21 Best Places to Visit and Things to do in Washington DC

Washington DC, the capital of the USA, is one of the most favorite vacation destinations in the country. Washington is one of the most popular vacation destinations in America and for a good reason. It offers so much history, culture, attractions, places to eat, etc., that you will never get bored — anyone can find a wonderful range of things to do in Washington DC. 

If you’re dreaming of a family vacation to Washington, DC, then this should give you some ideas and inspiration. Whether you’re looking for the best kids’ activities to fill up your days or hoping to find great attractions nearby, this guide will provide you with just what you need. 

This guide has been created to help you plan your itinerary and figure out what kind of things to do in Washington DC, based on your interests. Hopefully, after reading this post, you will have a better idea of what Washington has to offer!

US Capitol 

When it comes to world-famous and unique architecture, there’s nothing quite like the United States Capitol. The Capitol is, without a doubt, one of the top Washington DC attractions and the most-photographed spot in the city. It’s so big that on the weekends, you can literally get lost on the grounds. 

Start exploring with side halls across The Capitol and alcoves for the fascinating parts of the building. You’ll find statues, memorials, art, and rare artifacts everywhere. Built in 1868, The Capitol has seen so much history; even a few ghost stories are attached to it. 

United States Capitol Building.jpg
By David Maiolo, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: First St SE, Washington, DC 20004, United States | Timing: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/APkiHm3CYwPu9M5H7 | Phone Number: +12022268000

National Mall 

The National Mall is a wooded park in downtown Washington, DC, the capital of the United States. It is, with Constitution Gardens, the site of numerous monuments and museums, which extend from the United States Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and from the White House to the Washington Monument. It receives approximately 24 million visitors each year. 

The term “National Mall” commonly includes areas that are not part of the National Park itself, including mall buildings (e.g., Smithsonian Institution Building), various memorials, and two traffic circles — Smithsonian circle and Dupont Circle. 

DC mall capitol.jpg
By Raul654, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: Washington, DC, United States | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/7tvvXyxCTwk78Jgy9 | Phone Number: +12024266841

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 

Located in Washington DC, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of millions of Jews who died at the hands of Nazi Germany. Since it opened its doors in 1993, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s most important museums and memorials. 

Raoul Wallenberg Place Entrance of USHMM. Three large façades made of brick and limestone. In the foreground a black modern art statue.
By Raul654, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States | Timing: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Thursday to Tuesday | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/KEWacAkx2xYHyFtn9 | Phone Number: +12024880400

Library of Congress 

If you’re visiting Washington, then the Library of Congress next to the Capitol merits itself a look – a truly remarkable building. The Library of Congress is a stunning location for its architecture and the library itself. There is so much to see from the Jefferson building — where you can take a tour or watch a movie. You can even see the Madison building down by the Capitol. 

Many museums are located on the grounds through which the Library of Congress collects, preserves, and makes a wide range of resources assembled to meet the needs of the American people available to the world through its system of libraries, educational conferences, exhibitions, and publications. 

Library of Congress (1).jpg
By Josh, CC BY 2.0, Link

Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, United States | Timing: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/BATjdp9ZWKHg37X96  | Phone Number: +12027075000

Georgetown Waterfront Park 

Georgetown Waterfront Park is one of the most visited attractions in Washington DC! The Georgetown Waterfront Park was constructed along a waterfront visible from the historic Georgetown neighborhood. This large, urban park is located along the Potomac River on the western shore of Georgetown and has beautiful views of the city that stretch towards the Washington Monument. 

Beautiful day at Georgetown Waterfront Park

Address: 3303 Water St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/35aVSWU9TJkFBVFL8 | Phone Number: +12028956000

The Tidal Basin 

The Tidal Basin is an artificial, 436-acre (176 ha) expanse of waterfront land in Washington, DC. It is an arm of the Potomac River between the Lincoln Memorial and Key Bridge, separating it from West Potomac Park. 

The Tidal Basin is a very popular place to visit in Washington DC. This area of land lies on the backside of the Jefferson Memorial and provides a beautiful of Washington. You can catch an amazing sunset or sunrise here if you get there on time! Its name is derived from the fact that the basin has a changing tide, going with the main Potomac current flow. The Tidal Basin is bounded on all sides except for where it meets the Potomac River. 

Its name is derived from the fact that the basin has a changing tide; going with the flow of the main Potomac current. The Tidal Basin is bounded on all sides except for where it meets the Potomac River. 

