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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

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

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

The White House

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

U.S. Capitol

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

Lincoln Memorial

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

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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

Korean War Veterans Memorial

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

National World War II Memorial

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

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

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

Washington Monument

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

National Mall

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

Supreme Court of the United States

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

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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

National Archives Museum

Home to the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, the National Archives Museum displays many of America’s most pivotal founding documents. Housed in a Greek revival building on the National Mall in Washington DC, the landmark invites visitors to see the priceless works, engage with interactive exhibits, and more.More

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

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

Potomac River

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

Trip ideas

Top activities in Washington DC

Washington DC Premier Dinner Cruise
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Washington DC Premier Dinner Cruise

Washington DC Monuments Bike Tour

Washington DC Monuments Bike Tour

DC Monuments and Memorials Night Tour

DC Monuments and Memorials Night Tour

Private Washington DC Guided Tour

Private Washington DC Guided Tour

per group
Grand Tour of Washington DC

Grand Tour of Washington DC

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Recent reviews from experiences in Washington DC

Nichole_D, Mar. 2023
DC Monuments and Memorials Night Tour
It was nice to see all the major memorials and not have to drive and pay for parking.
Bill_P, Mar. 2023
Big Bus Washington DC Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Big Bus was a convenient way to get to the major monuments and sites we wanted to visit in the Washington DC area.
Ramon was an excellent...
Lisa_S, Mar. 2023
3-Hour Small Group Night-Time National Mall Tour with 10 Top Attractions
Best way to see the monuments!
DC in a Day
Sara_P, Feb. 2023
Private Washington DC Guided Tour
We only had 1 day to see the sights and this private tour was the perfect way to do it!
Segway is great way to see DC
Eric_L, Feb. 2023
Sites by Segway Tour In Washington DC
This is a great way to see Washington DC.
Wintering Washington DC
Luanne_H, Feb. 2023
Big Bus Washington DC Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
The Big Bus hop on hop off tour made it easy to see all the sights and get away from the cold for a bit while riding in the bus.
Great experience! Very organized tour!
Ling_M, Dec. 2022
DC Highlight Day Tour
We were picked up at the hotel on time, the whole tour is very organized and we got to see all the attractions and have some stops to walked around and take pictures!
Christmas 2022
Joseph_R, Dec. 2022
Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley
Our tour guide “ Hollywood “ was wonderful We’ve been to Washington DC several times before, however it was out 1st time doing the moonlight monument tour Hollywood makes us won’t to visit again and again
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.
Excellent tour met our expectations with sites visited
Graham_A, Mar. 2023
Private Washington DC Guided Tour
We even managed to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown solider at Arlington Cemetery.
Great tour!!!
Cynthia_W, Mar. 2023
Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour
She is out on spring break this week so my husband and I thought this would be a great time.
Quick and Easy Trour around Washinton DC
Artur_G, Mar. 2023
4-Hour Small Group Guided National Mall Tour with 10 Top Attractions
It was a quick and easy way to observe some of the main attractions of the city, and our guide Daniel was absolutely amazing.
What a great tour!
Jen_F, Jan. 2023
DC in a Day: 10+ Monument Stops & Seasonal Potomac River Cruise
Sally made Washington DC so interesting to visit because she is so knowledgeable about the culture and history.
Donuts you did not know about!
Lawrence_H, Jan. 2023
Underground Donut Tour: Washington DC Historic Donut Tour
The tour is also a chance to see Washington DC.
Phenomenal Experience!
Lisa_M, Nov. 2022
DC Monuments and Memorials Night Tour
We plan to do this again when our family comes to visit from out of town.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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