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Things to Do in Washington D.C.

Tour the National Mall, Explore the Smithsonian Museums, Explore Capitol Hill, Tour the White House, Visit Ford's Theater, Tour the Pentagon and many more.

The list of things to do in Washington D.C is endless, intriguing and completely fascinating. This thriving city is home to some of the best museums and monuments in the United States. It is an ideal destination for those who love history, art and cultural heritage, thus, there is much to see and do for all kinds of travellers

Visiting the museums and monuments probably are the best activities to do in Washington DC. You can spend hours in one of these museums and still not manage to see it all. The Smithsonian Institute itself will need more than just a day to explore. Art has its own special place in Washington DC and visits to places like the National Gallery of Art is every art lovers’ dream.

Besides the famous monuments and museums, Washington DC things to do should also include exploring its amazing shopping venues. Right from high-end luxurious shopping malls to fascinating and intriguing flea markets, Washington DC has it all. Whether you indulge in exploring the fascinating streets of the city on segways or bikes or enjoy a chic dinner at a revolving restaurant, the list of things you can do in Washington DC is endless!

Here are some of the best things to do in Washington D.C:

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International Spy Museum
One of the most bizarre places to visit in Washington D. C., the International Spy Museum is the place where visitors walk in the shoes of the spies and feel the thrills of being espionage.Replete with several marvelous interactive exhibitions and impressive installations, the museum showcases the leading collection of spy artifacts and gadgets in the world. It also holds first-person stories of top intelligence spies Aldrich Ames, John Walker, and Robert Hanson.Location: 700 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20024, United StatesTimings: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Monday, Thursday, Friday), 9:00 am to 8:00 pm (Saturday), 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (Sunday) & Closed on Tuesday and WednesdayEntry Fees: $16–25
Arlington National Cemetery
The resting place of those who have served the United States, the Arlington National Cemetery is located on a hillside across the Potomac River. Spread across 639 acres, this hilly area provides a sense of beauty and peace to its guests with its tranquil ambiance and lush landscapes.The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (President John F. Kennedy's gravesite) and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (presenting the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima in World War II) are two major landmarks of the place that must not be missed while touring the cemetery. Location: Arlington, VA, United StatesTimings: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
National Museum Of Natural History

One of the most fascinating places to visit in Washington D. C., the museum is home to a great collection of over 140 million natural science specimens.

With exhibits such as Hope Diamond, Ocean Hall, Hall of Human Origins, dinosaur exhibits, the interactive Discovery Room, etc., the place is truly marvelous and a fabulous destination to explore with kids and friends.

Location: 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20560, United States

Timings: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm (until 7:30 pm in springs and summers, closed on 25th Dec)

United States Capitol
One of the most magnificent places to visit in Washington D. C., the U.S. Capitol is where major political action happens and both houses of Congress debate and pass new bills or laws. This world-famous domed building is not only a center of U. S. democracy but an architectural marvel as well.

The building's north wing, south wing, and circular centrepiece (the Rotunda) are the major attractions while its iconic hall, marvelous paintings, frescoes, the statue of freedom, and sculptures reflect American history.

Location: First St SE, Washington, DC 20004, United States

Timings: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (Sunday Closed)
The Lincoln Memorial
A work of art dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln, this memorial is one of the most popular Washington D.C. tourist places. While the larger-than-life statue of the great president is an attraction in itself, his two famous speeches etched onto its walls also attract history buffs and architecture appreciators.

The building's architecture also impresses with 38 Doric columns which signify the states in the Union at the time of President Lincoln's demise.

Location:  2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20002, United States

Timings: open 24 hours but Rangers are on duty from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm
The Washington Monument
The obelisk-shaped building in the district of Columbia, the Washington Monument is one of the most unique places to see in Washington D.C. Built to honor the very first President of the United States of America, George Washington, this building is the tallest in the district with a height of 555 ft. 5 inches.

The construction of the building took place in stages due to lack of funds and got completed in 1885 by the Army Corps of Engineers. Visitors can reach up to the height of 500 ft. through the elevator or staircase and witness the panoramic views of the city.

Location: 2 15th St NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20024, United States

Timings: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
Veterans Memorials
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean Veterans Memorial located near Washington Mall are built in memory of soldiers who were killed or went missing during the Vietnam or Korean War. The Vietnam memorial comprises the bronze Vietnam Women’s Memorial, The Memorial Wall, and The Three Soldiers statue.

