What are some things to know before visiting Washington D.C.?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

McLean Robbins

Before visiting Washington, D.C., here are a few things travelers should know:

Transportation
The Washington, D.C. area has three major airports – BWI, IAD and DCA. The first two are considered “international” airports and offer the largest number of flights. In some cases, these airports may be cheaper to fly in and out of  because low cost carriers like Southwest have more frequent flights from these gateway cities. DCA, however, is the closest airport to Washington, D.C. (about a $20 cab to anywhere in the city) and is also connected to public transport. IAD, by contrast, is a $50-$60 cab, and BWI is about $100. Consider the added cost of transportation when booking your ticket.

Weather
Washington is hot and humid in the summer, and cold in the winter. Just like many other Mid-Atlantic cities, you’ll want to check the weather forecast just before visiting – we have frequent temperature shifts.

Getting Around
When using the public transportation – Metro – remember the cardinal rule for visitors. Stand on the right, and walk on the left. If you’re walking, the city is generally laid out in a grid, with street numbers running North-South, lettered streets running East-West and streets named after states running on the diagonal.

Mary Beth Albright

If you live in America, you have a congressperson — and that congressperson has a staff whose entire job is to make sure that you, their voting constituent, is happy. Look, they have other things to do of course — pass a budget, consider gun control — but they can be enormously helpful in seeing the government sites. Most offices will offer a tour of the Capitol and perhaps be able to give an inside scoop on scoring a White House tour or tickets to White House events like the Easter Egg Roll. So call around.

Although it's easy to come to DC just for the sites, don't miss out on our extraordinary events. Whether a Smithsonian-sponsored "Cocktails and Creativity" evening event, sipping drinks while making art in a museum, or the kids' day-long spy camp at the International Spy Museum, our programming is staffed by world experts who congregate to the city.

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