If you have an idea to visit Washington, we’ll tell you the most attractive places in Washington, D.C., and the most interesting things you can do there. President George Washington appointed Pierre-Charles L’Enfant to design the city. Pennsylvania Avenue which connects the White House and the Capitol Building (two iconic buildings in Washington) is the most important area here. Both the Capitol and the White House are accessible to visitors. There are many dozens of other tourist attractions such as world-class museums and important monuments. The best times to visit Washington are autumn and spring. Because summer in Washington can be hot. Then, let’s start our tour of Washington.
1. The Capitol Building
Capitol Building is the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is a symbol of the United States and stands out above all other Washington buildings. There are many things to see inside the building. For example frescoes, reliefs, paintings, and the Rotunda. You can also see a ceiling painting by Constantino Brumidi and large paintings of scenes from American history on the walls. The rotunda is the former Chamber of the House of Representatives. There are statues of leading historical figures as well.
The small Senate Rotunda leads into the Old Senate Chamber. It is the place where the Senate met until 1859, and the Supreme Court until 1935. You can reserve a free tour online that begins at the visitor center on the lower floor. There is an interesting exhibition on the building’s history on the first floor. You can see the ornate paintings on the walls and ceilings of the corridors in the Senate wing designed by Brumidi between 1857 and 1859 by taking tours on weekday afternoons.
If you want to see Senate or House in session, you need to contact your Representative or Senator for a pass. You can arrange visits through the visitor center if you are a foreigner. The Supreme Court Building, the Library of Congress, and Folger Shakespeare Library, which houses the largest collection of William Shakespeare’s printed works in the world, are all located to the east of the Capitol.
2. Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial was separated from the Washington Monument by the Reflecting Pool. There is a 19-foot marble statue of a seated and pensive President Abraham Lincoln at its center. It is surrounded by 36 columns and each column represents the state that existed at the time of Lincoln’s death. The Lincoln Memorial was designed by Daniel Chester French and there are paintings on the inside walls painted by Jules Guerin. Those paintings show important events in Lincoln’s life.
The Memorial was created in 1922. Since then it has been the scene of several historic events. For example, in 1939 African American singer Marian Anderson perform an open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The concert is supposed to be held in the nearby Constitution Hall. But all-white Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to let the singer perform. Therefore President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arranged the concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 75,000 people attended the concert and broadcast it to millions of radio listeners.
Another historical incident is Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream…” speech, delivered in 1963. The Lincoln Memorial and other Mall monuments are one of the most attractive places in Washington. It is open 24 hours. The area makes an amazing view at night. The statue of Lincoln is especially powerful and lit at night.
3. Veterans Memorials and National Mall
The large area of green space between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Monument is made up of lawns and swimming pools home to many of Washington’s landmark buildings and monuments. The Washington Monument is the most visible building its main focus, and there are memorials to veterans of World Wars II, Korea, and Vietnam as well.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of Washington’s most visited memorials. The names of all American servicemen and women who lost their lives or are missing have been written on the wall. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is nearby. It has a bronze sculpture of three servicewomen helping a wounded soldier. Another memorial is the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It contains 19 steel sculptures of soldiers. The newest Memorial is the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. It was dedicated in 2014.
Also, there is a park and you have the opportunity to walk run and picnic. The National Mall is a place for celebrations and festivals such as the annual Independence Day celebration, Smithsonian American Folk Life Festival, and Smithsonian Kite Festival. Independence Day celebration was held around the Washington Monument with fireworks. The Smithsonian American Folk Life Festival is held in July. This event takes place with music, crafts, performances, storytelling, food from various regions around the country, and cultural programs. The Smithsonian Kite Festival is held here in late March or early April every year.
- Visit: Between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, Washington, D.C.
4. The White House
The White House is one of the most attractive places in Washington. It is the official residence of the President of the United States. Every president except George Washington, use this building as their residence. The White House was originally built in 1792. It was built by James Hoban. In 1814, the building was burned down by British forces. Later in 1818, it was rebuilt.
