30 Best Things to do in Washington DC
The United States of America boasts of a lot of beautiful cities, but one usually forgets the immense culture that its capital city holds. Washington, DC is home to a string of Neoclassical architecture, inspired by the use of ancient Greek and Roman styles in the design of great public buildings. We can easily recognize these styles as we see the use of domed roofs, tall columns, and symmetrical architectural patterns. You can find yourself taking city rides on a double-decker bus, walking through the halls of the beautiful Smithsonian museums or just kayaking on the Potomac. Traveling in DC is also convenient; it's easy to ride the metro or hop on a bike and travel all around the city.
Take a stroll on America's Front Yard
The National Mall, known to be the most magnificent public space in the USA, is home to a lot of monuments of national importance. One can take a stroll there on any part of the day, take part in demonstrations or just soak in the rich American history. It starts from the Lincoln Memorial and ends at the US Capitol. About 24 million people visit the National Mall every year.
Stand amongst the Bravehearts at the Arlington National Cemetery
Most of the family members of the esteemed Kennedy family, including John F. Kennedy himself, are buried here. At his funeral on Nov. 25, 1963, Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy lit an eternal flame that remains alight even today. You can stand there and pay respect to thousands who have given their lives in the name of American freedom. It is the largest military cemetery in the whole of the country as it is the resting place of more than 400,000 military servicemen and their immediate family members. The cemetery is open 365 days in a year and is free to everyone who wants to pay their respects.
Voice your thoughts at the Newseum
In pertinence to its name, the Newseum stands to be something unique amongst art and history aficionados. It is an interactive museum and stretches out to have 15 theatres and 15 galleries. The Newseum promotes free speech and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The museum that stands out differently than other museums in the city talks about the evolution of communication in the country.
Laze on a Water Taxi on the Potomac River
It is a fun yet inexpensive way to spend a Sunday afternoon as the water taxis connect Georgetown, the Wharf, Old Town Alexandria, and National Harbour. You can visit a lot of unique shops and eateries at Gaylord near National Harbour too. The boats are well-maintained, and the captains are friendly. You can see the famous monuments of Washington, DC, from an entirely new perspective on this narrated sightseeing cruise.
A nerve-chilling walk amidst the halls of the Holocaust Museum
The US Holocaust Museum is situated just adjacent to the National Mall. The Holocaust remains to be a black hole in the pages of world history and a walk through the halls of this museum reminds us of that tragic past. Stretching three floors, the museum is filled with films, photographs, and artifacts that will fill your head with thoughts. The museum and its exhibitions are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Find nature right in the middle of the city at Meridian Hill Park
Situated near the neighborhood of Columbia Heights, the park is usually a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is said to be designed between 1912 to 1940 and consists of beautiful fountains and an 11 and a half foot tall bronze statue of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri made by Ettore Ximenes.
Stand in front of the White House and bask in its architectural glory
Even though it is not officially allowed to enter the White House, you can always catch a glimpse of it from the gates. The White House, as is known, is the official residence and workplace of the POTUS. The White House is a fantastic example of Neoclassical architecture as it draws its inspiration both directly and indirectly in the architectural styles of the Roman architect Vitruvius and Andrea Palladio styles.
Take a walk through one of DC's oldest neighborhoods, the Foggy Bottom
The name Foggy Bottom is rumored to have been named after the area's marshy, low-lying riverside location and was filled with fog from local industries. Foggy Bottom is most known for the Kennedy Center, the Watergate Hotel, and George Washington University. One can also canoe or kayak at the Thompson Boat Center.
Take a glimpse of American history at the Ford's Theatre
Ford's Theatre is famous and infamous equally for a lot of reasons. It was where the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a stage actor in itself. Now, it hosts exhibits of Lincoln from the start of his presidency to the very moment he arrived at Ford's Theatre. You can catch a play here too!
