Washington D.C. – The Capital City

Washington Bus Tours from Toronto

Washington Bus Tours from Toronto

The capital of the United States offers attractions and activities for everyone! Comfort Tour Canada’s fully-guided bus tour of Washington D.C. includes four days and three nights of round-trip travel by coach and accommodations at a 4-star quality hotel including a buffet breakfast. During the bus tour, our tour guides will take you on scenic drives through historical sites across iconic Washington City. The city’s gardens and parks are places of natural beauty surrounded by the marble, glass, and steel of Washington’s magnificent buildings. You will visit the major attractions, such as the White House, the Supreme Court, the US Capitol Building, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial and more. Our Washington tour is not all politics and memorials, as you will also enjoy visiting The National Zoo and Aquarium!

For more information about the itinerary, hotels and prices, please visit: http://comforttour.ca/holiday/washington-bus-tours-from-toronto/

Washington D.C Zoos and Aquariums

jardinsWhen in Washington, you may crave some nature and wildlife amidst the downtown city. If so, there are plenty of zoo’s and aquariums that will satisfy your need for nature! We’ve got a list of the top aquariums and zoos in Washington, D.C right here for you.

The National Aquarium in Washington

The Washington, D.C Aquarium, officially known as the National Aquarium, is home to more than 200 species including shark, eel, gators, the dreaded invasive snake-head fish and a baby loggerhead turtle. It is a private, non-profit organization that relies on private and public support and admission revenue to operate. The National Aquarium in Washington, D.C is the nation’s oldest aquarium serving visitors from the lower level of the Department of Commerce Building since 1931. However due to necessary renovations in the Department of Commerce building, the facility will be closing on September 30, 2013 and the animals will be transitioned to  new homes at the Baltimore National Aquarium.

National Aquarium, Baltimore

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is the crown jewel of the city’s Inner Harbor and one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world. More than 1.4 million people visit Baltimore’s top attraction every year to see 16,500 specimens in an array of environments and exhibits, all of which are dedicated to environmental education and stewardship. The National Aquarium consists of the Main Level, Level Two, Level Three, Level Four and Ocean Exhibit.

National Zoological Park

The National Zoo, Washington D.C’s 163-acre zoological park set within the Rock Creek National Park, features more than 400 different species of animals! The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. To see all of the animals and exhibits at the National Zoo will take several hours. Among some of the favorites are giant pandas, other bears, lions, giraffes, tigers, monkeys, sea lions, and much more. “Friends of the National Zoo”, the Zoo’s membership program, is the partner of the National Zoological Park that has been providing support to wildlife conservation programs at the Zoo and around the world since 1958.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

The Smithsonian Biology Conservation Institute, formerly named the National Zoo Conservation & Research Center, is a program of the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park that started primarily as a breeding center for endangered birds and mammals. Today, the 3,200-acre facility, located in Front Royal, Virginia, houses between 30 and 40 endangered species. Research facilities include a GIS lab, endocrine and gamete labs, veterinary clinic, radio tracking lab, 14 field stations, and biodiversity monitoring plots, as well as a conference center, dormitories, and education offices.

Leesburg Animal Park

At Leesburg Animal Park, a 21-acre petting zoo in Leesburg, Virginia, you can get “up close and personal” with the animals and feed them too! See llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats, monkeys, lemurs, parrots, giant tortoises, and more. Leesburg Animal Park offers wagon and pony rides, live animal shows picnic areas, and a playground as well. Leesburg Animal Park also has programs called “Zoo to You” and “Learning Safari” where they will bring zoo animals to your special event, to schools, camps and other locations.

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The third-oldest zoo in the U.S. is home to some 2,000 animals, including polar bears, penguins, and chimpanzees. The Polar Bear Watch allows visitors a view of Magnet and Alaska. The Chimpanzee Forest, Leopard Lair, and African Watering Hole are fun but the best part is the children’s zoo with its lily pads, tree slide, farm animals, and Maryland wilderness exhibit. Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is active in many conservation programs, notably the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Program and Project Golden Frog. It is the zoo that breeds the greatest number of African black footed penguins. It also helps rehabilitate local wildlife, especially birds of prey such as bald eagles.

