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There's more to D.C. than government buildings and museums (though those are pretty great, too). The capital is home to some of the country's best restaurants, bars, and attractions. If you're looking for a weekend getaway or a place to visit on your next vacation, here are some of the hottest spots to check out in Washington, D.C.
Top 10 Attractions & Things To Do in Washington D.C.
While there are endless things to see and do in D.C., these are some of the top attractions you won't want to miss.
1. National Mall and Memorial Parks
The National Mall in Washington, D.C., is home to many iconic landmarks and tourist destinations. The Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial are located on or near the mall, and the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial was dedicated in 2014. Several festivals and celebrations are held on the mall throughout the year, including the Independence Day fireworks display and the Smithsonian American Folk Life Festival. You can also find various food options from different regions of the country at the Smithsonian Kite Festival in late March or early April.
2. The White House
In the heart of the nation's capital lies the White House, the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States. Since 1800, every U.S. president has called it home, with the exception of George Washington. The current structure was built in 1818 by architect James Hoban after the original was destroyed by fire during the War of 1812. Visitors can tour the interior of the building, including the East Room, Blue Room, Green Room, Red Room, and State Dining Room, but must obtain tickets through their congressional office or embassy in advance. The free White House Visitor Center nearby offers a chance to learn more about the history of the White House and see items belonging to past presidents. Interactive exhibits, videos, and furniture give insight into what it's like to live in the presidential residence.
3. United States Capitol
This iconic structure is the seat of the House of Representatives and Senate and features a huge dome that is based on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The building has been expanded over the years, with the last addition being made in 1962. The interior is adorned with paintings, frescoes, and reliefs, including a large painting of scenes from American history in the rotunda under the dome. Visitors can take free tours of the Capitol, which must be reserved in advance and explore the ornate paintings on the walls and ceilings of the corridors in the Senate wing.
4. Washington National Cathedral
The National Cathedral, which took 83 years to build and is one of the largest in the world, features Gothic architecture and construction. Visitors can explore the cathedral's many art details, from stained glass windows to embroidered kneelers, by taking a special tour. The cathedral is also the burial place for President Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller and has hosted state funerals for Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, and Ford. The central tower is the highest point in Washington.
5. Lincoln Memorial
This is one of the most famous and well-loved monuments in Washington, D.C. The Lincoln Memorial is a 19-foot marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln surrounded by 36 columns, one for each state that existed at the time of his death. The monument also includes murals on the inside walls, showing important events in Lincoln's life. It is a popular spot for tourists to visit, especially at night when the monument is lit up. Many historical events have taken place here, such as Marian Anderson's open-air concert in 1939 and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I had a dream" speech in 1963.
6. Jefferson Memorial
With its design based on the Roman Pantheon, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Washington, D.C. The monument features a 19-foot statue of a standing Jefferson, as well as engravings of excerpts from the Declaration of Independence and other writings. The surrounding Tidal Pool reflects the monument on its surface and is surrounded by cherry trees, which bloom each spring and are celebrated with the Cherry Blossom Festival. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial reflects twelve years of American history through four outdoor rooms, each devoted to one of FDR's terms of office.
7. Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is a familiar sight on the National Mall and is a beautiful sight, especially when mirrored in the Reflecting Pool. The construction of the obelisk was not smooth, and it was not completed until 1885. However, the tower is 156 feet high, and visitors can take an elevator to the top for aerial views over the mall and much of Washington. The base of the monument is also surrounded by 50 American flags.
8. National Air and Space Museum
It is one of the world's most popular museums with a collection of history-making air and spacecraft. The original 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the first plane to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, are present here. In addition, there is the Apollo 11 command module, part of the first manned lunar landing mission. The exhibitions illustrate topics such as the use of air power in both world wars, the space race, flight pioneers, and up-to-the-minute flight and space technology.
The museum has many exhibits that are interactive, containing actual historical objects. These exhibits illustrate the history, as well as the how and why of flight and space science. There is also an Albert Einstein Planetarium, an IMAX theatre, and the Public Observatory. The museum is also the home of the Udvar-Hazy Center, which has even more historic aircraft and space exploration artifacts. You can watch from observation walkways through the hangars where experts are restoring historic aircraft.
9. National Museum of Natural History
This museum is a great place to take kids because it has both permanent and changing exhibits. Some of the most popular exhibits include the Hope Diamond and the impressive collection of gems and minerals surrounding it, as well as Ocean Hall with its beautiful underwater photography and replica of a 45-foot North Atlantic Right Whale.
You can learn about human evolution at the Hall of Human Origins. This museum is filled with exhibits that follow human evolution over six million years. There are also dinosaur exhibits and an interactive Discovery Room where kids can touch and play with different artifacts.
