Summer is a busy tourist season in Washington, D.C. Schools are on break and there are so many things to see and do in the nation’s capital. But in addition to the crowds, the heat and humidity can be unbearable for some visitors. The good news is that most buildings are air-conditioned. Winter is cold with occasional snowstorms; but there are no crowds and room rates are low. The best times to visit Washington, D.C. are spring and fall. Between March and May the weather is pleasant and if you time your visit right, you can see the cherry blossoms. September to November is also a good time to visit: the weather is pleasant and the summer crowds have disappeared. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Washington, D.C. Weather & Temperature by Month
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January is Washington D.C.’s coldest month with an average high temperature of 42°F (6°C). The average low temperature is below freezing at 27°F (-3°C).
In February, Washington D.C. experience it’s second coldest month of the year as the average high temperature increases just a tad to 44°F (7°C). Average low temperatures remain in the below freezing range despite increasing a degree to 28°F (-2°C). Additionally, rainfall in February is the lowest in the year at 2 inches (77 mm).
March sees a significant increase in temperature averages. The average high temperature rises to 53°F (12°C) while the average low temperature increases to 35°F (2°C).
Washington D.C. Weather in April: Temperatures continue their upward trend in April with the average high and average low temperature settling at 64°F (18°C) and 44°F (7°C) respectively.
In May, Washington D.C. receives 221 hours of sunshine, which is accompanied by further increases in temperature. The average high temperature increases to 64°F (18°C) while the average low temperature also increase but remains quite cool at 44°F (7°C).
June is the first month of summer and sees temperatures rising into the 80s. The average high temperature is a warm 83°F (28°C). Meanwhile, the average low temperatures increase to 63°F (17°C).
Washington D.C. Weather in July: Washington D.C. experiences its warmest month in the year in July as the average high temperature peaks at 87°F (31°C). Coincidentally, July also receives the most sunshine in the year with an average of 226 hours. Low temperature averages rise to 68°F (20°C).
August is the second hottest month in the year at 84°F (29°C) for the average high temperature. The average low temperature decreases to 66°F (19°C). August has the highest precipitation rate of the year with rainfall averaging at 5 inches (124 mm).
In September, temperatures decrease for the first month of fall. The average high and average low temperatures drop to 78°F (26°C) and 59°F (15°C) respectively.
October continues the downward trend in temperatures as the average high decreases to 67°F (19°C). Average rainfall is 3 inches (78 mm). Low temperature is 48°F (9°C).
Washington D.C. Weather in November: For the month of November, the average low temperature closes in on freezing temperatures at 38°F (3°C). Meanwhile the average high temperature hovers at 55°F (13°C).
December has seemingly shorter days as the month average just 66 hours of sunshine, which is the least in the year. The average high temperature drops 10 degrees to 45°F (7°C) and the low temperature average sinks to freezing temperatures at 29°F (-2°C).
One of the most beautiful things to see in Washington D.C. are its beloved cherry blossoms. The best time to see these trees are from mid-March through June. To explore the area when there is the least amount of tourists, come in between mid-August and mid-September while congress is still out and the children are back in school. For spectacular public celebrations, come during July as the 4th of July celebrations are great fun to partake in.
2.Getting to Washington, D.C.
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If you arrive in Washington, D.C. by plane, there are two airports. The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is very close to the city. The Washington Dulles International Airport is 26 miles from the city. But this is a large airport and most international airlines fly into this airport. Amtrak runs trains to Washington, D.C. from New York, Boston, Chicago, and south to Florida and New Orleans. If you arrive by car, there are several routes: the main route is Interstate I-95 and I-495 which is also known as the Capital Beltway. There are several bus companies that serve the city: these are Greyhound, BoltBus, Vamoose Bus, and Megabus.
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3.Getting From the Airport
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There are several ways to get into the city from both of the airports that serve Washington, D.C. The city’s Metro system is a convenient way to get around: there is a Metro station at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Metrobuses serve this airport and there are car rental agencies as well. There are also car rental agencies at the Washington Dulles International Airport: shuttles take visitors from outside the baggage claim area to the car rental lots. The Washington Flyer Express Bus runs between the airport and a Metro station at West Falls Church; then you can take the Metro into the city. Another choice is the Metrobus that takes you from Dulles to the city center.