However, the Korean Veterans Memorial comprises 19 stainless steel statues of poncho-clad soldiers and a black granite memorial wall. Both of these memorials indeed amaze with their historic importance and architecture.

Location: 5 Henry Bacon Dr. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20245, United States

Timings: 24 hours but rangers are available for answering queries only from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
National Air And Space Museum
One of the world's most acclaimed museums, the National Air and Space Museum boasts of an extensive collection of air and spacecraft in the world. It also displays almost all components of human flight, including art and archival materials related to air and space crafts.

Do include this amazing place in your places to visit in Washington D. C. itinerary and get a glimpse of the 1903 Wright Flyer, feel a moon rock, or endure the unimaginable world of air and space travel.

Location: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, United States

Timings: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm (Closed on Dec. 25)
National Gallery Of Art
National Zoological Park
Spread over 163 acres of greens, this zoological park in Washington D. C. is a great place to be with your kids. The Park is home to more than 1500 animals, birds, fishes, and reptiles, including lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, giant pandas, and some endangered species.

This National Zoological Park is known not only for its absolutely captivating visitor experience but for its great works in animal care and sustainability fields. Plan a visit to this amazing place to spot various animals in their natural habitat and learn about them through various educational games and programs.

Location: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20008, United States

Timings: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
National Museum Of American History
Another popular Smithsonian museum, this place traces the political, social, scientific, cultural, and technological history of the United States from colonial times to the present. Displaying important articles (more than three million) and historical objects related to the evolution of the American identity, the museum is surely worth a visit.

From the famed Star-Spangled Banner, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Thomas Jefferson's desk to one of Edison's light bulbs, the collection of the museum is eye-catching and fascinating.

Location: 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20560, United States

Timings: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm (until 7:30 pm in springs and summers, closed on 25th Dec)
Jefferson Memorial
Located along the bank of the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial is one of the oldest and most imposing Washington D. C. tourist places. It is dedicated to the late Thomas Jefferson, one of the most important America’s Founding Fathers.

The domed white memorial is designed taking inspiration from the famed Roman Pantheon and comprises 54 Ionic columns and a dramatic 9-foot statue of a standing Jefferson. The walls of the memorial surrounding the statue also have the engraved excerpts of the Declaration of Independence and other memorable writings.

Location: 16 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20242, United States

Timings: 24 hours
Newseum
Explore modern American history or see iconic events as they were reported in various forms of media such as newspapers, media, etc., and be amazed by the different representations at this unique Newseum. Combining films, interactive exhibits, and pictorial displays, here you will find how the public gets to know breaking events in different ways.

Here, you will get to see the news regarding the fall of the Berlin Wall, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or President Lincoln, the 9/11 terror attacks, and many more dramatic images of the past century.

Location: 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
National Museum Of African American History And Culture
Dedicated to the life, culture, and history of African Americans, this Smithsonian Institution Museum is also an architectural masterpiece. Th museum features numerous interactive exhibits showcasing nearly everything related to the African American theme, including food, slavery, arts, the Civil Rights Movement, craftsmanship, athletics, etc.

The museum also has a great collection of up to 35,000 artifacts out of which only 3,500 are displayed through different exhibits and is a real charm for all history buffs and art lovers.

Location: 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20560, United States

Timings: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm (Wednesday to Sunday)
Washington National Cathedral
An example of Gothic architecture style and techniques, this is one of the world's largest cathedrals and amongst the Washington D C. tourist places to worship and pray.

The building of the cathedral also impresses the visitors with its artistic details, stained glass windows, and hand-embroidered kneelers honoring the great war heroes and ancient historic events.

Location: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20016, United States

Timings: 10:00 am t0 5:30 pm (Monday to Friday), 10:00 am to 4:30 pm (Saturday) & 7:30 am to 4:00 pm (Sunday)

Entry Fees: Adult: $11 & Youth (ages 5 – 17): $7
Georgetown Historic District
The oldest neighborhood of Washington D.C., The Georgetown Historic District is full of architectural to natural beauty, Michelin-approved restaurants, boutique shops, cafés, and small museums to scenic waterfront. Spreading between Rock Creek Park and K Street NW from 27th to 37th Streets, the tidy streets of Georgetown are home to historic homes, Georgetown University, Jesuit College, Kreeger Museum, and the nation's oldest Roman Catholic.

