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Washington DC Attractions

national museum of women arts in Washington DC

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Founded by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and Wallace F. Holladay in 1981, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is dedicated to displaying works of art by women from all over the world. Their expansive collection includes pieces by more than 800 artists. View striking artwork created throughout various centuries; learn about the many different women who have expressed themselves through a diverse array of mediums.

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renwick gallery in Washington DC

Renwick Gallery

open 10 am - 5:30 pm Free

For a look into American crafts and decorative arts, a stop at the Renwick Gallery is sure to please. The gallery, housed in a historic architectural landmark just steps away from the White House, provides collections and exhibits from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Take a stroll through the gallery to get a close-up look at treasures created from clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood.

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octagon house in Washington DC

Octagon House

open Thurs-Sat: 1pm - 4pm Free

The Octagon House was built between 1798 and 1800 by the same architect who designed the U.S. Capitol. It was constructed for Colonel John Taylor, a wealthy plantation owner from Virginia. It was in this house that President Madison and his wife resided when the White House was burned by the British in 1814. It was also here that President Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent, which brought the War of 1812 to an end. The Octagon House’s architectural splendor is matched only by its historical significance to our country.

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stephen decatur house in Washington DC

Stephen Decatur House

open Mon: 11 am-2 pm Free

Constructed for one of American’s most famous naval heroes, the Decatur House was completed in 1818. It’s one of the oldest surviving homes in Washington DC and one of three remaining residential buildings designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe. 
Visitors to the Decatur House can learn about the many residents who lived in the house, including Stephen Decatur and his wife Susan. Ironically, the couple spent only 14 months in their home—their residency ended when Stephen Decatur shockingly died after a duel in 1820.

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national cathedral in Washington DC

National Cathedral

The National Cathedral welcomes people of all faiths from around the world to worship in its exquisite ambiance. It’s the sixth largest cathedral in the world and offers a dramatic spectacle to all who visit. The cathedral’s English Gothic architecture is complemented by wood carvings, gargoyles, mosaics and more than 200 stained glass windows. A listed monument on the National Register of Historic Places, the cathedral is also the designated House of Prayer of the United States.

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national zoo in Washington DC

National Zoo

open 8am - 7pm Free

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo houses more than 400 species of animals. The zoo’s founder, naturalist William T. Hornaday, developed the zoo because of his concern over the decline of many native American species. Hornaday envisioned a facility that would breed endangered American animals in captivity and educate the public about wildlife. Although he eventually left the National Zoo, it continued to grow and today is known around the world for its collection of uncommon animals.

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world war ii memorial in Washington DC

World War II Memorial

10, 12 Stop 10, 12 Free

Honoring the 16 million people who served in the United States Military during the war, the more than 400,000 who died and the countless others who supported our troops from home, the World War II Memorial is a stunning tribute to the sacrifices that were made.

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korean war memorial in washington dc

Korean War Memorial

10 Stop 10 Free

To remember those who fought in the Korean War, The United States Congress approved a Korean War Memorial to be constructed in the National Mall. The memorial has several interesting aspects to it including the “Field Of Service” which has 19, larger-than-life-size stainless steel statues of servicemen from all four of the armed forces. The men appear to be a squad on patrol and are dressed in full combat gear. 

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vietnam veterans memorial in washington dc

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

10 Stop 10 Free

Often referred to as the wall that heals, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial beckons visitors of all ages, races and nationalities. It was created to honor and remember the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and to help our country heal after the controversial, emotional conflict ended. The enormous black wall lists 58,209 names of those who are missing or were killed during the war.

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lincoln memorial in washington dc

Lincoln Memorial

10 Stop 10 Free

The Lincoln Memorial was opened on Memorial Day in 1922, 57 years after Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was assassinated. 
The immense Greek Temple stands in front of a gleaming reflecting pool and is a stunning spectacle during the day and especially at night.

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fdr memorial in washington dc

FDR Memorial

9 Stop 9 Free

The FDR Memorial is located along the Western edge of the Tidal Basin, between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Built in 1997, the memorial is known for its unique design, its tribute to our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and for the fact that it tells the story of America during the years of FDR’s Presidency. Four outdoor rooms portray the President’s terms in office, each with different statues and quotes. Beginning with a likeness of him riding in a car during his first inaugural speech and ending with him seated in a wheelchair, the memorial traces his twelve years of office as well as the many changes our country went through during that era.

