Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.
Louis Velazquez, Unsplash
February 9
Written by Carlos Rivera

Discover the best things to do in Washington, D.C. and enjoy an unforgettable trip. Explore historical sites, fascinating museums, and beautiful parks in the capital of the United States.

Stepping into the city of power and history - Washington, D.C. is like turning the pages of a real-time history book. From grand government buildings, iconic monuments to culturally rich museums, the charm of this city is beyond words. There's always something that will match your curiosity.

If you're wondering 'what to see in Washington, D.C.', you're asking the wrong question. It should be – 'How much of Washington, D.C. can I see in one visit?'. Such is the abundance of beauty and history in this bustling metropolis.

A Washington, D.C. guide would take you to its heart, revealing the must-visit spots and unanticipated gems at the same time. Whether you want to explore the legacy of America's journey or you're just listing down the 'things to do in Washington, D.C.', this city is a treasure trove of experiences!

1. National Mall

Historical Monuments and Architecture
a person standing on a dock
National Mall / Ian Hutchinson, Unsplash

The National Mall is one of the top tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. Located in the heart of the city, this expansive public space is home to numerous monuments and historic events.

Known as the "Nation's Front Yard", the National Mall is home to iconic monuments such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the WWII Memorial. These impressive landmarks commemorate important figures in American history and are visited by thousands of tourists each year.

Within the National Mall, you can also find world-renowned museums such as the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of American Art. These museums house exceptional collections that showcase the culture, history, and science of the United States.

2. Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington, D.C.

Museums and Art Galleries
a large metal rocket on display in front of a building
Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington, D.C. / Sara Cottle, Unsplash

The Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington, D.C. are a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts. With an impressive range of options, these museums offer educational and entertaining experiences for all visitors.

From the National Museum of American History to the National Air and Space Museum, each of these museums houses an incredible collection of historical and cultural artifacts that will transport you to different eras and places. Through interactive exhibits, you can explore the history of the United States and the world in a fascinating way.

In addition to their permanent exhibitions, the Smithsonian Institution also offers temporary exhibits and special events that further enrich the visitor's experience. Discover the history of humanity, marvel at impressive scientific and technological advancements, and appreciate art from different eras and cultures in these renowned museums.

3. United States Capitol

Historical Monuments and Architecture
Capitol Hill
United States Capitol / Caleb Perez, Unsplash

The United States Capitol is a historic and political symbol of Washington, D.C. This impressive building houses the United States Congress and is one of the most visited destinations in the city. With its majestic architecture and rich history, the Capitol is a must-see for those visiting the nation's capital.

The Capitol is located atop a hill, surrounded by beautiful gardens and panoramic views of the city. Its neoclassical design and grand architectural details make it a true national treasure. In addition to being a legislative center, the building houses an impressive collection of art and exhibits that depict American history and culture.

Furthermore, the Capitol has witnessed historic events and important ceremonies. From presidential speeches to inaugurations, this iconic building has been the backdrop for some of the most significant moments in U.S. history. When visiting the Capitol, tourists have the opportunity to explore its halls and rooms filled with history and immerse themselves in the political heart of the nation.

4. White House

Historical Monuments and Architecture
a large white building with a fountain in front of it
White House / Ellis Dieperink, Unsplash

Explore the White House in Washington, D.C.

The White House, located on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, is one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in the United States. It serves as the official residence and primary workplace of the President, as well as a historical and cultural landmark in the capital.

Known for its neoclassical architecture and distinctive white facade, the White House is a symbol of American democracy and a must-visit for any tourist looking to explore the rich history of Washington, D.C.

Built in the 18th century, the White House has witnessed pivotal moments in U.S. history and has hosted numerous presidents and their families. Touring its rooms and gardens is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the politics and culture of this country.

