Washington, D.C., is the capital and the ultimate center of America. Founded after the American Revolution in 1790, it’s now home to the United States government and the President. It’s home to most Smithsonian Museums, the largest botanical garden and zoo in the country, and the world’s biggest library. It has a unique position and is separate from its neighboring states Virginia and Maryland.
Despite an intense focus on the country’s rich history and culture, Washington D.C. is anything but dull. Along with museums and research centers, you’ll find world-famous restaurants and diners where American Presidents enjoyed their lunches. To spice up the mix, add extraordinary attractions like the O Street Museum and Madame Tussauds and great entertainment like the Nationals Park. And if you want to have some peace and quiet, D.C. has that too. Visit, for example, U.S. Arboretum or have a cup of coffee at the lovely Washington Harbour.
Interactive Map of 50 Things to Do in Washington (DC)
1. National Mall
National Mall is the world-famous landmark of America and should be a starting place for exploring the city. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the U.S. society, culture, and history. National Mall is a 2-mile long and 0.3-mile wide landscaped park located in the heart of the downtown. The area stretches from the U.S. Capitol Building through the Lincoln Memorial and is called America’s front yard.
National Mall is the U.S. most-visited park, which attracts about 24 million visitors every year. It’s home to most Smithsonian museums, galleries, and many statues and sculptures honoring historically essential people. Take a stroll around the iconic Reflecting Pool, take a ride on the famous carousel, and soak in all the area’s historic atmosphere. When you’re tired of sightseeing and in need of a change of scenery, use one of the picnic areas, softball or rugby fields, volleyball courts, or have a bite from one of the food trucks situated there.
2. Lincoln Memorial
You can find the iconic Lincoln Memorial, built to honor the 16th President of the U.S., in the National Mall’s western end. It’s a site cherished by many because of its significance for the nation’s history. Illuminated in the Reflecting Pool, thirty-six beautiful Colorado marble columns and the building’s stunning architecture will amaze you. You can give your respects to Abraham Lincoln and get to know his Gettysburg Address speech.
Today, visitors are lucky to experience the memorial that took more than 50 years to plan, approve, design, and build. The site is open 24 hours a day and is best to visit at night rather than during the day, with hundreds of tourists on the spot. If you’re into peculiar things, try to search for a spelling mistake in the President’s speech. The statue’s massive size is a perfect ingredient for creative pictures, and the whole monument will please both history and architecture lovers.
3. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum is a must-see location for science, space, and air travel enthusiasts. Established in 1946 and opened to the public in 1976, this museum and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center attract about eight million visitors each year. It’s the fifth most-visited museum in the world and the second most-visited in the U.S. The museum’s two vast floors offer exhibits about air and space travel, science, and technology behind it. Displayed there are aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, and other exciting artifacts.
Visit the IMAX theatre located in the museum to see an out-of-this-world movie, or buy a NASA spacesuit and many space-themed gifts in the museum’s gift shop. After that, explore the hands-on exhibits and see the Apollo 11, the Friendship 7 capsule, the Bell X-1, the Enterprise from Star Trek, and many more. The cool thing about this museum is that many displays are originals or the aircraft’s original back-up.
4. World War II Memorial
This 7.4-acre memorial, designed as a park and opened in 2004, is a remarkable place. The memorial commemorates 16 million people who served in the armed forces or as civilians to America and the whole world. It’s a place to read the names of people who sacrificed their lives to restore freedom and end the tyranny of that time. If you’re into it, there are park rangers on the spot and interpretive programs available, which will help you learn more about the history and significance of the place.
When visiting this gorgeous memorial, you’ll find a lovely square with an impressive fountain in the middle. The fountain, surrounded by 56 granite columns and two 43-feet tall triumphal arches, looks exceptionally splendid at night. There are two walls on each side where you can see the war scenes displayed on the bronze relief. More than 5 million people come here each year.
5. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Opened in 1910 as one of the first Smithsonian buildings, the National Museum of Natural History is now the world’s 11th most-visited museum. Open every day except Christmas, and with free admission, this museum will dazzle any visitor with its immense size and an impressive natural history collection. The museum is 1.5 million square feet, out of which 325 000 square feet are exhibitions and public spaces. The museum is home to more than 1000 employees and 185 scientists.
