Washington D.C., the capital of the United States of America, is one of the top 10 destinations for foreign visitors – and rightfully so. You can not only see the seat of power and historic monuments, but a stunning selection of museums, many of them free to visit! While the beaches and amusement parks elsewhere might be more popular, if you want to understand the United States, you should put Washington D.C. on your itinerary and spend a few days to browse!
The site of the District of Columbia was selected by President George Washington and he appointed L’Enfant to plan the future capital. It didn’t become the seat of government till 1800 and today’s city layout goes back to the McMillan plan from 1901 – with The National Mall at its heart. No, it’s not a shopping center, it is a park that connects the Capitol as the house of Congress,
the White House, as the home of the President, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Each of them is a sight on its own and worth a stroll through the park. You can tour the White House and Capital with guides (by appointment) and visit the Monument and Lincoln Memorial anytime.
But what makes a visit to Washington D.C. so interesting is the best collection of museums you’ll find anywhere in the USA, the ones that stand out the most for me are the following: The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum exhibits life-size planes, rockets and space capsules and documents the history of flight!
At the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, you can learn about the history of the country and see the original Star Spangled Banner! And the National Gallery of Art has an amazing collection of American and European art, spread out over two buildings. The most recent addition is the National Museum of African American History – it’s on my list for the next visit to Washington D.C.
And if all of that sounds a little too boring to you, maybe the International Spy Museum is more intriguing. It’s privately run and the most fun to visit in town. I also liked the Newseum, which focus on journalism and freedom of speech and the press with interactive exhibitions. My favorite exhibits were historic front pages from around the world over the centuries, Pulitzer Prize winning photographs and Today’s Front Pages from around the world!
All of those museums can be overwhelming, so allow enough time in Washington D.C. – you can always take a break in the large parks and recover over dinner and drinks in one of the countless restaurants.