What to do in the U.S. Capital - Washington DC Attractions Guide

Washington DC | Introduction

Washington DC is the capital city of the United States of America, and because it is the capital city, it is directly under the federal government of the United States of America and is not part of any state. As the political center of the United States, it is home to many of the federal government's agencies, and because it was originally planned as a capital city, the overall feel of the city is much more organized than that of neighboring New York City. The city is also not as full of skyscrapers as New York City, as it is the law here that buildings cannot be taller than the Washington Monument.

Most of DC's attractions are centered around the National Mall, which is conveniently located next to the Union Station. Most of the attractions are museums and government offices. For tourists, the area is known for its many free museums and American historical and cultural sites. If you want to see most of the sights plus one or two museums, 2-3 days should be enough. However, DC has many high quality museums, most of which are free to visit. Most museums close around 5pm, so if you're interested in museums, you can't visit them all in a week or two.

Washington DC | Transportation & Accommodations

There are three airports in the area, the closest to downtown are Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dulles International Airport (IAD). DCA is a 10-minute Uber or cab ride away, and the Blue Line is 25 minutes away, but flights are less frequent, while IAD is a 30-minute drive from downtown, and an hour away if you take the subway.

There are not many places in the city that tourists need to worry about, because there are a lot of sightseeing spots, and most of them are within walking distance from each other. It is recommended to arrange accommodation near the National Square. If you want to go farther away from the National Square because of the budget, you should try to choose a place near the subway station, and take the subway to Smithsonian Station to get to the National Square. The subway ticket is using SmarTrip system, which now also supports Apple Pay and Google Pay, and it is very convenient to add virtual tickets on your phone, the instructions can be found here. the official website.

Looking for a price comparison on accommodation in Washington DC?

Washington DC | City Attractions

The main attractions are centered around the National Mall, which is a 3-kilometer-long plaza stretching from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. The National Mall is flanked by many important U.S. national monuments and museums, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery of Art, to name a few. It is also the site of important events such as Fourth of July celebrations and the National Washington Cherry Blossom Festival. Most visitors spend at least one or two days in this area. The area also passes through several museums and is home to a high concentration of attractions.

The surrounding green areas, especially the lake, are a good choice for outdoor trekking as cherry blossoms bloom in spring and autumn maples can be seen in the fall.

Attractions | White House

The White House is the official residence and office of the President of the United States. If you watch the news often, you must have seen it, and it can be said to be a symbol of the United States! After 9/11, visits to the White House had to be arranged in advance through the State Senate by appointment, so if you are interested in visiting the interior of the White House, you must make arrangements early, and if you don't have an appointment, you can only take pictures in the square in front of the White House. This square is called Lafayette Square, but you have to be careful to follow the rules.

Attractions | United States Capitol

The easternmost side of the National Mall begins at the Capitol Building, the home of the U.S. Congress. Built in 1793 in the neoclassical style, the Capitol houses the House of Representatives and the Senate, and you can enter the building by appointment.

Washington DC, Washington D.C. 22

Attractions | Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is the most famous monument in the United States. Built in 1848, it honors the memory of George Washington, the first president of the United States. The monument itself is a 555-foot stone tower. The monument itself is a 555-foot-high stone tower made of more than 8,000 stones, making it the tallest stone building in the United States. Visitors can climb up to the observation deck above, which is the tallest building in Washington, D.C. No other building in the city can exceed its height.

Attractions | National World War II Memorial Plaza

The World War II Memorial Plaza, dedicated in 2004, commemorates the American soldiers who died in World War II. There are 56 granite pillars in the plaza, each representing a participating country. In the center of the plaza, a map is engraved on the bottom of the pool, indicating the global scope of the war.

Attractions | Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Memorial honors the fallen soldiers of the Vietnam War. The memorial is a giant black marble wall with 58,000 names of American soldiers engraved on the wall, and the pillars on either end represent the beginning and end of the war.

Attractions | Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is a memorial to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, built in 1922. The architectural style of the building is based on the Greek Temple, with a 19-foot tall bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln on the front, flanked by 38 upright white marble columns, as there were only 38 states in the United States at the time. President Lincoln holds a very important place in the history of the United States, which is evident in the magnificence of this memorial. Inside, there is a marble wall with quotes and speeches by Abraham Lincoln.

The front of the Lincoln Memorial also offers the best view on the National Mall, looking east from the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument.