This museum, also a scene for the Night at the Museum movie, offers many things to see and explore and will spark your curiosity. You’ll have the chance to discover more than 145 million kinds of plants, fossils, rocks, animals, and even human remains and cultural artifacts. Check out the famous T-Rex and the Hope Diamond exhibit with a 45.52-carat diamond. Let some butterflies sit on you in the Butterfly Pavilion or make your own scientific discovery in the Q?rius, the museum’s education lab.
6. Washington Monument
As you know France by the Eiffel Tower or India by the Taj Mahal, you will recognize Washington D.C. by its iconic Washington Monument, an obelisk at the National Mall built to commemorate George Washington. Over 555 feet tall and made mostly of marble and granite, the monument used to be the tallest building in the world. Now it still holds the title of the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk. It’s a true American marvel that took more than 23 years to build due to the lack of funds and war events, among other reasons.
In September 2019, the monument reopened after years of renovations and now offers a modernized elevator and a much more secure experience. Take that elevator to the monument’s observation deck to get a view of the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Arlington National Cemetery, and more. Make sure to book your tickets in advance for a pleasant real-life experience, as the pictures of the monument don’t do justice.
7. Smithsonian National Zoological Park
The National Zoo is a 163-acre park located in the heart of the city. This site is one of the two campuses, with the second one located in Front Royal, Virginia. It’s a world-class zoo, one of the oldest in the U.S., and a global research and conservation center, which attracts more than two million visitors every year. Since its founding in 1889, the Zoo’s purpose has been to offer exciting and engaging experiences with the animals while educating visitors about wildlife and its preservation. Get your camera ready, and enjoy about 2,700 animals of 390 different species, out of which 25 percent are endangered.
The Zoo is best known for its giant pandas (Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, mainly). Don’t worry if they’re hiding when you come to visit – you can still watch them through the live panda cam. You’ll also encounter lions, great apes, giraffes, tigers, elephants, and many more animals. It helps to get the National Zoo map to plan your route. There’s also the Kid’s Farm, where young visitors can meet American farm animals. If you visit during the season, prepare yourself for a different experience at the Halloween Boo at the Zoo or the holiday ZooLights shows.
8. National Museum of African American History and Culture
The African American History and Culture Museum is a part of the Smithsonian Institution museums, but it’s very different from others and very unique in many aspects. Established in 2003, the museum didn’t open to the public until 2016 as it took years to construct it and bring together its fantastic collection. After its opening, the museum hosted more than a million visitors in four months, which broke all other Smithsonian museums’ records.
If you want to learn about American history through the African American perspective, visit this museum as it has the most extensive African-American history and culture collection. There are 40 000 items with 3 000 on display. You’ll see exhibitions covering slavery, the Civil Rights movement, arts and music, athletics, family heritage, and ordinary daily life. Visitors can enjoy the displays through very personal stories and stunning historical memorabilia. The building’s architecture, designed by David Adjaye, is interconnected and reflects the museum’s significant meaning.
9. The White House
No visit to Washington D.C. can go without taking a peek at The White House, an official office and residence of the U.S. President, and home to every American President since 1800. Designed by architect James Hoban and constructed between 1792 and 1800, the building has undergone a few more reconstructions since then. Today the White House is home to the Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and a guest residence – Blair House. The whole mansion has six floors, 132 rooms, and 35 bathrooms.
If you want to tour the insides of the White House, make an appointment in advance as it’s not easy to get inside without prior planning. International travelers have to contact the embassy to request a tour. But if you do get on one, you’ll either experience The East Wing, which is where the President lives, or the West Wing, where all the business happens. However, there are also plenty of opportunities to see it from the outside. The best views are from Pennsylvania Avenue NW at Lafayette Square or the South Lawn from the Ellipse.
10. National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art, established in 1937 and located within the National Mall, is one of the top three art museums in the U.S. The museum’s always open to the public, and admission is free, too! There’s also the 6.1-acre Sculpture Garden attached to the building, and it’s one of the loveliest outdoor spaces in the city. In the wintertime, the garden has an ice skating rink. The museum’s pretty modern and consists of East and West buildings, connected by the moving underground walkway lighted by thousands of LED lights.
Inside, you can indulge in jaw-dropping art exhibitions and enjoy a collection of 141 000 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and decorative elements. They all represent the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages until today. Seek out museum gems, such as the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and others. Make sure to visit the Gallery Shop to buy some souvenirs. Check the museum’s website for special programs, lectures, films, and even family activities.
