Is Washington DC In Maryland Or Virginia

Is Washington DC in Maryland or Virginia? Washington, D.C. is quite unique—it’s neither in Virginia nor Maryland. Picture it as a special place that doesn’t belong to any state. While it’s nestled between Virginia and Maryland, it stands apart from them entirely. This is because it’s a federal district, not a state. Its purpose is to be the heart of the U.S. government, overseen by the U.S. Congress.

Think of Washington, D.C. as a special plot of land reserved just for the federal government. It’s like a little territory surrounded by Maryland on three sides and Virginia across the Potomac River. It’s not just part of any old state—its distinct status is key to the nation’s governance. So, while it might seem nestled between Virginia and Maryland, it’s its own special space, free from being part of any state or under their jurisdiction.

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Is Washington DC in Virginia or Maryland?


People are often confused whenever they hear about these three destinations; Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. This is what prompts them to ponder within themselves – Is Washington DC in Virginia or Maryland? Washington, D.C. is not situated within the boundaries of either Virginia or Maryland. Despite sharing borders with these states, it is distinctively located as a federal district. 

Functioning independently from Virginia and Maryland, Washington, D.C. serves as the capital of the United States, hosting the administrative, legislative, and judicial functions of the federal government. It lies adjacent to both Maryland and Virginia but retains its unique status as a separate entity. Nonetheless, Washington, D.C. is not affiliated with either of these states.

Instead, it stands as an autonomous district that houses the core institutions of the federal government’s legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The primary distinction separating Washington, D.C. from Maryland lies in their respective designations – while Maryland is recognized as a state, Washington, D.C. holds the status of a federal district.

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Where is Washington DC located?


Is Washington DC in Virginia or Maryland? Like we’ve already mentioned, Washington DC, situated on the east coast of the United States, is not located in either Virginia or Maryland. Instead, it serves as the capital of the United States and is a unique federal district. The city was founded in 1791 and named after George Washington, the first US president.

It does not belong to any state, although the federal district was created using lands donated by Virginia and Maryland. This region is positioned between the states of Virginia and Maryland, along the Potomac River, and it houses centers for all three branches of the federal government—Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court.

Additionally, well-known landmarks such as the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian, Washington Monument, and White House are situated within Washington DC. It also serves as the headquarters for numerous embassies, museums, trade unions, international organizations, and professional associations.

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How Washington DC Became The US Capital

Washington, D.C. assumed its role as the capital of the United States through a method established in the U.S. Constitution. The choice of a permanent capital emerged from the Residence Act of 1790, which granted the authority to create a fresh capital for the fledgling nation. A compromise between Northern and Southern states determined the precise location. 

This process began with President George Washington, who designated three commissioners to evaluate potential capital sites along the Potomac River. The chosen area, encompassing portions of Maryland and Virginia, was selected due to its central position between the Northern and Southern states. Congress passed the Residence Act in 1790, granting approval to establish a federal district to serve as the enduring capital. 

This district was titled the District of Columbia, named after Christopher Columbus, and placed solely under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Subsequently, the services of Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French-born engineer, were enlisted to formulate the city’s layout. 

His blueprint included a grand avenue, now recognized as the National Mall, extending from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument. In 1800, the federal government transitioned from its provisional Philadelphia location to the freshly constructed Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The city was officially designated as the United States’ capital and has retained that status ever since.

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Why is DC Between Maryland and Virginia?

Washington, D.C. is placed between Maryland and Virginia mainly because of history and practical reasons. When the U.S. Constitution was approved in 1787, it said that a special area should be made for the federal government’s home. 

People argued about where this area should be, and different states wanted it. The choice to put Washington, D.C. between Maryland and Virginia has to do with history, politics, and smart thinking. This unique location was chosen to address several important factors:

Neutrality and Unity: In the beginning of the United States, there was worry that putting the capital in one state might make people show favoritism and have too much control. By putting the capital between Maryland and Virginia, it made sure it wasn’t connected to just one state. This helped the country feel more united.

Balance of Power: The founding fathers strategically positioned the capital between two states with the intention of avoiding one state’s dominance in political influence. This choice upheld a balance of power among the states, strengthening the federalism principle and sidestepping potential regional disputes.

Strategic Location: Running through Washington, D.C., the Potomac River served as a practical route for trade and travel between the northern and southern states. This well-planned placement allowed the capital to be easily reached by both regions, contributing to a greater sense of unity across the country.

Symbolism: Positioning the capital between the North and the South symbolized the nation’s desire to overcome geographical and cultural disparities prevalent during that era. It signified the country’s dedication to forging a unified and harmonious union, even in the face of varying economic, social, and political beliefs.

Geographical Considerations: The choice of Washington, D.C.’s location was influenced by the land’s characteristics and topography. The presence of natural elements such as the Potomac River and the surrounding hills played a role in shaping the city’s design and the creation of its renowned landmarks.

