fun things to do in Washington DC

The food in Washington DC is exquisite, it’s rich in history, and it’s home to some of the finest national parks and museums in the world.

The White House and the Pentagon both stand ready waiting to be toured, as do a number of other high-profile domiciles in the area… and some of them are famously haunted!

If you want to take a deep dive straight into American history, culture and politics, you’ve landed in exactly the right city! There’s no better place to uncover iconic monuments, statues and memorials than the capital of the United States of America!

Not only about the affairs of state, enjoy a romantic dinner cruise on the river, or bring your little ones to watch a live baseball match!

Let your creative side run loose during clay classes at a local cafe, unravel the world of art at prime galleries or hunt down caves and waterfalls!

There are so many amazing things to do in Washington DC that to do it all in one visit would be simply impossible. Here’s just a selection!

Want to dive straight in? Browse our catalog now!

1 – Bone up on history at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress, Washington DC

There’s no better way to indulge in American politics than with a private tour of the Library of Congress, Capitol Hill, and the Supreme Court.

As one of the world’s largest libraries, its shelves are home to not only books on the political front, but millions of films, videos, audio recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts.

Established in 1800, the different areas of the library (housing the General, International and Special format collections) are visually stunning!

Take a leisurely stroll through the library’s main reading room as you discuss all things politics past, present, and future, and check famous artifacts and landmarks like the Gutenburg Bible and the Thomas Jefferson Library off of your bucket list.

2 – Check out all the monuments and memorials on Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, Washington DC

If you’re a fan of American history and you’re looking for things to do in Washington DC, then you’ll want to visit Capitol Hill ASAP to see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Visit the Supreme Court and take a tour of the places where bills and ideas are debated into law. The picturesque National Mall is the perfect spot to snap some vacation memories!

Stop by the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center to become more knowledgeable about the house of Congress and American politics since its earliest days, and see the architectural development of the U.S. Capitol since it was first constructed between 1793 and 1800.

Arriving at the center, investigate interactive exhibits and storytelling displays within the Exhibition Hall, or join some of the activities. Try out a hands-on learning experience in the Democracy Lab or pretend to “pass legislation”.

There are a few specialty tours to join, lasting between 30 minutes to one hour. These include the Halls Of The Senate, Votes For Women, Indigenous Peoples In Capitol Art and Heroes Of Civil Rights tours.

Hot tip: Don’t miss our selection of the best Capitol Hill tours and read more about the best Washington DC Monuments Tours

3 – Pay tribute to the 300,000 fallen heroes buried at the Arlington Cemetery

Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC

The Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most famous cemeteries in all of the United States, and a visit here gives you the opportunity to pay respects to more than 300,000 of the military’s fallen heroes.

Both public and private tours are guided by passionate experts, and sites include the Tomb of the Unknowns, Memorials to the Columbia and the Challenger space shuttles, and the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy himself.

Right near the cemetery, this time honor marine soldiers, and comrades, who have lost their lives during battles at the US Marine Corps War Memorial — accessible through Arlington National Cemetery and located on Arlington Ridge.

An impressive bronze statue reaching nearly 10 meters high depicts an iconic scene of marines raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima in 1945 during the war against Japan for Iwo Jima.

In the summertime, arrive around Golden Hour, just in time to witness the one-hour Sunset Parades, and the performance includes the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps musical procession.

When crowds dissipate in the evenings, the memorial takes on a completely new light.

4 – Watch the Washington Wizards play at the Capital One Arena

Capital One Arena in Washington

There’s always something awesome going on at the Capital One Arena: NBA and NHL games, and also spectacular concerts, even sometimes Monster Jam car rallies! On average, the arena hosts about 220 events per year.

At the time of writing, the front page of the events calendar boasts no less than The Eagles, Harry Styles, and Marc Anthony. That’s just an example of the types of events you’ll find advertised here year round!

But it’s not just limited to sports and music, and expect some of the biggest stand-up comedians and celebs taking the stage — hello, Adam Sandler!

Opening in 1997, today, the stadium is home to the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NCAA’s Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team.

5 – Bring the kids to the National Children’s Museum

National Children’s Museum, Washington DC
credit to National Children’s Museum

Interactive, educational and captivating, the National Children’s Museum is a great way for kids to kill a few hours having all the fun thanks to science, technology, engineering, art and math (known as STEAM).

Join the Dance Party Pod and shake it off to different genres of music that inspire varying movements through the power of sound when arriving at the entry hall. Then, move on to the exciting exhibitions.

