Washington has a wide range of excellent restaurants. Since the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and many embassies are located in Washington, cuisine from all countries is available at a range of prices. The excellent museums on the Mall are free. These include the Smithsonian Museums — the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Gallery of Art etc.
The World Bank and IMF are two blocks to the east. The White House is 5 blocks to the east. The U.S. Department of State is 4 blocks south and the architecturally interesting Institute of Peace is 6 blocks south. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is 4 blocks west. Georgetown, the colonial village that predates Washington and now has many restaurants and boutiques, is 7 blocks to the northwest. The many restaurants around Dupont Circle are 9 blocks north. The Cosmos Club, where the inaugural meeting of the ASC was held in 1964, is 10 blocks north.
Those drawn to political power can visit The Capitol, The White House, and the National Press Club. If you are interested in economic development, the World Bank’s InfoShop at 18th and Pennsylvania has all the latest books.
Sailing and windsurfing using rentals is possible on the Potomac River. When hiking in Rock Creek Park or canoeing on the Potomac, one is largely unaware of being in an urban area.
Some Short Trips
Annapolis, MD, the capital of Maryland and home of the U.S. Naval Academy, is about a 1.5 hour drive to the east. It is a very picturesque small city on the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S. Annapolis has MANY sail boats and fine restaurants. For a very pleasant one day trip, drive over, walk around the town and harbor, have lunch, walk some more and drive back.
Harper’s Ferry, WV, is about a 1.5 hour drive northwest of DC. This small town has lots of history. Prior to the Civil War it had factories making rifles. The town changed hands between North and South several times during the war. John Brown was captured here before the war, ending his effort to foment a slave rebellion.
In a suburb south of Washington, is Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. In addition to the house there are a museum and many small buildings illustrating the farming technology of the colonial period. A visit here is a very pleasant afternoon or day trip.
If you want to spend 2 or 3 days in Early America, the Williamsburg area is ideal. Williamsburg is about a 3 or 4 hour drive southeast of Washington. There are three main locations just a few miles apart.
- Jamestown in 1607 was the first permanent English settlement in North America. It is where Captain John Smith met the Indian princess Pocahontas.
- Williamsburg was the colonial capital of Virginia. Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death.”) and future presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe met here to debate how to cope with King George of England. They eventually decided on revolution.
- Yorktown is where the last battle of the Revolutionary War was fought. The French fleet kept the British fleet from rescuing British General Cornwallis, who was forced to surrender. When Great Britain surrendered to Washington’s rag tag army, the event was described as “the world turned upside down.”
West of Washington are the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Chain. Skyline Drive is a road that runs along the top of a ridge. It has been designated one of the 10 most scenic drives in the U.S. If you like to see pretty scenery from a car, this is a nice day trip.
Three hours south of Washington Is Charlottesville, VA. Important sites are the University of Virginia, designed by Thomas Jefferson, and Jefferson’s home Monticello. In the area around Charlottesville there are an increasing number of vineyards, breweries and distilleries.
About one hour northeast of Washington is Baltimore, MD. The Inner Harbor is an example of urban renewal. A key point of interest is the aquarium where one can see sharks in a donut-shaped tank circulating around you. There is also a science museum. The defense of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner,” the national anthem. The land between Baltimore and Washington is now being called Cyber Valley, due to the presence of the National Security Agency and many government contractors.
About one hour north of Baltimore is Philadelphia, PA, where the Continental Congress met during the Revolutionary War and the U.S. Constitution was written. Philadelphia was the home of Benjamin Franklin, who founded the University of Pennsylvania. Several other universities are also located in Philadelphia.
Near Washington there are several Civil War battlefields, for example near Manassas, VA, and Gettysburg, PA.