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What Are The Top Things to Do in Washington DC?

When exploring Washington, DC, the typical images of monuments, museums, and government buildings might come to mind. Yet, as a visitor, you might not be aware that the city holds a wealth of hidden treasures beyond these. Charming neighborhoods, uniquely-themed pop-up bars, and underground art displays are just a few examples.

While touring the White House is a notable experience, Washington DC boasts an array of offerings that are worth exploring. From the famous cherry blossoms at Tidal Basin to the festive July 4th celebrations at the National Mall, there’s a plethora of year-round attractions. The city boasts exceptional museums, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the National Geographic, along with expansive parks and vibrant art scenes.

And don’t worry about finding a bite to eat—Washington’s diverse culinary scene ranges from street food markets to wine bars and tapas. For nature enthusiasts, the city also provides ample outdoor opportunities. Here are some popular things to do in the city:

1. Tour the National Mall


This represents the main attraction for most trips to Washington, DC. Numerous memorials are available for exploration, with a significant number of the favorites located on or near the National Mall. Notable examples include the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial, among others. 

Your tour will encompass the memorials on the National Mall and our comprehensive All-in-One Walking tours. Alternatively, if you prefer an independent experience, you can certainly embark on a self-guided tour of the National Mall. >> Book your National Mall Tour Here! <<

2. Head to the Old Post Office Pavilion’s clock tower


Situated in a prominent location within downtown D.C., the Old Post Office Tower rises to a height of 270 feet above Pennsylvania Avenue. It provides stunning panoramic vistas of several renowned landmarks in the capital, such as the White House, U.S. Congress, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial. This exquisite 19th-century structure, which is also home to the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC, welcomes visitors for daily self-guided tours.

3. Climb “The Exorcist” steps in Georgetown


Nestled between a stone wall and a brick building, this steep ascent gained notoriety from the 1973 horror film “The Exorcist.” These steps link Canal Road N.W. to Prospect Street N.W. above, where you’ll also come across MacNeil’s residence situated on the 3600 block.

4. Visit Washington National Cathedral


It took a span of 83 years to finish this grand gothic structure, which showcases an impressive array of 215 stained glass windows and 112 gargoyles, with some gaining more recognition than others. 

“Try to spot the iconic Darth Vader gargoyle,” recommends Adrian Renart, Assistant Director of Services at The St. Regis Washington, D.C. Observing the sculpture of the Star Wars antagonist might require binoculars, as it is perched on one of the northwest towers of the cathedral. Additionally, the cathedral serves as the ultimate resting place for President Woodrow Wilson.

5. Visit the National Portrait Gallery and linger in the courtyard


Certain individuals mistakenly believe that this museum might not cater to their tastes due to its specialized art collection – this misconception should be avoided. Inside, you’ll encounter remarkable artworks, including the highly sought-after portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, drawing long queues of visitors. 

Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to appreciate the museum’s contemporary courtyard, enhanced with a “floating” glass and steel canopy introduced in 2004. This space serves as an ideal retreat from sightseeing, providing a suitable setting for a lunch or snack break. >> Book Your National Portrait Gallery Tour Here! <<

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What Are The Top Things to Do in Maryland?

Maryland, situated in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, stands as one of the original thirteen states. Its neighboring states encompass Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The state’s capital is Annapolis, while Baltimore serves as its largest city.

Despite its relatively small size in terms of area, Maryland holds the distinction of being densely populated. If you’re seeking activities in Maryland, you’re in luck! The state offers an abundance of engaging options, particularly for families with children. From the inviting shores of Assateague Island to the picturesque landscapes of Western Maryland, a wide array of experiences awaits.

Maryland caters to outdoor enthusiasts, cultural explorers, and those seeking relaxation. The list of enjoyable pursuits in MD is quite extensive. Embracing both modern shopping centers and remote, rugged mountains, Maryland emerges as an ideal vacation destination.

The state presents a diverse range of attractions, ensuring there’s something for every preference: cuisine, art, music, history, nature, and culture. Your challenge will be narrowing down your choices during your visit. The richness of experiences in Maryland demands meticulous planning to fully savor all that it offers! Here are the most popular things to do in Maryland:

1. Ocean City Boardwalk


The Ocean City Boardwalk, distinguished by its grand and colorful entrance gate spanning over the vintage wooden pier, stands as one of Maryland’s most renowned tourist destinations. Extending for over three miles, it houses an array of shops, eateries, games, rides, arcades, bars, and hotels, all conveniently clustered within a single pedestrian-friendly area. 

