DC: The outside story

There’s plenty to do in the federal capital without an entrance fee, writes Sheila Consaul.

Washington DC is known for its vast abundance of things to see and do. But if you prefer getting sunshine and fresh air to lingering in museums or riding on bus tours, there’s a long list of ways you can enjoy this capital city’s great outdoors.

Every sightseeing trip to DC should include visiting the stunning white marble monuments and buildings, such as the White House, Washington Monument, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and the US Capitol. A great way to visit them is on a bicycle. One of the companies that makes it easy to grab a bike and tour DC on two wheels is Capital Bikeshare (similar to NZ’s Onzo bikes). To ensure rider safety, the city has implemented a series of bike lanes and there are plenty of paved trails and sidewalks close to the major tourist attractions. If you want a special DC night-time experience, tour the monuments after dark when they shimmer in the moonlight. Capital Bikeshare’s bikes are available 24-seven and equipped with reflectors for night-time touring.

If you’re more comfortable with a guide and a group, take a bike tour. Try Fat Tire Tours or Bike and Roll, whose guides will tell you fun facts and historic anecdotes along the way so you can spend more time looking at the sights than your map. However, if a bicycle is too low-tech, upgrade to a motorised Segway. Known officially as a personal motorised mobility device, you can rent one or take a tour — the power boost may be just what you need to zip around DC. Contact DC Segway Rentals or Segs in the City and for guided tours, try City Segway. And, just as in New Zealand, electric scooters are the latest option to get around town. Look for Lime, Skip or Bird scooters and download an app before you head out.

The massive National Mall, also known as “America’s Front Yard,” is the perfect place for Segway or scooter riders to cruise around, taking in the outside of many of the Smithsonian Museums. Or head in the direction of Constitution Gardens to pass by the impressive World War II, Martin Luther King, Korean War Veterans and Vietnam Veterans memorials.

If water sports are more to your liking, there are many ways to enjoy DC’s highlights from the Potomac River. You can rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, sailboats, paddle boats, hydro boats, swan boats, sculls or row boats from Boating in DC. They are in seven locations along the river so what you want to see may determine where you rent from and the kind of watercraft best suited for your trip.



Return Economy Class flights from Auckland to Washington DC

are priced from $1935, with accommodation available from $139pp, twin share, per night.


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