Destination D.C. is the official tourism and convention corporation for Washington, D.C., 901 7th St. NW, 4th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20001-3719 (www.washington.org; tel. 202/789-7000). Before you leave home, order (or download) a free copy of the bureau’s Washington, D.C. Visitors Guide, which covers hotels, restaurants, attractions, shops, and more and is updated twice yearly. Call to speak directly to a staff “visitor services specialist” and get answers to your specific questions about the city.

Besides using Destination D.C.’s website to obtain a copy of the visitors guide, you can read about the latest travel information, including upcoming exhibits at the museums and anticipated closings of tourist attractions. The website is also a source for maps, which you can download and print from the site or order for delivery by mail.

Once you’ve arrived, stop by Destination D.C.’s offices on 7th Street NW (Metro: Gallery Place–Chinatown, H St. exit), to pick up the visitors guide and maps. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm.

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If you’re arriving by plane or train, you can think of your airport or the train station as visitor information centers; all three Washington-area airports and Union Station offer all sorts of visitor services.

National Park Service information kiosks are located inside or near the Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War, and World War II memorials, and at the Washington Monument (www.nps.gov/nama for National Mall and Memorial Parks sites; tel. 202/426-6841 or 619-7222).

The White House Visitor Center, on the first floor of the Herbert Hoover Building, Department of Commerce, 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (btw. 14th and 15th sts.; tel. 202/208-1631, or 202/456-7041 for recorded information), is open daily (except for New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and Thanksgiving) from 7:30am to 4pm.

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The Smithsonian Information Center, in the Castle, 1000 Jefferson Dr. SW (www.si.edu; tel. 202/633-1000, or TTY [text telephone] 633-5285), is open every day but Christmas from 8:30am to 5:30pm; knowledgeable staff answer questions and dispense maps and brochures.

Visit the D.C. government’s website, www.dc.gov, and that of the nonprofit organization Cultural Tourism DC, www.culturaltourismdc.org, for more information about the city. The latter site in particular provides helpful and interesting background knowledge of D.C.’s historic and cultural landmarks, especially in neighborhoods or parts of neighborhoods not usually visited by tourists.

Check out www.washingtonpost.comwww.washingtonian.com, www.dcist.com, and one of my favorite websites, www.welovedc.com, for the latest commentary and information about Washington happenings.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.