If you're looking for a place to enjoy with your partner at night or hang out with friends or have some great time with family, this is an idyllic destination to be. Include this place in your places to see in Washington D. C. list and have a cherishable time.
Library Of Congress
Housing across three stunning buildings, including the Thomas Jefferson Building, the James Madison Memorial Building, and the John Adams Building, the Library of Congress is home to more than 164 million items and art pieces.

The Thomas Jefferson Building is itself a masterpiece of Gilded Age architecture and also holds several exhibits. The Library of Congress also hosts abundant events, festivals, and fabulous tours that are indeed crowd pullers.

Location: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, D.C., DC 20540, United States

Timings: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (Monday to Saturday) & Closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Depicting the account of the Holocaust through a range of artifacts, photos, oral histories, and short movies, this museum is amongst the most thrilling place to see in Washington D. C.

The Museum teaches the visitors the need for democracy and measures to preserve the same. It also hosts several educational programs and events to make the people know the dangers of uncontrolled hatred and the necessity of preventing genocide.

Location: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20024, United States

Timings: 10:00 am to 5:30 pm (closed on Wednesdays, Christmas Day, and Yom Kippur)
The Kennedy Center

One of the nation’s leading centers for performing arts and cultural & entertainment hubs, The Kennedy Center is one of Washington D. C. tourist places that are worth visiting. Offering over 2,000 performances yearly, it is a one-stop destination to enjoy live theater, ballet, jazz, classical music, and opera performances.

It also holds free performances daily at 6 pm on the Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer along with some exclusive performances that are held at regular intervals.

Location: 2700 F St NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20566, United States

Entry Fees: Entrance is free (only specific performances require tickets)

World War Ii Memorial
Honoring the services of over sixteen million members of the United States of America Armed Forces and the sacrifices of over 400,000 Americans during the war, this memorial is indeed one of the great places to visit in Washington D. C.

The memorial houses bronze bas-relief panels, 56 granite pillars, a majestic pool, a northern “Atlantic” arch, a southern “Pacific” arch, and a wall of over 4,000 stars, all reminding the visitors of the tough times faced by the Americans during the war.

Location: 1750 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20024, United States

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Washington D.C. Things To Do FAQs

What are the best things to do in Washington D.C?

1. Tour the National Mall: Located right in the center of Washington D.C, the National Mall is one of the most popular attractions in the city. It is home to some of the most iconic landmarks of the United States. The National Mall is a park with several monuments and memorials that represents the past, present and future of the country. At the park you can explore the National Art Gallery, the U.S. Botanic Garden, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, take a walk on the famous America’s Front Yard and explore the Smithsonian Museums. There are also several beautiful sculptures around the National Mall.

- Location: Washington, D.C., DC, United States

2. Explore the Smithsonian Museums: The Smithsonian Museums is collectively known as the Smithsonian Institutions and visiting these Museums should definitely be part of your things to do in Washington D.C list. It is a complex consisting of 17 of the world’s most renowned museums and galleries. These include the Natural History Museum, Air and Space Museum and the National Zoo. The Museums hold over 150 million specimens, artworks and objects that showcase various aspects of the world. Adults can be part of the after-hours party that features various themes and where you can indulge in cocktails, live music, food and enjoy the company of people from all walks of life.

- Location: Washington D.C
- Timing: 10 am to 5:30 pm

3. Explore Capitol Hill: The Capitol Hill represents the American people, their government and as the epitome of one of the largest democracies in the world. It is home to the House of Representatives and the Senate for the last two hundred years. It was started in 1793 and visitors have a separate entrance where they can explore and experience this outstanding monument. Exploring the temporary exhibits, perusing through the wide variety of things present at the Gift Shop or indulging in a sumptuous meal at the Restaurant is one of the best things to do in Washington D.C for any visitor.

- Location: First St NE, Washington, DC 20515
- Timing: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Sunday Closed.

4. Witness the Changing of the Guard: Plan your visit to include the Changing of the Guard in your things to do in Washington D.C. You can be part of this incredible experience at the Arlington Cemetery. It takes place at the top of one of the two hills between the Memorial Amphitheatre and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The timings for the Changing of the Guard changes depending on the time of the year. April 1 to September 30th it takes place every 30 minutes from 8 am to 7 pm and between October 1st to March 31st every 60 minutes from 8 am to 5 pm.

