15 Best Things to Do in Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
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Capitol Hill is the largest and most prestigious residential neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and a vast historic district in the heart of the nation’s capital.

It is the political center of the capital, the heart of Washington, D.C., the focus of the U.S. government, and a gathering hub for residents and visitors.

Politicos, Congress members, lobbyists, journalists, staffers, and tourists all flock to the neighborhood.

Its highlights include the U.S. Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, and the historic and walkable blocks.

The 19th and 20th-century rowhouses, microneighborhoods, vintage storefronts, lively bazaars, and bustling restaurants are all part of Capitol Hill’s many attractions.

Politics is a part of the buzz on Capitol Hill, with neighbors updating themselves on timely issues and mingling along partisan borders.

Capitol Hill breathes a formal atmosphere that at the same time has a tight-knit village vibe, lending itself well to the relaxed lifestyles of its residents.

There is a strong sense of home, identity, and history in this neighborhood primed by Washington, D.C.’s evolution over the years.

If you want to know where you can wander and roam in Capitol Hill, check out this list of the best things to do here.

Socialize at the Dubliner Restaurant and Pub

Exterior of Dubliner Restaurant and Pub
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The Dubliner is an iconic piece of Ireland in Capitol Hill, established in 1974 as part of a bar-keeping tradition.

Around lunchtime at the pub, one is bound to rub elbows with the lobbyists and lawmakers who love to socialize and discuss the day’s events.

And once the sun sets, the place lights up with the best tunes of live Irish entertainers, from riveting jigs and ballads to vibrant reels.

The pub is among the country’s purveyors of Guinness Stout and is the sole purveyor of Auld Dubliner Amber Ale, a remarkable brew made exclusively for the Dubliner.

They have an impressive array containing 100 of the finest Irish whiskies, including a smooth drinking blend called the Dubliner Irish Whiskey.

They also serve Hibernian meals like their world-renowned Fish N’ Chips and Irish Beef Stew, and their chef delights in transforming fresh ingredients into daily specials.

Know Postal Service History at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Exterior of National Postal Museum
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The Smithsonian National Postal Museum is home to one of the widest and most comprehensive of postal and philately history.

Its many galleries present America’s postal history, dating back from Colonial times to the modern day.

Interior of National Postal Museum
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Among its collections are letters and cards, mailboxes, meters, postal stationery, vehicles for mail transport, postal materials existing before stamps, U.S. and international postal issues, and archival postal documents.

In the atrium, spot a 90-foot high ceiling with three vintage airmail planes suspended overhead.

You can receive free stamps and start collecting, ride on a stagecoach with the mail, browse through a 1920s small-town post office, walk a Colonial post road, and more.

People walking inside National Postal Museum
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View the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

And make an appointment at the Library Research Center containing over 40,000 volumes and manuscript holdings.

Thousands of manuscripts inside National Postal Museum
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Tour the U.S. Supreme Court

Front exterior of U.S. Supreme Court
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The highest court in the nation is on Capitol Hill and open to curious visitors.

The Supreme Court is the loftiest judiciary authority in the United States and hears about 100 cases per year.

Be awed by the magnificent marble building constructed in the neoclassical style in 1935, with bas-relief bronzed doors and interiors lined in columns.

At the main plaza are flagpoles, fountains, benches, a marble candelabra portraying “Justice” wielding a sword, and a bas relief sculpture of the Three Fates from Greek mythology.

The U.S.A flag in front of U.S. Supreme Court
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Inside the building, spot friezes showing heraldic devices, profiles of lawgivers, and busts of the former chief justices.

You can tour the place, hear lectures on the history and workings of the court, view exhibits throughout the year, and sit in on oral arguments and proceedings in the courtroom.

Several films, lectures, and court-related exhibits are also part of the presentations.

A monument outside U.S. Supreme Court
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Visit the U.S. Capitol

Front exterior of U.S. Capitol
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The U.S. Capitol Building is one of the world’s most famous buildings, serving as the seat of American democracy.

The building, with its imposing white dome, is a symbol for this thriving legislative structure and national monument and has undergone burning, rebuilding, restoration, and expansion over the years.

Visitors can tour Capitol grounds and listen to stories and perspectives on Congress, lectures on democracy’s precepts, and anecdotes about the building’s construction.

Night time view of U.S. Capitol
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Gain knowledge of incidents both acclaimed and notorious that have taken place on the grounds.

Know the important turning points in America’s history and how the daily goings-on in the Capitol are vital to the nation’s state.

See the place’s ornate grandeur and statesmen strolling the halls, and make appointments to watch Congress in session where you can see your representatives in action.

The top half of U.S. Capitol's building
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Admire the Beauty of the U.S. Botanic Garden

Exterior of U.S. Botanic Garden
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A lush and gorgeous oasis in the nation’s capital, the U.S. Botanic Garden is a living museum of beautiful flowers and plant life, housing 4000 living species.

It is the oldest operating botanic garden in the United States and has been in continuous operation since 1850.

It promotes botanical information by cultivating an organized gathering of plants and fosters plant conservation and sustainability.

