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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 10 attractions in Washington DC

#1

U.S. Capitol

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There's nothing quite like the majestic sight of the U.S. Capitol, with its towering 285 ft (86 m) cast-iron dome topped by the bronze Statue of Freedom, ornate fountains, and marble Roman pillars set on sweeping lawns and flowering gardens. The political center of the U.S. government and geographic center of Washington D.C. itself, the Capitol of the United States overlooks the National Mall and the wide avenues flaring out to the city beyond. It houses the legislative branch of Congress and is home to the Senate and the House of Representatives. Inside the grand halls and opulent chambers you really get a feel for the power-playing side of D.C. - the historical vibe is so strong it can be intoxicating. The centerpiece of the Capitol is the magnificent Rotunda (the area under the dome). A Constantino Brumidi frieze around the rim replays more than 400 years of American history. Look up into the eye of the dome for the Apotheosis of Washington, an allegorical fresco.More
#2

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

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The man whose dream changed America lives eternally in Washington DC. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opened in October 2011, a few months after the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a dream speech.” The Memorial occupies four acres of land in West Potomac Park in the greater National Mall area. The Memorial looks out over the Tidal Basin near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. The Memorial features a 30-foot statue of Dr. King and a 450-foot granite inscription wall. The design for Dr. King’s statue is from his “Dream” speech: “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” The inscription wall features 14 excerpts from King’s speeches, sermons and other public addresses.More
#3

The White House

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Maybe that’s because this is, at the end of the day, a home as well as symbol. Every U.S president since John Adams has made this 132-room mansion his home. Its stature has grown through the years: no longer a mere residence, it's now the central icon of the American presidency. Inside the house, highlights include the Gold-and-White East Room, where presidential receptions, weddings, and other galas are held; the Green Room, which was Thomas Jefferson's dining room but today is used as a sitting room; and the Oval Blue Room, the setting for the White House Christmas tree. Other rooms are the Red Room, which is used as a reception room, primarily for afternoon teas, and the State Dining Room, where state dinners and luncheons are held. Getting inside the White House can be tough. The grounds, however, are occasionally opened for special events such as Tee-ball on the South Lawn and the Easter Egg Roll, held every Easter Monday for kids aged three to six.More
#4

Lincoln Memorial

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Here's a local secret: if you're ever stuck in a thunderstorm while wandering around the Mall, make a dash for the Lincoln Memorial. Thunder seems to rumble like clockwork nearly every 4th of July, and everyone in the know takes shelter under the marble dome, crouching near the foot of the enormous chair in which a gigantic Lincoln holds court. In a city of icons, the Lincoln Memorial is truly a highlight. It's the classicism evoked by the Greek temple design, or the way the memorial so perfectly anchors the Mall's west end, or maybe just the stony dignity of Lincoln's gaze and the power of his speeches engraved in the wall. Nonetheless, a visit here while gazing over the 600m Reflecting Pool is a defining D.C. moment. For these are the steps where lovers kiss, protesters gather, and Martin Luther King Jr’s "I Have a Dream" speech seared itself into the national conscience. This stunning location is also a favorite spot for Hollywood fimls.More
#5

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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If not one of the most powerful in the world, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial is certainly one of the most powerful in Washington D.C. The iconic memorial is comprised of two walls of polished black granite, on which the names of the 58,209 soldiers killed in the Vietnam War are inscribed. It's an eloquent inversion of the Mall's other monuments: rather than a pale, ornate structure reaching skyward, it's dark, austere and burrows into the earth, symbolizing the war's wound to the national psyche. Paper indices at both ends help you locate individual names. The most moving remembrances are notes, medals, and mementos left by survivors, family and friends; some of these are collected by park rangers and displayed at the National Museum of American History. Nearby is the tree-ringed Women in Vietnam Memorial depicting female soldiers aiding a fallen man.More
#6

Washington Monument

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At 555 ft (170 m) the Washington Monument is not only the tallest building in Washington D.C., it is also the tallest masonry structure in the world. Strangely, this pale obelisk needling the sky near the Mall's west end was originally conceived as an equestrian statue to honor George Washington, the country's first president. Inside, a glass-walled elevator quickly whisks you to an observation landing with spectacular 360-degree views. Most agree the panoramic green and marble vista of Washington D.C. and her rivers is well worth any wait to get up. On your way down, the elevator descends slowly, allowing passengers to see some of the 192 carved stones inserted into the interior walls. In the days before September 11, 2001, it was possible to descend the 897 steps. Believe it or not, when the monument first opened the elevator was not considered safe for women so, while men got to ride in style to the top, women had to make the trek on foot!More
#7

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

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Set on the south bank of the Tidal Basin amid the cherry trees, the memorial honors the third president of the United States, political philosopher, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia -- Thomas Jefferson. Designed by John Russell Pope to resemble Jefferson's library, the columned rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial is similar in style to the Pantheon in Rome. On the Tidal Basin side, a sculptural group above the entrance depicts Jefferson with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, all of whom worked on drafting the Declaration of Independence. Inside the domed interior is a 19ft (6m) bronze likeness of Jefferson; excerpts from Jefferson's writings are etched into the walls. Come visit in late March or early April, when the cherry trees blossoms are blazing pink.More
#8

Korean War Veterans Memorial

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Dedicated in 1995, this memorial to the troops who fought in the Korean War (1950-1953) lies adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial in West Potomac Park, at the south end of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. Created by sculptors Louis Nelson and Frank Gaylord, this depiction of a walled triangle intersecting a circle is assembled from over 100 tons of granite and includes 19 stainless steel statues, each over seven feet tall, which symbolize a patrol squad assembled from every branch of the armed forces. These steel statues, when reflected on the walled triangle, appear to be 38 figures, representing the 38th parallel, Korea’s location on a map. The wall of the triangle itself incorporates over 2,500 sandblasted photographic images depicting scenes from the Korean War. The memorial’s circle encloses a reflecting pool, a grove of trees, and a ring of benches, as well as inscriptions of the numbers of people who were wounded, killed, missing in action, and more.More
#9