Take a thrill ride away from the main city at Six Flags America
Six Flags America is a theme park and waterpark, located at an hours drive from Washington DC. It is full of thrill rides, shows, and activities for a fun time out with the family. Six Flags America is named so as it has six different themed areas based on the extremes of the country of the USA and the fictional towns of Gotham and Looney Tunes. The waterpark is also a good way to beat the summer heat.
Visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and sink in his era
After the 32nd President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away; a presidential memorial was made to commemorate him, years after. The sculpture is inspired by his photographs, and a sculpture of his dog Fala is made just alongside. It is uniquely designed for visitors so that they can are guided through his four presidential terms. The memorial is also built in a way that it is friendly for people with various physical impairments, considering FDR's disability.
Dive deep into space at the National Air and Space Museum
One of the most famous of space museums, this one is also free to visit by the backing of the Smithsonian Institution. You can delve into the glorious history of aviation and space travel at this museum. You can catch a glimpse of the 1903 Wright Flyer, can run your hands over moon rock and look at the Apollo 11 command module.
Shop, eat and drink at M Street
Taking a break from exploring culture and history, one can take a quick run downtown into M Street. M Street has world-class designer boutique stores lined-up and can be comparable to New York City's 5th Avenue. M street also has a lot of eateries to walk into after a tiresome day of trying on and buying clothes.
Take a tour of the Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense. It is infamous for the 9/11 attacks wherein an American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and flown into the western side of the building, killing 189 people. Situated just outside DC, this architectural beauty is open to tour on Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Fridays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The building can be toured in about an hour, and the tickets have to be booked from at least 14 days prior but not more than 90 days prior. The Pentagon tour is known to host more than 106,000 visitors annually.
Get artsy at the Freer Gallery of Art
Another of the Smithsonian museums, the Freer Gallery of Art delves into the aspect of Asian art. The Freer along with the Sackler gallery form house the largest Asian art research library in the country and contain art from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Islamic world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as a significant collection of American art. Like all other Smithsonian museums, this one is free to visit too. The galleries also host events and film screenings, with some held at other museums around town.
Go and explore downtown into Georgetown
It is one of the favorite places of tourists as they line up to discover the best things to do in Georgetown. One of the best things to do in Georgetown is to walk along the C&O canal. The historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal remains until today a good escape from the hustle and bustle as it stays serene all along the year. It is perfect for walking, cycling, running, or to just catch a moment of unhurried silence.
Touring America's Center of Democracy at the US Capitol
The Capitol building is home to the United States Congress and is the home of the legislature of the US Federal government. The Capitol has a long and bright history in the art of the United States. The most enchanting of murals are in the Rotunda wherein there are eight large paintings about the development of the United States as a nation. Its beauty has also found its way into a Dan Brown novel called The Lost Symbol. Visitors are allowed to enter the building through the Capitol Visitor Center, located underground on the east side of the Capitol. But there are some restrictions, to ensure the safety of the visitors, staff and to preserve collections and historic buildings.
Embark into the mysteries at the International Spy Museum
The international spy museum has to be one of the most innovative of all museums around the globe. You can dig into the foremost collection of spy artifacts in the world. It is a museum that is funded exclusively by the admission fees of the tourists and receives no government or tax funding. It is a fun ride along through the museum as you look through accounts, videos, and films of real-life spy stories from World War II. It also showcases several code-breaking operations.
Know about the greatest struggle on American soil at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
Situated at a 4-acre site in downtown Washington DC, it's official address stays to be 1964 Independence Avenue SW in honor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prominent part of the struggle and led the famous march in 1963. The same one in which he gave the stirring speech "I Have a Dream" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This memorial is the first the first non-presidential memorial and the first memorial to remember a man of color. Fourteen speeches and writings are inscribed on the Inscription wall of the memorial along with the Stone of Hope that is a granite statue of King.
Visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Officially the largest catholic church in the whole of Northern America, this church is a spectacular sight for its visitors. The ceilings of each chapel are intricately designed, and the Basilica as a whole is an example of Neo-Byzantine architecture. The shrine has merited several Papal visits too with Pope Francis visiting it recently in the year 2015. The mosaics are breathtaking and the calmness of the place soothing to one's soul.
