The capital of the United States is a city of imposing monuments, among the best known in the world, and iconic buildings such as the Supreme Court, the Capitol and the official residence of the President: the White House.
The tourist places in Washington DC invite you to learn about the history of the city and to stay in it; to enjoy its parks, squares and streets.
1. The Capitol
The Capitol is one of the tourist places in Washington DC that you have most likely seen in Hollywood movies.
It is the building where the chambers that make up the US Senate are located: the House of Representatives and the Senate Chamber.
It was built in the last years of the 19th century after President Thomas Jefferson organized a competition for its construction, which included some of the best architects in the country. The selected design was by the architect, William Thornton.
The Capitol name was given to relate it to ancient Rome, which showed its model of a nation governed by its own founders.
One of its most outstanding aspects is its dome, built between 1855 and 1866 according to the design of the architect, Thomas U. Walter, who took influences from European domes such as the one in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London or the Pantheon in Paris.
There are still separate rooms and galleries for men and women, from the time of segregation in which they could not be together in the same place.
There are elevators for the exclusive use of senators and a subway line that only transports staff working in the Capitol.
Senators could shower in Italian-carved marble bathtubs located in the basement.
George Washington’s remains were expected to rest in a crypt inside the Capitol. However, he decided to rest on Mount Vernon, so the crypt remains empty. There is a fallout shelter below it.
2. The White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. Therefore it is one of the tourist places in Washington DC.
The building was built in 1790 with a design by the Irish architect, James Hoban and an idea by George Washington, who together with the city architect, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, selected the geographical area where the work would be built, which was finally in the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, northwest of Washington DC
The denomination, White House, is due to President Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1902 proposed to Congress that the name be made official.
There are no tourist tours inside the building, so visits are limited to external areas. As is supposed, the security measures are extreme.
3. Washington National Cathedral
The “spiritual home of the nation”, this is what the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is called, also known worldwide as the Washington National Cathedral, the sixth largest in the world.
The construction style and design of this temple is neo-Gothic, with chapels where the funeral services of some presidents such as Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford have been held.
Admission to worship services is free, but tours of the rest of the cathedral are not.
4. Library of Congress
One of the tourist places in Washington DC is the United States Library of Congress, the largest in the world.
It was founded in 1800 to house the nation’s first documents from Philadelphia, during the early days of the United States as a country. It now holds 158 million publications, 36 million books in 460 languages, and 69 million manuscripts. It also has the rarest book collection in North America.
It has several reading rooms, the main one being the most important: the “Sacred Room”.
Although it is a library open to the public, you must first check online that what you want to search for is available. Here is the link to the website of this important place.
The Jefferson Memorial was built to the design of the architect, John Russell Pope, in the neoclassical style, to honor the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Therefore, it is one of the tourist places in Washington DC with the greatest historical load.
The foundation stone for this national monument was laid by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. Construction was completed four years later.
Japanese cherry trees were planted in the area, some removed for the construction of the work. As a reward, the Washington Cherry Blossom Festival is held there annually.
The monument is in West Potomac Park, on the Potomac River. It has a statue of President Jefferson looking towards the White House.
Monument erected in honor of the president, Abraham Lincoln, assassinated on the night of April 15, 1865 during a theater performance.
The work inaugurated in 1922 consists of Greek Doric style columns that surround in a semicircle the statue of the 16th President of the United States, who appears seated majestically.
Martin Luther King gave his famous and famous speech there, “I Have a Dream” (I have a dream).
You can visit the Lincoln Memorial 24 hours a day under the surveillance of the National Rangers, from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm.
From its inauguration to the present day, it is one of the most visited tourist places in Washington DC.
7. Washington Monument
The Washington Monument was built in the 19th century to honor the memory and military triumphs of the first president of the United States, George Washington, Father of the Nation.
Its 170 meters high makes it a prominent structure that stands out among all the buildings in the capital.
It is open all day, but you cannot climb to the highest point of the obelisk.
8. Arlington National Cemetery
Cemetery with the remains of soldiers who fell in battle during the armed conflicts in the United States, from the independence era, in 1175, through the wars in the Middle East in the 90s, to the present day.
Arlington Cemetery also rests the remains of the president, John F. Kennedy and his brothers Joseph, Robert and Edward Kennedy.
On the tomb of the deceased President the “eternal flame” is lit, which has been kept alive since his grave.
