The compact capital of United States of America perched on the Potomac River offers visitors the chance to experience the essence of the country in a nutshell as you walk through the iconic monuments and annals of power. The huge museums showcase everything from American art, history & culture to its space power, while the impressive line-up of monuments are an ode to the country’s political past. The list of things to do in Washington DC is so varied & vast that you’re sure to be awestruck and overwhelmed by the experience. From the best free things to do in Washington DC to the not-to-be-missed ones, here’s the ultimate guide on what to do in this landmark city.
10 Best Things To Do In Washington DC
Of all the experiences to have in Washington DC, here’s a list of 10 top things to do that’ll really add more joy and bliss to your holiday in the USA. Take a look to find out what adventure awaits you there.
1. United States Capitol: Take a free tour
The dome of Capitol, fashioned after the St Peter’s basilica in Rome, is the unmistakable symbol of United States and must be your first choice for things to do in Washington DC. The seat of House of Representatives and Senate has spectacular interiors lined with beautiful paintings, frescoes and statues of prominent historical figures. You can take free tours of the ornate interiors as well an interesting exhibition about the building’s history at the visitor centre. Make sure you visit the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library with impressive interiors.
Timings: 8:30AM-4:30PM (Mon-Sat)
Entry fee: free entry and tours. Make sure to make an advance reservation online as seats are limited.
2. Lincoln Memorial: Admire the spectacular beauty
Majestically stationed at the west end of the National Mall, the 19-foot high marble statue of Abraham Lincoln gazing at the Reflecting pool is a sight to behold. Spending some time marvelling at the spectacular memorial and admiring the murals depicting Lincoln’s life is undeniably amongst the top things to do in Washington DC. Popular not just for its architectural beauty & attention to detail, this national monument surrounded by 36-doric columns has great historical value too and offers some of the best views of the city.
3. National Air & Space Museum: Get amazed by the exhibits
Counted amongst the top museums of the world, the National Air & Space Museum takes you on a journey through the history of flying and the modern space program. One of the most popular things to do in Washington DC with family, the exhibits of this amazing museum will delight children and adults alike. Featuring the Wright Brothers’ Flyer 03, an interactive section and flight simulation experience, the museum offers a wonderful way to spend few thrilling hours. The Albert Einstein Planetarium is a must-visit too.
Timings: Daily, 10AM-5:30PM
4. National Mall: Stroll along the beautiful attraction
Any list of things to do in Washington DC would be incomplete without a leisurely stroll along the magnificent green belt between Capitol Hill and Lincoln Memorial lined with the country’s most popular memorials and monuments. Occupying centre stage is the magical mirror image of the spectacular Washington Monument, along with the poignant Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall and other war memorials. This lovely stretch of lawns and pools is great for walking, running or simply relaxing in the beautiful setting. Seeing this monument-dotted area bathed in soft light is also one of the top things to do in Washington DC at night.
5. National Zoological Park: Spend a few exciting hours with nature
Undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Washington DC with kids is taking them to this amazing zoo which is home to some 2000 animals, birds and reptiles including its star attraction, the Giant Pandas. Hear your kids squeal in delight as they watch the amiable pandas, red pandas and kiwis or get amazed by an elephant playing a harmonica. With its beautiful landscaping, lovely pathways and exemplary conservation & care efforts, visiting this natural attraction is one of the most recommended activities to do in Washington DC.
Timings: Daily, 8AM-5PM
6. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Explore the amazing culture
Enter a world of intriguing, exciting and exceptional exhibits showcasing every aspect of life on earth, with comprehensive sections on human evolution, gemstones, animals, dinosaurs and so much more. With its phenomenal collection of natural history specimens and artefacts, this museum must be amongst your top few things to do in downtown Washington DC. The Hope Diamond, Ocean Hall, Butterfly Room and interactive Discovery Room are a must-visit.
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7. United States Botanic Garden: Stroll along the serene lanes
This well-maintained plant museum showcases extraordinary species of fauna from across the world, and offers a tranquil green space in the heart of the city. Ambling through the lovely gardens and marvelling at the many unique and endangered species is one of the most relaxing things to do in Washington DC. The kids area is lovely too, where they can plant & water flowers. With well-classified habitats and descriptions, the Botanic Garden visit is an educative and rejuvenating experience.
8. Washington National Cathedral: Pay a visit to the exceptional place
This magnificent neo-Gothic architectural marvel will leave you awestruck with its beautiful exterior and equally mesmerising interiors. The exquisitely designed stained-glass windows give and the numerous unique altars add to its elegance & beauty. There are interesting free tours to explore the hidden gems inside this spectacular building. The gargoyles and monster tower climbing tour is one of the most unique things to do in Washington DC. Do not miss the Darth Vader gargoyle, the lovely gardens and cathedral cafe.
Timings & Entry Fee: NA
9. International Spy Museum: Uncover your James Bond moment
A visit to this interesting museum is surely amongst the most offbeat things to do in Washington DC once you’ve covered all touristy landmarks and sights. With real-life artefacts and interactive sections, the museum is a great place for espionage and thriller/mystery enthusiasts. The entire top floor is dedicated to famous spies, while the lower floors display props and information on James Bond movies.
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10. National Gallery of Art: Marvel at the phenomenal collection
The outstanding collection of European and American paintings, sculptures and artefacts places the National Gallery of Art amongst the top art museums in the world. Spread over two buildings connected by a tunnel, this phenomenal museum with classical masterpieces (Da Vinci, Monet, Rembrandt and many more) also boasts of a superb contemporary art collection. Visiting this gem is surely amongst the best things to do in Washington DC for art lovers. The amazing collection at the sculpture garden and Freer Art Gallery also must not be missed.
One of the best things to do in Washington DC during Christmas is watching the fascinating National Christmas Tree. With so much to explore, you don’t ever need to wonder what to do in Washington DC when visiting the US capital city.
The endless list of fantastic museums and entertainment options will keep you engaged for a few eventful days. So, make sure you add these experiences to your next U.S. trip itinerary with TravelTriangle for a memorable and special holiday experience!
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