One of its crowning glories is the Conservatory, which contains 10 garden rooms and 2 courtyard gardens under glass and will delight your senses with color, sight, and sound.

Beautiful fountain in front of U.S. Botanic Garden
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Other highlights are the ever-thriving, ever-evolving Orchid Room and Bartholdi Park with its stunning plants and breathtaking Bartholdi Fountain.

Other highlights are the National Garden showcasing mid-Atlantic flora and the World Deserts room featuring succulents, grasses, and shrubs.

The U.S. Botanic Garden devotes itself to showing the economic, cultural, aesthetic, therapeutic, and ecological significance of plants to the human race.

Stickwork art piece at U.S. Botanic Garden
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Get Educated at the Library of Congress

Front exterior of Library of Congress
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The Library of Congress is the U.S. Congress’s official library, the country’s oldest cultural institution, and the largest library in the world.

It was originally built as a research resource for members of Congress; today, it remains so, and also serves as a haven of wisdom to the American people.

It houses over 100 million books, films, manuscripts, photographs, recordings, maps, and many items donated from Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection.

Steps leading to Library of Congress' entrance
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The Thomas Jefferson Building is one of the most dazzling places around, with its Gilded Age architecture serving as a worthy masterwork to the library’s legacy.

Also part of the library are the John Adams and James Madison buildings which honor these presidents’ additional contributions.

The Library carries about 40 million books in around 500 million languages, has 7 million sheets of music, 6 million maps, 14 million photographs, and 4 million audio recordings.

Interior of Library of Congress
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Gallery owners Dolly Vehlow and Steve Hessler had been collecting folk art for over thirty years.

They then decided together to bring their dream and passion for art to life on H Street at Capitol Hill.

The gallery started as a set of curated exhibits and has grown into a fixed philosophy of nourishing artists, musicians, and local art.

Around 3,000 square feet of art gallery and Courtyard give visitors a sense of a portal away from the city, with gallery-sponsored events welcoming anyone who has a burgeoning passion for the arts.

Inspired by the New Orleanian concept of ‘concealed-revealed,’ they unveil their privately landscaped Courtyard, which is also open for weddings and special events.

Steve and Dolly have sustained their collection through a magnetism towards creativity and the relationships forged with the artists.

As collectors, they bring awareness to art that was created in response to the inward call of the muse.

Embrace Social Justice at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument

Exterior of Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument house
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The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument is a museum and historic house centering on equal rights and U.S. women’s suffrage.

Since 1929, it has been the headquarters of the National Women’s Party (NWP), a key political organization in the struggle for women’s suffrage.

The house bears the names of suffragists and leaders of the National Women’s Party, Alice Paul and Alva Belmont.

Alice Paul founded the NWP and was a radical suffragist champion, writer of the Equal Rights Amendment, and lifelong fighter for women’s rights.

Alva Belmont was an NWP President and the house’s primary benefactor.

At the house, learn about the uphill climb and continuing fight of women for true equality.

Find unmatched archives, artifacts, and fine art from the equal rights and women’s suffrage movements.

View mementos such as busts and portraits of the movement’s pioneers, Susan B. Anthony’s desk, suffrage banners, important photographs, and political cartoons.

Pay Tribute to the Bard at Folger Shakespeare Library

Welcome sign of Folger Shakespeare Library
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The Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest William Shakespeare collection and a world-famous hub of learning, culture, arts, and scholarship.

Its library offers scholarly humanities programs, it is a brilliant innovator in the demonstration of rare materials, and it is a pioneer in the way classrooms teach Shakespeare.

Statue outside Folger Shakespeare Library
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It has also won awards for its production of art and culture programs, music, exhibits, poetry, theatre, lectures, and family presentations.

Along with its collection, the Folger also has rare manuscripts, Renaissance books, works of art, Shakespeare quartos, facsimiles of the First Folio, and digitized images of Shakespeare’s plays.

The Folger reaches out to a wide audience of theater-goers, concert-goers, families, students, teachers, visitors, and scholars.

Exterior of Folger Shakespeare Library
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It proudly allows everyone to experience Shakespeare and his universe in revolutionary ways.

It is a reminder of the enduring power of his works and the spoken and written word.

Reading room in Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library , CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Seek Fresh Goods at Eastern Market

Tents at Eastern Market
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Eastern Market is an important neighborhood gathering hub and cultural destination, a historic marketplace that has continuously operated since 1873.

It is one of the few historic public markets left in Washington, D.C., was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and survived damage from a fire in 2007.

Explore the indoor South Hall Market and its main hall filled with merchants selling meats, cheese, pasta, honey, poultry, deli products, baked goods, flowers, and fresh produce.

A woman buying jewellery at Eastern Market
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On weekends, its plazas and streets hold even more vendors all across the region selling in-season brightly colored produce from different states.

There are also local artists selling handmade crafts such as wood carvings, sea glass, stained glass, jewelry, cards, bath salts, massage oils, scrubs, photographs, drawings, pottery, leathercrafts, sculptures, and reproductions.