Reston Zoo

Reston Zoo is a thirty-acre zoo in the heart of Fairfax County, Virginia. Get “up close and personal” with the animals and feed them too! See alligators, camels, reptiles, zebras, antelope, bison, ostrich, and lots more. You can bottle-feed lambs and hand-feed goats, sheep and llamas. Kids love the opportunity to take care of the animals.

All these remarkable Zoos and Aquariums are a great way to get closer to nature and get some truly friendly feelings! Let us help you to open horizons of wild nature while travelling to Washington!

Smithsonian Museums – Washington DC

The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, includes 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park.

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Smithsonian Castle

The Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC are world class attractions with a variety of exhibits ranging from a 3.5 billion-year-old fossil to the Apollo lunar landing module. Visitors enjoy examining more than 137 million objects, including many irreplaceable historic artifacts, works of art, scientific specimens and cultural exhibits. With 19 museums and galleries, there truly is something for everyone. Guided tours, hands-on-activities and special programs are available.

The Smithsonian Institution is sometimes referred to as America’s treasure chest because of the diverse artifacts it houses. Whether you’re interested in American history or Asian art, giant pandas or stamp collecting, there’s a Smithsonian museum for you. The most popular Smithsonian museums are the Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum, American History Museum and the National Zoo.

Air and Space Museum: The most popular museum in the world by attendance numbers, the National Air and Space Museum houses 23 galleries that trace the history of flight. Look for the 1903 Wright Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis, Spaceship One, Apollo 11 command module and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Natural History Museum: A family favorite featuring dinosaur bones, a life-size whale, a butterfly habitat and the jaw-dropping Hope Diamond. Look for the giant stuffed African elephant greeting guests in the rotunda, and see a 3D film at the museum’s IMAX Theater.

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Smithsonian Art Museum

American History Museum: A treasure trove of American history, the museum is home to pop-culture items like Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the original Muppets to artifacts from the United States’ most heart-wrenching historical eras, such as uniforms from the Civil War and the Greensboro Lunch Counter, which sparked one of the first major civil rights-era protests when four students were denied service after sitting at the segregated counter.

National Zoo: Most definitely the wildest Smithsonian, the National Zoo is home to approximately 2,000 animals, including the famous giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Highlights also include an African Savanna, Asia Trail and Kids’ Farm.

Union Station – Washington D.C

When Nick Smith was a student at Gonzaga College High School in the District, the school allowed students to leave campus at lunch time to go elsewhere to eat. But even though the school campus, on Eye Street Northwest, was only a few blocks from Union Station, he rarely remembers going there:

“There just wasn’t much there,” he said. “There was no activity around the station really.” That was 30 years ago…

Union Station, where we will have our lunch stop during our bus tour to Washington, is the most visited destination in Washington D.C, attracting over 40 million visitors a year. Washington’s train station and premier shopping mall, also serves as a venue for world-class exhibitions and international cultural events.

In 1901, the U. S. Senate Park Commission invited master American architect Daniel Burnham to orchestrate a sweeping City Beautiful plan for Washington, D.C., and make it in a setting that was both practical and grandly befitting a world capital. Burnham’s work would help to create the colossal architectures that is now associated with the National Mall. As part of this work, Burnham designed a Union Station that removed the rail lines from the center of the Mall, which had become a tangle of streets and buildings, and brought two major railroads, the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, into one terminal.

The front of the station, on Columbus Circle, presents travelers with a soaring vaulted entryway and heroic statuary on its 600-foot length. The 96-foot high coffered Main Hall ceiling shines with gold leaf, reflecting light onto the expanse of its marble floor through spacious skylights and windows. The former Main Concourse, now the heart of the station lift its barrel-vaulted glass and coffered plaster ceiling 45 feet above the main floor and stretches 760 feet long. It was once said to be the largest single room in the world.

All visitors pass through Union Station including passengers using Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) and Virginia Railway Express (VRE), the Washington Metro subway, taxis, city buses, tourist buses, intercity buses, as well as shoppers and diners. Behind the station, above the train sheds, stands a parking structure offering over 2,000 spaces.

The station, bringing all these modes of transportation together, makes it easy for people to move from private automobile to Amtrak to taxi or from commuter rail onto the subway and still have time to buy a meal, a gift, or a cup of coffee on their way.

The White House in Washington, D.C

The White House, built between 1792 and 1800, is the oldest public building in Washington, D.C and serves as both the home of the U.S. President and a museum of American history. A competition held for the design of the new President’s House received nine entries. The winner was James Hoban, an architect of Irish descent. His neo-classical design is presumably based on the Leinster House in Dublin.

