Get to Know Your Government
- The Executive Branch— The White House
- The Legislative Branch— House of Representatives, Senate
- The Judicial Branch— US Supreme Court, US Federal Courts
- Local Washington Government— Washington, DC
Washington is served by three airports and an AMTRAK train station. Washington Reagan National is by far the closest airport to downtown DC and the only airport that is served by METRO.
Getting to and from Washington:
- Washington Reagan National Airport
- Dulles International Airport
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
- Union Station – Served by AMTRAK and regional rail lines and located only a few blocks from where you'll be living!
Getting around Washington
Public transportation in Washington is outstanding with extensive rail and bus service.
- The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority operates Metrorail and Metrobus service that serve Washington, Virginia and Maryland.
- The DC Circulator buses offer routes through various areas of DC including a bus that travels from Capitol Hill to Georgetown.
You will be living in the 19th century neighborhood adjacent to the U.S. Capitol known as Capitol Hill. Pierre L’Enfant, designer of Washington selected this area’s high ground as the ideal location for the city’s capitol building. In addition to this area, which you will undoubtedly explore, there are many interesting neighborhoods throughout the city.
- Downtown, located between the Capitol and White House north of Pennsylvania Avenue, Downtown is a newly revitalized district with the Convention and MCI Centers, theaters, restaurants, hotels, and stores
- Dupont Circle is a vibrant neighborhood adjacent to downtown and is home to many shops, restaurants and private art galleries
- Georgetown, located west of Dupont Circle, is a famous historic district, partly residential and partly commercial, home to Georgetown University and hugely popular nightlife, restaurants, and shopping
- Adams-Morgan, is northeast of Dupont Circle up 18th Street and is famous for its eclectic nightlife and its wide array of ethnic eateries
- Kalorama, located northwest of Dupont Circle along Massachusetts Avenue’s embassy row (Washington’s ambassadorial quarter) is full of beautiful mansions and handsome town houses
- Foggy Bottom, south of Dupont Circle, is home to George Washington University, the Kennedy Center, and many international organizations, including the World Bank and the State Department
- Cleveland Park and Woodley Park comprise the Connecticut Avenue corridor, which is home to many shops and restaurants. The National Zoo and Washington National Cathedral are found in these neighborhoods
- Alexandria, Virginia, with its beautiful water-front Old Town, is a historically preserved district with tons of shopping and nightlife, easily accesible by the metro.
- The Washington Post
- The Washington Times
- Washington City Paper
- Washingtonian Magazine
- Washington Monthly
Performing Arts and Entertainment
- The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with six theaters, is the dominant performing arts organization in the city, and a leading institution in the country. The Kennedy Center offers a wide variety of local, national, and international troupes and performers in over 3300 performances a year. You can find individual performances or examine multiple programs in opera, symphony, jazz, ballet, dance, theater, film, chamber music, commedy, and celebratory festivals. Depending on availability, students can obtain half price tickets. Additionally, free performances are offered daily at 6:00 PM at the Millennium Stage of the Grand Foyer.
- The Verizon Center, which hosts sports, concerts, ice shows, etc.
- The National Theater, a historic downtown theater that often shows Broadway musicals
- The Warner Theater
- Ford's Theater, for more intimate productions and a chilling historic feel
- The Shakespeare Theatre, superb productions of plays by the Bard and other classics
- Arena Stage, Washington's premier regional theater, which emphasizes the classics as well as major new works
- The Studio Theatre, a small company with edgy contemporary productions
Historic Sites and Monuments
Washington is home to many historic sites. You could visit one each day of the semester and many would still remain unseen! Take the time to visit those that are well known in addition to seeing some places off the beaten path.
- The National Mall holds most of the top sights: The Washington Monument; the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt Memorials; the Vietnam and Korean Memorials, and much more.
- The US Capitol, its associated buildings, and surrounding grounds offer up lots of history. Across the street are the three buildings of the Library of Congress as well as the Supreme Court.
- Arlington, Virginia hosts a large number of sights, especially Arlington National Cemetery with its Veteran’s memorials, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Kennedy grave sites, Iwo Jima Memorial, and Carillon. The Pentagon is also nearby.
There are, of course, many other historic sites to visit:
- National Archives, where key government documents are kept and displayed
- Bureau of Printing and Engraving, where money is created
- Ford’s Theater and Lincoln Museum, site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination
- Dumbarton Oaks , for its eclectic museums and superb gardens
- Hillwood Museum and Garden, the Merriweather Post mansion
- Tudor Place Historic House, an old Georgetown estate
- The Octagon House, one of the oldest homes remaining from the earliest days of the capital, now devoted to architecture and design
- Washington National Cathedral, the site of many of Washington’s major political-religious ceremonies, a beautiful and massive Episcopalian cathedral
- National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, on the campus of Catholic University, the largest Catholic church in America
- US Naval Observatory, home to the Vice President
- Mount Vernon, plantation home of George Washington, a few miles down the Potomac
Museums and Galleries
The Smithsonian Institution is a collection of museums that offers one of the most comprehensive bodies of art and artifacts in the world. All Smithsonian museums are free and open to the public.
The Smithsonian map can quickly direct you to your choice of web sites for:
- The Anacostia Museum, focusing on African American culture
- The Freer Gallery and Sackler Gallery for Asian art
- The Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the lovingly-termed concrete donut that holds modern art and sculpture
- The National Air and Space Museum, the incomparable collection of America's contributions to flying
- The National Museum of African Art
- The National Museum of American History with artifacts from the Star Spangled Banner to Dorothy’s ruby slippers
- The National Museum of the American Indian
- The National Museum of Natural History, great for kids of all ages who like dinosaur bones, giant cockroaches, sparkling gems, and stuffed everything
- The National Portrait Gallery
- The National Postal Museum, the holder of the nation's amazing collection of stamps
- The National Zoological Park, now with pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian and all their furry friends
- The American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery
Not all of Washington’s great museums are associated with the Smithsonian:
- The Newseum explores the history of news and reporting and includes amazing artifacts from a chunk of the Berlin Wall to a piece of the original World Trade Center
- The Holocaust Museum comprehensively examines the terrible and systematic genocide of Germany’s Nazi regime
- The National Building Museum celebrates architecture, design, planning, and engineering
- The International Spy Museum is the latest addition to the scene featuring tons of fascinating spy facts
DC is also home to some of the best art museums in the nation:
- The National Gallery of Art has two wings, West for classic and East for modern, both exceptional in terms of collection, architecture, and special exhibits
- The Phillips Collection, America's first modern art museum, is one of the country’s best small galleries and home to some great impressionist works
- The Corcoran Gallery of Art has an excellent American collection
- The National Museum of Women in the Arts
- The Kreeger Museum of modern art
- Finally, there are many art galleries in town, with a large concentration nearby, organized by the Galleries of Dupont Circle.