24 hours in Washington DC

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If New York is the heart of the United States, then Washington DC is the brain, where all vital decisions are made. This, and its rich history, render it one of the country’s great tourist destinations.

Designed by Parisian Pierre L’Enfant, DC is a city you can walk across. The avenues are wide, river views are abundant, and, because buildings cannot by law be higher than the width of the street they front, the sky is always visible. Add more than 25 free museums, and it’s an enthralling, culture-rich visit.

It would be easy to spend all day in museums such as the Smithsonian; then visit The White House and the Washington Monument. Each is worth the visit.

But there is far more to – and around – the District. And if you have a day in Washington, DC, your best bet is to balance the places everyone visits with the real life of the city. Here’s how:

Start your day with a stop at the upscale Tysons Corner Center mall, home to more than 300 department and specialty stores such as Brooks Brothers, Coach, Bloomingdale’s, and Sony Style, and a plethora of dining.

Stroll the cobblestone streets of the quaint, historic port city of Alexandria, restored to its late 18th-century appearance. Start or end your time with brunch at Gadsby’s, where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams each resided.

Make a stop at Gravelly Point, particularly if you have kids or just enjoy aeroplanes that fly close enough to convince you that you can touch them as they approach Reagan National Airport. You can also enjoy boating and cycling.

Essential to visiting The National Mall is planning ahead, as it would take days to thoroughly tour each of the museums here. Get your tickets in advance for whichever most interests you. Best of them all? The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, with its spacious atria, is impossible not to enjoy. Smartly arranged, chock-full of impressive aircraft and displays, with a masterful pairing of education and fun, it’s the quintessential all-ages museum.

Arlington National Cemeteryhouses The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the grave of John F. Kennedy. Far more compelling are the graves of those killed when the cemetery was established during the Civil War.

Washington National Cathedral is exquisitely serene at dusk. Its more than 200 stained glass windows include The Space Window, which holds a piece of lunar rock. For a fun twist…find Darth Vader!

Visit Lebanese Taverna for out-of-this-world marinated chicken shawarma or Ouzi – both delectable. Elsewhere, Oktoberfest is the perfect time to pay a dinner visit to Old Europe, a German DC tradition.

Your mood dictates nightlife preferences, but for the best options head to the U Street Corridor, where you can escape the DC college-life and where great music abounds. Best of the lot? Bohemian Caverns jazz club.

DC is now open until 3am, at which hour its plentiful rooftop bars are the places to be and be seen. Marvin is a great stop, with a rooftop beer garden and an enviable view of this great American city.

Washington DC, USA
Distance: 11,120 km
Flight Time: 14 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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