Learn a bit of botany at United States National Arboretum
This is a great place to visit on a Sunday morning, just before the crowd slips in. It is a great experience as the walk is full of nature in its truest sense. The plants are aesthetically placed and Instagram-worthy to the eyes. The Arboretum also beholds the popular National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.
Stare at the grandiose of the Lincoln Memorial
After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US, a national memorial was built to honor him. The monument stands tall on the western end of the National Mall. There are 36 columns, each one representing one state in the US at the date of President Lincoln's death. The exterior of the memorial looks like a classic Greek temple, and the interior houses the statue of Lincoln. To the left of Lincoln's 175-ton statue, is the inscription of Lincoln's most famous speech, 'The Gettysburg Address".
Gaze at the towering beauty of the Washington Monument
In honor of the first President of the United States, this obelisk was constructed of granite-faced with Maryland marble. The obelisk towers at the height of 169 meters and stays to be America's one of the most recognizable structures. It is located right in the center of the National Mall. The monument has also survived an earthquake in 2011, leaving a few cracks in its structure. It has been closed for a while now as it was again made safe for the public and is going to reopen soon too.
Look back in time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The memorial was made to commemorate all the soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam war. It stretches over 2 acres but what makes it a way more interesting visit are the controversies that went around it. A black granite wall is erected with the names of thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the infamous Vietnam War, and the names are listed in a chronological manner based on the date of casualty.
Feel the American patriotism at U.S. Marines Sunset Parade
Executed on each Tuesday summer evening, this military parade is performed by the United States Marine Corps at the Lincoln Memorial. The parade has approximately 200 personnel participating in it. The parade includes musical performances by "The Commandant's Own," the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps as well as a precision drill by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.
Understand American culture at the famous Kennedy Centre
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was named so in the memory of John F. Kennedy. Whereas it is now known as the stomping ground for the elite men in the city, it does not mean others cannot access the benefits of it. Every night of the year at 6 p.m., everyone gets invited for a free performance. In others, the Kennedy Center is also famous for its plays, orchestra performances, theatre festivals, and jazz concerts.
Admire the beauty of the Jefferson Memorial
Constructed by Franklin D. Roosevelt to commemorate the 3rd President of the United States, this memorial is situated on the Washington Channel of the Potomac River. The design of the memorial resembles that of the Pantheon in Rome with a low-lying dome, a circular colonnade of columns, a portico and circular steps leading up to the interior of the monument. Inside the monument, stands a 19-foot bronze statue of Jefferson. The walls of the memorial contain words from his various texts.
Learn about the Korean War at the Korean War Veterans Memorial
Just situated on the south of the reflecting pool at the National Mall, the Korean War Veterans Memorial memorializes those who lost their lives serving at the war front in the Korean war. There is a mural wall with images of troops moving by sea, land, and air sandblasted onto it. Nineteen stainless steel statues including members from each branch of the US armed forces are erected at the center of the memorial. Tourists usually find the beauty of this memorial extremely grasping.
Embrace the beauty of the Washington National Cathedral
It's Neo-Gothic architectural pattern, gives it an appearance that it is ages old, but this church is a construction of the late 20th century. Even though it is overseen by the Episcopal church, this church is open to people of all walks and faiths. Inside this beautiful church, there is a crypt level where Hellen Keller and President Woodrow Wilson are buried. It is lined beautifully with a medieval-style garden all around it.
Capture the beauty of the World War II Memorial
The World War II memorial that sits on the National Mall is a place that most tourists find absolutely well-designed and tasteful. World War II was an absolutely treacherous period in the history of the United States, and this memorial honors the 16 million people who served the country and 400,000 who lost their lives for it. The memorial is beautifully spread out with a fountain right in its center. The Freedom Wall is the most significant of all things in the memorial as 4,048 golden stars pay tribute to the American lives lost at war. In front of the wall, a stone also reads, "Here we mark the price of freedom."