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4.Information for Visitors
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The official tourism office of Washington, D.C. is called Destination D.C. It is located on Seventh Street NW. Their “Washington, D.C. Visitors Guide” can be ordered or downloaded from their website: this can be done before your visit to help you plan your stay. At the Destination D.C. visitor center, friendly and professional staff members can help visitors with question such as where to stay, where to eat, where to shop, what to see and do, how to navigate the city, and much more. There are also information kiosks at popular tourist destinations like the White House Visitor Center and the Smithsonian Information Center.
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5.Getting Around by Bus, Metro
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Washington, D.C. offers a variety of ways to get around during your visit. The Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s public transportation system is one of the best in the country: it is made up of the Metro system and buses and gets visitors to places all around the city, especially to the main attractions. There are six color-coded Metro lines that go around the city and out to places in Virginia and Maryland. Fares depend on the time of day you travel: rush hour fares are more expensive than non-rush hour fares. The SmartTrip card is a plastic reloadable ticket that helps you save money on this public transportation system.
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6.Getting Around on foot, by Taxi, Car and Bike
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Walking is the best way to explore any of Washington, D.C.’s many neighborhoods. This is the best way to see attractions around the National Mall and also Georgetown. Another way to get around the city is by taxi. There are many taxis in Washington, D.C.: they are easily found in front of major hotels and attractions. Driving in the city can be a real challenge: the traffic can be extremely congested at times; parking is expensive; drivers are impatient; and the layout of the streets can be confusing. Capital BikeShare is the city’s shared bike program: it is the largest such program in the country. There are 57 miles of bike lanes and bike paths through Rock Creek Park.
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Washington, D.C. has more than 2,000 restaurants from which to choose, so it is easy to find a place that will serve whatever you are hungry for. Citizens tend to eat out frequently, so finding a table can be difficult at the most popular restaurants: it is highly recommended that you make a reservation at some restaurants, especially upscale fine dining restaurants with celebrity chefs. Washington, D.C. is also known for its casual dining spots and the food here is often as good as at the higher priced restaurants. There are many immigrants who live in Washington, D.C., so restaurants that serve ethnic cuisine are scattered all over the city.
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, From LA
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Washington, D.C. offers many places to shop, from boutiques to gift shops to shopping centers and malls. Some of the best shopping areas are Union Station which is a historic landmark with more than 100 shops; Penn Quarter is a central shopping area with jewelry stores, museum shops with unique gifts, and national brand chain stores; and the Adams Morgan area is known for its great shopping from unique collectible stores to unusual secondhand bookshops. But the best shopping area is in Georgetown. Although it can be crowded and parking can be nearly impossible, it is still worth shopping here. There are many chain stores, thrift shops, chic boutiques, and one-of-a-kind shops.
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When Washington, D.C. was being planned, the streets were laid out in a grid pattern. This means that there are four main neighborhoods. The Northwest neighborhood is where the National Mall is located with the Lincoln Memorial, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institute’s museums, and most government office buildings. The Southwest neighborhood is the smallest of the four districts: here you’ll find the National Air and Space Museum and the United States Holocaust Museum. The Northeast neighborhood is home to several universities such as Gallaudet University, Trinity Washington University, and the Catholic University of America. The Southeast neighborhood contains the Eastern Market, a red brick public market with a flea market and an art gallery.
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Washington, D.C. it an exciting place to have a wedding: there are many locations with stunning views. A marriage license can be obtained at the Marriage Bureau in the Moultrie Courthouse. There are venues both within the city and in the nearby surrounding areas. Hotel wedding venues include the W Washington DC Hotel, the Watergate Hotel, and more. The Sequoia is a wedding venue located in Georgetown: it has amazing views overlooking the Kennedy Center, the Watergate Hotel, and the Potomac River. Pinstripes is an indoor and outdoor wedding venue that can accommodate up to 600 people. If you are interested in getting married on the Potomac River, the Spirit of Washington hosts weddings with up to 300 guests.
11.Where to Stay
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Accommodations in Washington, D.C. range from luxury properties to boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts and inns, and family-friendly budget hotels. Luxury hotels include the Jefferson Washington DC, the Hay-Adams, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC, the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, and the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC. Some of the moderately priced hotels include the American Guest House and the Normandy Hotel in the Adams Morgan area; the Helix and the Madera in the Dupont Circle area; and the Capitol Hill Hotel and the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. The least expensive hotels will be found outside of the capital in suburban Maryland and Virginia.
