Spend your first visit to Washington D.C., America's political heart, gazing at the historical monuments along the National Mall. Then take in world-class art and American history at the Smithsonian Institute's 19 museums. You'll soon see that there are plenty of reasons to return dine with politicians in Penn Quarter, pick up one-off boutique fashion in Georgetown, or dance in the Adams Morgan area's trendy urban clubs.
The winding Potomac River borders Washington D.C. to the south-west. If you head towards the river you'll see the National Mall's most famous landmark and symbol of American politics, the White House. Carry a map and a subway pass to explore the rest of Washington D.C.. Head west for upscale Georgetown and the university city of Foggy Bottom. Or go south for Arlington National Cemetery, where soldiers from the American Revolution to Iraq war rest in peace.
Arrive early at the Lincoln Memorial, when the morning sun bathes the sculpture of the Civil War-era president in golden light. Then wander down the National Mall, past the 56 pillars of the National World War II Monument and the white Washington Monument obelisk. Both are mirrored in the serene Reflecting Pool. Take your pick from the collection of museums that form the Smithsonian Institute - the National Archives houses the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Finally, rub shoulders with politicians over dinner in Penn Quarter.
Save up for a shopping trip to Georgetown, popular for boutique clothing, antiques and fine art. You'll find it's an easy subway ride to Woodley Park, home to the Gothic-style Washington National Cathedral and kids' favourite, the National Zoo. For authentic Ethiopian and African-American cuisine or edgy, urban boutiques go to U Street. Visit Washington D.C.'s Newseum to explore the role of free press in a democratic society.
A 1960s design classic, Washington Dulles International Airport flies almost 24 million passengers a year from its signature Eero Saarinendesigned main terminal. The airport is in the state of Virginia, 26 miles (41 km) west of downtown Washington DC and a 50-minute trip by bus.