Top Attractions in Washington DC

From the historic National Mall to renowned Smithsonian museums, Washington D.C. boasts countless attractions worth visiting. Read below to see some of the best D.C. things to do.

1. The White House

Touring the historic home of our nation's presidents requires advanced planning, but it’s worth it to view its historic grounds. The White House suggests requesting a tour as early as possible (up to three months in advance and at least 21 days prior) so you are guaranteed a specific slot time. You can conduct a self-guided tour or receive a public tour.

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Public tours of the grounds include the grand public rooms in the East Wing and a view of the White House Garden. You can also view the Visitor Center before or after touring the grounds. All guests over 18 years old are required to present a valid ID upon check-in, and more details regarding visiting can be found on its official website

2. National Mall and Memorial Parks

Operated by the National Parks Service, the National Mall and Memorial Parks encompass more than 1,000 acres of land with numerous monuments and memorials to our nation’s heroes, sacrifices, and ideals. Millions make their way each year to pay tribute to veterans, take a stand, and learn about our nation’s history. Visitors can see historic structures such as the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the Washington Monument, among others.

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3. National Museum of African American History & Culture 

The National Museum of African American History & Culture is the only national museum solely devoted to preserving the lives, history, and culture of African Americans. The museum hosts more than 36,000 artifacts and is the newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Visitors can see exhibits on the Civil Rights Era, African Americans in the military, cultural contributions, the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and so many more engaging, sobering displays.

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4. The Lincoln Memorial

Memorializing our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln Memorial was commissioned by Congress to commemorate his accomplishments and spirit, as well as to symbolize the strength of the Union. Constructed with Colorado-Yule Marble, limestone, and other resources, the memorial was modeled after The Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Featuring imposing Doric columns, a massive statue of his likeness, carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s speeches, and murals depicting his governing principles, there is so much to see and admire at the Lincoln Memorial. 

5. Washington Monument

Built to honor George Washington, our nation’s first president, the Washington Monument is a 555-foot Egyptian-inspired marble obelisk commemorating the Founding Father. Upon its completion in 1884, it was the tallest building in the world at 555 feet, 5-⅛ inches. Guests can even receive a bird’s-eye view of the city from the 500-foot observation deck.

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6. Arlington National Cemetery

More than 400,000 military service men, women, and their families have been laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery. Each day, there are between 27 and 30 services being held, making this an incredibly moving experience. Presidents, astronauts, and Supreme Court Justices are among those buried in these sacred grounds. Now, visitors have the opportunity to take an official tour to special points of interest aboard Old Town Trolley’s Arlington National Cemetery Tours. Some of the most notable sights include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the changing of the guard, the Arlington House, The Civil War Unknowns Monument, and more. You can even view the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy and his family, President William Taft, and many other iconic American figures.

7. Smithsonian Zoo

While visiting Washington D.C., don’t miss out on the trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo! You’ll especially want to visit the giant panda habitat, which attracts visitors from all over the world. Additionally, guests can see fascinating animals such as sea lions, vipers, tamarins, basilisks, and beyond! Check the schedule for animal feedings to witness, as you can potentially see keepers feeding Amazonian fish, electric eels, giant pandas, gorillas, and big cats. Families can also enjoy attractions such as a train ride, seasonal tide pool, carousel, playground, and more. Best of all, admission is free.

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8. Six Flags America

Only fifteen minutes outside of Washington D.C., Six Flags America features 10 thrilling roller coasters including Superman, Ride of Steel, and the Wild One. In addition, families can enjoy a wide variety of thrill rides and kid-friendly rides. If you want to cool off, you can also head to Hurricane Harbor Water Park, which offers the Wahoo River adventure river, Hurricane Bay, one of the world’s largest wave pools, and much more. 

9. Madame Tussauds Washington

Get up close and personal with impressive wax creations of current and past presidents, legendary revolutionaries, celebrities, artists, and more noteworthy icons at Madame Tussauds in Washington D.C. This immersive museum transports visitors through American history, enabling guests to meet all 45 presidents in the Presidents Gallery, historic icons such as Frederick Douglass, and pop icons like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and George Clooney.

10. U.S. Capitol Building and Capitol Hill Walking Tour

The U.S. Capitol Building and Capitol Hill Walking Tour enables visitors to see the most stunning architecture in the city and learn about some of D.C.’s most historic structures. An expert guide will provide an in-depth tour of Capitol Hill, the Union Station, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Capitol Building, and The Library of Congress Jefferson Building. Better yet, reserved access can help you save hours in waiting time and will get you right into the Capitol Building after your neighborhood tour concludes.

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