11. Smithsonian National Museum of American History
If you’re looking for a so-called “one-stop-shop” and the most comprehensive place to learn about the American past, present, and future, head out to the National Museum of American History. The museum, located within the National Mall, opened in 1964. It reflects on the American heritage in terms of social, cultural, scientific, political, and military history. Visiting this museum will help visitors better understand America as a nation.
The museum’s collection features more than three million artifacts, with each exhibit offering an entirely different experience. Check out the original Star-Spangled Banner, George Washington’s war uniform, Dorothy’s slippers from The Wizard of Oz, the hat worn by Abraham Lincoln on the day of his assassination. There are many things to see – from food and automobiles to innovations to American Presidents and the First Ladies. On your way out, stop by in the gift shop to get Julia Child’s books or even socks with Ruth Bader Ginsburg on them.
12. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
As an official U.S. memorial to the Holocaust and internationally acclaimed museum, this place offers beautiful, somewhat scary, and eye-opening experiences to its visitors. The primary purpose of the museum, built in 1993, is to present the Holocaust history to help eliminate hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity in today’s society. The exhibits are well-prepared by the museum’s staff, among which about 90 are actual Holocaust survivors.
The collection includes thousands of artifacts, archival documents and footage, photographs, library items, and even a list of the registered survivors and their families. The Library itself offers more than 25 000 publications and 50 journal subscriptions, all to help visitors get a look into the horrors of the past. Some of the exhibits, such as the Prisoner Shoe or the children’s artwork, are very educational and emotional.
13. Nationals Park
The Nationals Park is the ultimate place to go for an amazing baseball game experience. Located in the Navy Yard neighborhood, it’s the home ballpark for the Washington Nationals team. With more than 40 000 seats, the park will inspire and excite its visitors with the united baseball fans’ vibe. If you choose the seats on the upper decks on the first base side of the field, you can see the U.S. Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.
On non-game days, if you want to get behind-the-scenes of the stadium and learn more about the local team, you can take a guided tour. You’ll get to check out the PNC Diamond Club and the Delta Sky360 Club, the stadium’s luxury suite, The Press Box, and even throw a pitch in the Nationals Bullpen. The park is a lovely place to visit, with cherry trees blossoming in spring and lots of delicious food options nearby to enjoy before or after the game.
14. United States Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden, located next to the U.S. Capitol Building, is a refreshing place to get away and take a break from the restless city. The garden is open every day of the year, even on holidays, and hosts over a million visitors each year. Established in 1820 and working since 1837, it’s the oldest in America. Today it’s home to 4000 living plant species with lots of educational opportunities created to teach its visitors about the importance of plants in our lives and the ecology of our planet.
The cool feature of this botanical garden is that you can experience various climates in several greenhouses on the spot. Thanks to the intricate indoor greenery techniques, visitors can enjoy gorgeous flowers, trees, and other plants from the jungle and the desert, as well as the regional Mid-Atlantic greenery. Many of the species displayed are rare or endangered. Like the butterfly garden or a rose garden dedicated to the First Ladies, some of the exhibitions have a specific purpose. There’s a Season Greenings show with a magical train display and D.C. monuments recreated from plants during the Christmas holidays.
15. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Commonly referred to as the Kennedy Center or the REACH, this place is a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, located on the beautiful Potomac River. Named after the President in 1964, the institution opened to the public in 1971. The building is well-designed and represents a tribute to the President in many ways. Thirty-five ginkgo trees reflect upon Kennedy’s role as the 35th President of America. The reflecting pool and the landscape deck are the same sizes as Kennedy’s World War II boat.
The building’s pavilions offer magnificent views of the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Potomac River. For easy access to the center from the Rock Creek Trail and Georgetown, use a pedestrian bridge. Today the center is home to many genres and forms of performance art like theatre, ballet, jazz, opera, symphony, and comedy. The center’s goal is to make arts accessible for everyone, so there are guided tours of the building and occasional free performances.
16. Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf
Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf, located on Maine Avenue on the Potomac River, has been operating since 1805 and is the oldest market of such kind in the U.S. Loved by locals and underestimated by tourists, this open-air seafood market is a must-visit landmark.