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jefferson memorial in washington dc

Jefferson Memorial

8 Stop 8 Free

Tours in Washington DC are not complete without a stop at the Jefferson Memorial. A tribute to the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, the memorial is a recognized symbol of democracy and independence. As one of the founding fathers of our country and the author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s significant impact on the shaping of our government is known throughout the world.

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bureau engraving printing in washington dc

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

7 Stop 7 Free

See where millions of dollars are printed every day. Discover all of the steps to producing currency from the blank sheet of paper to a crisp bill. As the security printer for the US Government, the Bureau is responsible for the design, printing and engraving for all US currency.

holocaust memorial museum in washington dc

Holocaust Memorial Museum

7 Stop 7 open 10am-5:30pm Free

The museum serves as a memorial to the millions of people who were murdered during the Holocaust. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. everyday, except Yom Kippur and Christmas Day. Timed passes are distributed on a first–come first–served basis.

hirshhorn gallery garden in washington dc

Hirshhorn Gallery & Sculpture Garden

6 Stop 6 open 10am-5:30pm Free

The founder of the Hirschhorn Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Joseph Hirschhorn left an impressive legacy of art and inspiration to the American People. He had an immense passion for art. So much so that at one time he had more than 6,000 pieces in his collection housed at several private locations. It was Hirschhorn’s adoration for the arts that inspired a new museum of art in Washington DC in the late 1960’s. The Hirschhorn Gallery and Sculpture Garden opened its doors in 1974, featuring Joseph Hirschhorn’s personal collection of paintings and sculpture, which he generously donated so that all of the American people could enjoy it as much as he did.

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museum american indian in washington dc

Museum of the American Indian

6 Stop 6 open 10am-5:30pm Free

The Museum of the American Indian is the newest among the Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC and is the only museum solely dedicated to the history, study and preservation of the American Indians. You’ll be instantly captivated by its masterful architecture. The curved limestone building appears to be a natural rock formation facing towards the sun and is surrounded by acres of authentic crops of the American Indian. Its very design stands out among the many granite and marble neoclassical structures in the National Mall. Once inside, you’ll be treated to an up-close look at the life, languages, history, art and traditions of the Native Americans.

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phillips collection in Washington DC

Phillips Collection

open Tues- Sat: 10am-5pm
Sun: 12pm-7pm

A small but world-renown museum, the Phillips Collection, is America’s first museum of modern art. Opened in the home of Duncan Phillips in 1921, the museum offers visitors a stunning representation of the most famous works of art by internationally known artists. See paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas and Monet and gain an appreciation of modern artists by viewing the work of Braque, Picasso and Matisse. The museum, though not a part of the Smithsonian Institution, offers art enthusiasts a rare and intimate look at the many masterpieces that Duncan Phillips personally collected. It’s a wonderful museum for visitors of all ages.

woodrow wilson house in washington dc

Woodrow Wilson House

open Mar–Dec | Wed–Sun: 10am-4pm
Jan–Feb | Fri–Sun: 10am-4pm

Step inside the final home of Woodrow Wilson and feel the inspiration of one of our country’s greatest leaders. In this historic home, personal artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and items are on display for all to see and enjoy. Walk into the elegant dining room where Wilson and his wife enjoyed meals and hosted family, friends and world leaders. See the main bedrooms where items that belonged to the President and his wife are still in place.

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national geographic museum in Washington DC

National Geographic Museum

open Daily: 10am-6pm

Just like the highly acclaimed magazine, the National Geographic Museum offers a stunning representation of the world we live in within its collection of exhibits, both permanent and changing. Adults and children will be intrigued by the colorful, interactive and extraordinary displays. From sculptures created entirely out of garbage to live frogs of every color in their natural habitats, there’s always something fascinating happening at the National Geographic Museum.

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old post office in Washington DC

Old Post Office Pavilion & Bell Tower

13 Stop 13

For a spectacular view of the city and a journey back to the early 1900’s, the Old Post Office and Bell Tower is a must see. It was Washington’s first skyscraper, measuring in at around 300 feet from the ground. In its day, it was the largest and tallest government building in the city and was used as the post office for several years before plans for a newer, more modern facility were implemented. Thanks to the Great Depression, the classic building was saved from destruction and today visitors can enjoy an exhilarating ride in a glass elevator all the way to the top.

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air space museum in Washington DC

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

6 Stop 6 open 10am-5:30pm Free

One can only imagine the exhilaration that Neil Armstrong felt as he took the very first steps on the moon in 1969 or the incredible thrill that the Wright brothers experienced as they took that first flight in 1903. At the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, you can get an idea of how they felt when you see first-hand the original Wright 1903 Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module which carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin on their mission to the moon. These historic air and spacecrafts are among a collection of more than 30,000 artifacts at the Air and Space Museum.

