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Top Activities in Washington

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What to Do in Washington: Must See Attractions

Washington Attractions

Welcome to the nation’s capital, where you can find history and urban living in equal measure. There is no shortage of things to see in Washington, D.C. From quintessential stops at places like 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to hours spent at small museums and fantastic restaurants, there are loads of ways to use your time in this city. Visit the Jefferson Memorial, stop by Ford’s Theater, and cap off your day at a chic restaurant lounge. There is so much to do in the capital that many visitors take advantage of Washington, D.C. tours.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Washington

Attractions in Washington, D.C. span many neighborhoods, each with its own vibe. Perhaps you want to dive into the arts scene, or maybe you’re in town with one mission: Learn everything you can about American history. It doesn’t matter what you’re hungry for, Washington is serving it in at least one neighborhood.

Arts District — Head to the Arts District for a sampling of the city’s best jazz musicians, as well as iconic local restaurants serving late-night chili and plenty of historic buildings.

Capitol Hill — This neighborhood is, naturally, home to the U.S. Capitol Building. In addition to this important landmark, you will also find other places of interest in the area. The Library of Congress is in Capitol Hill, as well as the Eastern Market. Foodies will be happy to be met with lots of fine dining as well.

Chinatown — Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown is not the largest of its kind in the nation. Still, what it lacks in size it makes up for in atmosphere. This neighborhood is a refreshing blend of culture, cuisine, and event venues.

Penn Quarter — Penn Quarter marries some of the best parts about Washington, D.C. art and culture. For instance, you can watch a major event at the Verizon Center just as easily as you can grab a bite at a small ethnic eatery.

Things to See in Washington, DC

Spend your mornings reflecting in front of the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument. You can take photos of some of the most important sights in the country on just about every corner, so keep your shutter finger ready. Other meaningful things to see in the city include: Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Supreme Court building. Visit in the spring, and you can revel in the sight of more than 1,000 cherry blossoms. And year round, your evenings are easy to fill with shows like the Washington Ballet.

Sightseeing in Washington

The diverse list of things to do in Washington, D.C. is ever growing, while historic mainstays are not going anywhere. You can fill your time in more active pursuits walking through the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Museum. You might also want to spend an afternoon exploring the foliage in Rock Creek Park. The city sponsors a program called the Capital Bikeshare, which has hundreds of bike rental stations in the city and makes it easy to get around. Washington, D.C. bus tours help you see many of the most significant attractions in one day.

Free Things to Do in Washington

Vacationing in Washington on a budget? The following can be experienced for zip.

Historical Society of Washington D.C. - Talk to the staff or curator and learn more about the special collections on display here.

American Legion Freedom Bell - Satiate your appetite for arts and culture here and witness local creativity at work.

Bundy Playground - Make this your first stop if it's fun you're chasing during your time away.

Upshur Pool - A swimming costume and a sense of adventure are all that's needed for a whale of a time here.

FBI headquarters - Architecture fans will certainly enjoy admiring the modern design of this landmark.

Peterson's Boarding House - If you like delving into history and heritage, this is one attraction you really shouldn't miss.

Franklin Square - Stay a while in this popular area and experience life as a local resident.

Fox Island - Close your eyes and draw a deep breath — nothing tops being by the water for some calm and relaxation.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Plan a visit and find out the importance of this place to the community.

Sixth and I Historic Synagogue - Whatever your religious leanings, this site will invoke a sense of reverence.

National Mall - It's easy to feel connected with Mother Earth at this awe-inspiring place.

McPherson Square - No matter if you can tell your lilies from lilacs, you'll find beauty in this marvelous display.

Explore The Neighborhoods of Washington

Downtown Washington D.C.

Art galleries, museums and theaters as well as vibrant entertainment, nightlife and shopping districts await in this city center neighborhood.

MuseumsCultureMonuments

Dupont Circle

Funky shops, historic houses and fascinating museums have turned this once-exclusive neighborhood into a fun-loving bohemian district. 

MuseumsCultureDining

Georgetown

Discover some of Washington’s oldest buildings, upscale shops and vibrant nightlife in this elegant riverside suburb.

Historical BuildingsUniversitiesMuseums

Capitol Hill

Home to the emblematic U.S. Capitol Building, this central neighborhood is famous for its historic landmarks, markets, museums and nightlife.

MuseumsMonumentsLibraries

Foggy Bottom

One of Washington’s oldest districts is now an upscale urban neighborhood, home to important government buildings as well as a lively student and arts community.

MuseumsMonumentsUniversities

Northwest

Known for its fascinating museums and important monuments, there's plenty to explore in Northwest. Check out top attractions like Smithsonian's National Zoo and Washington National Cathedral, and jump on the metro at Cleveland Park Station or Van Ness-UDC Station to see more of the city.

ZooNatural ParksCulture

Learn More About Washington | Blog


Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in Washington on a sunny day?

What to do in Washington on a rainy day?

What is Washington famous for?

Prepare to be busy with all of these notable attractions to tick off your itinerary:

  • White House
  • Washington Monument
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • United States Capitol

What should I not miss in Washington?

If you want to explore the best of this place, add these attractions to your itinerary:

  • Capital One Arena
  • Georgetown University
  • Smithsonian's National Zoo
  • Nationals Park

Are there cheap things to do in Washington?

You'll find loads of experiences here that are just the ticket if you're watching your budget:

What can you do in Washington for free?

Your time away in Washington needn't break the bank with free attractions like these to enjoy:

  • Lincoln Memorial
  • United States Capitol
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial