Washington DC Vacations
Your Washington, DC vacation
Constantly reinventing itself through centuries of presidents, senators and political hopefuls, Washington, DC prizes her refineries, not her extremes. Capture a slice of America from the White House and US Capitol to the Washington Monument and the Library of Congress. See the star-spangled streets during Fourth of July, and stroll through the Smithsonian's metropolis of museums. Walk along the National Mall where Martin Luther King Jr shared his dream, and kayak through Georgetown. Bring the kids to the Bald Eagle Refuge where they'll learn about the country's symbol.
Whatever you elect on your Washington, DC vacation, let Orbitz cast a ballot on your itinerary. Our DC insiders dish the best time to go and top 10 attractions, plus reveal a declassified dossier of to-dos.
Washington DC Hotels
|Los Angeles||Washington DC||Tue, Jun 18 - Thu, Jun 20||$292|
|Chicago||Washington DC||Sat, Jun 1 - Tue, Jun 4||$166|
|Boston||Washington DC||Wed, Jun 19 - Tue, Jun 25||$132|
|Denver||Washington DC||Sun, May 26 - Tue, May 28||$218|
|San Francisco||Washington DC||Mon, Jun 10 - Tue, Jun 11||$304|
|Seattle||Washington DC||Tue, Jun 11 - Sun, Jun 16||$396|
|Minneapolis||Washington DC||Tue, Jun 4 - Tue, Jun 11||$308|
|Dallas||Washington DC||Wed, May 29 - Thu, Jun 6||$276|
|New York||Washington DC||Sat, Jun 15 - Wed, Jun 19||$124|
|Orlando||Washington DC||Thu, Jun 13 - Tue, Jun 18||$196|
|Kansas City||Washington DC||Tue, Jun 4 - Tue, Jun 11||$228|
|Atlanta||Washington DC||Tue, Jun 25 - Wed, Jul 3||$239|
Best time to take a vacation to Washington DC
In a vibrant city like Washington, D.C., vacations are ideal any time of year. The city is abuzz during Cherry Blossom Festival (spring), 4th of July, and when Congress is in session (mid-September through Thanksgiving, and mid-January to June).For fewer crowds and lower hotel rates, travel between late August and early September, or after Thanksgiving into mid-January.
Weather-wise, winters can be erratic (flurries, ice storms), while falls are warm, crisp and colorful. Summers are hot and humid, but hotel rates are low from early July (after the 4th) through August. Spring showers are common, but come May D.C. comes alive with sunshine and greenery.
Insider tips for Washington DC travel
Capitol City Brewing Co.
Drink seasonal beers and snack of pretzels with Capitol Hill staffers. The crowd is lively and the American dishes are delish.
Segway, bike or kayak the sites
Put a little muscle into your sightseeing. Pedal past the monuments, rent tandem bikes, or a take a Segway tour. Kayak through Georgetown under bridges and around Roosevelt Island – better yet, book an evening paddle on the 4th of July.
The unassuming front door is easily missed, but this high-end consignment shop shouldn’t be. Climb the stairs to get to two rooms full of Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Chanel and more.
Dupont Circle Freshfarm Market
Shop for farm-fresh goodies on Sundays, rain or shine. Farmers and producers sell everything from the usual suspects (fruit, veggies, breads, flowers) to fish, fruit pies, soaps and herbal products.
National Museum of Crime and Punishment
Learn about the history of crime and what happens to the bad guys at this police station exhibit. Get fingerprinted, stand in a police lineup and try to pass the lie detector test. Participate in the simulated shooting range and high-speed police-chase.
Washington DC highlights
Natural History Museum
Learn about bugs, bones, blue whales, jewels and more. Ogle the bling in the Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, home of the 45.5-carat Hope diamond. The freeze-action dioramas in the renovated Behring Family Hall of Mammals depict how animals adapt and evolve. African Voices uses personal accounts, proverbs, folk tales and hundreds of objects to convey African culture. Top off your visit at the O. Orkin Insect Zoo where your kids can feed the tarantula her meal of crickets.
View the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Search for documents recounting the Titanic and Challenger disasters, even the Watergate burglary. Read angry letters from college students protesting the Vietnam War, view declassified war plans, and create your own Oval Office seal.
Arlington National Cemetery
This massive shrine honors US heroes and veterans, buried on green hills overlooking the capital. Witness a 24-hour honor guard watch over the Tomb of the Unknowns. Walk uphill to the Arlington House, built by George Washington's grandson, near the gravesites of John F. Kennedy and Pierre Charles L'Enfant.
National Air and Space Museum
Experience the evolution of flight, chronicled through exhibits and interactive displays. See the original 1903 Wright Flyer, and let space suits, lunar vehicles and the 1,650-pound back-up mirror to the Hubble Space telescope explain the challenges and triumphs of technology. Don't miss the moon rock or the IMAX films, including "To Fly" where you'll feel like you're cruising over the planet.
Learn about the leaders that shaped the Congress, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. View hundreds of artworks and sculptures inside the Rotunda and National Statuary Hall. Visit the Crypt, or the Senate and House Galleries when either body is in session.
The White House
Queue up for a public tour to see the where the president entertains (Gold-and-White East Room), Jefferson's dining room (the Green Room), the setting of the White House Christmas tree (the Blue Room), the State Dining Room and more. Contact your Congressperson one to six months in advance for a special group tour.
American History Museum
A menagerie of cultural icons, you'll see the flag memorialized in "The Star-Spangled Banner," a Model-T Ford, Dorothy's ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet and a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. Allow time for the Hands-On Science Center, where families perform their own experiments.
The International Spy Museum
Real life whodunits are the subject of this espionage museum. Learn about fictional cloak-and-dagger characters and unlikely American spy heroes like cooks who parlayed fame into fact-finding for the government. Test your mettle by discovering audio bugs as discreet as a strand of hair. Check the schedule for KidSpy Overnights, suited for kids 9 to 15 accompanied by an adult.
American Indian Museum
Discover Native American culture from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. Nations tell their stories through dazzling gold shields, feathered regalia and pottery. Cultural interpreters present discovery carts with arrowheads, moccasins and more. Free tickets are available for timed entry -- a great way to avoid the long lines.
Take photos of the Court's East or West Pediment, or check out the media frenzy on the plaza's southwest corner. Want to go inside? You can attend high court debates from April to October, or bench sittings from mid-May to June.
More on Washington DC from AOL Travel
A Washington, D.C., vacation is often about monuments, museums and power. Similar to the perception that everyone in Los Angeles works in one industry—entertainment—the same can be said for D.C., only for politics. No surprise there for the capital of the free world. It also gives the city a somewhat energized and transient feel. First-time visitors are often eager to tour the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and presidential and war memorials—that is unless you’re in town for a protest on the National Mall. Museum lovers practically could spend a lifetime at the Smithsonian Institute’s 16 local venues, as well as at dozens more privately funded museums and still have more to see. Clearly it takes several visits to the District to be able to experience all this capital city has to offer. The city teams with festivals; two to try to catch are the National Cherry Blossom Festival in spring and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The Georgetown neighborhood with its historic Federalist townhouses feels like a village unto itself. For all of Congress’ grumbling about federal arts funding, the Kennedy Center is a diamond in D.C.’s arts and culture landscape. And with embassies from around the world, the city has one of the highest concentrations of ethnic restaurants anywhere. For artisan, crafts and antique shopping, don’t miss a local favorite, the Eastern Market. Getting around is easy too, especially when using the super clean Metro subway system.