Washington DC — Attractions
The National Mall is the center of civic America, and took more than two centuries to finally complete. Here stand some of the country’s most visited museums and most famous monuments, with the White House overlooking it from the north edge. The historic Lafayette Square is close by, home to the Old Executive Office Building. The US Capital Congress is the center of America’s legislature and is filled with monuments. Still, there is plenty more to see in Washington, DC, with the National Zoo, National Cathedral, and Dumbarton Oaks being some of the city’s must-visit attractions.
The residence of the President was built in 1792 for John Adams and has been home to every US president since. It is an icon not only of the city but also of the country and is Washington, DC’s most visited landmark. The West Wing is closed off to the public but the East Wing has been open to the public since Jefferson was in office, though nowadays one needs to make a reservation at least one month in advance to be able to tour the interior of this famous building. Still, the exterior and its surroundings are well worth seeing.
Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
This is made up of 19 DC museums located within the National Mall. All of these museums offer free admission and most are found on the east end. Museums here include the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden and the impressive Smithsonian Castle, among others. The entire area is an attraction in its own right and can take days to explore, while snapping photos of the monuments in between. Monuments found in the Smithsonian include Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the National WWII Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.
Address: Smithsonian Institution, the National Mall
This historical complex is home to the House of Representatives and also home to some impressive sculptures, paintings, and historical exhibits. Tours of the building can be arranged ahead of time, though the Visitors’ Center can be accessed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Address: Capitol Hill
This DC building became famous in 1944 when it hosted the United National charter, though that is not the only reason to visit it. The property houses one of the city’s most beautiful gardens and the mansion itself showcases a remarkable collection of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art. The mansion was built in 1800 for Senator John Calhoun though it was the wealthy family the Blisses that transformed it into the stunning property that it is today.
Address: 1703 32nd St NW, Georgetown
One of the best zoos in the world is home to over 2,000 animals that make up 400 different species. It is extremely large and it is nearly impossible to see everything in one day so it is best to get a map and plan ahead. The pandas and apes draw the biggest crowds, followed by the seals, sea lions, and reptile house. Like many attractions in Washington, DC, the National Zoo offers free admission and is a favorite among families.
Address:__ Fortress 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Upper Northwest
The most famous cathedral should not be overlooked, as it is an amazing Gothic building and is the sixth largest cathedral in the world. This impressive cathedral took 83 years to build and was constructed using 150,000 tons of stone.
Address: 3001 Wisconsin Ave NW, Upper Northwest
International Spy Museum
This is one of DC’s newest attractions and is popular among locals and visitors. It is fantastic for anyone interested in the Cold War and espionage, and has an area geared specifically to children. Inside visitors will find the largest collection of espionage artifacts to ever be displayed for the public’s eye and it offers educational programs for families and adults. Visit its shop to purchase some cool gadgets, books, and souvenirs.
Address: 800 F St NW, East End
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
This United States National Historic Park can be found on the Potomac River Valley and stretches for a total of 184.5 miles. The DC park is filled with towpaths that are ideal for walking, jogging, and biking, and a number of restaurants and shops can be found that open up right onto it. It is a beautiful place to enjoy an afternoon stroll while spotting frogs, salamanders, beaver, and deer along the way. Mule-drawn canal boat rides are available through the locks from the Georgetown Visitor Center.
Address: Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Georgetown Visitor Center, 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street