Washington DC is the nation’s capital and every American should go out of their way to visit it at some point. While you can easily stretch out your vacation to DC, you can easily fill up an action-packed weekend. If you’re not sure about what there is to do in Washington DC this article is going to introduce you to what’s available.
The Capitol Building
Since 9/11 security has been tightened all throughout the capital. One place you can still go to without worrying about all that is the Capitol Building. With 540 rooms and more lawmakers than you can shake a stick at, you’ll enjoy pacing through the tunnels and riding the underground train that traverses the building.
If you have the time you should contact one of your representatives and they might be able to get you free entry to one of America’s most recognizable monuments.
The Lincoln Memorial
Walk around DC and you’ll be buffeted by monuments of various figures from American history. But what if you just wanted to settle on a single one?
We would recommend the great Lincoln memorial. Towering above everyone before him, Lincoln’s gleaming face with every wrinkle elegantly carved will stare back at you. A visit here will stun you not just for the monument but for what Lincoln really did for the country as a whole.
The Wall is the colloquial name given to the Vietnam Veterans war memorial. For most Americans, the Vietnam War is the most potent reminder of when war gets nasty. The Wall is free to visit and is open 24/7. The names of the dead are etched into the wall as a startling reminder of what these people sacrificed for their country’s freedom.
The Tidal Basin is one of the city’s best-loved attractions. Today it’s a pond about two miles long, but before modern DC was established it was connected to the famous Potomac River. Spend some time walking along the pond or pay a small fee and take out a paddle boat.
We recommend trying to get here during spring because the whole area explodes in a cacophony of color as the cherry blossoms bloom for the first time. Fun fact, the cherry blossoms were gifted to Washington DC by Tokyo, Japan.
The National Museum of American History
American history is a big subject to take in. If you want a general introduction and some amazing attractions at the same time, try out the National Museum of American History. It was only just reopened in 2008 after millions were spent over a two-year period to bring it up to the correct standard.
It will give you a breeze through American history as a whole. But what you absolutely shouldn’t miss is Abraham Lincoln’s original top hat. It’s been perfectly preserved and you’ll never be closer to history than this.
Washington National Cathedral
Think of big gothic cathedrals and you think of Europe. But what if you could see something that looked like a big gothic cathedral right here at home? That’s exactly what the Washington National Cathedral is, and it’s played host to the funerals of three US presidents.
You can easily take a short 30-minute tour and it’s a reason to get away from the governmental district, which can seem a bit constricting at times.
The National Zoo is always a hit with younger visitors to the DC. If you happen to be bringing the kids with you on your weekend getaway, the National Zoo is a ‘must visit’. There are over 2,000 animals living in the 163 acres that make up the zoo. You’ll find apes, sea lions, and elephants.
The most popular attraction is the young panda, Bao Bao. When you’re traveling along the Orangutan Transport System you might even see some orangutans swinging along the cables.
The U Street Corridor
So where should you go for a beer after you’ve finished seeing the sights?
Skip Georgetown, which is filled with tourists, and consider a visit to the U Street Corridor instead. This used to be the heart of African-American culture in DC, up until the riots of 1968. For a while there was nothing going on here, but it’s been completely rejuvenated and you’ll never be short of bars, restaurants, and boutiques glowing with colored light and sound.
Closing Thoughts on Things to Do in Washington DC
New Orleans might make for a better party and New York might give you more shopping opportunities, but Washington DC should be on everyone’s list. It’s the beating heart of the US.
Have you ever visited Washington DC? If so, what was your “must see” attraction?