Destination D.C.’s free, 85-page publication, the Official Visitors' Guide, is full of sightseeing tips, maps, and contacts. You can order a copy online or by phone, or pick one up in their office (enter on I Street).
Most of the popular sights in D.C. are run by either the National Park Service (NPS) or the Smithsonian, both of which have recorded information about locations and hours of operation.
Events and Attractions
National Park Service. 202/619–7275; www.nps.gov.
Smithsonian. 202/633–1000; 202/633–5285; www.si.edu.
White House Visitor Center. 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, White House area, Washington, District of Columbia, 20230. 202/208–1631; www.nps.gov/whho.
State of Maryland. 866/639–3526; www.visitmaryland.org.
Virginia Tourism Corporation. 800/847–4882; www.virginia.org.
Destination DC. 901 7th St. NW, 4th fl., Downtown, Washington, District of Columbia, 20001. 202/789–7000; 800/422–8644; www.washington.org.
All About Washington, D.C.
Cultural Tourism D.C. (www.culturaltourismdc.org) is a nonprofit coalition whose mission is to highlight the city's arts and heritage. Their website is loaded with great information about sights, special events, and neighborhoods, including self-guided walking tours.
DowntownDC Business Improvement District (www.downtowndc.org) is a nonprofit that oversees the 140-block area from the White House to the U.S. Capitol. The website has special events, shopping, and dining listings and information about the wonderful red-, white-, and blue-uniformed D.C. SAMs, roving hospitality specialists linked to a central dispatcher by radio. In spring and summer, SAMs (which stands for Safety, Administration, and Maintenance) are available to help visitors with directions, information, and emergencies. You'll spot their hospitality kiosks near Metro stops and major attractions.
The Smithsonian website (www.si.edu) is a good place to start planning a trip to the Mall and its museums. The National Gallery has its own website, too (www.nga.gov). You can check out the exhibitions and events that will be held during your visit.
Gay and Lesbian
Washington, D.C., is a very inclusive town, with an active gay community and plenty of gay-friendly hotels, nightlife, and events. In addition to news and features, both Washington Blade (www.washingtonblade.com) and Metro Weekly (www.metroweekly.com) have guides to gay bars and clubs, including calendars of events.
Kids and Families
Washingtonfamily.com (www.washingtonfamily.com) compiles a "Best for Families" feature, as voted on by area families. Families may also want to check out washingtonparent.com (www.washingtonparent.com) and kidfriendlydc.com (www.kidfriendlydc.com), a blog with loads of kid-friendly events, deals, and activities.
News and Happenings
The website of the Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) has a fairly comprehensive listing of what's going on around town. Also check out the site of Washington CityPaper (www.washingtoncitypaper.com), a free weekly newspaper. The Washingtonian (www.washingtonian.com) is a monthly magazine.
CultureCapital (www.culturecapital.org), a nonprofit group promoting the city’s culture and arts, has an online link (www.ticketplace.org) with dozens of theater, dance, music, and opera performances offering half-price tickets.
For personalized emails of things to do, member reviews, and listings of half-price show and event tickets in D.C. and other major cities nationwide, register for free at www.goldstar.com, an online entertainment company.