If you want to get a tour of the interior, you need to reserve it well in advance through your Congressional office or embassy. Then you can see the interior including the East, Blue, Green, and Red Rooms, the Ballroom, and the State Dining Room. You can visit the free White House Visitor Center located a short distance away.
It has excellent interactive exhibits and you can learn about the White House and the presidential families. The exhibits include a model of the residence, historical changes, furniture of past presidents, and videos with insights from presidents about their time living in the White House. The Ellipse is a 54-acre stretch of lawn stretching to Constitution Avenue. It hosts summer concerts by the US Army Band. 1833 Greek Revival Treasury Building and the 1871 Executive Office Building are located near the White House.
- Visit: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: http://www.nps.gov/whho/index.htm
5. Washington Monument
The 555-foot-tall white shaft of the Washington Monument is a stunning sight, especially when reflected in the large Reflecting Pool at its foot. The obelisk’s construction was not a smooth process in honor of the state’s first president. Congress approved it in 1783. But the ground wasn’t broken until 1848. In 1854, the tower reached 156 feet in height. But the project stopped after several years due to a few reasons. Some of them are political wrangling, lack of funds, and the Civil War.
In 1885, it was finally completed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Three color changes in its facing stones still allow you to trace the different phases of its construction. Aerial views over the mall and much of Washington are available by taking the elevator to the top. A circle of 50 American flags sits at the foot of the monument.
- Visit: 15th & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
6. Air and Space Museum
This museum is one of the world’s most popular museums. As well as it is one of the most attractive places in Washington. The museum has a collection of history-making air and spacecraft. The collection includes the original 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer and Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11 command module. If you visit there, you can learn many things from here such as science, history, and technology of aviation and space flight, covering topics like the space race, flight pioneers, up-to-the-minute flight, space technology, and the
use of air power in both world wars.
Many of the exhibits are interactive and contain actual historical objects. In addition to the exhibits, there is an IMAX theater, named the Albert Einstein Planetarium. If you visit to the Public Observatory, you can examine lunar craters and see planets and other astronomical features through telescopes. Flight simulators allow both kids and adults to fly combat missions with aerial maneuvers. But you will have to pay some additional fee. The museum is also the home of the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, and adjacent to Dulles Airport. It has even more historic aircraft and space exploration artifacts, including a Concorde and the space shuttle Discovery.
- Visit: 600 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: www.nasm.si.edu
7. National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art is one of the world’s premier art museums and one of the most attractive places in Washington. It is housed in two separate buildings connected by a tunnel. It has a large collection that consists of masterpieces of European and American paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. If you visit there, you can see Ginevra de Benci, the only Da Vinci painting in any American museum. Also, the collection consists of artworks by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Rembrandt, El Greco, Vermeer, and more.
The two museums that comprise the National Museum of Asian Art are also a part of the Smithsonian Institution and are situated on the mall. They are the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery has more than 1,000 pieces, principally Chinese jade, and bronze, ancient Near Eastern ceramics, and metalware, Chinese paintings, and lacquerware. The Freer Gallery of Art has about 30,000 pieces of Asian artworks and 19th-century and early 20th-century American artworks. The Asian collection consists of some Buddhist sculptures and Persian manuscripts.
- Visit: 600 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: www.nga.gov
8. Holocaust Memorial Museum
With the combined goals of memorializing the victims and helping the world in overcoming hatred and preventing genocide, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum documents, researches, and interprets the history of the Holocaust. The ghettos, important events, and the rise of the Nazis are all covered in permanent exhibits. A display of Americans and the Holocaust focuses on how the US responded to the Nazis, the war, and the genocide. More than 12,750 artifacts, 9,000 oral history testimonies, 85,000 old photos, archival videos, and records of survivors and their families are all referenced in the presentations.