Open daily; this market has the freshest seafood available in a wide variety – fish, shrimp, crabs, oysters, clams, and more. You can also buy excellent local seasoning to take home with you. If you’d like to explore the pier and the Wharf area of Washington D.C., head out to this market, get your selected seafood cooked on the spot, and have a delicious takeout lunch or dinner with the views of the bay.
17. International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum is a perfect location to visit if you want to feel like a secret agent yourself or learn about espionage history from ancient times till today. Opened in 2002 by Milton Maltz, a former code-breaker during the Korean War, the museum has the most extensive collection of international espionage artifacts.
It is stunningly interactive and amusing for all ages, as it offers personal and hands-on experience from the start. Everyone gets their own Undercover Mission at the entrance and then goes through various kiosks with historic photographs, interactive displays, film, and video. Through interactive fun, visitors learn about science and technology used in spycraft, torture, and secret surveillance.
18. Georgetown Cupcake
To try something different and sweet, visit the famous Washington D.C. bakery called Georgetown Cupcake. Opened in 2008 by Katherine Berman and Sophie LaMontagne, this family-run cupcake shop has since been a favorite of locals and tourists. You may find yourself in a small queue when you arrive, but the delicious treats are worth the wait.
It doesn’t matter when you come to visit, as each day they offer about thirty different flavors, including traditional ones like chocolate or red velvet, as well as seasonal flavors. This place’s cupcakes were on national TV, and The Washington Post made an article proving that they are the best cupcakery in town.
19. National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery, built in 1962 and opened to the public two years later, is a historic art museum that focuses on America’s development through people who made an impact on it. You can find the gallery in the Smithsonian American Art Museum building, which used to be the U.S. Patent Office.
Visitors can enjoy paintings, photos, and sculptures of famous politicians, celebrities, scientists, athletes, and many other individuals who played a crucial part in the history of the U.S. The collection is very robust and includes portraits of important people from the first contact with Native Americans until today. The best feature is the exhibit with America’s Presidents, as it’s the only complete collection outside of the White House.
20. Union Market
For an ultimate gastronomic experience, it’s worth visiting the Union Market. Reopened in 2012 and located in the industrial and fashionable NoMa neighborhood, it’s a popular destination for restaurants and nightlife and has something for everyone.
The place is home to more than 40 vendors that offer delicious food and produce from different world regions and shops where you can buy kitchenware, cookbooks, seasoning, and even accessories and crafts from local artists. You can have an incredible top-notch meal at a great value. After that, head out to a small movie theater or an ice cream shop located within the complex.
21. Museum of the Bible
The Museum of the Bible is one of the most elaborated, modern, and progressive museums in Washington D.C. Established as a non-profit organization in 2012, the site opened to the public in 2017 and is a unique place to learn about the history, narrative forms, and an influence of the Bible. The museum building is genuinely majestic as visitors will observe beautiful design on each corner – 40-feet bronze doors at the entrance, the lobby with a digital display on the ceiling, and a marbled staircase.
The 430 000-square-foot museum has 11 galleries with 1150 items displayed, a 75-seat movie theater and a 500-seat performance theater, and lots of interactive tables you can touch. One of the most prominent exhibits is the Bible in America, reflecting on the Bible’s influence on America. There’s an area for kids called the Courageous Pages, a restaurant with kosher food, and a small cafe called Milk & Honey, ideal for a quick cup of coffee.
22. Old Ebbitt Grill
The historic restaurant and bar, The Old Ebbitt Grill, is a very authentic place with a long and exciting history. Opened in 1856 by William E. Ebbitt, this restaurant took on many forms and moved to different locations a few times. Being the oldest saloon in Washington D.C., the restaurant has had its share of famous politicians (including many of America’s presidents), military heroes, and celebrities.
Today at this restaurant and bar, you can enjoy a distinct atmosphere surrounded by many antiques and memorabilia. The food is one of the best in town, and the restaurant’s famous for its Raw Bar with delicious oysters, clams, shrimp, and lobster, as well as a sophisticated selection of wines.
23. Thomas Jefferson Memorial
A world-famous Thomas Jefferson Memorial, located in the West Potomac Park on the Potomac River, is a beautiful memorial surrounded by the Tidal Basin and cherry blossom trees. Built between 1939 and 1943 by a personal request and under the sponsorship of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it’s an important site for America’s history.
