Updated: Dec 30, 2021
One of my favorite cities in the world is Washington D.C. With so much history, beautiful architecture, and importance, it's hard not to love it! I compiled a list of the top six attractions to see in Washington D.C. I know what you're thinking: technically there are three attractions for number one. Yes. Yes there are. I decided to do it by area/proximity. Most of these are fairly close to each other, but the ones that are grouped together under one number means they are either right next to each other or across the street. So, here they are. The top 6 attractions to see in Washington D.C.:
1. Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, & Korean War Veterans Memorial
The beautiful Lincoln Memorial, which was completed in 1922, overlooks the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. The giant statue of Lincoln is so amazing and the view from the stairs of the memorial is marvelous. The neighboring Korean War Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1995, features statues, a mural wall, a pool of remembrance, and The United Nations wall to commemorate the sacrifices of the millions of Americans who served during the war and highlight the countries in the UN who also helped with the war. On the other side of the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This memorial, dedicated in 1982, features names of all the American troops who died in the Vietnam War or are considered Missing in Action.
Tip: Visit all three memorials during the day, but return to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial right before sunrise or sunset. A colorful sky + the memorial or Washington Monument as the background= beautiful morning/evening
2. U.S. Capitol & Library of Congress
The U.S. Capitol is a beautiful building full of art, statues, and history (and, of course, politicians haha). The original part of the building was burned during The War of 1812, but construction continued after the war. The majority of the building that you see today was completed by 1891. The Library of Congress, which is across the street from the capitol building, is the world's largest library with millions of books and more. The first Library of Congress began in 1800 and was located in the capitol building. It wasn't until 1897 that the library was moved to The Thomas Jefferson Building. The entire Library of Congress is now housed in three different buildings. Both the U.S. Capitol and Library of Congress offer tours for visitors.
3. American History Museum
Opened in 1964 as part of the Smithsonian Museum Collections, The American History Museum offers visitors a chance to step into America's past. The museum features over a million objects and archival documents related to American history and the history of technology, science, and medicine. One exhibit displays the flag that inspired America's national anthem.
4. African American History & Culture Museum
This cool museum opened in 2016 in D.C. and it has around 36,000 artifacts! There are so many videos, stories, artifacts, and unique structures surrounding/inspired by African American history and culture. This is a really great museum and visitors can spend several hours here!
5. White House
Of course you cannot go to Washington D.C. without taking a picture of the White House! Construction on the White House began in 1792 and the first president to live in it, John Adams, didn't even wait until it was complete to move in! In 1814 (during the War of 1812), the White House was set on fire. James Monroe moved in once the house was rebuilt and in 1901 Theodore Roosevelt named the president's house the "White House." There are 132 rooms and 6 stories in the Executive Mansion. Just let that sink in for a moment (132!!). As of right now, in order to go on a tour of the White House you must send a request, but you can walk up to the fence and take as many pictures as you would like.
6. Washington Monument
The Washington Monument, obviously named to honor the USA's first president, George Washington, was completed in 1884. You can see the difference in stones used after private funding depleted, pausing construction until public funds were used to finish it. The monument is a little over 555 feet tall and was actually the tallest building in the world when it was completed. The structure has been restored several times over the years. One restoration took place after a major earthquake occurred in D.C. and damaged the building. You can see the difference in stone colors from one of the restorations. Today, the structure is open to visitors (yes, it's safe to go in) and has amazing views from the observation deck.
Whether you're staying for a couple of days or a week, these attractions are all must-dos in DC!