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  • Last Updated: 13th December 2012

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Washington - Sightseeing

Shopping

Serious minded though DC’s inhabitants may be, this is no staid city when it comes to fashion. With all those power lunches in progress, Washington DC’s retailers have responded with a whole host of amazing shops, from the vintage and boutique to the internationally renowned names.

For the ultimate DC shopping experience, head directly to Georgetown to discover the city’s celebrated shopping district. Down this area’s cobbled streets you can find a pleasing mixture of vintage fashions and international brands, as well as locally-owned boutiques, antique shops and chain brands for a truly eclectic retail trip.

DC’s fashionistas are rifling the rails at Friendship Heights on Upper Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, where you can find the high end stores. Browse outlets including Saks Fifth Avenue, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Versace, as well as two malls, will sate your appetite for all things designer.

Hang out with DC’s hipsters at Dupont Circle, a cosmopolitan area where galleries and jewellery shops rubs shoulders with bookstores and shops cluttered with tea and coffee paraphernalia. A cool and arty district, Dupont Circle is also home to the Phillips Collection, one of the city's foremost art museums with paintings by Renoir, Degas and Cezanne.

Those who enjoy an offbeat shopping experience will love the area between Logan Circle and U Street, another arty area, with contemporary art boutiques to browse around. Here you can pick up cool home décor items at one of the areas many funky furniture stores, as well as one-off pieces from cool boutiques.

To plunge into Washington DC life and do it like a local, there’s no better experience that the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. This market is the place to find antiques, second-hand books, local produce, and works by local artists, photographers, and craftspeople. On Sunday the famous flea market has over 100 exhibitors from 5 continents while at the popular Farmers Market you can fill your basket with fresh produce, deli meats, cheese and flowers. A great place to browse, get a feel for DC. You’ll feel like a resident in no time.

Principal Sights

From the White House to breathtaking artworks to gentle nature walks in DC’s stunning parks, sightseeing in Washington is a pleasing mix of history and beauty.

Begin to familiarise yourself with DC by heading directly to the National Mall, a grand open park area in the centre of the city. The Mall makes sightseeing in DC simple, since many of the major tourist sights and monuments can be found in the Mall, including the US Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool and the Holocaust Museum.

The location of so many iconic moments in history (not to mention movie scenes) The White House has been the official residence of all the presidents except Washington. A tour inside these hallowed white walls is too good an opportunity to miss, but you’ll need to arrange well in advance to secure a free tour of the White House; tickets must be reserved through your embassy. Once inside you’ll get to see such areas as the ballrooms, the State Dining Room and the entrance hall, though not, alas, the oval office! After your visit check out the White House Visitor Centre, at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets or, if you didn’t get a ticket for Obama’s residence, opt for a tour of the Capitol Building, which can be taken on a walk-in basis.

With so many statues and memorials in Washington, you’ll be spoiled for choice. But make a special effort to investigate The Lincoln Memorial, with its arresting Greek temple-like architecture. The Gettysburg Address is inscribed on the memorial’s south wall and Lincoln's second inaugural speech on the north. Also, fact fans, the memorial steps were the site of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream…’ speech.

If you’re keen on art and historical objects, you could easily spend your entire holiday exploring the famous Smithsonian, Jefferson Drive. The world’s largest museum and research complex, The Smithsonian consists of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities and is home to millions of artworks and objects. And, rather wonderfully, admission is free.

Once you’ve had your fill of stone and marble, head to The Tidal Basin, a partially man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel, filled with a grove of beautiful Japanese Cherry blossom trees. Offering wonderful views of the Washington memorial, the Tidal Basin is home to the popular Cherry Blossom Festival in spring.

Great Falls Park, on the Potomac River, is an 800-acre area of spectacular natural beauty, popular with locals and tourists. Take a picnic, go hiking, or even rock climbing and horse riding or just take a leisurely walk and check out the stunning 20 foot waterfalls.

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