simply enjoy the time.
  • Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection: The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is located in Georgetown and gives those interested, among other things, the opportunity to visit the historic garden designed by Beatrix Farrand.
  • Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens: Wind, water and land combine here in an ancient dance. This natural area in Anacostia Park has its origin in a law of the Congress of 1926, which was intended to preserve the forests, water quality and recreational value of the waterways of Washington D.C.

The most beautiful parks in Washington D.C.

There are also numerous beautiful parks to be found in Washington D. C., including this one:

  • Rock Creek Park: The Rock Creek Park is a real gem in the capital. The city park was officially approved in 1890, making it the third park of its kind to be designated by the government.
  • Meridian Hill Park: The US government bought the site in 1910 and had landscape architects George Burnap and Hornace Peaslee build an Italian-style garden that is still enjoyable today.
  • Lincoln Park: Lincoln Park is the largest of Capitol Hill Park and is home to the monuments of two of the nation's greatest leaders, President Abraham Lincoln and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune.
  • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens: Thousands of aquatic plants, water lilies, lotus flowers, water hyacinths and bamboo grow in ponds along the Anacostia River.
  • United States Botanic Garden: It is the oldest continuously operated botanical garden in the United States of America and offers an impressive flora on almost 2,700 square meters.

Washington D. C. for children

Would you like to visit Washington D. C. as a family with children? Then you shouldn't miss the following attractions.

  • International Spy Museum: The International Spy Museum is located on L’Enfant Plaza on the Southwest Waterfront. It's a state-of-the-art museum that has lots of espionage-related intrigues and interactive fun for the whole family. Among other things, you can take part in an undercover mission there.
  • Children's Garden: Created specifically for children at the USBG Conservatory, this garden is a popular getaway for families with children from the district, the states of Maryland, and Virginia. But not only the residents themselves, but also visitors from all over the world feel at home here.
  • imagiNATIONS Activity Center: At the National Museum of the American Indian, children can explore ancient cultures at the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, play traditional percussion instruments, visit a traditional home, and take an interactive quiz to earn a badge.
  • National Zoo: The National Zoo is considered to be one of the most kid-friendly places in town. There you can marvel at more than 400 different animal species.
  • Beauvoir Outdoors Playground: Sometimes you just want to let the kids run and play. If you feel the same, then why not pay a visit to the Beauvoir Outdoors Playground. The playground is open to the public when the National Cathedral Elementary School is closed, usually after 6 p.m. on weekdays and weekends.

Washington's cultural offerings

The capital of the United States of America has various cultural offers its own. There are several theaters to be mentioned here with the Discovery Theater, the Signature Theater and the National Theater. But also the Artechouse, the Mead Center for American Theater, the Long View Gallery and the Washington Ballet promise unforgettable hours. The largest cultural center in the city is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Worth doing in Washington

Washington D. C. is a place not only about presidents and their monuments, but also good time to spend. The best way to explore the city is on foot or by bike. The area around the city also offers space for numerous tours.

  • shop: If you want to go shopping extensively, the capital of the United States of America is the right place for you. CityCenterDC is a perfect place to marvel at a little luxury and the collections of designers from Dior, Gucci and Co. If you want to take unusual souvenirs home with you, you are in the right place in the shops on U-Street, but you may also find it at Lettie Gooch. And if that's not enough, you should definitely stop by Tyson's Corner Center.
  • Enjoy: There are an infinite number of restaurants, bars and cafes in all price ranges in the district. The barmini and the Kinship restaurants, for example, are very nice and both offer fine cuisine. The regional cuisine can be enjoyed, for example, in Ted’s Bulletin Capitol Hill and Rose’s Luxury, but a Wiseguy pizza from time to time is definitely not a problem either.
  • nightlife: When it comes to nightlife, the capital doesn't have to hide behind metropolises like New York City. If you want, you will get your money's worth here as a night owl. Take a detour to Mr. Henry’s, the Beer Baron Tavern and DC Comedy Loft, the Yard House or the Bar Deco. Or you can enjoy a fun evening at "The Iron Horse".
    U Street in particular is a district that has a lot to offer night owls. The Adams Morgan neighborhood also attracts many visitors. Because in Adams Morgan there are many nice bars and rooftop bars.
  • to do sports: There are many places to exercise in Washington D. C. and the surrounding area. For example, you can go biking, hiking, playing ice hockey or ice skating in winter, sailing and boating in Cheseapeake Bay, kite flying or jogging.

Notable events throughout the year