As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. offers a diverse list of things to do when you visit. Every day, from street to street and wall to wall, there are tourists combing the area. They traverse from great eateries to grand museums. There is so much to see and do in Washington, D.C.
Outside of the long-established D.C. attractions, like touring the monuments, the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian museums, visitors and locals alike can enjoy nightlife scenes, boat tours, arts, history, blended culture and fresh food.
Tour the City of Washington, D.C.
Imagine strolling the streets and partaking of fresh produce from the farmer's markets. Then you move on to examine any of the modern exhibits. After you have had your fill of history, you move on over to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Later that evening, you also venture out and take one of the many shows at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Not to mention, you come back during springtime to see the lovely sights created by the thousands of pink cherry blossoms. This is what thousands of people do every day. Not that you have to as well because there is so much this city has to offer.
Some of the top 20 things to do in Washington, D.C. include:
- Lincoln Memorial
- The Tidal Basin
- Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute
- Washington National Cathedral
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
- Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
- Old Town Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with Arlington National Cemetery
- Elegant Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey Washington
- Segway Tour of National Mall & Memorials
- Madame Tussauds Washington
- The White House and the Washington Monument
- National World War II Memorial
- U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress
- Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials
- National Gallery of Art
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
- National Archives Museum
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
This national site is rated number one in Washington, D.C., so it is a must-see. In recent times, many people prefer to come out after dark. They say it is a more exciting experience to see the landmark lit during the night. Especially in the summer months when the evening temperature is ideal.
There are no limitations to taking in Honest Abe. You can go there 24 hours a day for free.
However, the Lincoln Memorial monument is staffed only “by National Parks Service rangers from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. You'll find the memorial situated at the western end of the National Mall, which can be reached by walking from the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro station or taking the DC Circulator's National Mall bus.”
The Tidal Basin FREE
Have you ever considered walking around this man-made inlet? It is very big. You can effortlessly observe the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and The Thomas Jefferson Memorial down the two-mile Tidal Basin Loop Trail.
Whether you go during the day or night, in the summer, it is made even more gorgeous with the sultry pink cherry blossom trees.
There is also the opportunity to rent paddleboats and have a relaxing or romantic excursion on the water.
Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute
It is free to visit and observe the over 1500 species of animals at this zoo. These include baby pandas, sea lions, monkeys, lions, tigers, bears, great apes and Asian elephants. There is also an Orangutan Transport System (called the O Line).
They are located at 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 and the facility is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 7 in the evenings. You can even access food vendors, shops and a visitor center.
“The easiest (and most affordable) way to reach the Smithsonian's National Zoo – which sits in Woodley Park, a D.C. neighborhood found about 2 miles north of downtown – is to take the Metro's Red Line to Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station or Cleveland Park station. Visitors can also drive and park at the zoo, but space is limited and a flat fee of $22 applies.”
Make sure to check out one of their newest additions, a baby Western Lowland Gorilla Born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute “at 6:25 p.m. April 15 and is named Moke [Mo-KEY], which means “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language. The parents — 15-year-old mother Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka — bred in summer 2017 following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP).”
Washington National Cathedral FREE
“Stained-glass windows, Gothic spires and flying buttresses make the Washington National Cathedral look ages old, but the grand church was actually constructed during the 20th century. Though overseen by the Episcopal Church, the house of worship welcomes people of all faiths to its impressive site on the highest point in DC.”
If you are interested in visiting this inspiring location then consider catching a musical performance or church service. These are free of cost. Services are held on Sundays. However, the concerts go on during the week starting at 5:30 p.m. but it is not kept on Fridays.
At other times, you are required to pay a fee.
- Adults - $12.00
- Children ages 5 to 17 - $8.00
- Kids 4 and under - free
Monday through Saturday, at 10:15 a.m. the guided tours begin. Visit their Washington National Cathedral site for any changes to their schedule.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
This memorial to the late Martin Luther King, Jr. is right along the Tidal Basin. It is featured along with other well-known monuments in the National Mall and Memorial Parks. You can find it by traveling along the intersection of Independence Ave and West Basin Drive SW in Washington, D.C.
However, keep in mind, parking is not easily accessible within close proximity. However, the closest metro stop is at the Smithsonian.
