The nation’s capital is home to some of the most important historical buildings in the world, so on a trip to Washington D.C. get set to learn a little about our country’s government and a lot about its history. The most popularly visited attractions in D.C. are located within the National Mall, an appropriately named two-mile stretch of land that encompasses some of the most important government buildings, monuments, and memorials.
While a visit to the many attractions in the National Mall should be top on your list, there are also plenty of interesting sites to visit in other parts of Washington D.C. including Georgetown the location of one of America’s best universities, the National Zoo, the Library of Congress, the infamous Ford’s Theater, and the nearby U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The White House is a landmark that requires no introduction. As the most famous building in the nation and one of the world’s most significant landmarks the White House is many visitors to Washington D.C.’s favorite attractions. The White House is known as the official residence of the sitting president of the United States and his family. The building first underwent construction in 1792 and it was expanded and modernized throughout the years.
Some of the famous rooms in the White House include the President’s office the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, and the White House Situation Room. Visitors can arrange a guided tour of the White House where they can view several rooms and halls and learn about the history of this important building.
This white columned building is a memorial to one of the nation’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln. The monument was built from 1914 to 1922 and has continually been one of D.C.’s top tourist attractions. The building features Greek Doric columns and contains an enormous statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln. The memorial is also known as the famous site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Aside from the widely recognizable White House and Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument is one of D.C.’s most well-known landmarks. The monument is a marble obelisk standing 555 feet tall. It was constructed from 1848 to 1884 in commemoration of President George Washington and up until the construction of the Eifel Tower it was the world’s tallest structure.
Visitors to the monument can ride the elevator to the top after it is reopened following repairs from earthquake damage, but the monument is equally impressive from below. The nearby reflecting pool is a favorite site for photographing the monument and other parts of the National Mall.
The Capitol Building
Just a glimpse of the outside of this famous building is enough to impress anyone. The U.S. Capitol Building, which houses the office of the U.S. Congress, is located atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall, appearing to be the geographic center of the area. Visitors to the Capitol Building will enjoy exploring the visitor center to view education exhibits and learn about the history of the building and its present day importance.
National Zoo & Smithsonian
One of the United States’ oldest zoos is located in Washington D.C. and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The zoo is famously free of charge and is dedicated to providing leadership in zoology. The National Zoo has two separate campuses, one of 163 acres and another of 3,200 acres. Between the two zoos there are more than 2,000 animals representing more than 400 species including more than 50 endangered or threatened species. Some of the zoos most famous inhabitants are the giant pandas, but it also houses reptiles, aquatic animals, small mammals, birds, great apes, big cats, insects, amphibians, and Asian elephants.
The Smithsonian Institution is a collection of national museums that represent some of America’s most prestigious collections of scientific, cultural, and historical artifacts. Of the 19 museums that are designated part of the institution, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum are two of the most famous.
Top Things to Do in Washington D.C.
Library of Congress
This mammoth library is the official research library of the U.S. Congress and the country’s national library, but it is also famously known as the oldest federal cultural institution in America. Besides being important in American history, the library is also considered one of the two largest libraries in the world. Since its construction in 1800 the library has been the site of important events in America and has continued to amass a large collection, which today includes more than 32 million books and print materials.
Some of the library’s most famous holdings include the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and one of only three perfect copies of the Gutenberg Bible.
The historic neighborhood of Georgetown in Washington D.C. is home to Georgetown University and several other landmarks including historic buildings. Historically Georgetown is noted for some of its famous residents including Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key, Alexander Graham Bell, and John F. Kennedy.
Some of the historic landmarks in Georgetown include historic houses, a cemetery, Georgetown University Campus, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
The U.S. official memorial to the Holocaust is one of Washington D.C.’s most visited locations, known for its historical and sentimental value. The museum documents and memorializes the Holocaust and provides a look at how the world has come together to confront hatred and prevent genocide.
The museum’s collection contains more than 12,000 artifacts as well as millions of archival documents and thousands of historical photographs. Also at the museum visitors can view the names of the 200,000 registered survivors and watch archival footage or listen to audio of holocaust survivors. The Hall of Remembrance is the official memorial to the victims and survivors where visitors can light candles and view the eternal flame.
Arlington National Cemetery
Although it’s not technically in Washington D.C. the Arlington National Cemetery is a popular destination for D.C. tourists as it is located just across the river from the capital and easily accessed by the city bus lines. The cemetery is the location of the burial sites of many of America’s war veterans and military casualties from the Civil War through the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Several U.S. Presidents and politicians are also buried at Arlington including Taft and Kennedy and civil rights leader Medger Evers. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and several memorials and monuments are also interesting sites to visit at the cemetery.
Ford’s Theater/ Petersen House
This historic theater is the famous site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Today the theater is used for stage performances and events, but its unique history as the site of many important events has made it a favorite of tourists in D.C. The National Historic Site is made up of the theater and the adjacent Peterson House where the President died. Visitors to the historic site can tour the theater and the house, and visit the museum to learn about each of the building’s histories.
Things to Do in Washington D.C
While most of our nation’s states and cities boast a wide variety of attractions, scenic sights, and plenty of entertainment option, a visit to Washington D.C. is all about America. From touring the White House to sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or visiting one of the many Smithsonian Museums, visiting Washington D.C. is a chance to learn and reflect on the history of the United States.