Washington DC is located near the
middle of the eastern coast of the USA. It is 230 miles south of New York City,
less than an hour drive to Baltimore and slightly more than
two hours to Philadelphia. The city is near the vast Chesepeake Bay about 100
miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. The surrounding landscape is nearly flat
with some gently rolling hills and shallow valleys. Summers can get quite warm
with temperatures often exceeding 80 degrees F during June through August.
Winters can be quite cold with temperatures intermittently falling below
freezing from December through March. They get a modest amount of precipitation
evenly distributed throughout the year. Occasional Atlantic storms can bring
deluges or can dump large amounts of snow on the area in the winter.

Washington DC is more than a city
but not quite a state. It is a district created by the Congress of
the United States in 1790 as a place to meet and transact their affairs of
government. It was originally a ten-mile, square of land straddling the Potomac
River between Virginia and Maryland. They called it the District of Columbia
and named the new capital city, to be constructed within, Washington in honor
of our founding father and first president.

A city planned by a French engineer

Washington DC is one of the few
cities in the USA that was built according to a plan. In 1790, President
Washington hired a French engineer from Lafayette's army named Pierre L'Enfant
to design a glorious capital city similar to Paris. The complete name of the
city is Washington, District of Columbia. Most people call it Washington DC or
just DC.

Today Washington DC is a city of
variety and contrast. The central area is beautifully designed with broad
avenues lined with magnificent buildings and monuments set in spacious green
parks. The surrounding neighborhoods vary from modern commercial districts and
upscale residential neighborhoods to ethnic enclaves and working class
neighborhoods. The city houses a myriad of workers, diplomats, politicians and
immigrants from many lands. It is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the US
with numerous ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants featuring a wide variety of
exotic cuisines. Suburban communities in nearby Virginia and Maryland house an
army of government workers and businesses supporting the operation of our huge
federal bureaucracy.

Most of it is free

There is a lot to see in Washington
DC and most of it is free. You can tour the US Capitol Building, the White
House, the Supreme Court and many federal government agencies like the Bureau
of Engraving and Printing (where they print the money) and the Federal Bureau
of Investigations (FBI) (where they shoot a machine gun). You can visit the
Washington Memorial, the Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt Memorials. You can
see Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam memorial, the Korean War memorial
and the Battle of Iwo Jima memorial. You can even spend several days touring
the many parts of the Smithsonian Institute, one of the largest and finest
collection of museums in the world. None of it will cost anything!

Washington DC offers many historical
and educational attractions, a variety of cultural and entertainment
activities, plenty of multi-ethnic dining experiences and an array of shopping
opportunities. Outside of the city, there are many civil war battlefields
within a short drive; and President Washington's home at Mount Vernon is just
south of DC. The port city of Baltimore and Anapolis, home of the US Naval Acadamy,
are within an hour drive. Even Piladelphia and New York City are within a half-day

Three major airports

DC is served by three major
airports. Washington National Airport, now called Reagan International, is just
across the Potomac river from the district. It offers many domestic flights to
cities throughout the USA. Dulles Airport is located in suburban Virginia 30
miles west of the city. It offers many international flights and a variety of
domestic connections. Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) is about
30 miles north of DC near the outskirts of Baltimore. It offers both domestic
and international travel options.

The DC Metro, or subway system is
quite good. It offers easy access from Washington International Airport and
from numerous Park and Ride locations around the city to most of
the major attractions. On weekdays, the parking situation in the city can be
quite difficult. I recommend parking outside of the downtown area and using the
Metro. On weekends and holidays when the government beaurocrats desert their
offices, downtown parking is readily available.

Navigating the baffling street system

Driving in DC can be frustrating.
The beltway system around the city is quite good, but access to and from the
central area is not so easy. All major roads often become congested during the
busy hours of early morning and late afternoon.

The well-planned street system is an
easy to comprehend grid that is often difficult to maneuver. The north-south
streets are numbered and the east-west streets are lettered beginning at the
Capitol and extending in both direction. You can have two 3rd streets (one to
the east of the Capitol and one to the west), and you can have two
D streets (one to the north of the capitol and one to the south).
That is why the city is divided into quadrants. The intersections of 7th street
and C street can occur in the NE, SE, NW and SW sectors. You must
specify the quadrant to find an address. There is a series of broad avenues
that radiate out from the Capitol like the spokes of a wheel. They produce some
complex angular intersections that can baffle even the most experienced

Visit our Washington D.C. Attractions for information about the best sights in and around DC!