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Did you know that Washington DC is not only the capital city but the only federal district of the United States? It is located on the east bank of the Potomac River, which forms its southwestern and southern border with the US state of Virginia, and shares a land border with the US state of Maryland on its remaining sides.
Things To Do In Washington DC
If you’re planning a visit to Washington DC, the United States Capitol, there is much to do and see. Here is a top ten list of things to do in Washington DC that you will not want to miss.
The White House
If you wish to tour the White House, you must have a group of ten or more people and submit a request in advance through your member of Congress. For specific information on submitting a request, see the White House’s website. If you have not scheduled a tour in advance, you can still visit The White House Visitor’s Center at 15th and E Streets. It is open seven days a week. You can view a 30-minute video and then explore exhibits that feature various aspects of the White House including its architecture and furnishings.
Arlington National Cemetery
Visited by almost four million people yearly, Arlington National Cemetery is one of Washington DC’s most popular attractions. The first stop should be at the Visitor’s Center by the entrance to get maps and guidebooks. Veterans from all the nation’s wars are buried in the cemetery. Some of the more well-known gravesites in the cemetery are the Tomb of the Unknowns and the burial places of John F. and Robert F. Kennedy. The Memorial Amphitheater and many monuments are also points of interest.
The National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery has one of the finest collections of art in the world. Its west wing exhibits 13th to 19th-century masterpieces while its east wing exhibits 20th-century modern art. For families, there are special children’s films and family activities that vary monthly.
Smithsonian Institution Museums
Various buildings throughout the city. Within the 16 separate museums of the Smithsonian located in Washington DC, you will find the world’s largest museum complex. Its collection of more than 142 million objects ranges from dinosaurs to Archie Bunker’s chair and everything in between. The first stop should be the Smithsonian Institution Building on the National Mall, also known as the castle, for visitor information. There is a free orientation video to help guide visitors through the museums.
The National Zoo
Visit the giant pandas and all their friends at the National Zoo. Spend some time exploring endangered species, watching the giant octopus feeding, or listening to one of the zoo’s expert interpreters tell about cheetahs, great apes and other animals. There are many daily programs to entertain everyone in the family.
The Monuments and Memorials on the National Mall
The National Mall is the centre of DC’s tourist district and it is home to many fine monuments. The Washington Monument which stands over 555 feet tall is the most prominent. From the top of this monument, you can see many of the others including The Korean War Monument, The Vietnam Memorial Wall, The Lincoln Monument, and the World War II Memorial.
The US Capitol Building
Capitol Hill on the National Mall. Free tours are given every day but Sunday of the home of the House of Representatives and The United States Senate. Tickets are given out the day of the tour on a first come first served basis starting at 9am. They can go very quickly so plan accordingly.
The Washington National Cathedral
Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues. Take in a worship service at the 6th largest cathedral in the world or take one of the guided or self-guided tours. You can view various objects of art including gargoyles and sculptures. Of particular interest to many people is the carving of Darth Vader at the top of the West Tower.
The Holocaust Museum
The Permanent Exhibition, The Holocaust, allows visitors to explore four floors of educational exhibits. Tickets are required for The Permanent Exhibit, and it is recommended that they be purchased in advance. Special exhibitions, an interactive learning centre and some other educational opportunities are accessible without tickets.
One of Washington DC’s most famous neighbourhoods is the perfect place for visitors to take a walking tour of old homes situated on cobblestone streets. There are also many fine restaurants, cafes and upscale shops. In the evening the neighbourhood comes alive with students from Georgetown University and others looking for some exciting nightlife.