Is Washington, D.C. in Virginia or Maryland?

Is Washington, D.C. in Virginia or Maryland?

Washington, D.C. is not in either Virginia or Maryland. It is a separate city that is not part of any state. 

Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States of America, and it is the seat of the three branches of federal government: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary. As a result, the city is independent and not part of any state.

It was created as a federal district in the U.S. Constitution along the banks of the Potomac River, using land that was previously a part of both Virginia and Maryland. 

I was born in Washington, D.C., and have spent most of my life living right outside D.C. in Northern Virginia, and I want to give you all the facts you need to know about Washington, D.C.!

The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. at sunset.

Facts About Washington, D.C. 

  • The full name of Washington, D.C. is Washington, District of Columbia, and it derives its name from founding father George Washington and Christopher Columbus (Columbia). 
  • Washington, D.C. has many nicknames by locals. It is frequently referred to as “D.C.”, “the district”, or “Washington”.
  • “DMV” is a local phrase that refers to the greater D.C. metropolitan area, and it stands for “D.C, Maryland, and Virginia.” 
  • D.C. is broken up into four quadrants: Northwest (NW), Southwest (SW), Northeast (NE), and Southeast (SE). Addresses in the city will always include what quadrant it’s in (e.g. 1200 H St, NW). 
  • D.C. license plates feature the phrase “Taxation Without Representation” because the city pays federal taxes but does not have voting members in the House of Representatives and Senate. 
  • There have been numerous attempts to make D.C. a state. The most recent attempt occurred in 2021 when a bill passed in the House but failed in the Senate. 

Alexandria, VA

Cities in Virginia Near D.C. 

The closest city in Virginia near D.C. is Alexandria, which is just south of D.C. along the Potomac River. 

Fairfax City and Falls Church City are smaller cities in Fairfax County that are also close to D.C. 

Arlington County is the area in Virginia that is closest to D.C., however, it is technically a county, not a city. 


How Far is Virginia from Washington, DC.?

Virginia is just south of Washington, D.C. Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County is right outside of D.C. on the other side of the Potomac River. 

The capital of Virginia, Richmond, is 109 miles from Washington, D.C. Charlottesville is 116 miles from D.C. Virginia Beach is 209 miles from D.C. 


Is the White House in Virginia?

No, the White House is in Washington, D.C, not in Virginia. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. 


Is the Pentagon in Virginia? 

Yes, the Pentagon is in Virginia. It is located in Arlington County about a five-minute drive from Washington, D.C. 

The World War II Memorial and Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

How to Get to Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a major city and can be reached by plane, car, train, bus, metro, and even by foot. 

By Plane

The closest airport to D.C. is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which is in Arlington County and just 3 miles from Washington, D.C. 

The next two closest airports are Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia (which is 29 miles from D.C.) and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) in Maryland (which is 34 miles from D.C.)

By Train 

Washington, D.C. can be easily reached by train. Amtrak has train routes to D.C. along the East Coast, from Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and other major cities. 

The major train station in D.C. is Union Station, which is centrally located just blocks from the U.S. Capitol Building. 

By Metro

Washington, D.C. can also be reached via the local metro system. There are 6 main metro lines (the red line, blue line, green line, yellow line, orange line, and silver line.) 

The metro lines go out to the suburban areas in Virginia and Maryland. The silver line now goes out to Dulles International Airport. 

You can find a metro map and schedule online

By Bus

Many bus companies service Washington, D.C., including Greyhound, Peter Pan, Megabus, and Flixbus. Many of these routes are similar to the train routes on Amtrak, with service to Washington, D.C. from Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and more. 

The most common bus stop in D.C. is the parking garage at Union Station. 

By Foot

If you are in Arlington County, you can reach Washington, D.C. by foot. Arlington is a very walkable county, and it has many trails along the Potomac River. 

The Custis Trail in Arlington connects with the Mount Vernon Trail. From the trail, you can cross Key Bridge into Georgetown, Memorial Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge. 


The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

There is no shortage of great things to do in Washington, D.C.! The capital city is a wealth of some of the most incredible museums, monuments, historic sites, parks, restaurants, and entertainment in the country. 

Read More: Learn how to spend the perfect weekend in Washington, D.C.!

Many of the top attractions in D.C. are centrally located around the National Mall. This area is located just north of the Potomac River border with Virginia.

The Mall is marked by Independence Avenue and Constitution Avenue on the north and south boundaries. The U.S. Capitol building and Washington Monument mark the east and west boundaries.

The Mall itself is essentially a wide open field where people can walk, run, sit, picnic, throw a frisbee, and more. 

There are many excellent Smithsonian Museums along the Mall, including the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of American History. 

You can also explore the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which features contemporary art exhibits. 

Read More: Learn all about these and more of the best free museums in Washington!

Many of the most iconic monuments in Washington are also located nearby, including the Washington Monument, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. 

You can also find the three branches of government near the National Mall. The Capitol Building is located on one end of the Mall, the Supreme Court is located just blocks away, and the White House is located a little further along Pennsylvania Avenue. The buildings themselves feature gorgeous neo-classic architecture. 

The Smithsonian Museum

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.

There are many great hotels to stay near the National Mall and many of the top sites in town. Below are my top recommendations. 

Holiday Inn Washington Capitol

The Holiday Inn Washington Capitol is just blocks from the National Mall. It also has an outdoor pool and it is pet-friendly!

🛏️ Click here to book your stay at the Holiday Inn Washington Capitol! 🛏️

Hilton Washington DC National Mall 

The Hilton Washington DC is another great choice. It is located near both the National Mall and The Wharf, which features excellent shopping and restaurants along the Potomac River. The four-star hotel also has an outdoor pool, bar, and restaurant. 

🛏️Click here to book your stay at the Hilton Washington DC National Mall! 🛏️


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