National World War II Memorial

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Part of the National Mall and National Park Service, this memorial to American citizens who served in World War II lies at the eastern end of the Lincoln Memorial’s Reflecting Pool. Designed by Austrian-American avant-garde architect Friedrich St. Florian and dedicated in 2004, this 7.4-acre, oval-shaped site consists of 56 granite pillars, two triumphal arches, and a reflecting pool with two fountains. Each 17-foot pillar symbolizes a different U.S. state or territory, and the two 43-foot arches are dedicated to America’s victory in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, respectively. On 24 bronze panels at the memorial’s entrance, moving bas-relief scenes depict the process of drafting and training soldiers, sending them overseas and into battle, and welcoming them back home, either alive or dead.More
#10

Potomac River

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From its source in West Virginia to where it empties out in Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River is an area rich in American history, so much that’s often called "the Nation’s River." George Washington, the first President of the United States, was born along the river, and all of Washington, D.C., the nation's capital city, lies within the watershed. In Washington D.C., the West and East Potomac parks, both downtown and divided by the Tidal Basin, are pleasant, green, cherry-blossomed lined spaces, lovely for walking, picnics, and fishing. West Potomac Park is home to the Constitution Gardens; the Vietnam, Korean, Lincoln, Jefferson, World War II, and FDR memorials; a small island where ducks live; and the Reflecting Pool. East Potomac Park is more of recreational spot, with picnic grounds, tennis courts, three golf courses, a large swimming pool, and biking and hiking paths. Across the river is Arlington National Cemetery.More

Trip ideas

5 Must-See Washington DC Neighborhoods & How to Visit

5 Must-See Washington DC Neighborhoods & How to Visit

Top activities in Washington DC

DC At Dusk Guided Night Tour

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4 Hours Private Moonlight DC City Tour by Van

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Recent reviews from experiences in Washington DC

star-5
A mini but comprehensive Washington DC Tour
Donald_C, Oct 2020
Washington DC City Day Tour with Stops at 10 Top Attractions
My wife had never been to DC and we were in the area so we both wanted to see as much as we could in a day.
star-5
Wonderful
Mary Ann I, Nov 2019
Washington DC Sightseeing Trolley Tour with 1 Stop
Used the trolley in Washington DC it was awesome got to see so much we all really enjoyed our vacation
star-4
Beautiful Tour
MarkASchweitzer, Jul 2019
DC At Dusk Guided Night Tour
The night tour is a great way to see the top sites of Washington DC.
star-4
Great tour
Culture41201208618, May 2019
Deluxe Half Day Tour of DC with Reserved US Capitol Entry
The tour was a great way to visit Washington DC for the first time.
star-5
Incredible See Everything Important in Washington DC in One Day
laurajg2018, Aug 2018
Best of DC Tour - With Access to US Capitol & National Archives Buildings
What an awesome way to see & learn about all the important things of Washington DC in one day.
star-5
Excellent
agbridgmon, Jun 2018
Deluxe Half Day Tour of DC with Reserved US Capitol Entry
So much to see in Washington DC, having the guide was great
star-5
A Must for all Tourist
483declanw, Nov 2018
DC At Dusk Guided Night Tour
Time to see the memorials and take plenty of photo's
star-5
One day loaded with fun & information
Elma M, Aug 2018
Best of DC Tour - With Access to US Capitol & National Archives Buildings
I will absolutely recommend this tour to see Washington DC in one day
star-5
Great way to see Mount Vernon
knorman1, Oct 2018
Half Day Tour to Mount Vernon from Washington DC
We had plenty of time to see everything and have a snack at the restaurant as well.
star-5
Awesome!!
P3236FUlisaw, Oct 2018
Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour
What a great way to see Washington DC.
star-5
This is the best and easiest way...
Kathy G, Jun 2017
Big Bus Washington DC Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
This is the best and easiest way to see Washington DC.
star-4
This tour covers most of the places...
Rosalie H, Aug 2017
Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour
This tour covers most of the places one wants to see when going to Washington DC.
star-5
Tour was great for our family with...
Rita B, Jul 2017
Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley
Tour was great for our family with very little time to see so much in beautiful and historic Washington DC.
star-5
Our segway tour was wonderful in...
Catherine D, Oct 2017
Sites by Segway In Washington DC
The tour gave us a overview of the area so we could find the musuems we wanted to visit and monuments to see again closer.
star-5
This trip was fabulous. It is such...
Umesh P, Jan 2018
Big Bus Washington DC Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
It is such nice way to see the beautiful city.
star-5
Loved this tour! Gave everyone in...
Jeffrey F, Aug 2017
Capitol Hill and DC Monuments Tour by Electric Cart
Gave everyone in our family the opportunity to see and learn a lot about Washington DC.
star-5
A great way to go about Washington...
WAN HEI NATALIA C, Apr 2016
Private Washington DC Day Trip from New York
A good trip to see everything in DC.
star-5
The tour was a cool way to get...
Arvind M, Jun 2016
Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley
The tour was a cool way to get introduced to Washington DC, especially in summer.
star-5
Great way to see Washington DC. The...
Brett S, May 2016
Washington DC Capital Sites Bike Tour
Great way to see Washington DC.
star-4
Nice way to see many sights in...
Zuzana T, Aug 2016
Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Plus Night Tour With 2 Day Pass
Nice way to see many sights in Washington DC in one day.

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