“Climb” into the clouds at the dream machine exhibit, investigate the data science alley, stop by the tinkers studio or meet your favorite characters from Nickelodeon at the art + tech exhibition space.

The museum also has a bunch of programs (which change every few months) to get involved in during a visit.

6 – Spend a day walking through the National Mall

National Mall, Washington DC

Be it by night or by day, there are more than 10 iconic tour stops waiting to be seen on a guided tour of the National Mall. Learn the fascinating history behind the Smithsonian museums and Potomac River, and check out memorials to Lincoln, FDR, and MLK.

There are both public and private options available, and some packages even offer pick up from your accommodation. Not to mention, these tours are amenable to all budgets!

Opening in 1966, the national park in downtown Washington is one of the best places to see a collaboration of museums, memorials, galleries, statues and gardens, with views of the White House in the background.

The National Gallery of Art is here too where you can see originals by masters like Van Gogh and Da Vinci. Peek into the Sculpture Garden next door afterward.

Located within the park is the peaceful Constitution Gardens; a great spot to rest your feet around the lake after you’re done exploring American history.

As a tribute to the U.S. Constitution, the gardens opened their doors in 1976 and also contain a few dedicated memorials within.

Hot tip: Our selection of the best walking tours in Washington DC is perfect for history buffs and curious travelers.

7 – Pay respects at the Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Memorials

memorials in Washington DC

With a past sweeping centuries of politics, social justice and key moments in history, you’re in the right place when it comes to extensive memorial tours, and many are located near the National Mall.

Nicknamed the ‘Stone of Hope’ after an excerpt from the civil rights leader’s most famous speech, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a nine-meter tall white granite monument in his honor.

Take a moment to reflect at the National World War II Memorial: a solemn reminder of the horrors of war, a tribute to those soldiers who fought for peace, and a great photo opportunity.

There are 58,318 names etched into the black granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every one of them belonging to an American soldier who lost his/her life in the devastating Vietnam War.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial, which includes the Pool of Remembrance, is a tribute to the soldiers who fell during the real Korean War.

As the man in charge of the United States all throughout the Great Depression as well as World War II, FDR was one of the country’s most consequential presidents. Learn about the man who led the USA through the dark at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

The men of the U.S. navy have been fighting and laying down their lives for hundreds of years, and the U.S. Navy Memorial showcases that rich history.

8 – Work against the clock with your friends in an escape room

escape game in Wahsington DC
credit to Escape Game Washington, DC

Escape rooms are guaranteed to be a fun time in any city. If you love solving puzzles, then spend some time in a locked room with your friends and family as you work against the clock to find as many clues as possible and solve the mysteries laid out before you.

Or, if you’re looking for something a little more primal, why not try the Smash Room? Forget all your problems in a safe environment as you release tension by smashing everything you see. It’s therapeutic!

Discover different themed rooms, each designed to suit different ages or playing levels. Go on ‘A Pirate’s Adventure,’ escape the ‘Curse of the Mummy’ or find secret potions with ‘Dr. Whack’s Elixir of Life.’

9 – Treat your honey to Candlelight Concerts

Candlelight Concerts in Washington DC

Hey couples, if you’re traveling to Washington and are in search of a romantic date night idea, candlelight concerts might be the answer you’re looking for — especially if you share an infinity for performance art.

Picture this… As you and your darling enter the room ready to watch a spectacular concert, the entire space is lit up in soft dreamy warm lighting thanks to the hundreds of candles all around you.

The venue is carefully selected, and there is a variety of different types of shows to watch by twinkling lights. For example, watch a tribute to Radiohead at the Miracle Theatre, or a show dedicated to Hans Zimmer at St. Francis Hall.

You can attend these mesmerizing shows around the world, from Paris to Seoul as well as in Washington DC.

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Discover A Sensational Valentine’s Day Experience

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with an unforgettable twist at Dining in the Dark, where a blindfolded dinner elevates your senses of taste and smell. Perfect for couples, families, and friends looking for a distinctive dining experience, this event invites you to explore flavors and aromas in a completely new way.

10 – Come during springtime and check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Every spring, between the months of March and April, the cherry blossoms in DC bloom and create one of the most beautiful natural sights this side of the Pacific Ocean. The cherry blossoms were a gift from Japan in the early 1900s.

The festival that comes along with the yearly natural occurrence is one for the books and includes street art, food, parades, and so much more.

This spring festival is one of the very best things to do in Washington DC. The event specifically runs between March and April when the Sakuras are out in full bloom. 

Around this time of year, there are also Cherry Blossom tours in Washington DC showing you the top places for cherry blossom spotting (and photographs).