- Location: Arlington, Virginia
- Timing: 8:30 am to 7 pm

5. Tour the White House: A tour of the White House is one of the most incredible activities in Washington D.C. that you can indulge in. But it is imperative that you plan ahead as this is entirely on a first come first serve basis. You need to make reservations for your spot in advance and you can do so anywhere between 3 months to no later than 21 days before your visit. The White House Visitor Center has several exhibits and artefacts that showcases the history of this most significant landmark of the United States. There are specially designated weekends in the Spring and Fall where you can get a special White House Grounds and Gardens tour.

Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Timing: 7:30 am to 11:30 am

6. Visit Ford's Theater: Ford’s Theatre is the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assasination and it features museum exhibits, live theatre and it also functions as a seat of learning. This is a guided tour and you will get to learn in detail about the history and heritage of Ford’s Theatre. It is one of the best things to do in Washington D.C whether you are a history buff or not. The Presidential Box where Lincoln sat on that fateful day is also part of the Museum now.

- Location: 511 10th St NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20004
- Timings: 8:30 am to 5 pm; performances from 8 pm

7. Tour the Pentagon: The Pentagon is one of the largest office buildings in the world and visiting here is definitely one of the most incredible Washington D.C things to do. The guided tours are given by military personnel and can be availed only on reservation. The tour is for one hour and gives a collective overview of the US Department of Defense and its four branches; the Navy, Army, Airforce and Marines. There is a Pentagon Memorial dedicated to the 9/11 attacks and this section is open to the public and does not require reservation.

- Location: Washington, D.C., DC 22202
- Timing: 9 am to 4 pm

8. Explore US Capitol Building: The US Capitol Building is one of the most impressive architectural specimen and symbolically significant buildings in the world. A tour of this historical landmark would definitely enhance your list of things to do in Washington D.C.. The building is divided into 5 levels and the guided tours include visits to the Crypt, Rotunda and the National Sanctuary Hall. You need separate passes to tour the Senate and the House Galleries. Visitors from the US and around the world are welcomed at the Capitol Visitor Center and no identification is required to enjoy the tour.

- Locations: US Capitol Grounds
- Timings: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

9. Visit National Gallery of Art: The National Gallery of Art is spread across a sprawling 6 acre property with a beautifully manicured garden in the heart of the city. There are 21 contemporary sculptures scattered across the garden where you can take a leisurely stroll before or after you have explored the National Gallery of Art. The Gallery’s permanent collection features over 150,000 decorative artworks, sculptures, photographs, paintings and prints. Admiring these inspiring works of art is definitely one of the most intriguing activities to do in Washington D.C.

Location: Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm

10. Explore Air and Space Museum: A visit to the Air and Space Museum is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Washington D.C..The Museum holds thousands of displays and objects that are related to air and space travel. Here you can get a close up view of the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong while travelling by Apollo 11 to space. The exhibits cover the history of space and air aviation, planetary science, astronomy and space science. You can also enjoy science demonstrations, how the International Space Station stays in its orbit and so much more.

- Location: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C
- Timings: 10 am to 5:30 pm

What are the best adventure activities to do in Washington D.C?

1. Rock Climbing at Great Falls State Park: The park offers an amazing view of the cascading Great Falls and great opportunities for rock climbing, rappelling and some fun splashing in the puddles.

2. Enjoy boat rides on the Potomac River: You can choose from a wide variety of rides such as kayaking, paddleboarding, row boats or aquatic bikes. If you are looking for a high intensity adrenaline rush then you can join one of the SUP Fitness classes that combines SUP, paddle sprints and weight training.

3. Bike or Segway City Tours: Enjoy the sights and attractions on segways or bikes while you also explore the wonderful networks of the streets in Washington D.C. The best time to enjoy such Washington D.C. things to do is at night.

4. Learn stunts at TSNY: The Trapeze School New York in D.C. will teach you a number of tricks and stunts such as the knee hang and catch. In this class you will get to catapult through the air and straight into the grasp of the instructor.

What are the best things to do in Washington D.C for couples?

1. Dine at Skydome Restaurant - Dining at the Skydome Restaurant is no ordinary date. You get to enjoy an incredible meal along with a panoramic view of the city and the Reagan National Airport. To add to the experience, the dining room spins and completes one rotation in 45 minutes.

2. Ride to the top of the Washington Monument - Indulge in a panoramic view of the city of Washington from the tallest building in the city, the Washington Monument. From the top you can get a great view of the White House, the National Mall, and the Tidal Basin. This is best enjoyed in the evening where you can also catch the sunset over the Potomac River.

