Friday, April 26, 2013

Bargain City: Washington D.C.

When you need a vacation and you want to keep your wallet full, Washington D.C. is the perfect choice. What is so amazing about the District of Columbia is that as a tourist, you really only need to pay for transportation, lodging, and food because once you arrive in the city, the majority of the attractions are completely free.

Low Cost Transportation

The capitol of the United States is a magical place that everyone who lives in the country should visit at some point in their lives. The city is home to a subway system that is well organized and easy to navigate. It also has a quality bus service for those who prefer to stay above ground or need to go somewhere the trains do not travel. The District offers low price passes for visitors, but even if you travel without a visitor pass, you will find that the transportation system is extremely affordable, even if you are travelling on a budget.

Advance Planning for Access to the Best Sites

As you are in the planning stages for your visit to Washington D.C., there are two things you should do before you leave. At least a few months in advance, you should register for a tour of the White House. There is no cost to tour the president’s home, but the Secret Service does do background checks on everyone who takes a tour. You simply need to visit the website to learn about the process of touring the remarkable home. The second thing to do in advance is contact your United States representative or senator to ask for passes to the House or Senate chamber. Again, there is no cost to visit, but you need a pass to see the lawmakers in action.

Must See the Mall

There are several sites that are must-see stops while you visit the capital. The first should be the National Mall, which is not a shopping mall, but a large expanse of grass. This is the land that is home to the Lincoln Memorial at one end and the Capital Building at the other. In the middle is the Washington Monument. These are all free to visit. There are other memorials tucked away in various places along the expanse of the Mall, like the Vietnam Wall, the World War II Memorial, the Roosevelt Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and more.

You will want to set aside at least two or three days to see everything along the Mall. While monuments and Capital are quite impressive, the Smithsonian Museums offer a different experience. These are some of the most popular places for tourists because they can learn about the growth of the American culture with the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the art galleries, and so much more. Visitors could easily spend a day in each museum and still not see everything.

Visit the Cemetery in Arlington

Another must-see spot is Arlington Cemetery, which technically lies in Virginia. There is a subway stop at the gates of the cemetery and again, it is free to enter. You can walk to all of the sites in the cemetery and the notable ones include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where you can watch the regular changing of the guard ceremony; President Kennedy’s eternal flame; and the memorial to the astronauts in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in the 1980s. It is a peaceful place that is a nice balance between the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C. proper.

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