In February 2009 I travelled to Washington, D.C. with my sixth form History class to study the American government. Washington D.C is the capital of the United States, now it may not be considered a typical holiday destination, however despite this it is a great experience! After our plane there had landed I got the chance to see The White House. The White House is the home of the American President and has been since 1800. Similarly to Buckingham Palace, tourists can get some great photographs of The White House so it’s definitely worth visiting if you are there. Another bonus is that it is also a short walk from many of Washington, D.C.’s other major sites.
The cemetery highlights America’s pride in their military
The next day we were able to fully explore the city. Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery. Many tourists visit the cemetery because the former American President, John.F.Kennedy, is buried there along with his family. The area is surrounded by a few sets of flames. The cemetery also highlights America’s pride in their military and is located just across the river with easy access to many of the City’s other sights. In 1982 the City began constructing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for those who has fought for America in the Vietnam war. The Memorial is a wall which includes the names of those who fought in the Vietnam War. It is located close to the Korean Veterans War Memorial which was created in 1995. It depicts figures wandering through vegetation, in war-like postures; many with weapons ready to fight.
There’s a sense that in Washington, D.C. the military is very important throughout history and in the present day. In close proximity to the war memorials is the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflection Pool. This pool appears in the film, Forest Gump, and at the head of the pool is the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial has a huge presence, with a giant figure of Abraham Lincoln at the centre of the memorial. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. The Memorial is a great place to visit for it’s architecture. It’s also open during the night and is a great sight when it’s lit up.! The City offers evening bus tours which are a great way to see the city if you are struggling for time. However during the winter months it snows in Washington, D.C. and the conditions on the tours can be very cold, so don’t forget your warm clothes!
Great place to visit for it’s architecture!
My key tip for staying in Washington, D.C. is to book a stay in a centrally located hotel. It may cost more money initially but you will save even more money in the long run as you won’t have to use as many taxis! In the Northwest of Washington D.C. there are some fantastic places to eat, during my stay this was a popular location and we visited often, particularly Georgetown. It’s a lively area with shops, restaurants and entertainment. Whilst here we sampled some of America’s typical cuisine, none other than the obligatory burger and chips! However if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea there are many other delicious cuisine eateries on often such as a lovely Italian restaurant we visited many times! If you’re over 21 there’s a great range of bars you can go to. As many of you may already know, America is very strict on the legal drinking age, so you won’t be able to visit the bars if you’re under 21, unfortunately! If you’re up for a challenge whilst in America then why not try America’s Supersize McDonald’s meal! In America McDonald’s are very common and we undertook this challenge at the Air and Space Museum. The drinks are one litre and certainly the hardest part of the meal funnily enough.
Washington, D.C. is also home to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It’s a very moving museum and worth visiting especially as it’s America’s national memorial to the Holocaust. There are a range of exhibitions such as an area where Holocaust victims have been interviewed and a documentary is running. It’s a large museum and it’s worth taking your time over if you have the time or a keen interest in. Next to the Washington Monument is a great piece of architecture which is worth observing. In the night it’s lit up by red lights. The monument is to mark George Washington, the first American President. If you wish to go to the monument then you can obtain free tickets on a first come first served basis from the Washington D.C tourism website. We were lucky enough to get tickets and despite the snow we got a spectacular view of the city.
Although Washington, D.C. could be considered an unusual holiday destination compared to somewhere like Florida, or New York it’s a great way to learn more about America’s political centre. It’s also located just over three hours from New York City so if you have the time you could combine a trip to the Big apple, aka New York on your trip. If you visit Washington, D.C.’s official tourism website there’s a lot more information on what to do, which includes specific schedules based on what you’re interested in and how long you’re in Washington for.