As home to the official residence of US presidents and the seat of government, images of Washington DC, such as Capitol Hill and the White House, are beamed across the world each day. DC – or the District of Columbia – is not short of business visitors or hordes of convention goers. But to show there’s more to DC than political wheeling and dealing, the city has teamed up with neighbouring Maryland and Virginia. The result is Capital Region USA, which represents a neat conurbation where shared places of interest can easily be visited and meeting venues accessed.
In the heart of DC, American history and idealism have been immortalised in memorials and the Smithsonian museums. This extends across the Potomac River to Virginia and north of DC into Maryland where post-meeting activities and tour itineraries are being geared towards groups visiting the region.
Though located on the east of the US, the region’s marketers are happy to compete with West Coast destinations by building on Air China’s four-times-a-week direct service between Beijing and Washington Dulles.
Walter E. Washington Convention Center – The main convention centre in DC has 18,394 sqm of meeting space (totalling about 2.5 soccer pitches) and a Metrorail station. Its 4,830 sqm ballroom has a foyer that commands impressive views over city landmarks.
Newseum – Washington DC has more than 200 museums, 17 of which are part of the government-administered Smithsonian Institution. One of the privately funded venues is the Newseum (above), which celebrates and catalogues journalism from the early days of the telegraph and cinema newsreels to digital media and satellite broadcasting. The Newseum contains the Knight Conference Center – a two-level facility that can be used day or night. Events in spaces at the main Newseum have to be held in the evenings. F&B is in the hands of Wolfgang Puck Catering and groups can also be hosted at a private dining room attached to the Capitol Terrace with views over the city.
Potomac View Terrace – Museums and office buildings are making the most of viewing terraces. This space at the American Pharmacists Association Building boasts sweeping views of the landmarks and has a marquee.
Capital Region USA’s location not only comes into play with access to historical Virginia and Maryland, but also for organic produce and – in the case of Virginia – wines. Sites where turning points in American history took place abound in the region.
Virginia – Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, the first US president, has been preserved along with Monticello, the residence of Thomas Jefferson, another of the founding fathers. Itineraries can also take in Richmond (above), with its unique colonial character, and the stunning Shenandoah National Park. –
Virginia Beach – The state of Virginia stretches out to the east coast to a destination that consists of three beaches: Resort, Sandbridge and Chesapeake Bay. The site of the first landing in America by English settlers, Cape Henry, is in the area. Today, Virginia Beach has a thriving meeting bureau and convention centre.
DC neighbourhoods – Quaint colonial-style architecture is to the fore in Georgetown. The charm continues
in the hip Adams Morgan area and the U-street corridor where outlets such as Ben’s Chili Bowls, which boasts President Barack Obama as
a customer, are an institution.
To learn more about African-American heritage, take a group to Anacostia, which opens into the southern states of the US.
In addition to Air China’s service, Korean Air operates direct flights from Seoul, while United Airlines flies to Tokyo. Dulles and BWI (Baltimore, Washington International) airports are about a 40 minute drive to DC. Dulles is in Virginia, making an ideal starting point to tour Alexandria and sites such as the Blue Ridge Mountains. BWI is in southern Maryland with access to mountain scenery, civil war battlefields, the state capital Annapolis and DC satellite towns such as Bethesda, home to multinational headquarters and medical institutions.