Washington, D.C. Feature

Advertisement

Top Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

Capitol

Home of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the marble Capitol is an architectural marvel filled with frescoes and statues. Tours begin at the new Capitol Visitor Center. The Capitol grounds are equally stunning—Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect famous for New York City's Central Park, designed them. A tour of the interior is impressive, but nothing beats attending a live debate on the House or Senate floor.

Washington Monument

This 555-foot, 5-inch obelisk is visible from nearly everywhere in the city. From the top, it also offers unparalleled views. Unfortunately, damage suffered during a rare East Coast earthquake closed the monument to the public in August 2011, with the reopening not expected until early 2014.

Lincoln, Jefferson, and FDR Memorials

The key to these memorials is to stop, stand, and read the writing on the walls. There's nothing quite like reading the Gettysburg Address while the massive marble statue of Lincoln broods behind you. Ponder the first lines of the Declaration of Independence at the Jefferson Memorial, and remember the line "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" as you encounter the stark monuments to poverty and war at the FDR Memorial.

White House

The best-known address in the United States may be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Every president but George Washington has lived here, and many heads of state have passed through its hallowed halls. The self-guided tour lets you follow their footsteps through the historic rooms. Note that it takes advance planning to visit the White House.

National Cathedral

Like its medieval European counterparts, this 20th-century cathedral has a nave, transepts, and vaults that were built stone by stone. Unlike those historic buildings, the National Cathedral has a gargoyle in the shape of Darth Vader.

Dumbarton Oaks

If you enjoy formal gardens, visit the 10-acre grounds of Dumbarton Oaks, one of the loveliest spots for a stroll.

Arlington National Cemetery

The hills across the Potomac from the Tidal Basin are the final resting place for some 340,000 members of the armed services. A visit here can be both sobering and moving.

Smithsonian Museums

Mostly flanking the National Mall, these illustrious galleries hold everything from Kermit the Frog to the Spirit of St. Louis and the Hope Diamond to Rodin's Burghers of Calais.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

The newest addition to the Mall, this 30-foot sculpture of solid granite pays tribute to King, the giant of the civil rights movement killed by an assassin's bullet in 1968. President Barack Obama dedicated the memorial in October of 2011.

Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, and World War II Memorials

Touch a name of a Vietnam vet, see your reflection alongside the statues of Korean War soldiers, search for the stories of those who lost their lives in World War II. These memorials are interactive and unforgettable.

National Zoo

The pandas may be the zoo's most famous attraction, but they're not the only highlight. Monkeys, elephants, lions, and other exotic residents never fail to delight.

Updated: 09-2013

View all features

Advertisement