In other areas of the cemetery are the monuments that honor the deceased astronauts on the Columbia and Challenger shuttles.
There is also a place to honor the victims of the Pan Am flight that fell in Lockerbie, Scotland, and the almost 3,000 who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York.
Arlington Cemetery has been a National Park since 2004, but long before that it was one of the tourist places in Washington DC and in the United States.
9. National Mall
It is a path full of vegetation that leads to some important and emblematic sites of the capital.
It is in the center of the city and extends to the Capitol on the west side, on the Potomac River, while on the east it meets the President Jefferson Memorial, on Constitution Avenue.
In the same area, but opposite and forming part of the National Mall, are the Smithsonian Museum and the monument in honor of the veterans of the Vietnam War.
Other places you must visit if you are near the National Mall, an area that receives 25 million visits annually, are the monuments to Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and James Garfield, as well as the reflecting pool.
10. Smithsonian Institution
Center dedicated to education and research, with a group of associated museums. Most of its facilities and dependencies are in Washington DC
You should start your visit at the Smithsonian Castle, where you can pick up a free map of the entire complex. From there you can plan tours of the natural history, air and space, American Indian or National Zoo museums.
The gardens of the Smithsonian Institution are beautiful and pleasant. The best thing is that you can enjoy them while planning the following activities.
11. Air and Space Museum
Free museum belonging to the Smithsonian Institute with interactive activities for children and adults, about planes and spacecraft around the world.
The show has it all. From the “Wright Flyer”, the plane of the Wright brothers, from 1903, through the expedition and moon landing of Apollo 11, to exhibitions of the work that scientists undertake while exploring space and making new discoveries.
12. Natural History Museum
Another museum that integrates the Smithsonian Institute, therefore one of the tourist places in Washington DC. It was inaugurated in 1910 in a neoclassical style and is located in the north area of the National Mall, on Constitución Avenue.
Inside there are more than 125 million species of animals, plants, mineral fossil rocks, meteorites and objects belonging to human cultures. It also has the famous Hope Diamond, a 45.52-carat, distinctive navy blue diamond.
The museum is also a center specializing in studies on nature and world cultures, with 185 professionals from various areas.
13. Rock Creek Park
National park with 125 years of foundation and more than 32 miles of trails where you can walk and ride a bicycle (you can rent one).
Its planetarium offers free programs to explore the sky, while in the Stone House you can see an exhibition about the first inhabitants of Washington DC
Rock Creek Park is the third park to be established in the United States.
14. The National Archives
To visit this institution you must take the “Big Bus” tourist bus and get off at the National Archives headquarters, one of the tourist places in Washington DC.
In this building you will find historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and a copy of the Magna Carta.
All public documents in the National Archives and Records Administration are allowed to be examined, but photos are prohibited.
15. Folger Shakespeare Library
This library houses the largest collection on the English poet, playwright and actor, William Shakespeare.
It has first editions of his books, a permanent exhibition, and holds a tour of the art deco building, which runs through the Folger Reading Room, open only to researchers.
16. The Pentagon
The headquarters of the Department of Defense of the United States is one of the tourist places in Washington DC An imposing building of 116 thousand square meters.
Tours to the area where the terrorist attack occurred on September 11, 2001 are free. These also comprise the military history of the United States. You must book at least 15 days in advance.
17. The Eastern Market
Market with 140 years of existence on Capitol Hill, free admission. They sell fresh food, fruits, crafts and antiques. It only closes on Mondays.
What to do in Washington DC for free?
Entering and seeing the Air and Space Museum, the Oriental Market, the National Archives, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Pentagon, is free.
What to do in Washington DC?
In Washington DC, you can visit the Capitol, the White House, the Library of Congress, the Jefferson Memorial, stroll the National Mall, and visit Arlington Cemetery.
What do children do in Washington DC?
Kids can visit the Air and Space Museum, the National Postal Museum, the News Museum, the Natural History Museum, or go to the Potbelly Sandwich Shop chain restaurant.
Places you can’t miss in Washington DC
Among the tourist places you should visit in Washington DC are the National Mall, considered the busiest place in the city. You should also go to the Capitol, the Washington National Cathedral, the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
The capital of the United States has one of the best tourist and historical offers in the country. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about their political roots and thereby understand their government ideals.
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