As you walk the market, enjoy all the live bands jamming to a medley of musical tunes.

Colorful flowers inside Eastern Market
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Hunt Down Your Next Great Read at Capitol Hill Books

Capitol Hill Books is a used bookstore holding three floors filled with used books, rare books, and first editions.

The founder was beloved Capitol Hill figure Bill Kerr, who had the knowledge and a high standard for quality used books.

It holds an ever-changing inventory, and bibliophiles from each corner flock to the shop every day.

If you’re searching for any particular book, the staff will only be too glad to assist you personally.

The items listed on their website are only the tip of the iceberg, and a visit to their shop gives a true taste of their literary flavor.

Explore their Fiction and Mystery Rooms, look into the Business Closet, spot cookbooks in the kitchen, browse foreign languages in the bathroom, and hunt uncanny reads in the Weird Room.

They also have books on sundry topics like theology, psychology, art, games, politics, philosophy, history, travel, and Washington, D.C.

Bring Your Kids to Labyrinth Games and Puzzles

Labyrinth Games and Puzzles is a huge favorite and neighborhood fixture in Capitol Hill, a toy store that is packed with games, mazes, puzzles, and others.

Their amazing selection will immensely please your children, from jigsaw puzzles to card games to board games.

The staff knows the store inside out and are happy to give recommendations and help you sample games of your choice.

Experiment with boardgames, collectible cards, roleplaying, miniatures, party games, and many others.

Find classics such as chess, backgammon, dominoes, and playing cards, or puzzles of all kinds like sequential, wooden, twisty, tiling, and escape rooms.

Labyrinth also partners with schools for an enrichment program called Labyrinth Game Club, which teaches kids important cognitive skills via quality non-electronic games.

This program enhances skills in problem-solving, social interaction, logic and strategy, memory and concentration, deduction and analysis, math and language abilities, and more.

Learn to Soar at Trapeze School New York

Exterior of Trapeze School New York
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The owners of Trapeze School New York founded it in 2001, inspired by the grace and power of the flying trapeze to inspire people.

The school’s local branch on Capitol Hill was a big hit from its first week forward.

It continues to make people feel at home in a setting where they can learn the thrill, artistry, and beauty of the aerial arts.

First time flyers practicing at Trapeze School New York
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The flying trapeze is a fantastic tool to propel anyone’s health and wellness, teaching timing, trust, relaxation, body conditioning, and body awareness.

Other tools that strengthen and coordinate the body are the static trapeze, trampoline, silks, and acrobatics.

From their very first session, students learn and build their abilities, and soon they collect an arsenal of basic skills and challenging tricks.

Clients of the trapeze school have spoken glowingly of improvements in their self-esteem, moods, strength, sleep patterns, focus, weight loss, and patience.

First time flyers practicing at Trapeze School New York
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See the Spectacle of the U.S. Marine Barracks Parade

Every Friday night from May to August, the President’s Own U.S Marine Band and the U.S. Marine marching units give a patriotic performance of music and precision marching.

Known as the Evening Parade, this performance has become an all-around symbol of discipline, professionalism, and the Esprit de corps – the pride, loyalty, and fellowship of the U.S. Marines.

In 1934, Col. Emile P. Moses and Maj. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. envisioned a poised parade against the backdrop of the splendid, old-fashioned Barracks bordered by graceful trees and picturesque buildings.

With the Marines’ penchant for showmanship, a dose of imagination, and the Barracks’ grand setting, they conceptualized the Parade to show the Marines’ ceremonial abilities and musical grandeur of the U.S. Marine Band.

The Marine Band had, of course, already achieved international renown under the ‘March King’ and premier military band leader, John Philip Sousa.

The Evening Parade has since become a singular patriotic tradition that represents almost two centuries of American heritage.

Dive into Naval History at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy

This museum, established in 1961 and opened to the masses in 1963, summarizes U.S. naval history.

Here, exhibitions both temporary and permanent celebrate the Navy’s unforgettable heroes and wartime battles and its peacetime outreaches in navigation, diplomacy, exploration, and humanitarian service.

The place offers display and interactive exhibits, models, fine art, documents, and more.

Its exhibits include a space capsule, a decommissioned destroyer, sub periscopes, undersea destroyers, and model ships.

It contains remarkable artifacts such as Trieste, the world’s deepest dive submersible, the USS Constitution’s fighting-top, and former Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s old khaki uniform.

The Navy Art Gallery displays military artists’ creative works, and special events throughout the year feature workshops, storytelling, demonstrations, and musical performances.

Other galleries showcase the Navy’s role in the World Wars; their exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic; their navigation devices like quadrants, compasses, and sextants; and their histories during the Revolutionary, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars.

Final Thoughts

Capitol Hill is a place of dignity, patriotism, culture, and education in the heart of the United States capital.  

If you need guidance into throngs of explorers and knowledge-seekers, bring this list to seek the notable things to achieve.

This destination opens to the center of the country’s democratic heart, and you will embody principles and history like never before at Capitol Hill.

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