Top 25 Activities in Washington, DC
#25 The Tidal Basin
The Tidal Basin is a scenic reservoir South of the National Mall. Countless tourists visit the Tidal Basin each year making it one Washington's most photographed sites. When the weather is warmer many visitors like to rent a paddleboat and tour around the pond while others circle the water on the well traveled walking path that encircles the basin. During Spring from March to April, the Tidal Basin is especially beautiful as all the surrounding cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. Not to mention, the site is located near several Washington, DC monuments like the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
#24 The National Mall
The National Mall in Washington, DC is one place all tourists must visit. It is a two mile stretch of land beginning at the Lincoln Memorial and ending at the United States Capitol encompassing most of DC's greatest monuments, sights, and museums. It is also a place of historic gathering as all presidential inaugurations congregate here every four to eight years. Each day the National Mall hosts several walking, Segway, and bus tours or you are welcome to explore the grounds all on your own. Just make sure to wear your best pair of walking shoes.
#23 The Memorials & Monuments
DC pays tribute to America's history and heroes unlike any other. There are numerous monuments found throughout the entire district but the highest concentration is still found within the National Mall. A recommended tour includes the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Tidal Basin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial. Believe it or not, the memorials and monuments look even more majestic at night and are worth the second visit to see it all lit by the moon.
#22 The White House
The White House is the pinnacle of America. Located on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House is a heavily guarded monument and usually not open to the general public. However, if you plan ahead and are granted permission you have a chance at a tour with your state representative. An alternative tour, that is open to the public, is located nearby at the White House Visitor Center where they will show you artifacts from the monument itself.
#21 The Cherry Blossom Festival
Each Spring, Washington's cherry trees bloom and begin to blanket the city with pink and white petals. The city relishes in the blooms incorporating them into everything from cupcake flavors to cocktail garnishes. A Cherry Blossom Festival is even held for two weeks citywide. One little known fact about the blossoms is that most of the trees are original and were a gift from Japan during the early 1900s. The trees are most concentrated around the Tidal Basin. If you visit the Tidal Basin just prior to the sunrise, you will capture some of the most breathtaking photos imaginable.
#20 The Smithsonian Museum
The Smithsonian Museum is a mind blowing site to visit as it is comprised of a nineteen museum network including everything from the National Zoo to an Air & Space Museum. The Smithsonian Museum is so great in fact that it cannot all be seen within one visit. It is the world's largest and most complex museum so just do your best to pick which part of the museum's network in which you are most interested in and start there. A few of the museums must-see exhibits include the Museum of Natural History's Hope Diamond and the American History Museum's red Dorothy slippers. Although, the absolute best part of the Smithsonian Museum is that it is free.
#19 The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
While the works of art found by artists like Lichtenstein and Calder are worth a gander, the National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden is best known for it's events like Friday Night Jazz in the Garden. If you plan to attend make sure to come ahead of time to claim a spot and enjoy an end of the work week toast to a great jazz ensemble. During the winter, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden becomes an ice rink where you can skate and talk about the art.
#18 14th & U Street
14th and U Street is one of DC's best dining areas with a lively night scene. Over the past few years this block of DC has gone under major revitalization and what was once formerly known as Black Broadway is now U Street. That is not to say the 20th century African American culture is erased from the area as you can still see several iconic images at the Lincoln theater. Presently, you will find numerous trendy bars lining the corner of 14th that make for a wonderous night out. If in the area make sure to visit Bar Pilar, Barcelona, and Le Diplomate.
#17 The Nationals Park
The MLB Nationals Park located in Washington is one of the top ballparks in the Major Leagues. Not only does the park have a beautiful field, it also has a breathtaking waterfront view! Plus, Nationals game tickets are never overly expensive and the fans are always welcoming. So, even if you are not a baseball, a Nationals Park visit is worth the views, food, and fun. Make sure to try some of the tasty crabcakes and half smokes or pregame at the Bluejacket Brewery.
#16 The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center is Washington's home base for performing arts. Located on the Potomac River, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is not only where the National Symphony Orchestra Play but it is also a stage for ballets, operas, and a wide variety of rotating plays and comedic acts. Performances are open to the public daily and often times many free cultural activities take place here as well.
#15 The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with almost nine hundred miles of bookshelves. However, the Library of Congress does not work like that of a normal public library as one can not check out a book at their leisure. Only government officials are allowed to check out books from the Library of Congress but you can tour the beautiful art complex for about an hour or so. The walls lined with books, beautiful domed ceiling, and large collection of art is worth a gander.
