Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Following the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, security precautions have
been strengthened. Visitors need a government-issued photo ID to enter most govern-
ment buildings, some office buildings, and even some nightclubs. Visitors to public
buildings, including the Smithsonian museums, are prohibited from carrying aerosol
and non-aerosol sprays, cans and bottles, food, knives of any sort or other sharp ob-
jects such as razors or box-cutters, and mace or pepper spray. Large backpacks are
also not allowed and handbags and briefcases will be searched. People have been
delayed or even arrested for remarks officials consider “inappropriate,” so don't crack
jokes about bombs or weapons. If traveling under the visa-waiver scheme, register
and pay online at , 72 hours before.
The openness of the Mall can make distances look shorter than they are. If you start
at the Smithsonian Metro station, walk to the Lincoln Memorial, to the Capitol, and
back to the Metro stop, you will have covered 5 miles (8 km). Whether in DC's humid
summer or windy winter, that can be a tiring hike, especially for children.
The city plan of DC arranges all addresses within four quadrants, centered on the
dome of the Capitol. Numbered (north-south) and lettered (east-west) streets start on
each side of the Capitol. There is a 1st St east of the Capitol and a completely different
1st St west of it. An E St lies north of the Capitol and a different E St south of it. To
locate an address, the extension NW, NE, SE, or SW must be noted.
In July and August, temperatures range from about 85°F (30°C) to 95°F (35°C), but
the real problem can be humidity. Walk slowly and drink lots of fluids - or visit at
some other time of the year. Winters, especially January and February, can be windy
and raw. Snow and ice storms produce beautiful scenery around the monuments and
gardens, but they can paralyze the city temporarily.
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