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Here is a description of the rooms in the White House:

The Blue Room: This room is inthe center of the State Floor of the White House. Over the years, the Blue Room’s oval shape, with its breath-taking view of the South Lawn of the White House, has captivated many visitors. The Blue Room has been the traditional place for presidents to formally receive guests. From entertaining kings to shaking hands with the masses, the business of democracy and the social graces of diplomacy have taken place in the Blue Room. Preferences for oval rooms date to the time of George Washington. As his guests formed a circle around him, Washington would stand in the center to greet them. The circle became a symbol of democracy.

The Green Room: This is where Thomas Jefferson hosted dinners, but it has been a parlor since Madison’s presidency. A beautiful silver coffee urn belonging to John and Abigail Adams from the early 1800s can be found in this room as well. As you are passing through the room, look out one of the windows toward the grassy area and you may just see the presidents black and white dog, Bo, running around.

Furnished in the Empire style of 1810-30, the Red Room —one of four state reception rooms in the White House—contains several pieces of furniture from the New York workshop of the French-born cabinetmaker Charles-Honore Lannuier. The elegance of the Red Room furniture derives from a combination of richly carved and finished woods with ormolu mounts (decorative hardware made of gilded bronze) in characteristic designs such as dolphins, acanthus leaves, lion’s heads, and sphinxes.

The Cabinet Room: This room is located in the West Wing of the White and is adjacent to the Oval Office. The Cabinet Room is where the secretaries and advisors gather to hold audience with the President.

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room: This is a small theater in the West Wing where daily briefings are held by the press secretary. The President sometimes addresses the press and the nation.

Roosevelt Room: Located in the West Wing, this room acts as the official workplace of the President.

China Room:
A collection of state china is on display here and covers pieces from President Washington’s Chinese china to President Clinton’s china, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the occupancy of the White House. The First Lady generally makes use of this room for tea, meetings and hosting small receptions.

State Dining Room: This room is used when the head of state comes to visit and a formal dining setting is needed.

Treaty Room: As one of the rooms used by the First Family, the Treat Room is primarily used by the President.

Lincoln Bedroom: The most well known room other than the Oval Office, the Lincoln Bedroom was used as Lincoln’s office. Today, it is primarily an award from the president to their friends and supporters and used as a guest suite.

Lincoln Sitting Room: Interestingly enough, the Lincoln Sitting Room was used as the telegraph room from 1865 to 1902.

The East Room:
Used as the chief area for entertaining, the East Room is also the largest room in the White House.

Map Room: Located on the ground floor of the White House, the Map Room got its name from Franklin Roosevelt’s use of it during World War II. He used it as a situation room where maps of troop movements were hung.

When on the Washington bus tour with Comfort tour, you will have the opportunity to visit the exterior of the White House.

Summer Events in Washington D.C

We present you the TOP Summer events of Washington that are a great addition to the sights you will see during our Washington bus tour.

DC Jazz Festival
When: June, 05 – June, 16

Thousands of music lovers flock to the nation’s capital to attend the annual DC Jazz Festival, which will sport up to 100 jazz performances staged in more than 60 venues throughout the city in 2013. The Hamilton Live will serve as Jazz Fest central with 10 nights of performances including artists such as the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, Stefon Harris & Blackout, the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, The Brass-A-Holics Go Go Brass Funk Band and The Brubeck Brothers Quartet who will pay tribute to the legendary Dave Brubeck.

The Source Festival
When: June, 07 – June, 30

The Source Festival is a collection of performances unlike anything else happening in the U.S. The festival features original works of theater, dance, music, visual art, film, spoken word and poetry. Each of the festival’s three weeks examines the creative process from a different perspective. Eighteen 10-minute plays, interesting artist collaborations and three full-length plays presented by top DC directors and designers will be featured.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
When: June, 26–June, 30 and July, 3–July, 7

The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall is one of the best ways to get a close-up look at different cultural heritages from around the world. Like all of the surrounding Smithsonian museums, it is open to the public and completely free to attend.

SEAFAIR Community Festivals
When: June, 22 – August, 04

SEAFAIR revelry also includes weeks of different festivals, parades, and community events, held in locales throughout the Seattle metropolitan area. These special events celebrate everything from African, Hispanic, or Filipino culture to whaling and seafood.