11 – Immerse yourself in America’s favorite pastime at Nationals Park

baseball game at Nationals Park

Nationals Park is the official home of the Washington Nationals, Washington’s Major League Baseball team. Going to see a ball game in the U.S. capital is probably one of the most American things a person can do, and there aren’t many better places to do it.

Nationals Park was completed in 2008, making it relatively new compared to other stadiums around the country, and it was the first one to be LEED green certified. When the baseball team isn’t playing match day or it’s out of season, the stadium hosts a wide variety of events, from beer festivals to concerts featuring famous bands, musos and singers.

Stadium tours are available; get your autographs in on Signature Sundays; and there’s a Nationals Park Kids Zone for little ones.

12 – See exotic animals from all over the world at the National Zoological Park

National Zoological Park, Washington DC
credit to National Zoological Park

The National Zoological Park is yet another attraction in DC that’s completely free of charge. It houses more than 2,700 individual animals! Exotic lizards, gorgeous birds, beasts of all shapes and sizes, you name it, you’ll find it here.

The fully fleshed-out animal habitats within the zoo’s impressive 163 acres were designed with conservation in mind and the team here is dedicated to making sure the species housed here continue to thrive.

Animals are divided into different zones, such as the Africa Trail, Bird House, Reptile Discovery Center, Kids’ Farm, Primates, Great Cats, Asia Trail and more! Little ones especially love the Me and the Bee Playground, the water-fun Squirt Zone and riding the Speedwell Conservation Carousel.

13 – See George Washington’s final resting place at Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon is famous for being one of America’s oldest and most beloved plantations. It was owned by George and Martha Washington, and they are buried right near the mansion that is maintained to look exactly as it did back then.

The experience at this gorgeous piece of Americana is so immersive that there are even actors on-hand to make sure it’s as authentic as possible.

Apart from the Washington’s mansion, there are other areas to explore at the Mount Vernon estate: the gardens, tombs, farm, distillery and gristmill, two museums and the wharf. The mansion forms part of the historic area, and there are outbuildings here to tour, like the stables and blacksmith shop, among others.

14 – Learn what life was like for a Civil War soldier at the Gettysburg Battlefield

Gettysburg Battlefield

The Battle of Gettysburg (1 July to 3 July 1863) changed the course of American history, and for history buffs looking to get acquainted with the most famous Civil War locations, this major landmark is a must see.

This very location is where the three-day battle between Union and Confederate forces took place, and it’s located just over an hour away from Washington (in Pennsylvania). The Battlefield forms part of the larger Gettysburg National Military Park (established in 1895).

Live one day as a soldier in the Civil War and take in a one of a kind 360-degree painting of the infamous battle, then get transported right back to Washington at the end of the day!

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Dopamine Land: A Multisensory Adventure Awaits

Indulge all of your senses – especially your sense of wonder! – at the visually stunning Dopamine Land. This vibrant event boasts 10 interactive rooms, each designed to delight your senses and unleash your inner child’s imagination. Whether it’s meditating, mixing music, drawing on walls, or engaging in a spirited pillow fight, Dopamine Land offers an array of activities that promise to stimulate the happiness hormone.

15 – Find the freshest produce and ingredients at the Eastern Market

Eastern Market, Washington DC

If you have a taste for farm-fresh products, you need to check out DC’s Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Not only that, it’s a historical institute, to say the very least. Its first vendors popped up in 1873 — and it’s been running ever since!

The vendors here offer everything from fresh food to hand-made arts and crafts. The Eastern Market also regularly puts on local gatherings and events.

A space for communities: it is split by the indoor South Hall Market, the Weekend Outdoor Market, Fresh Tuesdays Farmers Market (12 PM to 4 PM), the Weekend Farmers’ (Saturday and Sunday from 9 AM to 3 PM) and the North Hall Event Space.

16 – Grab brunch on a sightseeing cruise

sightseeing cruise in Washington DC

There are so many ways to take in the numerous historical sites around Washington, and one of the most pleasurable has to be by taking a sightseeing day cruise on the Potomac River. Boarding the three-tier Spirit of Washington cruiser, enjoy a buffet lunch or brunch on one of the interior decks or the rooftop lounge, with DJs lifting the mood.

If you’d prefer, there are evening dinner sightseeing cruises, topped with a three-course meal and bottomless mimosas! Both options range from two to three hours guaranteed on the water.

Whether it be during a sunlit brunch cruise or a moonlit dinner cruise, there are definitely worse ways to see the White House, Admiral’s Row, and so many more!