- Visit: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: https://www.ushmm.org
9. Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library. It is modeled at the Opera House in Paris. You can have free tours to visit the library. The Library of Congress is home to one of the three surviving complete Gutenberg Bibles, an earlier hand-printed Bible, Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, and Jefferson’s library.
- Visit: Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: https://www.aoc.gov/
10. Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is one of the most attractive places in Washington, especially among children in Washington. It explores the natural world with permanent and changing exhibits. Some exhibits include the collection of gems and the renowned Hope Diamond. The Ocean Hall is another highlight of the museum. It has amazing underwater photography and a replica of a 45-foot North Atlantic Right Whale. If you visit to the Hall of Human Origins, you can learn about human evolution over six million years in response to a changing world. The museum has dinosaur exhibits as well. Children can touch and play with various artifacts in the interactive Discovery Room.
- Visit: Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: http://www.si.edu/Museums/natural-history-museum
11. Museum of American History
If you visit the National Museum of American History, you can learn about the political, cultural, scientific, and technological history of the U.S. since the Revolution. There are many national artifacts to see in there. Some of them are Thomas Jefferson’s desk, one of Edison’s light bulbs, and the original flag that inspired Francis Scott. This is a great place to learn about how people lived, what they ate, where they worked, what they wore, how they traveled, how they played, how they worshiped, and many more. Artifacts illustrating these various themes range from gowns, First Ladies’ work, and Julia Child’s entire kitchen to Muppets and the actual ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz movie.
- Visit: 14th Street NW at Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: http://americanhistory.si.edu
12. Zoological Park
The National Zoo is another attractive place in Washington and one of the world’s best Zoos due to the facts that quality visitor experience, and leadership in areas of animal care and sustainability. Nearly 2,000 different animals, birds, and reptiles live there. Giant pandas are the most popular animals here. Other zoo highlights are red pandas, Sumatran tigers, western lowland gorillas, cheetahs, Asian elephants, North Island brown kiwis, and white-naped cranes.
You can see the colorful underwater life of the Amazon in the Amazonia exhibit. If you visit to the Cheetah Conservation Station, you can see not only cheetahs, but also Grevy’s zebras, dama gazelles, vultures, and red river hogs. Elephant Trails are another highlight of the zoo. It let you learn about the elephants’ life at the zoo and in the wild. Before visiting there, check the day’s schedule for feeding times, educational games, talks, and demonstrations.
- Visit: 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
- Official website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu
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Frequently Asked Questions
What has made Washington famous?
Washington is one of the nation’s top producers of plywood and lumber as more than half the state is covered in woods. The mining of precious metals like gold, lead, and aluminum is also well-known in this state.
Which month is ideal for travel to Washington?
Washington is most beautiful between July and September. Unless you’re hiking up into the mountains, summer and early autumn are typically warm enough that you don’t need to wear extra layers.
Are travel costs high to Washington?
If you frequently eat and drink out, Washington may become quite pricey. But, there are plenty of free activities and inexpensive dining alternatives available for those on a limited budget. These are a few ways to cut costs in Washington, D.C. Free entrance to the monuments and museums In Washington, D.C., most of the museums are free.
Does snow fall frequently in Washington?
Up to 200 inches (508 cm) of snow can fall annually in the mountains, making it a winter sports enthusiast’s paradise. Cities like Wenatchee, Ellensburg, and the Tri-Cities enjoy up to 300 days of sunlight annually since little rain falls in the Cascades’ shadow.
Is living in Washington State a good idea?
The Pacific Northwest region of the country, where Washington State is located, is a great place for families, retirees, and young professionals to live. The state of Washington, which has a population of 7.5 million, is most known for its numerous national parks, snow-capped volcanic mountains, and agricultural areas.
Can tourists enjoy Washington?
One of the best attractions in the world can be found in Washington, D.C., and for many people, it is the reason to travel there. You can still have fun in the city even if you are unwilling to visit things like monuments, museums, or other forms of recreational entertainment.