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Things To Do In Washington DC On Vacation

monuments by moonlight tour

Best Monuments In Washington DC


A visit to Washington DC is a journey through American history. And visiting the monuments and memorials helps bring the passion of our forefathers, leaders and visionaries to life. Luckily, you can visit any of them anytime and for free. Many of them are located near each other in the National Mall, making your travels easy and convenient.

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national cathedral in Washington DC

National Cathedral

18 Stop 18

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

17 Stop 17 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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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.

newseum in Washington DC


14 Stop 14 open 9am - 5pm Daily

Have you heard the news? Now you can see, hear and report it at one of Washington DC’s most exciting new museums. The Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue offers visitors a look at news like never before—significant, defining moments that span 5 centuries, through the past, present and up to the second. Throughout the 250,000 square foot, high-tech structure are seven different levels of galleries, demonstrations and interactive exhibits. Learn about the many different publications, people and technologies that bring the news to life in the News Corporation News History Gallery.

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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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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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national gallery of art in Washington DC cherub fountain

National Gallery of Art

3 Stop 3 open Mon-Sat: 
 | 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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white house in Washington DC

The White House

2 Stop 2

Since 1800, the White House has been a symbol of the United States government, the president and the people of America. It has also served as the home of every U.S. president except George Washington. Remodeled and restored many times over the years, the White House is recognized around the world as an emblem of American democracy. For many, the most famous room in the residence is the Oval Office where the president conducts business and meets with his advisers. Maintaining a stately presence in the nation’s capital, the White House is one of most significant landmarks in Washington, D.C.

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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.

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