Explore Washington with this comprehensive 12-hour guide
Washington’s museums and memorials offer visitors a front row seat to American history, politics and culture
8 am: Stroll through Eastern market (easternmarket-dc.org), established in 1873 and located near Capitol Hill, to savour fresh bagels, croissants, scones, cheese, fruits and vegetables while examining the wares of more than 100 exhibitors of handmade crafts, jewellery and antiques.
8:45 am: Take a 10-minute cab ride to one of the most prestigious addresses in the world – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – for a free, self-guided tour of the White House (whitehouse.gov). Admire the East, Green, Blue, Red, and State Dining rooms and imagine John Kennedy delivering a toast in your honour. Non-U.S. residents need to submit requests through their embassies several weeks in advance; bring your passport for identification.
10 am: Walk 15 minutes to be one of the day’s first visitors to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (americanhistory.si.edu), which offers an intriguing glimpse into this nation’s cultural, political and social history. Highlights include a fragment of Plymouth Rock, Dorothy’s glittering ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and the First Ladies exhibit.
Noon: Just a few blocks away is the Old Ebbitt Grill (ebbitt.com), established in 1856 as a saloon and boarding house. Guests have included several White House occupants; today, it is an engaging and enchanting eatery. Indulge in specialities of crab with artichoke dip and oysters.
1:30 pm: It’s time to return to the 21st Century at one of Washington’s newest, most fascinating attractions. The Newseum (newseum.org) is a museum devoted to the news media with countless interactive exhibits. Try your hand at reporting and shooting a video, as well as testing your knowledge of current events at the fast-paced NewsMania game.
3 pm: Get some fresh air and exercise by exploring the National Mall, beginning with the World War II Memorial, then walk to the poignant Vietnam War Memorial with the names of more than 50,000 Americans etched in a wall made with stone from Bangalore, India. Finish at the Lincoln Memorial, an awe-inspiring statue of the 16th President surrounded by some of his best-known quotations.
Don’t miss the bas-reliefs depicting scenes from nine Shakespeare plays outside the acclaimed Folger Shakespeare Library
4 pm: Hail a cab to trendy Georgetown and some of Washington’s best shopping, particularly the Georgetown Park mall (shopsatgeorgetownpark.com). Music lovers, be sure to browse through Canal Square’s Hill & Dale (hillanddalerecords.com), a record store offering new and old titles in pop, rock, jazz, folk, country, blues and other genres, as well as engaging conversations with the proprietors.
6 pm: After freshening up, have an elegant Italian dinner at Fiola (fioladc.com) along the Georgetown waterfront. The lobster ravioli and the Colors of the Garden salad make a sumptuous pairing.
8 pm: End the day with a show at the Kennedy Center (kennedy-center.org/index.cfm), a performing arts complex along the Potomac River with eight venues offering cultural events, art exhibits as well as concerts, theatre, opera and ballet.