Behind the very public face of Washington DC lies a vibrant city with its own compelling story, not to mention the biggest range of free attractions
in the United States of America.
Get your bearings by wandering from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building
along the 2-mile centrepiece National Mall, home to the majority of the city's 17 Smithsonian museums. The cast-iron dome of the Capitol marks the geographic heart of the city, from where all neighbourhoods radiate outwards. The historic Capitol Building recently took pride of place, draped in flags, during President Barack Obama's inauguration public ceremony
and parade, the day after he was sworn in for his second term in office as the USA's 44th President.
With a population of just 600,000, Washington DC is smaller than almost any major capital city you can think of, making it easily navigable
on foot, by bike or via its easy Metro system.
Beyond all the glittering white marble and neoclassical architecture, shopping and entertainment options abound. Georgetown and Dupont Circle both offer stylish stores
and speciality boutiques of the mainstream and indie variety, with a buzzing dining and nightlife scene, or sample local produce and people-watch at the Eastern Market in Capitol Hill
. Further north, Adams Morgan brims with coffee shops, bookstores and galleries
and caters to a young, hip crowd.
Music and theatre are huge, with venues like The Kennedy Centre and Warner Theatre attracting large audiences
. Free summer concerts and a year-round calendar of festivals add to the rich culture of the city.