Sequim Lavender Weekend
When: July, 19 – July, 21

This family-friendly festival features juried crafts booths, food and drink vendors, and live music and performers. You will find lavender products of every kind at the street fair, from oils and lotions to lavender lemonade to sachets and wands.

Independence Day at Mount Vernon – Red, White and Blue Celebration
When: July, 04

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens celebrates Independence Day with daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event! For the first time ever, visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired during the finale of the National Concert Band of America’s performance. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreath laying ceremony, free birthday cake for all and a visit from “General and Mrs. Washington”.

The Loudoun County Fair
When: July, 29 – August, 03

The Loudoun County Fair is held at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds each July and is best known for its Kiss-a-Pig fundraiser and livestock auction. Other fair highlights include a carnival, rodeo-bull riding, dairy show, goat show, horseback demonstrations, magic acts, pet shows, floral exhibits, obstacle courses, tug-of-war, live musical entertainment and a special dinner each evening.

Outdoor Movies 2013
When: Dates to Be Announced

Watching movies on a large screen outdoors has become a popular summer activity. There are several outdoor movie festivals in the Washington, DC area. Most of the movies are free and offer a great opportunity for families to enjoy some time together under the stars.

Shakespeare Theatre Company
When: Dates to Be Announced

The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation’s premier classical theatre company. The 775-seat Sidney Harman Hall showcases local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations with a recreation of a production from seasons past stage.

National Harbor Dragon Boat Races
When: August, 24

The National Harbor Dragon Boat Races are being held celebrating Asian culture and bringing a family-fun event to the Washington DC area. The regatta is an open competition, seeking participants of ages 12 years of age or older. With its location along the Potomac River and convenient access to downtown Washington, National Harbor is a perfect location for this event.

Lots cooking in D.C. for these 60 days, and you have a chance to join some of them! Come on our Washington bus tour and enjoy all that this wonderful city has to offer!

Honoring American Presidents – Monuments in Washington DC

One of the reasons that you may have chosen our bus tour to Washington DC is because of an interest in American history. During our bus tour in Washington DC, you will visit several memorials and learn about the past Presidents of the USA. President’s Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt where three of America’s most influential presidents and their monuments are a must see during your tour of Washington DC. Many of the memorials are within easy walking distance of each other, dotted around the National Mall.

One of the reasons that you may have chosen our bus tour to Washington DC is because of an interest in American history. During our bus tour in Washington DC, you will visit several memorials and learn about the past Presidents of the USA. President’s Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt where three of America’s most influential presidents and their monuments are a must see during your tour of Washington DC. Many of the memorials are within easy walking distance of each other, dotted around the National Mall.
Our tour directors will tell you all you need to know, but have a look at the following history snippets to gain some preliminary insight on three of the most influential presidents of America:

Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial, built to honor President Abraham Lincoln is one of the most recognizable buildings in Washington DC. It has been the site of many famous speeches and protests, including being the backdrop to Martin Luther King Jnr’s “I have a Dream” speech. Located at 23rd St. NW at the west end of the National Mall, the memorial is a beautiful structure designed by architect Henry Bacon. A 19-foot statue of Lincoln sits in the centre of the memorial and the words of his Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address and inscribed on the walls. The memorial is an impressive site at night when it is lit up, this is also the time when it is the least crowded.

Jefferson Memorial
Along with the Lincoln Memorial, the memorial to US President Thomas Jefferson is one of the most visited landmarks in Washington DC. The Jefferson Memorial is located on the tidal basin and surrounded by cherry trees, which make it particularly beautiful to visit if you are taking your tour of Washington DC in spring. One of the best views of the White House can be found from the top steps of the memorial. The closest Metro station to the memorial is Smithsonian.

FDR Memorial
The memorial to President Franklin D Roosevelt honors the president who lead the United States through the Great Depression and World War II. The memorial is spread over 7.5 acres and features four outdoor rooms, representing the 12 years of Roosevelt’s presidency – FDR was the only US President to be elected four times. The memorial includes sculptures of FDR and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt and giant stones engraved with famous quotations such as “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” In recognition of FDR’s disability, the FDR Memorial is the first monument to an American President to be wheelchair accessible.

How Spies Work

While traveling with us to Washington DC, don’t forget to visit the International Spy Museum because Washington, DC is the home to the only spy museum in the United States. The museum was built in July 2002 by Milton Maltz & the House on F Street, L.L.C. at a cost of approximately $40 million.

