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Washington DC was named in honour of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who chose the original site for the city. It is now the main seat of government for the most powerful country in the world; a city full of symbols and significant monuments.
Many airlines offer flights to Washington DC. The best time to visit is either in the autumn or spring. In autumn the leaves are turning a beautiful golden colour and it is cool enough to walk around in comfort. The city is also less crowded making it easier to get into the museums and attractions. Spring is also when the cherry trees are in blossom and the parks are full of seasonal colour, while the summer is generally very hot and humid. The winters can be mild or sometimes very cold - no guarantees. Cheap flights to Washington DC tend to be at their lowest between November to mid-March if you book in advance. Flights to Washington DC tend to be more expensive during school holidays, such as the Christmas period and between the months of July and August.
Washington DC is the capital city of America and is home to the Senate; the House of Representatives, the White House, which is the home and office of the President of the United States, and many monuments that commemorate important events in American history.
The Jefferson Memorial was erected in honour of Thomas Jefferson the third US President, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and the founder of the University of Virginia. Controversial at the time due to the removal of a large swathe of Washington's beloved cherry trees the statue had to be added four years later due to a lack of metal during World War II. Inside the memorial are five quotations from Jefferson's writings.
The Lincoln Memorial opened in 1922 and is modelled on a Grecian Doric temple. The seated marble figure of Abraham Lincoln is 19 feet tall and was carved from 28 blocks of white Georgian marble. On the walls you will find inscriptions from the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's second inaugural address.
Washington has many museums including the Smithsonian Institution that claims to be the world's largest museum complex. With 18 DC-area attractions it is hard to dispute that claim, and they are all free admission. See the famous ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in the American History Museum, handle some moon-rocks in the National Air and Space Museum or stroll along the Hall of the First Lady and admire inaugural gowns worn by Jackie Kennedy and some other First Ladies.
Other visitor attractions include the White House; the U.S. Capitol, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, the National Aquarium, the National Zoo and Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The National Mall is a green park often used for demonstrations whilst the area next to the Potomac River is an ideal place for picnics.
The best way of getting around Washington DC is on foot or via the Metro; driving is not recommended. Taxis are another option, but fares are not regulated in some areas and fare inflation is not unknown. Old Town Trolley Tours take you around all the important sights in Washington DC. As the sun sets Washington turns into another city and one of the evening tours is the perfect way to see the city. Knowledgeable guides provide anecdotes and historical information.
Washington's Georgetown area is the place to find designer shops selling everything from antiques to clothes. Alternatively you can head out to the suburbs and visit some of the best-stocked and biggest malls in America. Tyson's Corner Centre has over 300 shops and just across the road is Tyson's Galleria. Bargain hunters should head out to Potomac Mills Outlet Mall where over 200 of the best known names in retail have stores offering the best prices on everything from electronics to clothes to household items. If you want something more original try the Torpedo Factory Art Centre that has three floors of studios and galleries in which artists can be observed at work and you can buy original artwork.
Washington DC is home to the largest émigré Ethiopian community so you won't find a better kitfo or tibs anywhere else. Alternatively you can try Burmese cuisine, the innovative tapas of chef Jose Andres, sushi and many others. Capitol Hill is the home of fine dining, but if you are on a budget there are plenty of diners that serve tasty food at a good price.
In recent years nightlife in the capital has been a little lacklustre, but many locals and club owners decided that the city needed to be reinvigorated and as a result the city now blends its stuffy political image with stylish cutting-edge culture, giving its nightlife a unique character. Whether you want high-end cocktail lounges or electro parties you will find them in Washington DC.