“Private paid parking garages and lots can be found downtown north of the National Mall. Free on-street parking is generally restricted to two hours (ticketing/towing enforced). The limited free day-long parking is available along Ohio Drive SW which is along the Potomac River south of the Lincoln Memorial or in Lots A, B & C south of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.”
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
Explore for free, the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The purpose of the museum is to showcase “powerful moments in African American history, culture and community.” It is the only museum of its kind for such a purpose.
“It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.”
When you make your list of things to do in Washington, D.C., make sure to add this momentous landmark to your list. You can find it at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW on the National Mall.
“Admission to the museum is free but has been in extremely high demand since the facility opened its doors. Timed passes are required to enter. Same-day passes (up to four) are available online beginning at 6:30 a.m. until they run out, while walk-up passes (one per person) are available at 1 p.m. on weekdays. Advance timed entry passes are released monthly.”
Old Town Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with Arlington National Cemetery
For under $50 on a one-day loop, you can tour the capital on a trolley and see many sites. Because there are many trolleys going around the city, you can hop-on-hop-off. Spend as much time at one particular site as you would like.
On the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour, you can “stroll past the Smithsonian and capture photos of the Washington Monument from the National Mall, wave to the president from the gates of the White House, or catch Honest Abe's gaze at the Lincoln Memorial. From there, hop on the Red Route trolley to cross over the Potomac River and reach Arlington National Cemetery, where you can explore even further on trolleys that roll by the Pentagon and John F. Kennedy's Gravesite.”
Blue Route trolleys go past the following sites:
- Washington Welcome Center
- Jefferson Memorial
- Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
- National Archives
- US Capitol
- Lincoln Memorial
- The White House
- FDR Memorial
- The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- Arlington National Cemetery (via Red Route Trolley)
Red Route trolleys go past the following sites:
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Lincoln Memorial
Old Town Trolley has been in business for over 30 years and they assure their riders 100% satisfaction guaranteed. If you are staying at a hotel close by, they organize pickups as well.
Elegant Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey Washington
Take pleasure in every extraordinary minute on board the wonderful, glass-enclosed Odyssey. While you are enjoying the ride in the Potomac River, you will see the Lincoln Memorial, Georgetown waterfront and Jefferson Memorial. All this while enjoying a magnificent chic dinner.
Tickets cost $109.90 during the week and $127.90 on weekends. When you come on board the Odyssey, you will get:
- “Guaranteed table for your party size”
- “Curated music selection by Odyssey's live band”
- “Unlimited coffee, hot tea, iced tea and water”
- “A three-course plated dinner”
- “A 2-3 hour cruise on the Potomac River”
Segway Tour of National Mall & Memorials
You can enjoy more than 7 Washington, D.C. national treasures on Segway. Just think about zooming through the city safely and get to more spots in a shorter amount of time. Traffic and parking spots are not an issue. All you have to do is gear up, take in a 30-minute orientation session and you and your guide are on your way.
While on your Segway Tour of National Mall & Memorials, “In a mere 3 hours, take in the sights of such historic landmarks as the Washington Monument and the White House. At the Lincoln Memorial, stop for a short break and a chance to climb the 58 steps to the chamber. Marvel at the statue created from marble and limestone mined from 5 different US states.
Take a moment of silence as you pass by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the solemn-faced Three Soldiers statue looks across the grass to the more than 58,000 names engraved on the Memorial Wall.”
Ticket prices start at $75.00 on Expedia and you can be off from as early as 10 a.m. plus there are multiple tours scheduled throughout the day. There is no better way to get a quick, intimate experience of American history in the District of Columbia. “Just press a button, lean forward, and go.”
Don’t Forget to Visit Madame Tussauds Washington
Would you like to meet some of the top actors in Hollywood? Or what about the 45 US Presidents? Do you prefer sports personalities?
Well, you can meet them all at Madame Tussauds in Washington, D.C..
The gallery boasts over 100 wax-like figures and you can partake of any number of activities while you are there. “Millions and millions of people have flocked through the doors of Madame Tussauds since they first opened over 200 years ago. “The Washington, D.C. location opened in 2007.
Each location “remains just as popular as it ever was. There are many reasons for this enduring success, but at the heart of it all is good old-fashioned curiosity.”
Their general open hours are between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Madame Tussauds tickets vary in price from $19 upwards. However, there are great deals online for access to cheap tickets.