The memorial was designed by John Russell Pope in 1925 and served to depict Jefferson’s many accomplishments for the country. Today you’ll find there a 19-foot bronze statue of Jefferson, added only in 1947, and a beautiful rotunda-like pavilion with words carved on the walls and taken out of the Declaration of Independence and other Jefferson’s texts.
24. Ford’s Theatre
Like many D.C. sites, the Ford’s Theatre has a significant historical meaning. It serves as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln. Opened in 1863, two years later, it became the site of the President’s assassination. The theater and the Peterson House (where Lincoln died) represent the Ford Theatre National Historic Site.
Today it is a working theatre that also serves as a historical monument and a world-class museum. The best way to explore it is through a guided tour, where you can see the box where the President got shot, the stage that his assassin used, and even the room where he died (located in The Petersen House). This historic attraction will entertain and impress all visitors, young and old.
25. Georgetown Waterfront Park
Finalized in 2011, the Georgetown Waterfront Park is the newest D.C. park that spreads a relaxed vibe, much different from the city’s hectic pace. This 10-acre park stretches along the Potomac River, and one of its main features is the path that goes along the river’s natural curve. Today, despite its industrial past, it’s a casual place suitable for strolling, jogging, biking, paddling, kayaking, yoga, or picnics.
It has an interactive fountain active in the summer, some design elements like the river stairs, and a marvelous view of the surroundings. There are good places to eat and drink with a vista of the river, beautiful Key Bridge, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the Kennedy Center. If visiting this park in the summer, there’s a high chance of catching a live music performance or an outdoor cinema.
26. National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian located on the National Mall is one of the three museums of the American Indian. It opened in 2004 and is the first American museum dedicated exclusively to Native Americans, the indigenous peoples’ culture and history.
The museum has exhibitions representing a massive collection of Native American memorabilia, artifacts, photographs, films, and videos. This collection is one of the largest worldwide and represents more than 12 000 years of history of more than 1200 indigenous cultures. The five-story building, designed entirely by Native Americans, has curving surfaces for walls and an outdoor landscape reflecting the museum’s theme. There’s an interactive exhibit for children and the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe with five stations serving various regional foods.
27. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial covers a 4-acre area and stands in the West Potomac Park. Accessible to the public since 2011, the memorial has been a tribute to one of the most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and Nobel Peace Prize winner. It’s a shrine to freedom, opportunity, and justice.
To enter this powerful memorial, visitors go through two big pieces of pink granite, called The Mountain of Despair. Then there’s the Stone of Hope, a 30-foot granite statue of Dr. King, who was the first African American and the fourth non-President honored in this way. A 450-foot long Inscription Wall surrounds the statue with quotes from Dr. King’s speeches. Stroll around the memorial and get inspired.
28. United States Capitol
One of D.C.’s most famous attractions, the United States Capitol, is a symbolic building with a rich history and breathtaking architecture. Despite a few rough moments in the process, the building opened in 1800. Today the Capitol Building is a meeting place for Congress and the legislative branch of the government. It is also where the Presidential inauguration takes place.
There are public tours of this center of American democracy, and there’s even a chance to see the Congress at work in the Senate and House galleries. To do so, international visitors will have to get a special pass by presenting their passport on the spot and making a reservation upfront.
29. Washington National Cathedral
Charming and elegant, the Washington National Cathedral is an American cathedral of the Episcopal Church and the third-largest church in America. The church’s design consists of Neo-gothic and English Gothic styles with 215 stained-glass windows that look magnificent in the sun. The construction started in 1907 and finished only in 1990. The building, however, was damaged in 2011 after an earthquake hit the city.
Over 270,000 visitors come here annually to see where state funerals and memorial services were held for American presidents. In this cathedral, Martin Luther King Jr. had his last Sunday speech as the reverend. The church is the fourth-tallest building in D.C. and has a beautiful Bishop’s Garden with herbs and roses. You can see the church’s interior for free through services or musical performances, or you can take a guided tour packed with interesting historical facts.
30. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, dedicated in 1997 by Bill Clinton, is unique. It takes about 7.5-acre space and is the largest memorial of such kind in the area. Dedicated to America’s longest-serving President, the memorial demonstrates twelve years of United States History, including the Great Depression and World War II. The monument’s designers made it highly accessible to people with disabilities.
