Most capital cities offer a myriad of attractions, and Washington DC is no exception. The challenge is in the choosing. Here are some tips to help you make the most of a few days in the US capital.
First and foremost, as there’s so much to see and do, be advised to get to know the city as quickly as possible after arrival. That means finding a good guide and no better choice than ‘Washington Walks.’
Founded by Carolyn Crouch after she experienced a walking tour in London, the company employs more than a dozen guides and offers tours ranging from ‘American Presidents’ to ‘Women Who Changed America’ to ‘Abraham Lincoln’s Washington’ walk.
Being particularly interested to stroll through a specific neighborhood, we chose the two-hour-two mile ‘Georgetown’ walk on which we enjoyed meandering past 200-year-old mansions, including Federal style, Victorian row and New England frame. We were particularly impressed by historic Tudor Place, with its grand porticoes and gardens. After stopping at the former home of ex US President John Kennedy when he was a Senator, we learned how Georgetown, which is older than Washington DC itself, developed from a simple tobacco station and became an historic district. Aside from Kennedy, you’ll also pass by the former homes of other celebrities including Julia Childs, food writer and television personality.
Grab a ticket for a show at the Tony Award-winning Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, the second largest performing arts complex in Washington after the Kennedy Center. You will probably have a choice of performances as the 200,000 square feet complex encompasses three different auditoriums of varying sizes. We enjoyed a rousing production of ‘Jubilee’ about the Fisk Jubilee Singers who shattered racial barriers in the U.S. and abroad, entertaining kings and queens. For centuries, this a cappella African American ensemble born on the campus of Fisk University shared a heritage of suffering, strength and endurance. The a cappella performance features more than 35 spirituals and hymns including ‘Wade in the Water,’ ‘Ain’t That Good News, ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.’
For something fresh and funny, make sure to see The Capitol Steps, a comedy group who satirize the latest political developments on Capitol Hill. The show began when a group of Senate staffers created song parodies and comedy skits about the very people and places that employed them. So successful has the show become, the group – not all of whom are former political staffers – have recorded over 35 albums. With this being a Trump Versus Biden Presidential election year, there’s probably no more better time to see this show.
Renowned for its insightful articles and brilliant photographs for over a century, National Geographic has expanded its operations to include this museum, which hosts rotating exhibitions year-round in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling, and education. The dynamic exhibitions feature everything from iconic photography and world-famous artefacts to interactive learning stations and behind-the-scenes stories. As the US approaches the 100th anniversary of its constitutional amendment confirming women’s right to vote, a powerful new exhibition entitled ‘Women: A Century of Change’ showcases iconic women around the world. Photographs from National Geographic’s image collection, span nine decades and feature many countries, with each image creating a portrait of some aspect of women’s existence. The exhibition celebrates the publication of ‘Women: The National Geographic Image Collection.’
Over a decade of planning has led to one of the most interesting attractions in the US capital. Located underground beside Judiciary Square, this museum is described as a ‘walk-in-the-shoes’ experience, by which visitors learn what it’s like to be law enforcement officers. Among more than 20,000 objects are the desk of FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover, a computer used in cybercrime and, suspended from the ceiling, a helicopter that helped rescue passengers after the famous airplane crash on the Potomac River, with dramatic video of what happened that day. A special 911 Emergency Ops section allows visitors to become dispatchers while a ‘Take The Case’ exhibit illustrates forensic techniques used by detectives, as well as tips on how to place hidden cameras. You can also get a look inside a replica federal prison, take part in simulated SWAT situations, and learn about DNA testing and interrogation techniques. For animal lovers, there’s a fascinating glimpse into the K9, police dog training program. For added fun, a ‘Reel to Real’ illustrates toys and memorabilia from cop TV shows and movies over the years.