America! Land of the free, home of the brave, birthplace of heart attacks. It's a truly mind boggling place, full to the brim of excess and grandiose gestures of authority.
New York is a mecca for the insane over abundance of everything in the USA, and while it's an amazing place to explore on its own right - from the hustle bustle of Times Square to the artistic hub of Greenwich Village - sometimes you really need to get out of there just to clear your head.
There is simply no better way of doing that then heading to the political capital of the States, Washington DC.
The easiest way to do this, without having to worry about changing hotels and dragging suitcases back and forth, is simply by taking an inexpensive day trip.
With the help of a tour guide (full to the brim of information), you can explore beyond the Big Apple with a full-day tour to Washington DC from New York City where you'll experience some of the truly mesmerising monuments and memorials of Washington DC.
The tour kicks off from a central location (seriously, it can't get more Central than GRAND CENTRAL Station) and heads South. On your way, you pass through New Jersey, Delaware (which our guide explained only exists as somewhat of a tax haven) and Maryland before arriving at Capitol Hill.
The thing that strikes you about DC is just how wonderfully crafted the city is set out. It almost feels as if it's one giant movie studio back lot, with monuments and street styles not unlike that of France (interestingly enough, it was a French architect who was the main brain behind the creation of many of DCs most famous sights).
The tour begins with a stop to Madame Tussaud's (included within the price of the tour - a great deal especially for those who had baulked at the entry price of New York's Tussauds) where you can stop for a happy snap with President Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Beyonce's budonka donk. It's actually quite astonishing to see the detail in these wax miracle, especially in the Hall of Presidents.
Back on the bus for a quick drive-by of Washington DC, the Pentagon, to your destination... The Lincoln Memorial.
Not only is this the site for the enormous statue of Lincoln (it truly is enormous, far bigger than depicted in TV and movies) but also allows you to stand on the steps where MLK Jnr gave his groundbreaking "I Have A Dream" speech. However, it's just as equally impressive for those who "Know it from Nicholas Cage's National Treasure". Yeesh!
Some free wandering time away from the bus allows you to explore the area and stretch your legs, including the Vietnam and Korea memorials and some of the more finely sculpted gardens in the State. Keep an eye out for little squirrels running amok too, very cute indeed!
Back on the bus for a quick drive over to see the Capitol (an incredibly beautiful structure which has a direct line of sight with the equally impressive Washington Monument), the Senate and the home of the President - The White House. It should be noted that while the tour does not stop at Arlington Cemetery and is scheduled to stop in front of the White House sometimes security issues in Washington can stop that from happening. But fear not, there is still plenty to see.
However, it isn't over, the tour of Washington DC continues to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum where you can see genuine space shuttles, deactivated rockets and even touch a piece of the moon. I'm not kidding you... YOU CAN TOUCH THE ACTUAL MOON! Being a space nerd myself, the Smithsonian was worth the bus ride alone, and while the tour only allows an hour or so in the museum - you could quite easily spend an entire day there. Perhaps a starting point for your next USA trip!
In fact, TV nerds will also get a kick out of seeing the original model used in the pilot episode of Star Trek. True to form, the model of the USS Enterprise is MUCH bigger than you would have expected. Only in America!
After a long day of looking at man-made marvels, late in the afternoon you'll embark back on a panoramic city tour before departing Washington DC for an early-evening arrival in New York City which, if you time correctly, will allow you to get some of the most picturesque views of Manhattan coming to life as the sun goes down. For all its craziness, it's an absolute marvel when it's lit up like a Christmas tree.
All in all, a wonderful tour package that gives you a taste of just about everything you need to see in DC (even the theatre in which Lincoln was shot) without ever overstaying your welcome.