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Things to do in Washington DC

Things to do in  Washington DC

Welcome to Washington DC

The bustling US capital, Washington DC, bustles with attractions for those craving a look at history, art, and architecture, not to mention a hip nightlife scene. Join a walking or coach sightseeing tour to admire the famous monuments, including the United States Capitol, White House, Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Lounge on the National Mall, and get ready to explore the city’s bounty of museums. Choose from the Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, and National Museum of American History. Small-group tours with knowledgeable guides help you experience the history within all these attractions. Get a glimpse into the city’s contemporary culture on one of the many culinary and brewery tours in DC’s hip neighborhoods, such as Georgetown, Shaw, and Dupont Circle; or cruise down the Potomac River at sunset to see the city skyline light up. Just across the river lies charming Old Town Alexandria; take a walking tour to learn the history of the neighborhood’s Georgian, federal, and Greek Revival buildings. Round out a day trip with a tour of George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon and a visit the Arlington National Cemetery.

Top 15 attractions in Washington DC

#1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial commemorates the life and legacy of the renowned civil rights leader. Located in West Potomac Park and overlooking the Tidal Basin, the memorial includes a commanding 30-foot (9-meter statue of Dr. King and a 450-foot (137-meter Inscription Wall of quotes from Dr. King.More
#2
The White House

The White House

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The official residence of each US president since 1800, the 132-room White House in Washington DC draws visitors from around the world. Admire from afar; stop by the White House Visitor Center; or request access for a self-guided tour of the East Wing, State Dining Room, China Room, and the White House Rose Garden.More
#3
U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

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The U.S. Capitol dome towers above the Roman columns and manicured gardens of this iconic heart of American government. Topped by the bronze Statue of Freedom, the Capitol is the political and geographic center of Washington D.C. The building houses the legislative branch of Congress, with the Senate meeting in the north wing and the House of Representatives in the south wing. When Congress is in session, visitors can watch politicians debate all flavors of legislative issues, as they’ve done here since 1800.More
#4
Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

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A 19-foot-tall (5.7-meter-tall) marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln dominates the Lincoln Memorial, situated at the edge of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the National Mall in Washington DC. The most visited National Park Service site in the city is an homage to the 16th president of the United States, who helped to preserve the Union during the Civil War and delivered the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation.More
#5
Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, one of Washington DC’s most visited landmarks, is comprised of three parts—the Three Soldiers statue, the Women’s Memorial, and the main attraction, the Maya Lin–designed Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, engraved with the names of some 58,000 fallen and missing Vietnam War soldiers. Visitors arrive to pay their respects and leave notes and mementos at the wall.More
#6
National World War II Memorial

National World War II Memorial

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Set at the heart of the National Mall, the World War II Memorial honors the 16 million American soldiers who served in World War II. The site’s pillars represent each state and territory; it’s arches are dedicated to victories; and more than 4,000 stars symbolize the sacrifices made.More
#7
Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

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The Korean War Veterans Memorial brings together life-like statues of a patrol squad with a walled triangle inscribed with scenes depicting the Korean War. The steel statues and granite walls lead to the center of a reflecting pool. Dedicated in 1995, the memorial honors the 5.8 million Americans who served in the Korean War (1950–1953).More
#8
Washington Monument

Washington Monument

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Erected in honor of the nation’s first president, the Washington Monument is the tallest building in Washington DC, reaching 555 feet (169 meters) high. The white, marble obelisk is also one of the capital’s most famous structures, made even more remarkable when seen with its mirror image reflected in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.More
#9
Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

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The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, commissioned by Franklin D. Roosevelt, is a tribute to the third president of the United States, founder of the University of Virginia, and key drafter of the Declaration of Independence. Its Pantheon-esque facade and bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson overlook the Tidal Basin and Washington Monument.More
#10
National Mall

National Mall

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Stretching from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, the grassy, tree-lined National Mall is a hub of activity in Washington DC. The open space—America’s most-visited national park—between Constitution and Independence avenues is fringed by Smithsonian museums, numerous monuments, and attractions, such as the National Archives.More
#11
Supreme Court of the United States

Supreme Court of the United States

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Along with the White House and US Capitol, the Supreme Court ranks among Washington DC’s most significant, iconic landmarks. Founded in 1789 and now housed in a neoclassical building that dates to 1935, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and visitors are welcome to visit (even when court is in session).More
#12
Potomac River

