Blake Walsh

35 Best Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

  • Published 2023/01/29

The United States of America boasts many beautiful cities, but one usually forgets the immense culture that its capital city holds.

Washington, D.C. is home to a string of Neoclassical architecture inspired by ancient Greek and Roman styles in the design of significant 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 River.

Traveling in Washington, D.C. is also convenient; it’s easy to ride the metro or hop on a bike and travel all around the city.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 35 best things to do in Washington, D.C.:

Take a Stroll on National Mall

The National Mall

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The National Mall, known to be the most magnificent public space in the USA, is home to many monuments of national importance.

One can stroll there on any part of the day, participate in demonstrations, or soak in the rich American history.

Beautiful view of National Mall

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It starts at the Lincoln Memorial and ends at the US Capitol.

About 24 million people visit the National Mall every year.

Try the Water Taxi at the Potomac River

Water Taxi

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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 also visit many unique shops and eateries at Gaylord near National Harbour.

Water Taxi at the Potomac River sailing under a bridge

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The boats are well-maintained, and the captains are friendly.

On this narrated sightseeing cruise, you can see famous Washington, D.C. monuments from an entirely new perspective.

Water Taxi ticket counter at the Potomac River

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Walk amidst the Halls of the Holocaust Museum

Holocaust Museum

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United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is situated just adjacent to the National Mall.

The holocaust remains a black hole in the pages of world history, and a walk through the halls of this museum reminds us of that tragic past.

Exhibits at the Holocaust Museum

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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.

Interior view of the Holocaust Museum

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Wander around Meridian Hill Park

Meridian Hill Park

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Situated near the neighborhood of Columbia Heights, Meridian Hill Park is usually a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Visitors playing drums and performing at  Meridian Hill Park

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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.

Statue at  Meridian Hill Park

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Take Some Pictures Outside the White House

White House

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Even though it is not officially allowed to enter the White House, you can always catch a glimpse from the gates.

The White House, as it is known, is the official residence and workplace of the POTUS.

Guards at White House

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The White House is a fantastic example of Neoclassical architecture as it draws its inspiration directly and indirectly from the architectural styles of the Roman architect Vitruvius and Andrea Palladio.

Interior view of White House

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Take a Walk through Foggy Bottom

the Foggy Bottom

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The name Foggy Bottom is rumored to have been named after the area’s marshy, low-lying riverside location, which was filled with fog from local industries.

Buildings at Foggy Bottom

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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.

Park at Foggy Bottom

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Take a Glimpse of American History at the Ford’s Theatre

Ford's Theatre

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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.

Exterior view of Ford's Theatre

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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!

Stack of books cenre piece at Ford's Theatre

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Visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

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After the 32nd President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away; a presidential memorial was made to commemorate his years after.

His photographs inspire the sculpture, and a statue of his dog Fala is made alongside.

Fountain at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

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It is uniquely designed for visitors to be guided through his four presidential terms.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is also built in a way that is friendly for people with various physical impairments, considering FDR’s disability.

Sculptures at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

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Explore the National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

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One of the most famous space museums, the National Air and Space Museum is also free to visit with the backing of the Smithsonian Institution.

Garden at National Air and Space Museum

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You can delve into this museum’s glorious history of aviation and space travel.

You can catch a glimpse of the 1903 Wright Flyer, run your hands over moon rock, and look at the Apollo 11 command module.

Interior view of a aeroplane at National Air and Space Museum

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Shop, Eat, and Drink at M Street

M Street

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Taking a break from exploring culture and history, one can quickly run downtown into M Street.

PNC Bank at M Street

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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 many eateries to walk into after a tiresome day of trying on and buying clothes.

Shops at M Street

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Be Artsy at the Freer Gallery of Art

Freer Gallery of Art

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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.

Exterior view of Freer Gallery of Art

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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.

Buddha statue at Freer Gallery of Art

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Explore Georgetown


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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.

Brick house at Georgetown

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The historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal remains today a good escape from the hustle and bustle as it stays serene throughout the year.

It is perfect for walking, cycling, running, or just catching a moment of unhurried silence.

Kids playing on the fountain at Georgetown

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Tour the United States Capitol

US Capitol

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United States Capitol is home to the United States Congress and is the home to 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 murals are in the Rotunda, wherein there are eight large paintings about the development of the United States as a nation.

