10 reasons to visit Washington D It's one thing to watch House of Cards on Netflix, quite another to watch the spectacle of American politics being played out before your eyes.
Take a tour of the US Capitol Visitor Centre and get a feel for why the US Constitutional system is so fundamentally different from ours. No you won't bump into Frank Underwood, but you can visit the Capitol Rotunda, the Library of Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate and the US Supreme Court. A quick glimpse through the railings of the White House and its spookily green lawns is another must, although you're more likely to become engulfed by selfie snappers and God Squad preachers than spot Michelle and her mates, but it's still worth the detour. And it's free. Just don't jaywalk. The Smithsonian National Museums are one of the wonders of the world, standing beside the stately National Mall like proud white stone soldiers. The new kid on the block is the African American Museum, the extraordinary angular, tiered structure designed by David Adjaye and ray ban new wayfarer polarized made of glass encased in bronzed metal filigree. Inside, starting in the basement, which has been deliberately rendered almost pitch black and is extremely cramped, visitors learn about the history of slavery and what happened to the millions of slaves sent to the US, illustrated with pictures of sardine packed slaver ships, original metal cuffs and more. As you work your way up, so the building gets lighter and the themes less oppressive, until you eventually reach the top floor, where the exhibits celebrate the achievements of black actors, musicians and athletes. While you're there, do try and find even 15 minutes to pop into the National Air and Space Museum; it's a treat. They're all close by each other and free. Just around the corner from the Union Market is Masseria. Here, rising chef Nick Stefanelli serves serious Puglian inspired food in industrial chic surroundings. The buffalo milk fagottini are sensational. Other hot tickets ray ban warrior include The Dabney, in the up and coming Shaw district, which serves old style Maryland staples such as crab, ray ban aviator polarized succotash and hush puppies in thrilling new ways. For New Orleans style grits, shrimp rolls and biscuits with gravy, washed down with copious cups of coffee, the Bayou Bakery, situated in a former carriage house next to an old naval hospital is fun, while Ben's Chili Bowl there are four locations across town is a classic gleaming hot dog diner, beloved of celebs and sportsmen alike. The place to come to eat on the spot, but be prepared to queue. As you enter the building, there's a cafe serving enormous pancake stacks that just demand to be drowned in maple syrup. Instead check out the odd idiosyncratic stores on your travels around the rest of the city. Notables include interiors store,Salt and Sundryinside the Union Market, which sells everything from ceramics and soap to rugs and baskets. Book lovers will be cheered by popping into second hand book shop,Capitol Hill Books, where every inch of every surface apart from the odd patches on the floor is covered in old volumes, eccentrically stacked but logically ordered. Bizarrely, the White House Gift Shopnext door to the Obamas' place, delivers some of the best ever trashy souvenirs, from limited edition presidential bobble head Donald Trumps, to a White House assistant chef uniform, complete with wooden spatula and spoons. If you have a half day to spare, take an Uber (half an hour and costing around 40) out of the city across the Potomac to George Washington's house at Mount Vernon, Virginia. The first US President first moved here in 1754 and eventually died in one of the bedrooms in 1799. The wooden structured mansion, made from planks sprayed with sand to make them resemble stone, is modest yet feels quite grand, thanks to the magnificent views across the river on one side and extensive landscapes on the other. The estate includes a working farm complete with yoked oxen, off brand ray ban sunglasses a blacksmith shop, a kitchen garden and a whiskey distillery. From the moment you touch down on the runway outside Eero Saarinen's elegantly curving 1961 masterpiece that is Dulles International, you're in for an archi treat. Favourites to look out for while generally sightseeing include the fabulous concrete ring doughnut Hirshhorn Museum. Designed by Gordon Bunshaft and sometimes referred to as 'neo penitentiary modern' in style, it's basically a hollow elevated building with huge windows, encircling an open air courtyard and fountain. The art collection within is terrific too, but even walking around its inner circular corridors is a strange, slightly unsettling experience. Nearby are the Museum of the American Indian, with its undulating limestone faade and I M Pei's recently renovated and re opened 1978 East wing of the National Gallery. Don't miss the Watergate complex, next to the Kennedy Center on the Potomac River. Although architecturally undistinguished, it's the cauldron in which the 'gate' suffix was forged, home of the Watergate break in and scandal that led to Richard Nixon's resignation nearly 45 years ago. Well worth it, if only to feel a frisson as you drive by. Located on 31st Street, which runs off the area's main high end shopping drag, M Street. The hotel overlooks the picturesque Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, alongside the Potomac River and is one of the prettiest spots in town with its nearby pedestrian bridge. It's 30 40 minutes by car from Dulles International Airport (there is no direct train to Dulles, although one is under construction) and a 20 minute walk from the main sights or a $10 (8) ride by Uber. Rooms, excluding breakfast, start at $995 (787) for a superior king up to $3,000 (2,373) for the presidential suite. The Off The Record basement bar of the Hay Adam Hotel, with its red plush banquette seating and sultry dark lighting, is another top spot from which to play your house of cards, as is The Rye Bar, an old fashioned club meets modern luxe watering hole, serving locally made rye whisky cocktails in the Rosewood Hotel. For a more modern vibe, see if you can blag your way into Roses Luxuryfor a glass and a small plate or two, though be warned, you can't reserve a table and it's incredibly popular.
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