Washington Tour - Change of guard

The International Spy Museum is the first and the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on this all-but-invisible profession. It features the largest collection of international spy-related artifacts ever placed on public display: gadgets, weapons, bugs, cameras, vehicles, and technologies used for espionage throughout the world. In this museum, you will have the chance to find out why and how these artifacts were developed. Stories of individual spies from Moses to Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth I to George Washington, Cardinal Richelieu to Joseph Stalin are uncovered at the International Spy Museum. The stories of individual spies, which are told through film, interactives, and state-of-the-art exhibits, provide a dynamic context to foster an understanding of espionage and its impact on current and historic events.

The newest exhibit, Exquisitely Evil, is a tribute to the villains who have taken on one of the most famous fictional spies of all time -James Bond, 007. You will see more than 100 film artifacts from both old and new Bond movies and experience interactive exhibits that allow you to take over the controls of a villain’s lair, brave the depths of a virtual shark tank, play spy against spy with other visitors, disarm a missile before time runs out and more.

The museum also has an interactive exhibit called Operation Spy, where visitors assume the roles of covert agents and participate in a one-hour Hollywood-style spy simulation, in which they move from area to area and are faced with puzzles, tasks, motion simulators, sound effects, and video messages as they work through a mission involving the interception of a secret arms deal involving a nuclear device.

Official web-site of the Museum is here:
http://www.spymuseum.org/

In addition to the Museum, the Complex includes a Museum Store, private dining and event facilities, and two restaurants: Zola and Spy City Cafe.

Washington DC Jazz Festival

 

The next highly anticipated Washington DC Jazz Festival is set for 5th -16th June 2013 and promises to be another toe tapping gathering of enthusiastic jazz fans across the city.  Major artists and emerging new talent will be performing in more than 125 jazz gigs across Washington in diverse locations such as clubs, restaurants, hotels, theatres, museums and even at national monuments.  If you want to enjoy some mellow blues and swing, or funky jazz, head to the Washington DC Jazz Festival venues when you are in town.

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Washington DC has been home to many jazz pioneers and boasts a rich history of music, and continues to have a vibrant and thriving jazz scene all year round.  This is in part attributable to the legendary Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington.  He was born in Washington DC in 1899 and is widely considered as the most important jazz composer ever.  He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966 and the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for music – 25 years after his death.

In the north east of the city lies the U Street corridor, famous for its jazz talent in its heyday, and recent revival of legendary sites means that today there are numerous jazz clubs to choose from, such as Jojo’s, Twins Jazz Club, Busboys & Poets, Utopia, and the Lincoln Theater.  In addition Blues Alley in Georgetown is famous for its ‘jazz and supper’ style, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosts regular jazz concerts.

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To celebrate its rich history of jazz, the Washington DC Jazz Festival was born in 2004 and was originally known as the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.  Now going into its 9th consecutive year, the 2013 Washington DC Jazz Festival will offer a feast of jazzy events across the city to satisfy every lover of traditional jazz, bebop, Latin, blues and swing:

  • Jazz in the Hoods – Go to the jazz ‘hoods’ to enjoy live music in different neighborhoods across the city.  Over 50 jazz bars, clubs, and restaurants will be hosting Washington DC Jazz Festival events performed by local and world famous acts alike.  The venues will all be buzzing with melodic music and delighted crowds.
  • Jazz at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts – Here the focus is on great Latin classical composers – ‘Jazz Meets the Latin Classics’.  Paquito D’Rivera, 11 time Grammy Award winner, will direct and conduct the program which will be performed by a 12 piece ensemble.
  • Jazz ‘n’ Families Fun Days – This weekend long event comprises entertaining and interactive programs such as an instrument petting zoo and storytelling with a jazzy touch.  Always popular with families and completely free.
  • DC Jazz Festival Honors Lifetime Achievement Award – Each year the festival honors one jazz musician for their lifetime achievements in the promotion and support of jazz.  This is awarded at one of the concerts during the festival and is a well kept secret until then.

If you enjoy great jazz and being part of an appreciative crowd, join the 60,000 or so visitors who are expected to attend the Washington DC Jazz Festival 2013 and have yourself an exceptional time.

The full line up for the 2013 festival is due to be announced in March – check out the official website for more news as it becomes available.

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