Attractions | Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War, fought from 1950-1953, was one of the most significant U.S. wars overseas, along with the Vietnam War. The Korean War Memorial, completed in 1995, includes 19 statues of soldiers representing the contributions of all three branches of the armed forces during the Korean War. Surrounded by a triangular plaza, the names of more than 25,000 soldiers are inscribed on the walls.

Attractions | Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was a pioneer of the American Civil Rights Movement, leading the Black American affirmative action movement and advocating non-violent protest and equal values. The Martin Luther King Jr. Monument is carved out of a massive piece of granite and stands 28 feet tall.

Attractions | Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson was one of the founding fathers of the United States, the fourth president of the United States, and a key figure in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, and is therefore considered to have made a particularly outstanding contribution to democracy and freedom. The Jefferson Memorial is located on the other side of the lake from the Washington Monument.

Attractions | President Roosevelt Memorial Hall

Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. The Memorial Museum showcases the life of President Roosevelt and his leadership of the New Deal. Roosevelt is very important in U.S. history. He was one of the longest-serving and most influential presidents in U.S. history, serving as president for 12 years, leading the U.S. out of the Great Depression and World War II, and representing the U.S. Democratic Party.

Attractions | Smithsonian Castle

The exterior of the Smithsonian Castle is particularly eye-catching, as it is one of the few Italian Renaissance buildings on the National Mall. In fact, it is the headquarters of the Smithsonian Institution. The main building is made of brick, and the interior is actually very luxurious.

Museum | National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is one of the world's most recognized art museums, with many important art collections, including the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the United States, and a large collection of Impressionist and Picasso works. It is a rare opportunity to see these famous works of art, which greatly enhances the level of art appreciation. The National Gallery is a work of art in its own right, with its classical style of architecture, and is a must-see attraction.

Washington DC, Washington D.C. 60

Museum | National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History features exhibits related to the history of life and natural history, such as dinosaurs, fossilized animals, gemstone exhibits, and much more, and is so extensive that you can easily spend more than four hours there. There are many complete fossilized dinosaur specimens here, which are very valuable. There are so many themed exhibits that it would take more than a day to see them all.

Museum | Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum, also part of the Smithsonian Institution, is one of the world's most renowned aerospace museums, featuring collections related to aviation, space exploration and space science. The extensive collection includes aircraft, capsules, rockets, satellites, space probes, and many other exhibits. Among the most iconic exhibits are the original Wright Brothers' flying machine, the Apollo 11 lunar module, the Space Shuttle launcher and the aerial refueling tanker, which provide a close-up look at some of the world's most famous flying machines and space capsules.

Museums | National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Museum of African American History and Culture explores the history and culture of African Americans in the U.S. Exhibits include those related to slavery, segregation, the civil rights movement, and black art. The museum's exterior is unique in its design, with the architects using a large number of black and copper-colored metal materials to represent African American skin and the freedom chain.

Washington DC, Washington D.C. 88

Museum | Newseum (Closed)

NewseumUnlike other prominent museums in downtown DC, specializes in the history and importance of journalism, journalism and press freedom. Because the Newseum is not part of the free Smithsonia Museum Series, there is a fee to enter. Compared to other museums, the newseum's exhibits are well thought out and informative.

(Note: The News Museum has ceased operations in 2019.)

Dining & Leisure | The Wharf

The Wharf is located along the Potomac River southwest of the National Mall, not far from the main attractions. In the past, the main attraction was the Wharf's fish market, which sold fresh seafood and was crowded with customers. The area has been rebuilt since 2017 and is now a newer destination with many new restaurants and cafes, music and shopping.

If you like seafood, you can still come to the fish market at the pier. Although the outlook has changed after 2019, the fresh fish is still here, especially the blue crab from Maryland, which is a specialty here, and it is large in quantity and cheap, so don't miss it if you like to eat crab.

Nearby Attractions | Great Falls Park

If you're in the mood for nature and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while, take a walk through Great Falls Park, a nature preserve in the suburbs, located at the headwaters of the Potomac River, famous for its waterfalls.

Thank you for visiting our website.

All the content on this site is original and shared with the purpose of providing valuable information. We sustain the operation of this site through a small amount of advertising and sponsored links. If you click on links to third-party merchants on our site and make purchases, we may receive a portion of the sales as a commission. If you click on links to third-party merchants on our site and make purchases, we may receive a portion of the sales as a commission.

Find more posts on a map Here.

My recommended resources for hotel bookings.

My recommended resources for activity bookings.
Recommended travel credit card for US-based travelers
Travel with just a backpack!
Buy me a coffee and support my contents!

If you are interested in quoting this article or using any part of its content and images on your website or publication, please contact us via email to request permission.