Visitors who book flights to Washington, D.C. will usually arrive at one of three area airports. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which is actually located in nearby Arlington, Virginia, services most of the domestic air traffic into the area. DCA only accommodates flights from the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, so travelers who are flying in from other destinations will typically arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and then take the Metrobus to the city center. Occasionally, Washington, D.C. flights may be redirected to land at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), which is about 30 miles from the city. From BWI Airport, visitors can take the Metrobus system or the MARC commuter train to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. Weather
The harshest time of year in Washington, D.C. is winter, when temperatures can plummet into the low 20s overnight and the area experiences snow and freezing rain. Outside of the colder months, though, Washington, D.C. has a relatively temperate climate with mild springs, moderate summers, and cool, crisp autumns. The rainiest months in the area are May and September, so when you book flights to Washington, D.C. during those times, be sure to pack your umbrella and a raincoat. Spring and fall are ideal times to stroll along the National Mall in the city, when you can view blooming flowers or changing leaves.
Getting Around Washington, D.C.
After taking one of the comfortable Washington D.C. flights, visitors can make use of several public transportation options to get around the area. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority offers an extensive bus and underground subway system that travels to most of the city's popular spots. However, most of the sightseeing locations are situated close to each other, making walking the easiest way to get around several neighborhoods in the city. If you prefer riding, the D.C. Circulator shuttle service and the Metrobus system offer short rides to frequently visited districts and attractions within the city.
Washington, D.C. Attractions
Both domestic and international flights to Washington, D.C. help guests arrive in the city safely, where they can start planning their trips to local attractions. Washington, D.C. is home to America's most influential government institutions and monuments from its political and social history. Some of the most popular attractions in the area include:
- Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, the most extensive collection of memorabilia and artifacts from the American space program and the early history of flight
- Lincoln Memorial, an impressive stone memorial featuring 36 columns and a 19-foot tall statue of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
- The Washington Monument, a 555-foot high obelisk dedicated to the first U.S. President George Washington
- The White House, the residence of the President of the United States and the symbolic seat of American government
- The National Zoo, a zoological park that covers over 160 acres and houses over 400 animal species
Washington D.C. When to Go
Washington’s summers are blisteringly hot and humid, so plan on visiting in spring and fall when temperatures remain mild and the school-vacation crowds are at their ebb. Each spring, the National Cherry Blossom Festival typically signals the start of “tourist season,” though that can also be when the weather is most fickle—sunny and mid-60s one day, rain and wind the next (read: Pack layers). Lots of people come to town for the festival, and there’s no guarantee the blossoms will actually be out, but catch it right and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful spectacles in city travel.
Heat and humidity aside, summer can work if you’re strategic about where you visit. Hit the star attractions first thing in the morning to avoid waiting in line in the sun, and save those off-the-beaten-path spots (hopefully ones with air conditioning) for later in the day. Visit the monuments at dusk for stellar sunset photo ops. Surprisingly, summer hotel rates can be competitive because many of the politicians, businessfolk, and convention-goers aren’t in town.
Fall is ideal, though it doesn’t start for real until October most years and can be fleeting, with chilly northerly winds heralding several months of biting sub-zero days, particularly in January and February. Winter brings subfreezing temperatures and occasional ice, though snow is more rare here than in Northeastern cities.
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