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Best Time to Visit Washington, D.C. - Weather Year Round
- Washington, D.C. Weather & Temperature by Month, Photo: Courtesy of doncon402 - Fotolia.com
- Getting to Washington, D.C., Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Getting From the Airport, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Information for Visitors, Photo: Courtesy of pigprox - Fotolia.com
- Getting Around by Bus, Metro, Photo: Courtesy of Tommy Schultz - Fotolia.com
- Getting Around on foot, by Taxi, Car and Bike, Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
- Restaurants, Photo: Courtesy of Monet - Fotolia.com
- Shopping, Photo: Courtesy of zeremskimilan - Fotolia.com
- Neighborhood Guide, Photo: Courtesy of artifirsov - Fotolia.comavmedved
- Getting Married, Photo: Courtesy of COSPV - Fotolia.com
- Where to Stay, Photo: Courtesy of oocoskun - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of sborisov - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: United States Botanic Garden
Established in 1850, the US Botanic Garden in DC is a congressional project that has experienced openings and closures through its centuries old history, but enjoys its current life as a complex of three parks along Independence Avenue. As an institution dedicated to the study and conservation of plants, the US Botanic Garden has been under the care of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress since its inception. The Architect of the Capitol resides over future renovations and construction.
The three parks – the Conservatory, the National Garden, and Bartholdi Park – are home to about 65,000 plants, some protected under the gardens’ directive to conserve endangered plants. Each plant is labeled with their names and native ranges, introducing visitors to the garden’s residents at their own pace, bringing them closer to species that may otherwise be impossible to find in the wild. Admission to the gardens is free, but photography is limited to personal use and artists wishing to bring solvents or larger easels must seek a permit from the gardens’ management. For those looking for more information on how to include more plants at home, there is a catalog of classes on the gardens’ website. These classes must be paid for but feature a variety of gardening topics and other demonstrations that accommodates all plant-related interests.
The first established structure of the park, the Conservatory’s exterior has remained mostly the same since its construction in 1933, housing the same pair of courtyard gardens and ten garden rooms from its opening. Even through updates to its environmental systems, renovations, and rotating exhibitions, the main gardens and collections still flourish under the glass of the original Lord and Burnham greenhouse.
The Garden Court features plants that give us the resources we need for everyday life, while the Tropics leads visitors around the ruins of an old plantation overgrown with jungle foliage and up a mezzanine level to view the canopy at eye level. The exhibitions grow even more foreign as the visitors move to the Garden Primeval, a Jurassic park with plants that survived hundreds of millions of years of evolution, and the vegetation of Hawaii, the Mediterranean, and World Deserts, each brimming with plants that developed different adaptations and have different uses and meanings to the cultures that surround them. The Medicinal Plants, Plant Adaptations, and Rare and Endangered plants show different ways plants interact with the environment and the ways people who use them, while the Orchid exhibit shows the more decorative aspect of the garden.
While exhibits like the Southern Exposure exhibit steers guests from interacting with the succulents and cacti, smaller children can enjoy exploring their own Children’s Garden, which features a climbing structure, a kiwifruit vine tunnel, and a digging area that is open for planting, watering, and other plant activities. For the bigger garden-lovers among the visitors, the West and East Galleries house the seasonal exhibits, which can feature hands on activities along with holiday displays and art exhibitions. The current and past rotations of exhibits, each around six months long, can be found on the gardens’ website.
The newest addition to the US Botanic Garden, the National Garden is the outdoor counterpart to the indoor Conservatory. Featuring several views down to Capitol Hill, the National Garden specializes in plants that can thrive in D.C.’s climate. All plants compete for space within their designated gardens, an experiment in survival of the fittest in action.
The Regional Garden shows a selection of local plants, while the Rose Garden is an experiment in organic rose-gardening on the Mid-Atlantic coast. The National Garden also includes the Rain Garden and the Terrace Gardens, both outdoor features located around the windows of the Conservatory.
Built when the Botanic Garden was relocated, Bartholdi Park and its gas lights have been a popular night attraction since the 1880s and today serves as both a demonstration garden for those interested in learning how to cultivate their own plants at home and a green retreat from the park’s urban surroundings. The park’s two acres undergo constant landscaping and plant changes, making the park the best place to see the latest in modern horticulture trends and newest plants. The plant variety ensures that something is flowering, growing, or turning colors no matter when one walks its grounds. The heart of the park is the Fountain of Light and Water, a cast-iron structure better known as the Bartholdi Fountain. The fountain’s 30-foot stem is surrounded by a basin lit at night by several lamps.
100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20001, Phone: 202-225-8333
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