From quirky t-shirts to exquisite handcrafted treasures, the shopping choices cater to a wide spectrum. Culinary delights encompass funnel cakes, crab cakes, burgers, hot dogs, caramel popcorn, and generously topped French fries. Imposing carnival games lure visitors with their oversized stuffed prizes, while an assortment of rides, from carousels to roller coasters and Ferris wheels, promises continuous motion and excitement. 

Additional sources of amusement comprise guided museum tours, pub crawls, bicycle rentals, open-air concerts, and boat voyages along the water. The wealth of activities is boundless, ensuring endless enjoyment that might even outlast your flip-flops. For an enjoyable experience in Maryland, a visit to the Ocean City Boardwalk is an absolute necessity!

2. National Aquarium


Regarded as one of Baltimore, Maryland’s prized possessions, the National Aquarium stands out as an essential destination. Drawing in over 1.5 million annual visitors, it consistently ranks among the world’s top aquariums. What sets the National Aquarium apart? To begin, it is an expansive facility containing millions of gallons of water, featuring a diverse architectural spectrum from charming tide pools to expansive arched tunnels that grant an underwater walking experience.

As you traverse the hallways, sharks glide above you, jellyfish elegantly trail their ethereal tendrils, and schools of fish dart around in all directions. The remarkable biodiversity further enhances the appeal of the National Aquarium. Beyond marine life, it accommodates a multitude of birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. 

Various habitats are available for exploration, including immersive tropical forests. Undoubtedly, the National Aquarium ranks among the top best attractions in Maryland. If you find yourself in the vicinity of Baltimore during your journey, allocating time for this awe-inspiring destination is a must.

3. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine


You might not be familiar with the name Fort McHenry, but you’re likely acquainted with its inspiration: The Star-Spangled Banner! This massive stone bastion fort has effectively safeguarded the United States in numerous battles and conflicts since its inception in the late 1700s. Following the War of 1812, it became a prominent attraction in Maryland. 

When the American flag was proudly flown atop the fort after enduring bombardment, the poignant sight moved Francis Scott Key to compose a song about it. Today, the site is officially referred to as the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Visitors can explore the premises, witness historical reenactments, and participate in diverse programs and events, ranging from museum exhibitions to fireworks shows. You don’t need to be a history enthusiast to grasp the importance of Fort McHenry, as it stands as one of Maryland’s premier tourist destinations, appealing to a wide range of visitors. After all, it’s where the national anthem was born!

4.  B&O Railroad Museum


The B&O Railroad Museum houses a diverse collection, from wooden replicas to dissected metal engines. It’s a nostalgic spot where your inner child can relive the joy of building model sets. The museum is dedicated to locomotives of various sizes, shapes, and styles, offering both education and entertainment for visitors spanning all ages. 

Interestingly, Maryland is the birthplace of American railroading, with the first train passenger service launching from a city near Baltimore on May 22, 1830. Visitors today can leisurely explore the museum, delving into the history of American trains and indulging in the array of pictures, videos, artifacts, and models on exhibit. 

The museum even offers rides on full-sized trains! While the B&O Railroad Museum might not be the largest or most extravagant among Maryland’s attractions, it deserves reverence for its unique position in American history. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind destination that stands alone in its significance.

5. Harriet Tubman Byway


The Harriet Tubman Byway winds its way through Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, allowing those seeking a deeper understanding of Harriet Tubman and her remarkable achievements to experience history firsthand. Stretching over 100 miles, this trail encompasses a wealth of historical museums, monuments, and landmarks. 

These include Harriet’s birthplace, the farms and cabins where significant moments in her life occurred, as well as various stops along the Underground Railroad. Additionally, you have the opportunity to explore sites like the Harriet Tubman Memorial Garden and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. 

The trail is self-guided, enabling you to discover these renowned locations at your own pace and using your preferred mode of transportation. While many people choose to drive it, there’s no strict rule, so feel free to traverse it by bike, skateboard, or even on foot—just as Harriet Tubman did herself.

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What Are The Top Things to Do in Virginia?

From its rich historical sites to its creative and artistic destinations, Virginia offers an abundance of reasons to be amazed. Whether your intention is to bask on the sandy shores of Virginia Beach or embark on an unforgettable road trip, you’re guaranteed to experience an exceptional time in this unique U.S. state.

Featuring attractions like Shenandoah National Park, the Great Dismal Swamp, and Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s not surprising that Virginia is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts. Alternatively, if you’re interested in history, you’ll delight in wandering the cobblestone streets of Colonial Williamsburg and Old Town Alexandria, all while exploring the numerous sites tied to the Civil War and Revolutionary War.

Known as the Old Dominion and the birthplace of numerous presidents, Virginia is synonymous with history. For those planning to visit this “Mother of Presidents” along with one of the most picturesque destinations in the U.S., discovering the top vacation spots becomes essential. Virginia offers an extensive array of attractions and activities to captivate its visitors. Here are some popular things to do in Virginia:

1. The Natural Bridge of Virginia


The Natural Bridge of Virginia, an immense limestone arch formed over millennia by Cedar Creek’s gradual flow, stands as a captivating marvel. One of the state’s most striking tourist attractions, its untouched state enhances its status as a global wonder. As North America’s largest natural land bridge at 215 feet long, its significance is undeniable.

