Washington DC USA – Things To Do and See

You probably already have an idea of things you want to do on your next visit to Washington DC, but like a lot of people maybe you don’t have enough activities to fill up all your days, or maybe you have the opposite problem.  Maybe you are visiting Washington DC for only a 3 full days and you have too many ideas of things to see and you want to narrow them down a little bit.  So what sites should you visit if you are there only a few days?  Or what is a long list of places that are worth seeing if I’m in DC for a week or more?

Must see attractions if visiting only a few days

The good news it that a lot of the tourist attractions in Washington are FREE!  This is usually not the case in other big cities, but there are many things to see in Washington DC that will cost you nothing, except some time standing in line to get into some of these attractions.

Smithsonian

The Smithsonian is a group of different museums and research centers paid for by the federal government (more accurately paid for by us, the tax payers).  There are many different museums to visit, so if you are in Washington DC for several days, you may be able to visit them all, but if you are in DC for only a couple of days, I would recommend the Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space museum.  Both of these were my favorite.  The Museum of American History is good, but if I had time constraints, I would skip this one and visit the other two.  Good news is that all Smithsonian museums are completely free.

 

White House

Many people don’t know, but common people like you and I can visit and tour the actual White House.  It’s not as easy as visiting the other attractions in Washington DC, because you have to fill out an application and get a background check run on you, but the good news is that all of this process, plus the visit to the White House are absolutely free.

Here’s what you need to do, you need visit your local congress person’s website and they should have a link to click that will lead you to instructions to follow to be able to visit the White House.  It is ideal to do this a couple months in advance as it takes time to get approval to visit the White House.

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is definitely worth a visit, and it’s a quick visit.  It sits on the west side of the Mall of America and looking out from the Lincoln Memorial, you can see the US Capitol building and the Washington Memorial.

Jefferson Memorial

Not too far from the Lincoln Memorial is the Jefferson Memorial on the other side of the river.  It is a little bit of a walk, but it’s worth the visit.

World War 2 Memorial

This place is worth the visit, especially for me.  My grandfather fought in World War 2.  We so happened to be visiting Washington DC on Veteran’s Day weekend in November 2017, so the memorial was well decorated.

National Archives Museum

This is probably one of the most important sites to visit while in Washington DC.  This is where you can find the signed US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other important historical documents.  Depending on how long you want to look at the documents, this can be a pretty quick visit.  You’ll likely spend more time in line to get into the museum than you will actually spending time in the building, but it’s still very worth it to go in.  There is nothing quite like seeing the original signed US Constitution.  The cost?  It’s free to enter the National Archives Museum.

Mount Vernon, Virginia

Mount Vernon is the home where the First US President George Washington lived most of his life.  It is located in Mount Vernon, VA.  Unlike most of the other attractions, this one actually costs money.  It’s not a whole lot of money, but I would recommend upgrading to premium.  With the premium ticket you can visit certain parts of Washington’s mansion that are not included in the standard tour including the cellar below the house and the 3rd floor, which includes additional bedrooms.  You will need a whole day for this, so if you are in DC for only 3 days, spend 2 days around the main sights at the Mall of America and spend the one full day in Mount Vernon.

Beside the mansion tour, it is fun to walk the grounds of Washington’s estate.  It is very beautiful and peaceful with lots of trees, the Potomic River, walking paths, and gardens.  By the time everything was done, we did not want to leave because it was such a beautiful place.  Needless to say, this was the highlight of our trip.

The Jeffersonian

The Jeffersonia is a place where dead bodies and bones are examined after murder cases do determine the cause of death and ultimately to find the perpetrator and arrest him or her.  If you are looking for this place in Washington DC you are not going to find it.  It doesn’t exist, except on the TV show Bones.  Sorry, I had to add this.

Must see attractions if visiting for a week or more

Visit all the places mentioned above, but take more time with them.  I would also visit the Washington National Cathedral, The Capitol Building, the Library of Congress, The International Spy Museum, the remaining Smithsonian Museums, the National Museum of African American History, and the National Portrait Gallery.  There are so many places to see, I cannot list them here.  One of the best things you can do now is open Google Maps and type in Washington DC.  Zoom in on the Mall of American and click each building to see what it is and you can often click on links from there to visit the websites of all the different attractions.

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