Washington, D.C. formally the District of Columbia, is the capital city of the United States. The U.S. Constitution provides for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; the district is therefore not a part of any U.S. state (nor is it one itself).
District of Columbia has an unparalleled collection of free, public museums, and the lion’s share of the nation’s most treasured monuments and memorials. The vistas on the National Mall (map) between the Capitol (map), Washington Monument (map), White House (map), and Lincoln Memorial (map) are iconic throughout the world.
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For a map that encompasses a larger portion of the city, print out the DC Circulator Route Map (pdf).
The Smithsonian Institution (map) is an educational foundation chartered by Congress in 1846 that maintains most of the nation’s official museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government partially funds the Smithsonian, and its collections are open to the public free of charge. The most visited museum is the National Museum of Natural History (map) on the National Mall.
Other Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries on the mall are: the National Air and Space Museum (map); the National Museum of African Art (map); the National Museum of American History (map); the National Museum of the American Indian (map); the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (map) which both focus on Asian art and culture.
The Hirshhorn Museum (map) and Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden (map); the Arts and Industries Building (map); the S. Dillon Ripley Center (map); and the Smithsonian Institution Building (also known as “The Castle”, map), which serves as the institution’s headquarters.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are housed in the Old Patent Office Building (map), near Washington’s Chinatown (map). The Renwick Gallery (map) is officially part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum but is in a separate building near the White House.
The National Gallery of Art (map) is on the National Mall near the Capitol and features American and European artworks.
The historic neighborhood of Georgetown (map) is the oldest part of the city, full of beautiful old colonial buildings, the 200+ year-old Jesuit campus of Georgetown University (map) that resembles a Harry Potter film set, restaurants along the waterfront, the C&O canal, and the infamous Exorcist steps (map).
Washington City Paper, Washingtonian, and the Going Out Guide by the Washington Post are websites that will keep you up-to-date on current events in the city.
Eastern Market (map) in Capitol Hill is a favorite Saturday or Sunday afternoon shopping destination for locally produced food and artwork. Even if you’re not buying, it’s a great time.