3. Ice Skating on the Watergate Rooftop - The activity itself is one of the most exhilarating activities to do in Washington D.C. while the view is the cherry on top. Top it off with hot chocolate and s’mores in between laps.

4. Visit the United States Botanic Gardens - Romance and flowers have always gone hand in hand and a visit to the Botanic Gardens is one incredible experience. Here you can get a glimpse of blooms from all over the world, butterfly gardens, endangered plants and cast iron fountains.

Which are the best places for shopping in Washington D.C?

1. Gallery Palace: This is one of the most popular shopping centers in Washington D.C. This is the perfect destination to combine shopping, entertainment and dining all under one roof. It features stores from iconic brands like Ann Taylor LOFT, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc.

2. Eastern Market: If you like to visit flea markets then do not miss out on the Eastern Market. Here you will find vendors selling local, imported and vintage products at an amazingly low rate.

3. Lettie Gooch: If you are looking for unique and funky products then Lettie Gooch is the place for you. You get to choose from quirky leather outfits to classy evening gowns, all at very affordable prices.

4. City Center DC: Shop for luxurious international brands in fashion, skin care and home wares from City Center DC. Exploring and shopping in these luxurious stores is one of the best activities to do in Washington D.C.

What is the best time to visit Washington D.C?

The best time to visit Washington D.C. is between March to April and September to November. In the Spring you can enjoy the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin and the fall is a great time to enjoy exploring the city’s attractions.

What is famous in Washington D.C?

Washington DC is famous for its historical government buildings such as the Capitol Hill, the White House, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. ‘It is also home to some of the best museums in the world including the Smithsonian Institute and the Air and Space Museum.

Is Washington D.C worth visiting?

Yes, Washington D.C is definitely worth visiting right from the museums to monuments and its many other attractions. The best part is that most of the museums and monuments have free entrance.

Is Washington D.C safe?

Yes, Washington D.C is safe to visit as it is the only city in the US that was listed in the top ten safest cities in the world. The city is ranked 7th in digital security.

How many days do you need in Washington D.C?

5 to 7 days is ideal to explore all the attractions, museums, monuments and more that Washington D.C. has to offer.

How to reach Washington D.C?

- By Air: Washington D.C is well connected and has three airports catering to its visitors. There are two international airports - Washington Dulles International Airport and the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport caters to flights within the country. Dulles Airport also caters to domestic travels to Washington DC.

- By Rail and Roads: Trains and road transport is also available to Washington DC from several nearby cities in the United States.

Newly Added Washington D.C. Experiences

Washington D.C. Things To Do Reviews

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Souvik Sadhu
Reviewed: 09 Jun 2022
5.0/5
Our trip to the famous Museum of the Bible in Washington DC was one we will never forget. We felt blessed after watching the short film shown here about Jesus and his followers. We have to mention here that the skip-the-line tickets made the trip further easy. Thanks to Thrillophilia.
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Raunak Raunak
Reviewed: 09 Jun 2022
4.0/5
The International Spy Museum is a unique place and the fascinating history that it relays is mind blowing. We had such a fun time here especially as we got to test our spy skills and act as an analyst. Thanks for the lovely experience Thrillophilia!
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Rajiv Bandopadhyay
Reviewed: 02 Jun 2022
4.0/5
I booked these The National Harbour Capital Wheel tickets with Thrillophilia and got good discount and enjoyed a romantic evening with my girlfriend. It was a memorable experience to watch the sunset scenery from the glass window of our cabin while riding the giant wheel. The views of the city also... Read More
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Arjun Kaul
Reviewed: 28 Jan 2022
5.0/5
This immersive tour was something that will remain etched in my memory forever. The wonderful outstanding multi-sensory digital art showcased at ARTECHOUSE just took by breath away. I even saw some interesting exhibits and installations created by the artists here.
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Abhishek Mittal
Reviewed: 25 Oct 2021
5.0/5
I went to ARTECHOUSE in DC with some friends and really enjoyed the ambiance and multi-sensory digital art. We were astounded to see such a spectacular display of technology, science, and art. The ASE: Afro Frequencies course was an incredible learning experience. We also had beer at the on-site bar... Read More
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Chaten Gill
Reviewed: 09 Jan 2022
4.0/5
Simply awesome! Our trip to the National Harbor Capital Wheel in Washington DC was simply splendid. All our tickets were done by Thrillophilia and we faced no hassle at any point during our entire visit. The light show needs a special mention as well.

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