Washington DC RECOMMENDATIONS See all

American History in DC

By Viator, June 2014

4.5 61 Reviews | Add your review

For United States history buffs, a visit to Washington, D.C. is a must. The US capital city houses Congress, and the President, along with the original Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Here are the top five places to see to get your fix of American history in D.C.

The US Capitol Building

Original construction on the US Capitol building began in 1793, when George Washington laid the cornerstone. The Capitol is situated atop Capitol Hill on the eastern end of the National Mall. The building has been expanded several times. The outer face is white, with a cast iron dome on top. The dome weights over 8 million pounds.

Visitors can tour the Capitol building for free.

The White House

The most famous address in America is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, home to every president since John Adams in 1800. Built from 1792-1800, the White House has experienced several restorations, including in 1814 following damage from the War of 1812. Today, the White House complex includes the Executive Residence, the West Wing, East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building – the workspace for White House staff, and the Blair House, a residence for visiting foreign dignitaries.

The South Lawn of the White House is most typically photographed and shown in movies, but the White House does not have front and back entrances. The North Lawn is landscaped to look exactly as it’s depicted on the $20 bill.

White House tours can be arranged through your state representative. Current sequestration cuts have temporarily halted White House tours.

The National Mall

The National Mall is an open-air park that extends from the Capitol on the eastern end to the Lincoln Memorial on the western end. Besides these two famous sites, the Mall also houses the Washington Monument and numerous presidential and war memorials. Discover how George Washington commissioned architect and civil engineer Pierre L'Enfant to design the new capital city in 1791, which monument is the largest, and where the best spots are to take photos of the city on a small-group National Mall Walking Tour. Don’t miss the monuments and memorials lit up at night – it’s one of the most beautiful sights in Washington, D.C.

National Archives

See the original “John Hancock” signature on the Declaration of Independence, encased and preserved at the National Archives, located on Pennsylvania Avenue. The three founding documents of United States government are housed in the Archives’ rotunda room: the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution. Admission to the National Archives is free.

Tour the US Capitol Building, National Mall, and National Archives, and see the White House on the VIP: Best of DC tour.

National Museum of American History

Located on the National Mall, the National Museum of American History seeks to archive and showcase artifacts that represent American cultural, political, and social history. The most famous items in the museum include the original Star-Spangled Banner flat that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem and eventual National Anthem, and Archie Bunker’s chair. Another popular exhibit, “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden,” sheds light on the personal and public lives of every American president.

Admission to the national Museum of American History is free.

Tours & Tickets

See all

Viator VIP: Best of DC Including US Capitol and National Archives Reserved Access, the White House and Lincoln Memorial

4.5 star rating: Recommended 42 Reviews

Experience Washington DC’s most sought-after attractions like a true VIP insider. Beat the long entrance lines and enjoy reserved entry to the US Capitol ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $125.00

Washington DC Guided Night Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 68 Reviews

Take a guided evening tour of Washington DC’s monuments and memorials -- majestic by day and spectacular when floodlit at night! See the Lincoln Memorial and ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $44.10
$49.00 Save $4.90

Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 47 Reviews

See the very best of Washington DC in one day! Aboard a state-of-the-art, luxury 30-passenger coach for a narrated 6-hour tour, see the White House, the ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)

From USD $62.10
$69.00 Save $6.90

Washington DC Tour of Ford's Theatre, FBI Headquarters and International Spy Museum

4 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

Take a break from all the monuments and memorials in Washington DC with this fascinating tour on secrets and spies led by a passionate guide. Learn all about ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $37.80
$42.00 Save $4.20

The White House and National Mall Walking Tour in Washington DC

4.5 star rating: Recommended 7 Reviews

See some of Washington DC's most famous sights on this short but informative walking tour that includes the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $45.00

Washington DC in a Day Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 168 Reviews

Soak up the best of Washington DC on this full-day tour that combines informative narration with free time to explore popular sights. Step off your coach to ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $31.50
$45.00 Save $13.50

International Spy Museum

4.5 star rating: Recommended 80 Reviews

At Washington DC’s International Spy Museum, enter a world of gadgets, weapons, cameras, vehicles and technologies used for espionage throughout the world. ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration:

Varies

From USD $15.88
$21.99 Save $6.11

Washington DC Segway Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 182 Reviews

As you cruise through the Nation's Capital, past the monuments, White House and American icons, you will receive a great orientation, informative historical ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $75.00

Arlington National Cemetery and War Memorials Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 70 Reviews

Explore Washington DC’s Arlington National Cemetery and most famous memorials on this 6-hour coach and walking tour. Your licensed tour guide hops off at each ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $69.00

Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour in Washington DC

4.5 star rating: Recommended 71 Reviews

Get intriguing insider details about Lincoln’s mysterious assassination on this walking tour in Washington DC. Led by an expert Civil War historian, you’ll ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $20.00

See all American History in DC Tours & Tickets

Viator uses cookies to improve your experience on our website. Learn more about how we use cookies and how to change your cookie settings | Close message