5. Georgetown

Historical Monuments and Architecture
an aerial view of a city and a bridge
Georgetown / Jonathan Dick, OSFS, Unsplash

Georgetown, one of the most iconic neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., offers a unique blend of history, architecture, and charm. Located on the banks of the Potomac River, Georgetown is known for its cobbled streets, colonial houses, and exclusive shops.

One of Georgetown's main attractions is the famous C&O Canal, where visitors can enjoy boat rides and take in the beautiful river and surroundings. The canal also houses numerous restaurants and shops, making it a perfect spot to relax and enjoy.

In addition to its architectural and scenic beauty, Georgetown is also home to the prestigious Georgetown University, a world-renowned academic institution that has made a significant impact on the city's history.

6. Adams Morgan

Food and Markets

Adams Morgan is a lively neighborhood located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Surrounded by historic buildings and just minutes away from downtown, it is a must-visit destination for food, music, and shopping enthusiasts.

This area is known for its wide variety of ethnic restaurants, where you can taste dishes from all over the world. From authentic Mexican cuisine to Thai delights, Adams Morgan has something for everyone.

In the evenings, the neighborhood comes alive with bars offering live music. You can enjoy jazz, rock, or Latin music concerts while sipping on innovative and signature cocktails. Fun is guaranteed!

7. Washington Monument

Historical Monuments and Architecture
brown concrete tower under blue sky
Washington Monument / Andy He, Unsplash

Things to do in Washington, D.C.

One of the standout attractions is the Washington Monument. Located on the National Mall, this majestic marble obelisk pays tribute to the first President of the United States, George Washington. It is one of the tallest monuments in the world and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city from its top.

The impressive architectural design

The Washington Monument was designed in the neoclassical style, inspired by ancient Egyptian architecture. Standing at over 160 meters tall, its presence dominates the city's skyline. Inside, visitors can learn more about George Washington's life and legacy through interactive exhibits and informative panels.

A symbol of national unity

The Washington Monument is much more than a monumental sculpture. It represents the fundamental values of the United States, such as freedom, independence, and the entrepreneurial spirit. It is a gathering place for citizens and a testament to the country's history and greatness.

8. Lincoln Memorial

Historical Monuments and Architecture
white concrete gazebo near body of water
Lincoln Memorial / Andy Feliciotti, Unsplash

The Lincoln Memorial is an impressive monument located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Built in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, this historic site attracts millions of visitors each year.

The memorial features a statue of Lincoln seated in the center, surrounded by Doric columns and engravings of Lincoln's famous speeches on the walls. It is a place worthy of admiration and respect, highlighting its historical significance.

You can't miss this important tourist attraction when visiting Washington, D.C. and discover the fascinating history of Abraham Lincoln and his legacy in the United States.

9. Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Historical Monuments and Architecture
a black and white photo of people walking in a park
Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. / Kirt Morris, Unsplash

Visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. and discover one of the most poignant sites in the city. This memorial commemorates the American soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. You will find a black granite wall inscribed with the names of over 58,000 fallen soldiers.

The Vietnam War Memorial is a must-visit in Washington, D.C. It is located on the eastern end of the National Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial, and provides a quiet and solemn space for reflection and remembrance.

As you approach the memorial, you will see your own images and those of the surrounding visitors reflected on the wall, creating a visually striking effect. It is an emotional and respectful place that will make you reflect on the human cost of war.

10. National Museum of American History

Museums and Art Galleries
a man wearing a hat standing next to a rock
National Museum of American History / NEOM, Unsplash

The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. is a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the city, this fascinating museum houses a vast collection of artifacts related to the country's history.

At the National Museum of American History, you can marvel at exhibitions that span from the earliest settlers of America to the most significant events in recent history. Discover how the nation was formed and how it has evolved throughout the centuries.

Additionally, the museum features interactive and multimedia displays, as well as special events that allow you to immerse yourself in the history of the United States in a unique way. If you're passionate about history, you can't miss the National Museum of American History on your next trip to Washington, D.C.