Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is filled with monuments, museums, and memorials, so what are the top attractions you should see when you visit the nation’s capitol? Here is our list of the top 10 attractions that you should visit when you come to town.

Top10 Things to See in Washington DC -- Georgetown
10. Georgetown

Georgetown’s cobblestone streets are lined with beautifully-restored row houses, and  upscale boutiques and restaurants. While in Georgetown, be sure to visit the stars of D.C Cupcakes at their shop “Georgetown Cupcakes.” The Metro won’t get you to Georgetown, so you’ll have to take a cab or bus, but it’s definitely worth the trip. More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- The Washington National Cathedral
9. National Cathedral

The National Cathedral is set off a bit from most of the other attractions but it is definitely worth a visit. The gothic architecture is a sight to behold and the large stained glass windows area a true national treasure. See if you can spot the Darth Vader gargoyle. Really! More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- The National Mall
8. National Mall

If you’re visiting Washington, D.C. as a tourist, you will most likely spend a good bit of time on the National Mall. Standing in the middle of the long grassy expanse, you will be surrounded by many of the major D.C. monuments and buildings, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. Capitol, and many of the Smithsonian museums among other treasures. There’s nothing better than a picnic on the Mall, and if you are traveling with kids, there is a wonderful carousel in front of the Smithsonian Castle Building. More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- The Holocaust Museum
7. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

This museum is not for everyone, but is the most powerful monument to the Holocaust that you can visit in the U.S. The emotionally-charged exhibits depict one of the most horrific times in modern history. This is not for young children. More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- The National Zoo
6. The National Zoo

If you visit the National Cathedral, walk down the street a little further and you can stroll through the National Zoo and visit the giant pandas and walk among the orangutans. The zoo is very hilly and will give you and the kids a good workout, but it’s totally worth it to see the new elephant area with a bridge that stretches over their living area. More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
5. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

When you visit this monument you are presented with the magnitude of loss our troops suffered in the Vietnam conflict. There are thousands of names etched into the surface of the black marble walls, each one representing a soldier who was killed in the war. You can find the names of your relatives and make pencil rubbings to take home with you as a reminder of their sacrifice. More Info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- The International Spy Museum
4. International Spy Museum

If your knowledge of espionage ends with James Bond, this museum will open your eyes to the true world of spycraft and all its covert activities. The interactive exhibits are top-notch, the museum is filled with both real and fictional spy gear, and you might even see some James Bond movie props! More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Capitol
3. United States Capitol

The Capitol building is probably the most iconic building in Washington, D.C. Every day, history is made behind its walls, and you can actually see it happen. Visiting the Capitol is much easier than a visit to the White House–you can get tickets for the official tour from a kiosk located outside on the southwest side of the building, or if you plan ahead, you can write your state Senator or Representative for a pass to view the gallery and watch our elected leaders in action. More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- Arlington National Cemetery
2. Arlington National Cemetery

You will be in awe as you stare out across the rows and rows of over 300,000 grave markers of our nation’s heroes. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a powerful sight to behold with the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame and the guards who are always on duty honoring those who have fallen. More info…

Top 10 Things to See in Washington, D.C. -- Smithsonian Natural History Museum
1. Smithsonian Museums

You could probably spend an entire day in just one of the Smithsonian Museums, but an hour or two would be enough to get a taste. Fortunately, most of the Smithsonian Museums are located near each other, so you can go from one to the other without too much walking. The Air and Space Museum is always a hit, but if you have kids, they will surely love the dinosaur, animal, and insect exhibits at the Museum of Natural History. The Arts & Industry Building has plenty of displays for the history fan, including an incredible assortment of vintage automobiles and transportation. If you’re arriving or departing D.C. from Dulles Airport, make time to visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, which is home to the Space Shuttle Discovery, an SR-71 Blackbird, the Enola Gay, and countless other treasures from our nation’s aviation history. More info…

But, what about…

Making a top 10 list is always tricky, as they are typically filled with personal opinions. You’ll notice that we left off some obvious sites such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument. You certainly should visit each and every one of those attractions if you have the time, but they are pretty much what you have seen in photos all your life. You can drive by these and get a pretty good impression of what they entail, but for the most memorable experiences, we would suggest first visiting the attractions listed above.

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