Gorgeous interior view of United States Capitol

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Its beauty has also found its way into a Dan Brown novel called The Lost Symbol.

Visitors can 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 and staff and to preserve collections and historic buildings.

Visitors enjoying the tour of United States Capitol

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See the Spy Artifacts at the International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum

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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 funded exclusively by the admission fees of the tourists and receives no government or tax funding.

Exterior view of International Spy Museum

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It is a fun ride 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.

Exhibits at International Spy Museum

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Revisit History at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

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Situated at a 4-acre site in downtown Washington, D.C., its official address remains 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 march in 1963.

The same one in which he gave the stirring speech “I Have a Dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

View of Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is 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, a granite statue of the King.

Visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

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Officially the largest catholic church in Northern America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a spectacular sight for its visitors.

The ceilings of each chapel are intricately designed, and the Basilica is an example of Neo-Byzantine architecture.

Exterior view of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

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The shrine has also merited several Papal visits, with Pope Francis visiting it in 2015.

The mosaics are breathtaking, and the calmness of the place is soothing to one’s soul.

Stunning interior of National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

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See the Manicured Lawn at the United States National Arboretum

United States National Arboretum

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United States National Arboretum is a great place to visit on a Sunday morning, just before the crowd slips in.

It is an excellent experience as the walk is full of nature in its truest sense.

Garden at United States National Arboretum

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The plants are aesthetically placed and Instagram-worthy to the eyes.

The arboretum also beholds the popular National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.

Beautiful architecture of United States National Arboretum

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See Lincoln Memorial’s Stunning Architecture

Lincoln Memorial

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After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US, a national memorial was built to honor him.

Lincoln Memorial stands tall on the western end of the National Mall.

There are 36 columns, each representing one state in the US at the date of President Lincoln’s death.

Closeup of the Abraham Lincoln's whote statue at Lincoln Memorial

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The memorial’s exterior 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”.

Outside view of Lincoln Memorial

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Take Pictures of the Washington Monument

Washington Monument

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In honor of the first President of the United States, Washington Monument was constructed of granite-faced Maryland marble.

The obelisk towers at the height of 169 meters and remains one of America’s most recognizable structures.

It is located right in the center of the National Mall.

Close up of the Washington Monument

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The monument also survived an earthquake in 2011, leaving a few structural cracks.

It has been closed for a while now as it was again made safe for the public and is going to reopen soon.

Revisit History at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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Vietnam Veterans 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 exciting visit are the controversies that went around it.

Statues of soldiers at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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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 chronologically based on the date of casualty.

People paying respect at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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Feel the American Patriotism at U.S. Marines Sunset Parade

U.S. Marines Sunset Parade

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Executed on each Tuesday summer evening, U.S. Marines Sunset 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, and a precision drill by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.

Understand American Culture at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Kennedy Centre

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John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was named so in 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 its benefits of it.

Interior view of John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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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.

Bronze statue at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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Admire the Beauty of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

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The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is situated on the Washington Channel of the Potomac River and was constructed by Franklin D. Roosevelt to commemorate the 3rd President of the United States.

The memorial’s design resembles the Pantheon in Rome, with a low-lying dome, a circular colonnade of columns, an entrance, and circular steps leading up to the monument’s interior.

Thomas Jefferson statue at Thomas Jefferson Memorial


Inside the monument stands a 19-foot bronze statue of Jefferson.

The walls of the memorial contain words from his various texts.

Pillars at Thomas Jefferson Memorial

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Learn about the Korean War at the Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

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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.

Night view of Korean War Veterans Memorial

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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.

View of Korean War Veterans Memorial

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See the Beauty of the Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral

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Washington National Cathedral‘s neo-gothic architectural pattern gives it the appearance that it is ages old, but this church is constructed in the late 20th century.

Even though the Episcopal church oversees it, this church is open to people of all walks and faiths.

Interior view of Washington National Cathedral

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There is a crypt level inside this beautiful church where Hellen Keller and President Woodrow Wilson are buried.

It is lined beautifully with a medieval-style garden all around it.

Chapel at Washington National Cathedral

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Capture the Beauty of the World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

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The World War II Memorial on the National Mall is a place most tourists find well-designed and tasteful.

World War II was a 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.

Fountain at World War II Memorial

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The memorial is beautifully spread out, with a fountain in its center.

The Freedom Wall is the memorial’s most significant, 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.”