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smithsonian museum natural history in Washington DC

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

13 Stop 13 Free

Ever wonder if there’s any truth to the curse of the famous Hope Diamond? Or wish you could see for yourself the fossils of an ancient mammal or a dinosaur? Then step inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Millions of people come each year to get a close look at some of the world’s most intriguing, beguiling specimens that the Museum has on display.

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library of congress in Washington DC

Library of Congress

5 Stop 5 open Mon-Sat: 10am-5:30pm Free

The Library of Congress is unlike any other library in the world. The world’s largest library, it is home to more than 100 million books, maps, recordings, manuscripts, films and photos including items from Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection. In fact, it was Jefferson who donated many items to the library after it was destroyed by a fire in 1814. The new building was properly named the Jefferson Building as a tribute to his generosity.

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us supreme court in Washington DC

U.S. Supreme Court

5 Stop 5 open 9am-4:30 pm Free

Upon arrival at the Supreme Court, visitors are often struck by the imposing marble building. Architecturally magnificent, the neoclassical structure was built in 1935 to become the permanent home to the Supreme Court. Walking along the hallway towards the Courtroom, guests are greeted by busts of all the former Chief Justices. The Supreme Court is the highest judiciary authority in the United States and hears about 100 cases each year, although more than 7,000 are submitted before them. Visitors can tour the Supreme Court building, hear lectures on the history of the court and how it works, sit in on sessions on specified days and times and view various exhibits throughout the year.

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washington monument in Washington DC

Washington Monument

12 Stop 12 Free

One of the most celebrated and spectacular sights on the National Mall, the Washington Monument, stands as a grand tribute to our nation’s first President, George Washington. The 555 foot obelisk is also one of the oldest and most recognizable memorials in the City. While construction began in 1848, the monument was not completed until 1884 because of financial difficulties during the Civil War.

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us capitol in Washington DC

U.S. Capitol

5 Stop 5 open Mon-Sat Free

A grand symbol of the United States Government, the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill is recognized across the world as one of our country’s most prominent icons of Democracy. The striking white dome acts as a focal point to the building which welcomes thousands of visitors every year. Both a working legislative building and a national monument, guided tours are offered all day long and provide an inside look into how our United States government works.

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museums american history in Washington DC

National Museum of American History

12 Stop 12

Step inside the National Museum of American History and experience the passion, creativity and inspiration of the American people. Walk through the fascinating exhibits and collections and transport yourself through hundreds of years of history, culture and the lives of our people.  Over 3 million artifacts will amaze and enlighten you, including the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.

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national postal museum exhibit in Washington DC

Smithsonian National Postal Museum

4 Stop 4 Free

Journey back to the days of the Pony Express and see first-hand how the mail was delivered in colonial America, through times of war and into the present day. At the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, visitors learn about the amazing history of the American postal service and how it evolved to become what it is today. Located on the lower level of the old Post Office Building just next door to Union Station, the building was constructed in 1914 and served as the Washington DC post office until 1986.

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union station in Washington DC

Union Station

4 Stop 4 Free

Welcome to Washington DC! The spectacular Union Station was originally designed to be the gateway to the city and since it opened over 90 years ago, has become the most visited site in DC. Its unique architecture makes it popular for photos. Locals, tourists and even presidents make it a point to visit this magnificent historic mall and train station.

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us navy memorial in Washington DC

U.S. Navy Memorial

3 Stop 3 open Mon-Sat: 9:30am-5pm
 Free

The US Navy Memorial is a truly spectacular tribute to those who served or are currently serving in the nation’s sea services. A stunning plaza paved in granite forms a 100-foot diameter of the world. Fountains, pools, flags and historic panels surround the deck of the plaza tracing the achievements of the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. The famous Lone Sailor statue stands as a representation of the men who joined the service to fulfill their patriotic duty; a striking sight, it is perhaps one of the most well-known aspects of the memorial.