In 1750, a young George Washington visited the site, imprinting his initials on the bridge. Later, in 1774, Thomas Jefferson acquired a substantial tract of land, encompassing the Natural Bridge, from King George III. Prior to colonial ownership, the Monocans, a local tribe, regarded the bridge as sacred.

Since 2016, the Natural Bridge has been a designated State Park. On select evenings, the site hosts “The Drama of Creation,” a long-standing light show that debuted in 1920. Although it features a biblical narrative and might seem unusual, it’s an intriguing addition to your must-see list.

2. Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center


The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center provides a unique way to explore the world without leaving the state. Boasting an impressive collection of over 700 distinct animal species, this expansive establishment is home to over 12,000 individual animals spanning various habitats, including exhibits totaling 800,000 gallons in volume.

A highlight among the exhibits is the Bay and Ocean Pavilion, which portrays the state’s water bodies and their intricate journeys. Notable attractions also include the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium, featuring local fauna, the Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium, the Marsh Pavilion, the Red Sea exhibit, the Flores Island from Indonesia, the Restless Planet, the Peat Swamp from Malaysia, and more.

For a fantastic time, particularly with family, a visit to this location ranks among the top things to do in Virginia. Situated in the heart of the venue is a half-acre aviary, an outdoor nature trail provides further insights into various animals, rare sea turtle feedings are available to observe, and for a small fee, you can even partake in seal swimming opportunities.

3. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, abbreviated as VFMA, stands out as a premier Virginia attraction, recognized for its exceptional quality, solidifying its position as one of the state’s finest museums. The museum’s history dates back to the early 1900s when the state received numerous art-related gifts, including contributions from notable figures such as Judge John Barton Payne.

These art pieces were made accessible to the public upon the VFMA’s inauguration in 1936. Initially sizeable and renowned for housing renowned creations by artists like Picasso and an extensive array of global artworks, the museum experienced significant expansion in 2010. An expansion project propelled the VFMA’s space to an impressive 545,000 square feet.

Within its diverse galleries, visitors can explore collections spanning various genres, encompassing American art, as well as showcasing Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces from Lewis. Additionally, one can venture to the Lora Robins Sculpture Garden or explore the Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library. For relaxation, the VFMA offers two dining venues and outdoor seating areas.

4. Blue Ridge Parkway


The Blue Ridge Parkway stands out as one of Virginia’s most renowned attractions, particularly sought after for its scenic beauty. Stretched over an impressive 469 miles, it is America’s lengthiest linear park and serves as a connecting route between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. 

As an integral part of the Appalachian Mountain range, the Blue Ridge Parkway showcases the captivating allure of the Appalachians while in Virginia. The path winds through lush woodlands adorned with serene trees, treating travelers to captivating vistas and rich vegetation.

Regardless of your preferences, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers something for everyone. Embarking on the Humpback Ridge trail introduces you to authentic, time-honored Appalachian farm buildings. For hiking enthusiasts, trails leading to Roanoke and Onion mountains provide awe-inspiring panoramas.

If you’re yearning for breathtaking viewpoints, an ascent to Raven’s Roost delivers just that. Those inclined towards recreational activities will find solace at Sherando Lake, where opportunities for camping, swimming, picnicking, and unwinding abound.

5. Yorktown


Yorktown, forming one part of Virginia’s historical triangle, stands as a must-see destination, ranking among the top 10 places to explore in the city, even if it’s just for the visual delights. This locale offers a plethora of enjoyable activities, from traversing the TransAmerica Trail on a bike to strolling and indulging in dining along the Riverwalk. 

Museums beckon, old residences like the Moore House and Nelson House invite exploration, and opportunities to delve into the state’s history abound. Much of the town’s architectural heritage harkens back to the 18th century.

It was on these very grounds that an English army, led by Lord Cornwallis, conceded to the combined forces of the French and Americans, propelling the nation one step closer to realizing its dreams of independence.

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Final Thoughts

Is Washington DC in Maryland or Virginia? Washington, D.C. stands as a truly unique and remarkable entity, separate from the boundaries of both Maryland and Virginia. It is a testament to the vision of a federal district designed to house the core of the U.S. government. 

Nestled between its neighboring states, yet belonging to neither, it symbolizes a space where the nation’s principles and governance take center stage. This special district, encircled by Maryland’s embrace and facing Virginia’s shores, remains an embodiment of the nation’s ideals, a jurisdiction unto itself, and a perpetual reminder of the exceptional nature of American democracy.

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