The memorial itself consists of four outdoor spaces that represent each of the President’s terms. Many water elements displayed also have a specific meaning. Other than Roosevelt’s statue, there’s a bronze statue of Eleanor Roosevelt and their dog Fala. There are scenes of the Great Depression displayed, as well as the President’s famous quotes.
31. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens is an experience of true elegance and luxury. This decorative arts museum opened in 1977 in the former Georgian-style residence of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Marjorie was a businesswoman, a philanthropist, and an art collector who lived an impeccable lifestyle, now displayed in the museum. The collection has many unusual features but focuses mainly on Russian art and the House of Romanov (Fabergé eggs including), 18th and 19th-century French art. Visitors can also enjoy a personal fashion collection and jewelry of Ms. Post.
The museum’s exterior is delightful, too, as it has about 25 acres of gardens and woodlands, including a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and a greenhouse with the country’s finest collection of orchids. Take a stroll on the museum’s vast territory, and later on enjoy a quick bite in the local café. They serve croissants, gourmet sandwiches, and elegant drinks like frosé.
32. U.S. National Arboretum
Grab some food for a picnic and become one with nature in the U.S. National Arboretum, a 446-acre oasis within the busy city. Since its establishment in 1927, it’s been a center for botanical research of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has gardens and many plant collections, all displayed to conserve the plants and show the importance of their preservation. The arboretum is unique each season and will impress you with its varied looks.
More than half a million people travel to this outdoor museum each year, and it’s genuinely worth it. One of the most iconic features is the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, with fabulous miniature Japanese and Chinese trees, each with its history (for instance, an ancient pine from Hiroshima). The other notable element is the 22 Corinthian National Capitol Columns that relocated here long after the Capitol Building’s construction finished in 1828.
33. Hirshhorn Museum
Although a part of the Smithsonian Institution, Hirshhorn Museum is very different from the others. Opened during the 1960s with an art collection by Joseph H. Hirshhorn, today, it offers more than 12 000 art pieces. They include paintings, sculptures, and photographs, all focused on contemporary and modern art.
The art displayed here is mostly of the post-World War II period. It’s very intricate, unique, and, most importantly, innovative. Many artworks in the museum push the boundaries of modern art and its understanding. The building itself is an interesting design, and there’s a 1.3-acre outside Sculpture Garden featuring art by Auguste Rodin and Yoko Ono. Since the recent museum’s innovation, visitors can enjoy a beautiful coffee bar which serves delicious coffee & gelato.
34. Eastern Market
To feel like a D.C. local, every tourist should visit Eastern Market, located in the old-fashioned Capitol Hill neighborhood in a classic 19th-century building. Reopened in 2009 and featured in a few movies, the Eastern Market is a real treat to any tourist or local. It offers excellent fresh and locally produced food and drinks, all of which you can sample and enjoy on the spot.
On the weekends, the market offers a delicious breakfast (make sure to try the buckwheat blueberry pancakes or the nova bagels!). You can also visit for lunch to try some of the best soups or dumplings in town, and enjoy a bit of live music. But one of the most famous events here is the Flea Market, which hosts about 100 vendors from all over the country. There you’ll find plenty of arts and crafts from painters, sculptors, fashion designers, photographers, and more.
35. United States Marine Corps War Memorial
When traveling to Washington D.C., take a quick stop at this world-famous Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as Iwo Jima Memorial. Dedicated in 1954 to all the Marines who sacrificed their lives for America, the memorial is inspired by an iconic photograph of six U.S. Marines raising their flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima, taken by Joe Rosenthal.
The memorial stands in the Arlington Ridge Park on a 100-feet hill above the Potomac River. Thanks to its location, it offers a gorgeous view of the city. If visiting on a Tuesday in the summertime, you might catch a free hour-long concert called Sunset Parades and performed by the U.S. Marine Corps band.
36. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Christian church in North America. The basilica is home to more than eighty chapels and has enjoyed many prominent religious leaders, including several papal visits. Almost one million people come to the church annually.
This church’s architecture cherishes American traditions but can easily compete with many establishments in Europe and the rest of the world. The interior of America’s Catholic Church features several domes decorated with mosaics reflecting important religious milestones. You can take in all the beauty and greatness of this building by doing a self-guided or a guided tour. There’s also a gift shop, a book store and a cafe for your convenience.
