Washington, DC, being the nation’s capital, is appropriately jam-packed with amazing sights and activities.
There are hundreds of excellent museums to explore, and the National Mall is lined with innumerable marble monuments and memorials in addition to housing the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
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Top 10 Places to Visit in Washington, D.C.
The bustling metropolis, which occupies its own federal district between Virginia and Maryland, is located on the eastern bank of the Potomac River.
While the remainder of the city is certainly worth exploring thanks to its many food and nightlife options, the National Mall is where the vast majority of visitors choose to begin their exploration of Washington, D.C.
This is because the White House and the Capitol Building border a large green park that also houses the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and a number of institutions run by the Smithsonian Institution.
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1. National Mall
The National Mall is a greenway that visitors to Washington, D.C. should take to see many of the city’s landmarks. Situated in the heart of the city, the National Mall spans westward to the Potomac River and eastward to Constitution Avenue and the Jefferson Memorial.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and other Smithsonian museums are located across the street from the mall but are still part of it.
The Reflecting Pool and the memorials of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and James Garfield can be found to the east. It is the most popular tourist destination in the nation’s capital, drawing an estimated 24 million people each year.
2. White House
The White House is multi-functional. The President and his family make their home there. It also serves as a global representation of the United States. It’s where state dinners and official meetings between the President and foreign heads of state take place.
George Washington, the first president of the new nation, chose the location for the White House, but President John Adams was the first to actually reside there. During the War of 1812, the British destroyed it, but it was rebuilt.
Those who organise ahead of time can take advantage of self-guided tours. To see their representative’s office, they need to plan ahead by at least 21 days and up to 6 months.
3. United States Capitol
Congress convenes in the United States Capitol. When the House of Representatives and the Senate are in session, the public is welcome to attend. Free passes are available from the office of the visitor’s representative in Congress.
In addition, kids can obtain tours of the Capitol building, albeit these do not typically offer opportunities to observe politicians in session. After the American Revolution, the Capitol was one of the first government buildings built.
The first legislative session was held there in 1800, but construction didn’t start until 1793. The rotunda, which stands directly under the dome, is the heart of the Capitol Building. This is the final resting place of prominent persons like former presidents.
4. Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is one of the city’s most recognisable symbols, rising abruptly out of the grassy expanse that is the National Mall. This huge 555-foot obelisk stands as a tribute to George Washington, the first President of the United States, and his many victories in the American Revolutionary War.
The highest monument column in the world, it towers over the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, creating a breathtaking scene. Take enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding area from the top of this marble landmark. Breathtaking vistas of some of the city’s most revered landmarks may be had from this vantage point.
5. Jefferson Memorial
The Jefferson Monument was built in honour of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, and features many of his architectural designs and ideas. Its stately design is reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome.
Some people were offended by the design because they said it copied the Lincoln Monument too closely. President Franklin D. Roosevelt put an end to the controversy by laying the cornerstone in 1939.
Situated on the National Mall, it honours Jefferson’s legacy as a statesman and philosopher through a statue of him facing the White House. As a consolation for having to cut down Japanese cherry trees for the memorial, Washington now organises an annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
6. National Air and Space Museum
Everybody may find something fascinating at the National Air and Space Museum, not just youngsters. The National Air and Space Museum is a Smithsonian institution that welcomes visitors of all ages, from eight to eighty, with a wide variety of interactive exhibits. The museum is a goldmine of information about U.S. efforts in the aerospace industry.
Everything from the Wright Flyer from 1903 through the Apollo 11 moon landing expedition to modern space exploration is on display. Intriguing, right? While there may be additional expenses for special exhibits like the IMAX theatre, general museum admission is free.
7. Library of Congress
Now more than ever, the Library of Congress stands as the world’s largest library. In contrast to its current grandeur, the National Archives was founded in 1800 to house the transfer of early United States records from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. A reference library for Congress for the first century, it now houses 36 million books in 460 languages and 69 million manuscripts for a total of 158 million objects.
The rare book collection is the largest in the Americas. Although anybody is welcome to access the library’s resources, patrons are encouraged to preview the collection online before making the trip so that they know exactly where to look for the information they need. The Holy Room, the primary reading area, is a work of art.
8. Washington National Cathedral
Because of its preference for maintaining a wall of separation between church and state, the United States does not have a designated national cathedral. But, if it had, it would likely be the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter and Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington.
This Neo-Gothic structure, better known by its more familiar name, Washington National Cathedral, is the sixth largest cathedral in the world. This is where we said our final goodbyes to Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, and Ford. Visiting the cathedral outside of worship hours will cost you, although the services themselves are free.
9. World War II Memorial
After the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial is one of the most visited sites on the National Mall. Situated at the far eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, it honours both the military personnel and civilians who served their country during World War II.
Granite pillars, one for each state and US territory overseas, and two triumphal arches, one each for the Atlantic and Pacific theatres, surround a central oval plaza with a fountain in the centre. You can pay your respects at the Freedom Wall, which honours the lives lost during the conflict, and take pictures of famous wartime incidents depicted in bas reliefs.
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10. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, with its impressive statue, is one of the city’s numerous iconic landmarks.
It may be found near the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin, right off the National Mall, and is dedicated to the motivational leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
The 30-foot-tall memorial was built in 2011 and features inspiring passages from King’s speeches and sermons.
The spectacular monument is a popular place to visit and take pictures, and there are countless other memorials in the area because of the strong symbolism, stunning design, and deep impact that he had on the country.