Potomac River

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From its source in West Virginia to where it empties out in Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River is rich in American history; in fact, it's even referred to as "the Nation's River." George Washington, the first president of the United States, was born along the river, and the entirety of Washington DC—the nation's capital city—lies within the watershed.More
#13
National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum in the United States devoted to the African American experience. Its unique architectural structure—wrapped in an ornamental bronze-colored metal lattice—houses 12 galleries and 13 interactive exhibits. The 36,000-object collection tells the American story through the African American lens, covering themes from history, politics, religion, slavery, and segregation to music, sports, fashion, and art.More
#14
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

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The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial lies on the National Mall in Washington DC, on the edge of the Tidal Basin. The sprawling site comprises four distinct parts, portraying each of the 32nd president’s terms in office. Bronze sculptures and quotes engraved into the stone walls take visitors on a journey through FDR’s presidency and era.More
#15
Library of Congress

Library of Congress

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Washington DC’s Library of Congress is the world’s largest library and keeper of the nation’s most important historical documents. It houses more than 160 million items, including maps, manuscripts, films, and prints. Its more than 30 million books line miles of bookshelves in three different buildings—and many are not on public display.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Washington DC

Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley
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DC Monuments and Capitol Hill Tour by Electric Cart
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Washington DC Premier Dinner Cruise
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Washington DC Premier Dinner Cruise

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US$ 106.27
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History - Exclusive Guided Museum Tour
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Washington DC Monuments Bike Tour

Washington DC Monuments Bike Tour

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US$ 54.00
Private Washington DC Guided Tour

Private Washington DC Guided Tour

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US$ 495.00
per group
Capitol Hill Guided Walking Tour with Entry to US Capitol & Library of Congress
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DC at Dusk Guided Night Tour

DC at Dusk Guided Night Tour

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Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Electric Cart Tour
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Washington DC

star-5
Definitely worth it!
Jerry_B, Nov 2022
Washington DC Monuments Bike Tour
This was a great way to see many of the important monuments in the Washington DC area.
star-5
Brady was a cool guy. He...
Jeremy_F, Aug 2022
Washington DC Monuments Bike Tour
It was fun to see all the monument in Washington DC.
star-5
A fantastic way to see...
Craig_M, Aug 2022
4-Hour Small Group Guided National Mall Tour with 10 Top Attractions
A fantastic way to see Washington DC coupled with some very informative and historical commentary.
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Monuments Bike tour
Amanda_M, Jul 2022
Washington DC Sites at Night Bike Tour
This is my first trip to Washington DC and it was really cool to see the monuments and learn all the history behind them.
star-5
Fantastic, fabulous, and best way to see DC
Amber_L, Jul 2022
Private Washington DC Guided Tour
Take it my father to see Washington DC with his family!
star-5
Amazing adventure
Cameron_S, Jul 2022
Washington DC "See the City" Guided Sightseeing Segway Tour
Great way to see the highlights of Washington DC including monuments and the mall.
star-5
Great tour
Tina_A, Jul 2022
3-Hour DC "Monuments By Night" Guided Sightseeing Bus Tour
This my 1st time in Washington DC and I wanted to see the historical sites and only had a little time.
star-5
Beat the Summer Heat and Take an Evening Tour!
Karen_S, Jun 2022
Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley
This was a great way to see a lot of Washington DC in a short amount of time!
star-5
This was a great...
Victoria_M, Jun 2022
DC at Dusk Guided Night Tour
This was a great experience and a very memorable way to see Washington DC!
star-5
Best tour hands down!
Olivia_T, Jun 2022
3-Hour DC "Monuments By Night" Guided Sightseeing Bus Tour
The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and personable, there was plenty of bathroom opportunities, the bus was comfortable and clean and we got to see so much of washington DC in our time on the tour.
star-5
Awesome Way To See Washington DC
Shelley_C, Jun 2022
DC in a Day: 10+ Monument Stops & Seasonal Potomac River Cruise
You get to see quite a bit of Washington DC.
star-5
Enjoyable, educational, very professional
Dan_M, May 2022
Moonlight Tour of Washington DC
It was a great way to see multiple sites without the hassle of driving ourselves or taking public transportation.
star-5
Phenomenal Experience!
Lisa_M, Nov 2022
DC at Dusk Guided Night Tour
We plan to do this again when our family comes to visit from out of town.
star-5
Informative and time well spent
Tina_H, Oct 2022
DC in a Day: 10+ Monument Stops & Seasonal Potomac River Cruise
I highly recommend this tour to everyone wanting to see Washington DC.
star-4
Sunday morning tour of DC
Susan_G, Sep 2022
Private Washington DC Guided Tour
Good way to see all the important sites in Washington DC with an opportunity to get out and walk and take some pictures.
star-5
Highlight of our Trip - Thank you
Melissa_J, Jul 2022
African-American History Tour with Museum in Washington DC
In our opinion, the only way to visit.
star-5
Wonderful way to see a lot in a small amount of time.
Terri_T, Jun 2022
Private Tour of Two Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC
With so much to see and not a lot of time, we were able to customize this private tour to our specific interests in these museums.
star-5
My husband and I did the...
Jackie_M, Jun 2022
Washington DC "Monuments By Morning" Guided Sightseeing Tour with 8+ Stops
Lots of waking, but that’s needed to see Washington DC.
star-5
Excellent way to see...
Linda_K, May 2022
Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Electric Cart Tour
Excellent way to see Washington DC at night.
star-5
My husband and I...
Amy_C, May 2022
Washington DC Moonlit Tour of the National Mall & Stops at 10 Sites
We would never have been able to see as many sites on our own, and our tour guide was extremely friendly and knowledgeable.
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All about Washington DC

Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
EST (UTC -5)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English

A local’s pocket guide to Washington DC

Fairuz Maggio

Fairuz is a Washington DC native who has spent most of her life in and around the city. Though currently living in Europe, she returns to the nation’s capital at least twice a year.

The first thing you should do in Washington DC is...

visit the National Mall. If you only do one thing in the city, it’s imperative that you explore the length of the mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the US Capitol Building.

A perfect Saturday in Washington DC...

starts with a brunch (a boozy drag brunch is a city favorite), includes a stroll through one of the (free) Smithsonian museums, and ends with dinner and drinks in Georgetown.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is ...

the Smithsonian museums. These free museums range from the National Museum of Natural History to the National Air and Space Museum to the National Museum of American History to various art genres and are mostly around the National Mall.

To discover the "real" Washington DC...

you need to leave downtown and visit the Shaw neighborhood. The historically African-American area is home to the Howard Theatre, Howard University, and a host of famous eateries including Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street.

For the best view of the city...

head to the top of the Washington Monument. The city's tallest structure provides unparalleled views of DC and beyond. If you can’t snag a ticket, head to the Old Post Office clock tower or the Kennedy Center's outdoor terrace.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking that DC is just government buildings. The city's vibrant neighborhoods each have their own character. Dupont Circle is an LGBTQ hub, Columbia Heights is known for multiethnic eateries, while Georgetown features Federal-style architecture and upmarket restaurants and shops.

People Also Ask

What's Washington DC known for?

Washington DC—the United States capital—is known for its iconic government buildings and landmarks, including the White House, US Capitol, Supreme Court, and the attractions at the National Mall, including the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The Smithsonian museums and springtime cherry blossoms are also unmissable.

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What is the #1 site visited in Washington, DC?

The most visited site in Washington DC is the Lincoln Memorial, which stands on the National Mall and is instantly recognizable for its colonnaded front and enormous sitting statue of President Abraham Lincoln. Other popular sites include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and US Capitol.

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How do you do Washington DC in a day?

Many of Washington DC's top monuments are clustered around the National Mall and Capitol Hill, so it's possible to see them in one day. Book a driving, bike, or Segway tour to sightsee efficiently. Then, cap off your trip with a visit to one of the city's free-to-enter Smithsonian museums.

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What's the best way to sightsee in Washington DC?

Washington DC has dozens of iconic government buildings, memorials, museums, and other highlights. To see more of the sights in less time, book a tour by coach, bike, Segway, or pedicab. Once you've gotten an overview, set off on a neighborhood walking tour to discover DC's local side.

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Is 2 days enough for Washington DC?

Yes. Two days is enough to see Washington DC's highlights. On day one, concentrate on the National Mall's monuments and museums and see government buildings like the White House, Supreme Court, and US Capitol. On day two, soak up the local feel in neighborhoods such as Georgetown and Adams Morgan.

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What do locals do in DC?

Washington DC locals frequent the city's museums and cultural institutions, as well as trendy restaurants and bars in the 14th Street Corridor, Adams Morgan, and Shaw. You'll find them hiking in Rock Creek Park, browsing the shelves at Politics and Prose, and attending concerts at the 9:30 Club.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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