37. National Building Museum
Architecture buffs and anyone inspired by a well-thought design will find joy in visiting the National Building Museum. This enormous family-friendly museum opened in 1980 and focused on architecture, design, construction, and urban planning. The building itself is marvelous and consists of the spacious Great Hall, 75-feet tall columns, and a phenomenal frieze. It’s a perfect example of Renaissance Revival architecture. It also used to be an event space for several presidential inaugural balls.
Called by The Washington Post as the “Best Bet” for families, the museum is an attraction appropriate for all ages. There are exhibits for both young and old, a few interactive play areas, and family festivals throughout the year. The museum’s gift shop is one of the best in the country. You can buy books, toys, and office supplies with a focus on design. You can tour the museum for free, but some specific exhibits require an admission fee.
38. The Washington Harbour
A cool area to take a stroll in D.C. is the Washington Harbour, designed by Arthur C. Moore. It’s a multi-use property with luxury accommodation, office spaces, shops, and restaurants. It consists of two towers and three buildings attached, but the real beauty lies in the lovely views of the Potomac River and the nearby attractions.
This area is quite famous for its waterfront restaurants in the summer. There are multiple places to choose from, including sustainable dining and state-of-the-art seafood. It’s also the spot from where you can take a river cruise on a boat to enjoy the city’s skyline from the water. For visitors during winter, the Washington Harbour Fountain converts into an ice rink.
39. Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum
Conveniently located next to Union Station, the National Postal Museum has a collection of 6 million objects on the history of America’s mail and mail service all over the world. The museum opened in 1993 in a building that used to be the city’s main post office.
Visitors can look forward to many exhibits like the Pony Express, the childhood stamp collection of John Lennon, original mailboxes from other countries, and even Amelia Earhart’s flight suit. There are also cars, planes and a stagecoach used for delivering mail. Get hands-on experience while learning the art of stamp making, or take advantage of the museum’s free postcard service and send a few to your friends or family anywhere in the world.
40. The Pentagon
The world-famous Pentagon, headquarters of America’s Department of Defense and the American military symbol, is on many travelers’ bucket list. Opened in 1943, Pentagon is the largest office building in the world with more than 25,000 employees. The construction is unique and has five sides, five floors above and two floors below the ground.
Those who wish to visit this famous building can take a free tour of the Pentagon that requires an advanced booking (at least two weeks before). It takes an hour and covers about 1,5 miles of the inside. On tour, you can learn a lot about America’s military history, see the memorial at the 9/11 crash site and the Hall of Heroes. Throughout the building, you’ll see many pictures and memorabilia that will enhance your experience.
41. National Geographic Museum
To feel like a world adventurer, visit the National Geographic Museum, an ideal place for visitors of all ages who are curious about our world. The museum’s two galleries offer a few permanent and lots of changing exhibitions with high-tech elements.
Visitors will find remarkable photo collections, sculptures, 3D models, ancient artifacts and memorabilia, and even live animals. Make sure to check out the frogs of different colors and shipwrecks excavated from the ocean. The museum tells the story of many prominent scientists, photographers, historians, and explorers. Look for the library that has every tour guide series by National Geographic on display.
42. Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is worth a visit because of its meaning and its impressive size. The Cemetery, established during the Civil War, occupies a 624-acre area equal to the size of 472 football fields. Many visitors come to this memorial to pay respects to more than 400 000 military veterans buried there.
The Cemetery is home to the Arlington House, a former residence of Robert E. Lee and Mary Curtis Lee, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At this Cemetery, visitors can find the graves of many well-known people like President Kennedy and his family, President Taft, and Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
43. National Museum of Women in the Arts
The purpose of the National Museum of Women in the Arts is significant and unique. Opened in 1987, it’s the only museum in the world that focuses exclusively on celebrating women in arts. Since its founding, the museum has been changing the traditional perspective of art history and helping visitors discover underestimated female artists.
The museum has an interesting location – an almost 79,000 square feet former Masonic Temple in Renaissance Revival style, where women weren’t welcome in the past. Today it has four floors containing more than 4 500 paintings, sculptures, and other art forms from the 16th century until today.
