5 Things You May Not Know About Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC is best known for its museums, memorials and government headquarters and is one of the most educational vacation destinations in the U.S.  It is also a fun city to explore with a wide variety of entertainment, outdoor recreation, great restaurants and plenty of places to relax and people watch. If you are thinking about visiting Washington, D.C. here are five things you may not know:

  • 01 of 05

    Most of Washington, D.C.’s attractions are free.

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    ••• Photo © Patrick Yuen/Getty Images

    With dozens of free museums, memorials, historic sites, concerts and events, the nation’s capital is an affordable place to visit.  The most popular attractions including the Smithsonian museums,  The National Gallery of Art, and the national memorials are all free. The U.S. Capitol Building, the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court offer public tours. The Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage offers free performances nightly.  During the summer months, there is an extensive line-up of free outdoor movies  and concerts throughout the region. There’s plenty of free festivals and events going on in Washington, D.C. throughout the year. See monthly event calendars for details. (Please note that calendars include some festivals with fees)

    More: 25 Free Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

  • 02 of 05

    Washington, D.C. is a mecca for cultural experiences.

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    ••• Photo © Miller Taylor

    With the embassies from around the world headquartered in DC, the city is a melting pot and great place to enjoy cultural events and to learn about the arts, music, food and traditions of other countries. Popular festivals range from the National Cherry Blossom Festival to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to the Turkish Festival to  the Francophie Festival. Washington, D.C. also has a diverse selection of restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world including Greek, Irish, Spanish, Italian, Ethiopian, Asian, Mexican and much more.

    More: Best 19 Cultural Events in Washington, D.C.

    More: Food, Beverage & Dining: Restaurants, Bars, Food & Wine Events

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    Washington, D.C. is a walkable and bike friendly city.

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    ••• Photo © Don Mason/Getty Images

    A 2014 report by Christopher Leinberger and Patrick Lynch at The George Washington University School of Business has named Washington, D.C. as the most walkable city in the U.S. The city has done an excellent job of clustering its development around the Metro stations and is continually seeking to improve its public transportation systems.  Over the past several years, DC has added many bike lanes in the downtown area to encourage bicycling as environmental friendly mode of transportation.  The first bike sharing program in the U.S., Capital Bikeshare , offers an easy way to get around the city by allowing you to pick up a bike at one destination and drop it off at another. Visitors can take a guided tour with Bike and Roll to see the city's most famous landmarks.

    More: Getting Around Washington, D.C.

    More: 6 Reasons Not to Drive in DC

    More: Bicycling in Washington, D.C.

  • 04 of 05

    Redevelopment is exploding in the Washington, D.C. Capital Region

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    ••• Rendering - Hotels on the Wharf. Courtesy of Hoffman-Madison

    Washington, D.C.’s population has seen a huge increase in recent years and the city is experiencing a surge in redevelopment. Many neighborhoods are being revitalized to increase tourism and improve the local economy. Major developments are reshaping the city including the Capitol Riverfront, a vibrant mixed-use riverfront community that is located along the Anacostia River near the Navy Yard,  NoMa, the neighborhood located just north of the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, and the The Wharf, the mile-long Southwest Waterfront  that stretches along the Potomac River from the Maine Street Fish Wharf to Ft. McNair. The suburbs of Maryland and Virginia are also extensively redeveloping especially the bordering communities of Tysons and White Flint. The Washington, D.C. region leads the nation in its measures to integrate sustainability in its development plans with a commitment to green building practices.

    More: Urban Development in Washington, D.C.

    More: Washington, D.C. Construction...MORE Update

    More: Get to Know Washington, D.C. Neighborhoods

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  • 05 of 05

    Washington, D.C. ranks among the top U.S. cities for its parks and green space.

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    ••• Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed

    While Washington, D.C. has plenty of urban spaces, the city also retains a substantial amount of green space that is protected parkland. Visitors and residents enjoy lots of recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, picnicking, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, ice skating and more. The largest parks with DC are the National Mall, Rock Creek Park and East Potomac Park. The scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway connects many  attractions and historic sites along the Potomac River.

    More: Outdoor Recreation in Washington, D.C.