Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States and is located on the banks of the Potomac River. The city is characterized by its imposing historical monuments and buildings and the spectacular cherry blossoms in early April.
The political center the United States is about an hour and 40 minutes by plane from Montreal, and offers an incursion into American history and politics for a few days.
A sweet spot of Aeroplan
Travel to Washington, D.C., using Aeroplan points will be based on the North America Reward Chart.
From Montreal (YUL) to Washington-Reagan (DCA) – which I recommend, as you’ll be closer to the city and save valuable travel time – Aeroplan points award tickets are around 11,200 points for round-trip standard economy with preferred fare for late March through early April 2023.
Expect a higher number of points during peak periods such as the cherry blossom season (April).
And you could get free Aeroplan points with the TDMD AeroplanMD Visa Infinite Card, which has the following caractéristiques :
With the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card, you can earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points with no annual fee for the first year:
- A welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with your new card†
- 25,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $5,000 within 180 days of Account opening†
- 15,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $7,500 within 12 months of Account opening†
- $100 NEXUS fee rebate†
- Up to eight passengers travelling on the same reservation will all enjoy their first checked bag free (up to 23kg/50lb) when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight†
It’s the best TD credit card for occasional Air Canada travellers.
With the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card, you earn 1.5 points† per dollar of eligible purchases for:
- Grocery stores
- Gas stations
- Air Canada purchases, including Air Canada Vacations
What to see in Washington?
There are obviously some must-sees in Washington that can be visited very well on foot:
- the White House,
- the Lincoln Memorial,
- the National Mall,
- the Washington Monument
- and the many memorial parks and museums located around the National Mall.
At the end of the latter, the Capitol is obviously a must from where you will have a magnificent panorama. You should also visit in the evening, especially the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, when the lighting enhances the imposing and even dramatic aspect of these buildings.
I walked to all of the places mentioned above on my first day of touring and chose, with a colleague who accompanied me, to visit the Holocaust Museum.
I was not disappointed: the place is very well laid out, presents the chronology of events in a sensitive and touching way, but you have to expect to come out shaken and even upset. The range of museums of all kinds in Washington is so incredible that you could spend an entire week there and still not have done it all.
Since I had little time to visit Washington, I opted for the Hop on Hop off bus tour which offers two routes:
- the red line showing the main sites in the heart of Washington,
- the blue line running outward to the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.
I had time to do both routes, although the blue line is less interesting in my opinion. This type of ticket allows you to get off at any stop, visit, and board and continue the route. Very convenient for a quick tour of Washington.
How to get around?
Washington, D.C. is well served by public transportation. The subway network is composed of 6 lines and 97 stations. The bus lines are also numerous: you don’t need a car to get around the city.
Transportation passes are also very convenient. At all metro stations, you can buy a SmarTrip card for 1, 3 or 7 days (US$13, US$28, US$58). This gives you unlimited access to all public transportation. There is also a mobile app to use a virtual card with Apple Wallet or Google Play.
Washington Cherry Blossom Festival
Visiting Washington during the cherry blossom season is a magical experience. They are mainly found around the Tidal Basin and on the National Mall. Head to the Jefferson Memorial for a great view of the cherry trees with the Washington Monument in the distance.
The peak bloom is variable and the date changes every year. This event is always in early spring, around late March/early April. The U.S. National Park Service makes its forecast and publishes the expected date about a month in advance.
You can even watch the live condition of the cherry trees from cameras installed around the Tidal Basin.
Several activities and events are organized. Every year there is an opening ceremony, a parade, a kite festival and even a fireworks show.
Please note that the price of accommodations skyrockets during this period. So this is a great opportunity to get more value for your Marriott Bonvoy points. For example, the Courtyard Washington DC/U.S. Capitol is $474 per night or 30,000 points. That’s a valuation of 1.6¢ per point, well above Milesopedia’s average valuation of 0.9¢.
Washington, D.C. is a great place to visit in a few days, and there are plenty of museums, parks and historic buildings for everyone to enjoy.
There are obviously a lot of tourists in summer (I visited in August) and during the cherry blossom season. Finally, Washington is a great option when using Aeroplan points and Marriott points.