Statue of eagles at World War II Memorial

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Visit the Animals at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Signage at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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Smithsonian’s National Zoo, established in 1889, is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s biggest museum, and research facility.

Through meaningful encounters with animals and those fighting to rescue them, the Zoo fosters a lifetime commitment to conservation.

Tiger drinking water at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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The Zoo’s 163-acre park in the center of Washington, D.C., is always free and attracts around two million people from across the globe annually.

Currently, the Zoo is home to animals of more than 360 different species.

More than 2,000 animals live on its two campuses, including several of the most highly endangered species on the globe.

Elephant at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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Go Shopping at Eastern Market

Outside view of Eastern Market

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Eastern Market has been a center for the community for more than 136 years, bringing together locals, families, and tourists.

It is the place to go for local, farm-fresh vegetables, handcrafted goods, and community weekend activities.

The Market is ideally found in the center of the famed Capitol Hill district.

Flower shop at Eastern Market

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South Hall Market, Fresh Tuesdays Farmers Market, Weekend Farmers’ Line, Weekend Outdoor Market, and The North Hall Event Space are all part of the Eastern Market.

For years, The North Hall of the renowned Eastern Market has been a favored location for unforgettable occasions.

People dining at Eastern Market

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View the Interactive Galleries at Planet Word

Signage of Planet Word

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Planet Word is an interactive language experience housed within Washington, D.C.’s magnificent Franklin School.

In 2020, it debuted as a brand-new interactive, self-guided museum style.

Planet Word is the countryonlyole museum committed to igniting and encouraging a passion for words and language.

Visitors may customize their experience with the help of the museum’s cutting-edge technology.

Its interactive galleries and exhibitions are great for people of all ages since they drive words and language to come to life in various exciting ways.

Tour Fashionably with Capital Segway Tours

People enjoying their Capital Segway Tour

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Capital Segway presents the sole Segway Personal Transporter (P.T.) Authorized tour of Washington, D.C.

It is an exciting and enjoyable approach to getting to know the capital city!

You will cruise the streets in luxury using one of the cutting-edge Segway P.T.s.

Each trip starts with a brief training session during which they show you how to use a Segway P.T.

View of Capital Segway Tour

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Your Segway P.T. experience will take you across the city with their professional tour guide.

Their guided Segway P.T. trips offer sightseeing; French and German tours are available upon request.

Explore some of the city’s most well-known attractions, such as the White House, the Botanical Gardens, the National Archives, the FBI Building, the Newseum, and many more.

Tourist enjoying their Capital Segway


Visit the Shops at Logan Circle

Houses at Logan Circle

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You have everything you need for a fantastic urban trip in Logan Circle.

It has multiple locations listed on the National Register of Historic Places and two historic districts.

You may find trendy boutiques, cafés, and performance spaces between the old buildings.

Walkway at Logan Circle

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Discover a unique revolving collection of artworks, vintage furnishings, and treasures from the past.

You may find whatever type of accommodation you’re looking for here, whether it’s a boutique, family-friendly, or affordable hotel.

Pride parade at Logan Circle

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Other Things to Do Nearby

Have Fun at Six Flags America

Six Flags America

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Six Flags America is a theme park and waterpark located an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C..

It is full of thrill rides, shows, and activities for a fun time out with the family.

Entrance to Six Flags America

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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 alan excellent way to beat the summer heat.

View of Six Flags America

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Pay a Visit to Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

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Most of the esteemed Kennedy family members, including John F. Kennedy himself, are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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.

Amphitheatre at Arlington National Cemetery

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It is the largest military cemetery in 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 a year and accessible to everyone who wants to pay their respects.

Tombstones lined up at Arlington National Cemetery

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Take a Tour of the Pentagon


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The Pentagon is the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense.

It is infamous for the 9/11 attacks wherein American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and flown into the western side of the building, killing 189 people.

Bird's eye view of the Pentagon

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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 must be booked 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.

Outside view of the Pentagon

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Final Thoughts

Everyone must travel to Washington, D.C., at least once in their lifetime to enjoy the fruits of the city’s many attractions.

Take in the beautiful surroundings in the afternoon after spending the morning browsing the city’s farmer’s markets.

Discovmany of fun and engaging activities in addition to several well-known historical attractions.

Get your suitcases ready and take off for a fantastic vacation destination.

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