Unfortunately for Washington DC, when things go bad for Congress – and let’s face it, that’s most of the time – things go bad for Washington too. The pressure of election year caught President Obama slating Washington saying “people are fed up with [this] town”. But it has an excellence transport network and an astounding number of free things to do. Bookworms will be interested to know that Washington is the most literate city in the US based on its number of libraries and bookstores. Of course, as an international brokerage house of power, this means business lunches and business lunches mean a hot culinary scene and a great after work drinks vibe.The city is stiflingly hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter. However, the huge number of free, heated and air-conditioned Washington museums make these extreme seasons bearable. Spring is just right. April is particularly lovely when the National Cherry Blossom Festival bursts with colour and gives Japan’s cherry blossom season a run for its money. Fiery reds, yellows and oranges inject autumnal colour and come September, the air is balmy, temperate and mosquito-free.
Most days begin around Dupont Circle for breakfast, or brunch depending on the night before. The monuments, the White House and the main Washington attractions, can be found along the National Mall. This green strip intersects the city centre and leads to the shores of the Potomac River.
White marble aside, visitors might be surprised by Washington architecture, rich with New Orleans-style balconies, Regency period buildings and not a skyscraper in sight. A concentration of 200-year-old buildings can be found in pleasant Georgetown. Aside from chic boutiques and restaurants, the old C&O Canal is best experienced on a historic boat ride.
Despite catering to the suits, even the likes of Obama and Sarkozy have made a point of visiting fast food emporium Ben’s Chili Bowl. With plenty of university graduates pouring in to the city to undertake internships, Washington does have a party scene. Try around U and 14th Streets or on the other side of town, the H Street Corridor.