44. Ben’s Chili Bowl
Locals, tourists, and even celebrities swear by Ben’s Chili Bowl, a landmark Washington D.C. diner-style restaurant. Considered an institution, this historic diner located next to Lincoln Theatre, is a must-do experience. Since its opening in 1958 by Ben Ali, a Trinidad-born immigrant, many celebrities have visited the restaurant, including President Barack Obama.
Despite being so famous, it’s quite affordable and is best known for its chili hot dogs, half-smokes, and tasty milkshakes. Praised and loved by many, it’s worth trying their chili cheese fries, burgers, and salad bowls. If you’re lucky, you might meet the family who runs the place behind the counter of Ben’s Chili Bowl original location – U Street. Take some time to take a look around the diner with pictures and memorabilia on its walls.
45. Smithsonian American Art Museum
Get lost in the Smithsonian American Art Museum‘s astonishing art collections, and its branch museum called the Renwick Gallery. What makes it different from any other art museum is one of the world’s largest inclusive collections of art made in America. It represents more than 7000 artists, many of whom are women and people of color.
Located in the Old Patent Office Building, the museum offers exhibitions on Folk art, Latino and African American art, and the most extensive collection of New Deal art. All of the exhibits stress the richness of American art and culture from the colonial period until the modern-day. There’s a beautiful covered courtyard where visitors can rest, a gift store, and a bookstore with a cafe.
46. The Mansion on O & O Street Museum
Any tourist who’s into wonderfully strange and quirky places should visit the O Mansion and its museum. The O Mansion is a luxury boutique hotel known for its unconventional interior design. Visitors can explore 100 secret rooms, 70 hidden passages, and many peculiar memorabilia. There are also rooms where all of the things are for sale.
Except for the museum, the hotel has guest rooms, a private social club, and a conference center. Frequent clients of the hotel are often Presidents, ambassadors, CEOs of big companies, artists, writers, and musicians, for whom the staff ensures absolute privacy. The tour starts with a short film and a drink. Make sure to take a peek at the log cabin and the wine cellar.
47. Madame Tussauds Washington DC
If you’ve ever wanted to visit one of Madame Tussauds museums, the Washington D.C. location opened in 2007 is ideal. Like any other, this museum has wax sculptures of many famous people from culture, music, cinema, TV, and sports. But in D.C., one of the museum’s notable features is the President Gallery with wax sculptures of all U.S. Presidents.
The other galleries presented here – the Civil Rights Room, the Glamour Room, the Media Room, the Sports Gallery – are all very engaging and interactive experiences. Behind the Scenes Room teaches its visitors about the history of Madame Tussauds and the wax figures making process. Some of the exhibits, like Uncle Sam, focus on America’s great history.
48. National Archives Museum
Travel back in time and dive deep into America’s history at the National Archives Museum, which opened to the public in 1935. This museum can’t be mistaken for another dull venue, as it is highly interactive and offers entertaining hands-on experiences through computer terminals, listening booths, and video displays. One of the galleries has a 17-foot touch screen with information on America’s most significant values. Adults will enjoy a documentary at the William G. McGowan Theater, while younger visitors can check out the Boeing Learning Center.
Home to more than three billion records in total, the museum’s main attraction are original copies of the three documents that shaped the United States as we know it today – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Other exhibits include surviving copies of the Magna Carta and the Emancipation Proclamation. There are also photographs and historically significant memorabilia available throughout the site.
49. Library of Congress
Sometimes overlooked by tourists, the Library of Congress is an absolute must-see site in Washington D.C. It’s a research library for Congress and the national library of America. It has more than 164 million items available in 450 languages. It’s one of the world’s largest libraries and is based in three buildings on Capitol Hill.
The most famous is the Thomas Jefferson Building, which treats its visitors to an unbelievable interior design and is home to many books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and films. It also has many exciting displays, like an exhibition that covers the story of the land before Columbus, or Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the world, known as the first map to feature the word “America.”
50. Le Diplomate
If looking for something different from the traditional American dishes, make sure to make a reservation at Le Diplomate. It’s an iconic French restaurant that promotes French cafe culture. The name may sound daunting, but the place is very welcoming, with fresh ingredients and large food portions.
At Le Diplomate, a lively, busy place, visitors will find excellent food like French omelets, duck, steak, fish, and other seafood. The restaurant serves all meals with delicious French bread and butter. When visiting, enjoy a variety of delicious wines and a curated cocktail menu. One of the best features is the creme brûlée, a must-try French dessert.