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marian koshland science museum in washington dc

Marian Koshland Science Museum

3 Stop 3 open 10 am-6 pm
, Closed Tuesday

One of the newest museums in the area, The Marian Koshland Science Museum, offers cutting-edge exhibitions that serve to enlighten visitors about the numerous studies conducted by the National Academies and to instill a better understanding of the immense impact science has on all of our lives. Many temporary exhibits and several permanent ones create an environment of eagerness and interest as visitors learn about such topics as global warming, the application of DNA, infectious diseases and their origins and the Wonders of Science. A great experience for adults and children, interactive, hands-on exhibits and displays and many other educational presentations make the Marian Koshland Science Museum a favorite stop in the city.

national gallery of art in Washington DC cherub fountain

National Gallery of Art

3 Stop 3 open Mon-Sat: 
10am-5pm
 | Sun: 11am-6pm Free

The National Gallery of Art was created in 1937. Through the generosity of Andrew W. Mellon, a financier who was also a public servant, the Museum gained its first collection. Mellon had a passion for art and his large collection of old master paintings, sculpture and other works were intended for all of America to enjoy. After his death, Congress accepted his collection and thus the National Gallery was born.

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national archives in Washington DC

National Archives

3 Stop 3 Free

Journey back in time as you view the original founding documents of the United States written by the patriots who created a nation conceived in liberty. Established in 1934, the National Archives is the repository for the priceless documents that have shaped American history and defined our democracy. These include the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which are collectively known as the Charters of Freedom. The Archives also contain other treasured heirlooms like an original copy of the Magna Carta from 1297, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty signed by Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

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arlington national cemetery in Washington DC

Arlington National Cemetery

11 Stop 11 open Shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery begins at 10:40am

A lasting tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation, Arlington National Cemetery is visited by millions of people each year. These hallowed grounds are where more than 400,000 service men and women and their family members are laid to rest. There are nearly 30 funerals held each day, honoring those who have given their life to defend the values and ideals of America. If you’re planning a vacation to Washington DC, a visit to Arlington is something you must do.

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white house visitors center in Washington DC

White House Visitors Center

2 Stop 2 open 7:30am-4pm Free

At the White House Visitor Center, people from around the world can learn about the amazing history of the White House and the United States Presidency. Discover facts about the architecture and furnishings of the White House, the first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders. Visitors can also watch a 30-minute video, entitled “Where History Lives” and see six historical exhibits. A gift shop offers a variety of souvenirs and mementos related to the White House and Washington DC. Park ranger talks, military concerts, and special traveling exhibits are also of interest to guests and available at different times.

tudor place in Washington DC

Tudor Place

Constructed for Thomas Peter and his wife, a granddaughter of Martha Washington, Tudor Place is a Federal-style mansion. Money bequeathed by George Washington was used to purchase the property, which encompasses a city block on the crest of Georgetown Heights. The manor home was built in 1815 by William Thornton who also worked on the U.S. Capitol. The Peters hosted the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824 during his tour of the U.S. Robert E. Lee stayed at the property during his last visit to Washington before his death. Located at 1644 31st Street, NW, the home is open to the public.

international spy museum in Washington DC

International Spy Museum

1 Stop 1

Is there really such a thing as invisible ink? Is someone watching you through a camera in their buttonhole? For answers to these questions and a million other secrets about the fascinating world of spying, stop by the International Spy Museum. Discover the truth and myths about microdots and invisible ink, buttonhole cameras and submarine recording systems. Examine bugs of all sizes and kinds, and ingenious disguise techniques developed by Hollywood for the CIA. Trace the history of 50 years of spy technology, developed by agencies from the OSS to the KGB.

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petersen house in Washington DC

Petersen House

1 Stop 1

After a visit to Ford’s Theater, a stop at the Petersen House is most definitely in order. It is in this house that Abraham Lincoln died after frantic doctors worked to save him throughout the night. The house, now a National Historic Site, has been restored to its original condition and even the bed on which Lincoln passed away is much like the actual one. Now furnished with period pieces, guests can see the front parlor where Mary Todd Lincoln spent the night with her son, Robert and the back parlor where Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton held a cabinet meeting and questioned witnesses. Visitors can take self-guided tours to see the solemn, yet intriguing Petersen House.

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fords theatre in Washington DC

Ford’s Theatre

1 Stop 1

The chilling story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination comes to life in the very place he was mortally shot on April 14, 1865. After being closed for 103 years, Ford’s Theater was restored and reopened in 1968. Serving as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln and his love of the performing arts, the Theater is a live, working theater that plays host to a variety of plays by some of the country’s most talented playwrights, actors and artists. Ford’s Theater is also home to The Lincoln Museum, which gives visitors a look at the elaborate conspiracy planned by actor John Wilkes Booth, a supporter of the Confederate States of America, to assassinate the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State.

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