#14 The Arlington National Cemetery
Just a short drive over the Memorial Bridge and you will find yourself at the Arlington National Cemetery. The burial grounds run across 624 acres of Virginia and it is the final resting place of four hundred thousand veterans and two United States Presidents. People come from all over the nation to see John F. Kennedy's gravesite with the eternal burning flame as well as the changing of guard ceremony.
#13 The Potomac River
The Potomac River may not be home to the clearest waters but it still attracts a decent amount of activity in Washington. Several kayakers, rowers, and stand up paddleboarders frequent the Potomac River yearly as well as sightseeing cruises as the river is a great avenue to view monuments. The Potomac River is a 14 mile natural escape upriver from a system of water known as the Great Falls.
#12 Historic Hotels
DC is a city full of history and it would be quite interesting to hear what the old hotel walls would have to say if they could talk. The Watergate is the most notorious hotel in the history of American presidency and has gone through much renovation within the past decade. A couple of miles down the road you will find the Mayflower, the infamous site of Eliot Spitzer's affair. And then there is also the Willard Intercontinental and Hay Adams hotels who have hosted the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Abe Lincoln, and Mark Twain. The beautiful and historic lobbies make a great setting to enjoy a cocktail or two.
#11 The Holocaust Museum
This museum is both brilliant and tragic. You will definitely need to bring kleenex with you on this trip. The official U.S. Memorial of the Holocaust and it hundreds of thousands of victims is located near the national mall. Its exhibits include artifacts, survivor stories, and historical facts about the ghettos, final solution, and Nazi internment camps. For the younger crowd there is a section of the museum that explains the Holocaust in a more gentle manner.
#10 The US Capitol
The US Capitol Visitor Center is located at the far end of the National Mall and is one of the city's tallest structures. The center offers many tours through the National Statuary Hall as well as Rotunda and the Crypt. If the inner workings of the Senate or House interested you, then contact your local member of Congress prior to your visit to set up a tour to watch a live session.
#9 The Shaw
Shaw is a neighborhood East of Logan Circle that is engulfed in a developmental boom. Countless artisanal restaurants, bars, and boutiques are popping up all across this neighborhood attracting locals and tourists alike. When visiting make sure to check out the Dacha beer garden and the Declaration restaurant.
As one of the most upscale areas of Washington, Georgetown is a mix of old world charm and high end dining. It shopping scene is not too shabby either with several upscale stores like Zara, Brooks Brothers, and Fiola Mare. When visiting make sure to take a stroll along the lovey C & O Canal where you can view all of the epic architecture Georgetown has to offer.
#7 Dupont Circle
Dupont is a mix of museums, shops, and restaurants. While you will find chains like Chipotle in the Dupont Circle, you will also find independent crafters like Bistrot du Coin and Kramerbooks. As far as museums go, you will find the Heurich House Museum full of beer and brewery history along with the Phillips Collection a house filled with impressionist and modern era art.
#6 The National Cathedral
The National Cathedral is placed beautifully high up on a hill that happens to overlook the entire city skyline. The 20th Century stone church was built in a gothic style and has been utilized as a funeral site for several presidents. Not to mention, the Dalai Lama himself has even given a sermon within the National Cathedral.
#5 The National Zoo
A small part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo, is home to several amazing animals including pandas, elephants, lions, monkeys, and even frogs. The most beloved animals within the National Zoo would have to be the four Panda rescues. Several visitors come from all over the world to view these precious pandas. However, the best part about the National Zoo is that it is free of charge and easily accessible by the Metro.
#4 The Eastern Market & Union Market
The Eastern Market is known more for its history as it was originally built back in 1871. This outdoor market is located in a colorful neighbourhood by the same name and sells food, crafts, and home goods. The Union Market has recently developed in the past decade and is home to several artisanal vendors, pop-ups, and cafes.
#3 The H Street NE
The H Street corridor is an artsy district located in downtown DC. This area is also known as the Atlas District due to the Atlas Performing Arts Center located there. Alongside the area's emerging art scene you will find a large assortment of unique restaurants and bars. Check out Toki Underground or Maketto if you have a chance.
#2 The Renwick Gallery
The Renwick Gallery is another branch of the Smithsonian Museum and is located just one block away from the White House. The Gallery itself features decorative art and american craft. Photography is encouraged as many instagram and hashtag several exhibits from the gallery daily.
#1 The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is not only the third branch of government, it is also the country's highest court. The courthouse itself exhibits neoclassical white architecture and is located one block away from the US Capitol. During October through April, oral arguments are open to the public on a first come first served basis. However, you are also welcome to tour the building on your own daily. Many like to view the countless statues and portraits, while others come to feel the judicial vibe of the monument.