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - HDR (15868564731).jpg
By Nicolas Raymond, CC BY 2.0, Link

Address: Washington, DC, USA | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/JianKpbjGvKB2fh9A

Thomas Jefferson Memorial 

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is one of the many things that make Washington a very special city in the US. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial honors the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and served as the third president of the United States. The memorial is well-lit at night and features Jefferson seated on a chair in front of a book-lined wall. 

Jefferson Memorial At Dusk 1.jpg
By Joe Ravi, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 16 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242, United States | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/cfFEFeK7VwYpMJCr5 | Phone Number: +12024266841

Lincoln Memorial 

The Lincoln Memorial is an iconic symbol of freedom and equality, located on the National Mall in Washington with stunning views of the Washington Monument. The 19-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln is carved from Georgia Ivory Soapstone. 

It took three years to build the Lincoln Memorial and eight years to plan it. The carvings were done by Daniel Chester French, a famous sculptor who also did many other statues, including the Minuteman statue at Concord. 

Lincoln Memorial Close-Up.jpg
By David Bjorgen, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20002, United States | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/fmvSaMt99kHxYVvb7 | Phone Number: +12024266841

National Gallery of Art 

If there is one thing to tell you, it’s that you can’t come to DC without visiting the National Gallery of Art in downtown DC. It is so beautiful, and so much larger than you ever could have imagined. It is immense, especially when you consider the history and importance of the works that are showcased. The gallery has more than 70,000 works of art and artifacts that would have otherwise fallen victim to floods, vandalism, and theft. 

National Gallery of Art - West Building facade.JPG
By AgnosticPreachersKid, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20565, United States | Timing: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/gRFa5TpPUk1nfhxJ7 | Phone Number: +12027374215

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum 

If you are still wondering what to do in Washington DC, this is it. If you enjoy the thrill of flight, science, space, and technology, or just being awed, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is one of the best things to see in Washington DC. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) is more than just the most visited museum in the world — it’s also one of Washington’s most beloved landmarks and perhaps the only one entirely dedicated to space! 

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is a must-visit place. The museum is located on the National Mall, and it contains galleries that are stunning and moving. They have many amazing interactive exhibits that allow you to get involved with the exhibits while you’re there. 

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (2085833714).jpg
By dave_7, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Address: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, United States | Timing: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Thursday to Monday | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/fge7MFVct9EP22f96  | Phone Number: +12026332214

Take a tour of the White House 

If you are headed to Washington DC, you might want to consider walking through the front door of the most famous building in the United States — the White House.  

A tour of the White House is one of the most popular tourist activities in Washington. When you visit this iconic attraction, you will see the building’s beautiful architecture, learn its intriguing history and see where presidents, first ladies, and important members of the Congress have lived and worked.  

Considered the most famous home in America, tour guides will give you a detailed description of the White House construction, history, furniture, and more. You will experience hours’ worth of adventures once you’re inside this building. 

things to do in Wahington DC: The White House

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, United States | Timing: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/CEjA1qfrUr4WgF87A | Phone Number: +12024561111

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a concert hall located in Washington D.C. The Five buildings, designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, were built over a period of 20 years — they opened in 1971. The buildings harmoniously blend with the nearby Colonial Revival architecture of the Hill and the rest of Washington D.C. With its iconic sail-like design that echoes Shakespearean theater, the center is one of the world’s most recognizable performing arts buildings. 

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, is the largest such cultural institution in the nation. It hosts the type of performance you’d expect to find in a city known as the “capital of America” — ballets, operas, symphonies, musicians from every corner of the globe, theater performances, and more can be found at this historic location. 

Kennedy Center seen from the Potomac River, June 2010.jpg
By Tom, CC BY 3.0, Link

Address: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566, United States | Timing: 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/6CXpS4jUmh4bWCg77 | Phone Number: +12024674600

Ford’s Theatre 

Ford’s Theatre is one of the most meaningful and moving spaces to visit in Washington DC. It is where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The story that surrounds this theatre is tragic yet enhances the heritage of America and gives a special insight into this city. The theater opened in 1866 for the production of Our American Cousin and later went on to host Mary Todd Lincoln’s first major White House function. 

Ford's Theatre interior, Washington, D.C.jpg
By Wknight94, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 511 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States | Timing: 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/avjnfYo1ikqPqakQ6 | Phone Number: +12023474833

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial 

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The monument was built to commemorate the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated in 1968. The memorial opened to the public on August 22, 2011. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located near the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. 

The memorial is a contemplative place where visitors remember and reflect King’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. The memorial features an eighteen-foot statue of Dr. King standing on a promontory overlooking these grounds and his own words carved into granite: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.png
By Zlwhittles, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20003, United States | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/XJkyyofqe4SJyjst9 | Phone Number: +12024266841

National Cathedral 

With the full title of the National Cathedral Church of Washington DC, this breathtaking building is an excellent space to visit if you’re in the capital city. Its impressive Gothic exterior, large stained-glass windows, and beautiful interiors make it one of the most beautiful and well-known buildings in Washington, DC. 

Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D C 1.jpg
By MathKnight, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, United States | Timing: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/bYQJY1HdLfVuT6m76 | Phone Number: +12025376200

US National Arboretum 

The Arboretum showcases a large number of trees native to the United States. There are even a few international species thrown in for a good mixture. With its assortment of flowers, shrubs, and trees, the US Arboretum is one of Washington’s most popular tourist destinations. 

The US Arboretum is a great place to spend time with the family. It has a lot of activities for kids on weekends and always has good fairs going on during the summer throughout the year. When we say fairs, we mean Fairy and Gnome or Pumpkin festivals. There is always so much fun going on that you should get there when they first open and never leave. 

United States National Arboretum garden.jpg
By AgnosticPreachersKid, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States | Timing: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/cpgN5xhAM6jASght9 | Phone Number: +12022452726

Take a tour of THE Pentagon 

If you are looking for one of the most remarkable and influential military institutions in the world, then you can start your tour by visiting the Pentagon in Washington DC. The Pentagon is a place where important decisions are made — decisions that shape the world. 

On this tour of the United States’ military headquarters, you’ll explore a historic building that has created history for more than 60 years. A visit to the Pentagon lets you take a close-up look at this real-life setting for classic movies and TV series, including “Air Force One”, “The West Wing”, and “Independence Day”. 


Address: Washington, DC 22202, United States | Timing: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/72EdmBiRikrJmFiJ9 | Phone Number: +17036971776

Watch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony 

One of the most important events that takes place in the vicinity of Washington, DC is the changing of the guard ceremony. This impressive military ceremony takes place at Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Arlington National Cemetery is situated in Arlington County Virginia, which is across the Potomac River. The ceremony takes place at the cemetery every hour of the day from October 1 through March 31 and every 30 minutes from April 1 through September 30.  

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment soldiers, who are also known as “The Old Guard”, take part in this event as they watch over the Tomb at the Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony brings an impressive display of military precision to Washington. It is definitely worth watching if you have never attended before. 

Virginia - Arlington National Cemetery: The Tomb of the Unknowns - Changing of the Guards

Address: Arlington, VA, United States | Timing: 08:00 am to 05:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/ArlingtonNatl?share | Phone Number: +18779078585

9:30 Club 

The 9:30 Club opened in September of 1980 and has continued to maintain a top space on the DC live music scene since. The venue is known for indie rock performances and remains popular today, showcasing big-name acts as well as underground bands. 

A significant number of DC’s music fans are familiar with the historical 9:30 Club on V Street. If you live an abundant life, then chances are you know about this place because of the great artists you can see there. If you’re a bit younger, chances are you know the 9:30 Club because it looks cool in every picture with Breaking Bad characters. 

Cannibal Corpse at the 9:30 Club

Address: 815 V St NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States | Timing: 5:00 pm to 2:00 am | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5N8yLiNoxpGKi7tg6 | Phone Number: +12022650930

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site 

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C., honors the life, work, and legacy of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave turned famous abolitionist and civil rights leader. The small park includes the house and grounds where Douglass lived from about 1878 until his death in 1895. 

Within the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, there are events ongoing every day. From guided tours to special presentations and programs, make sure you check out the calendar of events, which can be found on their website. 

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Address: 1411 W St SE, Washington, DC 20020, United States | Timing: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/2FopBXSjF81yB28DA | Phone Number: +12024265961

International Spy Museum 

The International Spy Museum is located in the DuPont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. near the Gallery Place Metro Station. The privately funded museum employs multimedia displays to tell the story of espionage in various countries and times and the history of codes and ciphers, other forms of covert communication, and counter intelligence techniques. 

2019 International Spy Museum 02.jpg
By Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States | Timing: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/IntlSpyMuseum?share | Phone Number: +12023937798

The capital of the United States is a city of rich history and culture and there is no dearth of places to visit in Washington DC. It is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. In fact, it is the most popular destination for international travelers coming to the US. DC’s classic attractions are not limited to government buildings and monuments that you can see from the Capitol Building.  

While Washington is a great place if you love history, politics, and museums, it is also surprisingly nice to go out for a drink, eat great food and enjoy the nightlife as well. There are many things to do in Washington DC including taking in some wonderful live performances, finding a good vantage point for viewing amazing fireworks during special events such as July 4th and New Year’s Eve, and visiting some of the most interesting monuments on earth.