10. National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History is one of the most popular of the Smithsonian's many museums that line the mall. It traces the political, cultural, scientific, and technological history of the United States since the Revolution. With important pieces of Americana on display, such as Thomas Jefferson's desk and one of Edison's light bulbs, the museum inspires patriotism and a love of country. Francis Scott Key was even inspired to write the words to "The Star Spangled Banner" after seeing the original flag that is also on display.
The museum features exhibits on various aspects of American history, including the nation's founding documents, presidential artifacts, and everyday items from different periods. There are also exhibits on how people lived, worked, played, and worshiped during different eras. The museum has something for everyone, with exhibits ranging from First Ladies' gowns to Judy Garland's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Visitors can learn about American history in a fun and interactive way at this top Washington D.C. attraction.
Top 6 Day Trip Ideas from Washington D.C.
Now that you've visited some of the best places in Washington D.C., it's time to explore beyond the city limits! Here are our top 5 ideas for day trips from Washington D.C.:
1. Mount Vernon & Old Town Alexandria Day Trip
The Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria Day Trip is a guided tour of George Washington's home, Mount Vernon. You'll explore the mansion, gardens, farms, and other buildings that show what colonial life was like on the grand estate. The tour also includes a bus trip through Old Town Alexandria to see several key historical attractions, including places that George Washington visited in his day. This is a great way to learn about the life of the first president of the United States.
The Spirited Tours company offers designated drivers and guided tours of Virginia's wineries for customers pickup from Washington D.C. Customers can expect wine tastings at two different wineries, lunch ( available for purchase separately), beautiful views of the countryside, behind-the-scenes tour and tastings, as well as history bits and snacks provided by the company. The company offers services on Saturdays based on demand, and customers have the option of joining a public group tour or requesting a private tour. The company's mission is to provide a safe, memorable, and fun day for its customers.
3. Private Black History Tour This is the only tour that takes you INSIDE the home of Frederick Douglass. This is a PRIVATE tour experience with your very own personal guide. Your admission to the museum is taken care of as well. You just show up, and we take care of the rest. The tour will visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Frederick Douglass House (tour inside), Lincoln Park, Howard University, Howard Theater, Ben's Chili Bowl Mural, African American Civil War Memorial, and the African American History and Culture Museum. Lunch at the museum is not included with the tour. Link: https://www.viator.com/en-IN/tours/Washington-DC/Black-History-Tour-Washington-DC/d657-67327P13?mcid=56757 4. Gettysburg Historic Day Tour The Gettysburg Historic Day Tour is a great way to learn about the Battle of Gettysburg and the history behind it. The tour begins in Washington D.C., where you will explore Gettysburg's National Military Park. You will then visit Gettysburg Downtown, where you can learn more about the battle and its impact on the United States. Finally, you will return to Washington D.C. This is a great way to learn about American history and the Civil War. Link: https://www.viator.com/en-IN/tours/Washington-DC/Washington-D-C-to-Gettysburg-PA-Historic-1-Day-Tour/d657-132218P182?mcid=56757 5. Luray Caverns and Shenandoah Skyline Drive The tour will start with a visit to the Luray Caverns, where you can experience the cold air rushing out of a limestone sinkhole. You will then take a look at the beautiful scenic views of Skyline Drive from atop a big hill west of Luray. After that, you will explore the amazing Shenandoah National Park and all that it has to offer. The tour will end with a one-day visit to Shenandoah National Park, where you can experience the beautiful scenery and take an easy walk on one of the trails among the mountains. This tour is perfect for those who want to explore the natural beauty of Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas. Link: https://www.viator.com/en-IN/tours/Washington-DC/2-Day-Hershey-Adventure-Aquarium-Cherry-Blossom-New-York-Departur-CB2B/d657-132218P156?mcid=56757 6. Colonial Williamsburg Private Tour The Historic Triangle in Virginia is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about Colonial America. The area is made up of three towns - Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown - which are all living representations of life in Colonial America. You can visit each town and learn about the different aspects of life during that time. For example, in Jamestown, you can learn about the first permanent English settlement in North America and see the reconstructed Glasshouse from 1608. In Williamsburg, you can take a guided walk through a living history museum. And in Yorktown, you can visit the battlefield where General George Washington led the Continental Army to victory during the Revolutionary War. Link: https://www.viator.com/en-IN/tours/Washington-DC/Colonial-Williamsburg-Private-Tour/d657-6349P52?mcid=56757 Top 3 Hotels To Stay in Washington D.C. This year, make sure your vacation is everything you hoped for by choosing one of these top hotels in Washington, D.C. 1. Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC With its upscale decor and modern amenities, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC, is one of the hottest spots to visit in the city. The hotel is conveniently located near many of the city's top attractions, including the White House and the National Mall. Guests can enjoy a variety of dining options on-site, as well as a fitness center, spa, and indoor pool. Link: https://us.trip.com/hotels/washington-dc-hotel-detail-2360839/four-seasons-hotel-awashington-dc/?checkin=2022-07-04&city=26363&module=list&link=button&from_page=list&adult=1&checkout=2022-07-05 2. Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington DC The Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington D.C. is a great place to stay if you're visiting the city. It's conveniently located near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and Metro Center station, and it's also close to the National Mall. The suites are comfortable and come with all the amenities you need, such as a flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi, and a coffee maker. You can also upgrade to a suite with an extra bedroom or conference table. Other hotel amenities include cooked-to-order breakfast, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a fitness center. Parking is available for an additional fee. Link: https://us.trip.com/m/hotels/detail?hotelId=2194011&checkIn=2022-06-26&checkOut=2022-06-27&adult=1&children=0&types=&crn=1&travelpurpose=0&UniqueKey=&hasAidInUrl=1&roomKey=108093087_2_0_108093087__0_&cityId=26363&listScene=4&fromMeta=1&edmHotelData=&subChannel= 3. citizenM Washington DC hotel The citizensM Washington DC hotel is a trendy, modern hotel located near some of the most popular attractions in Washington D.C. The rooms are sleek and stylish with colorful accents, and they come equipped with flat-screen TVs and soundproof windows. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant and bar, as well as a meeting space for events. Breakfast is available for guests. Link: https://www.trip.com/hotels/washington-dc-hotel-detail-56856805/citizenm-washington-dc-capitol/ Top 5 Places To Eat in Washington DC Some of the best places to eat in Washington D.C. are: 1. Estadio The Estadio is a popular tapas restaurant in Washington D.C. known for its traditional Spanish snacks. The menu offers a variety of shareable dishes, including cheeses and meats, pintxos with anchovies, olives, and chorizo, fresh figs stuffed with cheese and wrapped in jamon, and croquetas in mushroom or jamon. Vintage World Cup soccer games play on TVs over the bar, and the restaurant also offers "slushitos," boozy frozen slushies that change flavors to suit the season. Guests can also order wine out of a glass porron, a traditional Spanish wine spout that can be challenging to use but is great fun. Address: 1520 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, United States Phone: +1 202-319-1404 Visit their website for more information at http://estadio-dc.com/ 2. The Dabney This restaurant is popular because of its chef, Jeremiah Langhorne. The menu changes constantly, but some examples of what you might find are fancified foie gras biscuits or fried Chesapeake sugar toads (aka tiny pufferfish) with buttermilk dressing and hot honey. The skillet cornbread is also a must-try. You'll definitely want to come here if you're looking for a unique and memorable dining experience. Address: 122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States Phone: +1 202-450-1015 Visit their website for more information at http://thedabney.com/ 3. Thip Khao Restaurant Thip Khao is a well-known Lao restaurant in Washington D.C. that is known for its spicy food. The dishes are full of flavors from fermented fish sauce, chiles, and other spices. Some popular items on the menu include crispy tamarind glazed wings, grilled pork shoulder with lemongrass, and a fiery Lao papaya salad. The restaurant is open for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout. Address: 3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010, United States Phone: +1 202-387-5426 Visit their website for more information at http://www.thipkhao.com/ 4. Del Mar The husband and wife team of Maria and Fabio Trabocchi have opened a new Spanish tapas restaurant called Del Mar in The Wharf. The restaurant is decorated in a riot of color and patterns, with tiles and plates in bright colors and the staff's uniforms featuring intricate designs. The fish sculpture hanging from the ceiling is also a striking feature. The Trabocchis have spared no expense in creating a beautiful modern Mediterranean interior at Del Mar, and the view of the river from the restaurant is an added bonus. The paellas are a must-try dish; they are made with Bomba rice and are absolutely delicious. Address: 791 Wharf St SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States Phone: +1 202-588-7272 Visit their website for more information at http://www.delmardc.com/ 5. Rose's Luxury Rose's is a popular restaurant in Washington, D.C., that is known for its unique fusion cuisine. The menu features dishes from various culinary traditions, including Southern, Jewish, Japanese, French, and Thai. The restaurant does not take reservations, so there is often a wait to be seated. However, the food is well worth the wait. Some of the most popular dishes at Rose's include the pork and lychee salad, the Southern-style fried chicken, and the apple cider cocktail with brisket-fat-washed moonshine. Address: 717 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States Phone: +1 202-742-3570 Visit their website for more information at https://www.rosesluxury.com/ Washington D.C. is a city that is constantly alive with energy and excitement. There are always new things to see and do, which makes it the perfect tourist destination for people of all ages. Whether you're looking for world-renowned museums and monuments or trendy restaurants and bars, Washington D.C. has something to offer everyone and is a great place to visit any time of year. You're sure to have a great time no matter what you do while you're in the city, but be sure to check out some of these hotspots during your stay.
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