17 – Stay in shape while you take a bike tour around DC

bike tour in Washington DC

Of all the ways to take a tour around the United States capital, few will help you stay in shape like taking a ride on a bike customized to your specifications. Set aside a couple of hours for navigating your way through a list of iconic monuments and attractions.

Get up close and personal with historical landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, all while learning the incredible stories behind them from expert local guides.

Veer past the likes of the Smithsonian Institution Building, National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, The National Archives Museum, the FBI Headquarters and much more!

Certain bike tours focus on the sites around the United States Capitol,or there are family-friendly options to peak the interests of all ages in your tour group.

Read more: Best City Tours in Washington DC

18 – Go sightseeing through the capital on a double-decker bus or trolley tour

trolley tour in Washington DC

There are few things more magical than a moonlight tour of some of DC’s most famous historical monuments (all fully illuminated) by open-air trolley, and few better things to do in Washington DC in general.

There are also tours available during the day! And best of all, there are multiple spots available to hop on one of these guided and narrated tours at your convenience!

During the daytime, the hop-on hop-off open-top bus tours are valid for the entire day. With over 15 stops included on the itinerary, you have the freedom to jump on and off the bus at your own leisure.

Or, if your heart is set on a trolley tour guided by the moon and the city lights, these range from 1.5 to 2.5 evening excursions.

Hot tip: When deciding between hop on hop off Washington DC bus tours vs trolley tours, check which routes cover more landmarks across the city.

19 – See Washington DC from 10,000 feet in the air when you go skydiving

skydiving in Washington DC

Another great way to see the capital is on the way down from a 10,000-foot jump. You’ll also get a great view of the scenic Chesapeake bay.

All that’s required is a 30-minute training course prior to taking a heart-pounding 60-second free fall. Then, Once the parachute opens, it’s a gentle 5-7 minute trip to the ground.

The D.C. Skydiving Center offers both tandem jumps and solo dives for serious adrenaline junkies.

Traveling at speeds of nearly 200 kilometers per hour, freefall for 45 seconds (whilst harnessed and attached to one of the center’s certified skydive instructors), and then the rest of the parachute ride lasts from four to seven minutes.

If this isn’t your first rodeo, opt for epic skyboarding, vertical flying or belly flying sessions, or if you haven’t yet been certified to solo skydive, the center offers courses to get you prepared for your first solo adventure!

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Walk inside a Monet masterpiece

At Monet: The Immersive Experience, you can become a part of the master’s artwork thanks to incredible 360-degree projections. Learn about Monet’s life story, the inspiration behind some of his most famous paintings, for an intimate moment with the artist, as if he was telling you his stories. Get up close to every brush stroke, or enjoy a VR experience. This is art like you’ve never seen it before!

20 – See how indoor skydiving is just as exhilarating

indoor skydiving in Washington DC

As of just recently, DC is now home to an indoor skydiving facility in addition to the outdoor option! They offer an experience that uses wall-to-wall wind tunnels to simulate an 11,000-foot drop.

The activity comes complete with a personal instructor and flight gear, plus a nifty certificate upon completion.

21 – See the 36,000 artifacts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Established by the United States Congress in 2003, the NMAAHC is the only museum in the entire country dedicated to the documentation of African American history and culture, and it finally opened as an official extension of the Smithsonian in 2016.

It currently houses over 36,000 artifacts. Divided into history, community and culture, investigate topics like ‘Slavery and Freedom’, ‘Sports’, ‘Musical Crossroads’ and ‘Visual Art and the American Experience’.

Home to special and permanent exhibits, the collections comprise categories highlighting (and displaying) clothing and dress, education, literature, Black Lives Matter, religion, politics and much more.

Not only interesting but a true eye-opener, African American tours in Washington are a fantastic opportunity to learn about the past from centuries back up until the civil rights movement.

These expeditions always make a stop over the Smithsonian, as well as pivotal monuments and sites around the city such as the Emancipation Statue, the Martin Luther King Memorial, LeDroit Park and the Mary McLeod Bethune Statue.

22 – Explore other Smithsonian museums, like the National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian museums in Washington DC

Did you know that the world’s largest museum and research site is home to a whopping 21 museums and nine research centers? Set aside time to investigate the other Smithsonian museums and the rest of the Smithsonian complex.

Learn about our place in nature at the National Museum of Natural History, offering exhibits dedicated to ecology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, and of course, butterflies.

If you’re a fan of aviation and engineering, then you must check out the National Museum of Air and Space.

See the most complete collection of American art in the world at the American Art Museum! Check out the latest in contemporary decorative art at the Renwick Gallery (forming part of this Museum).

Have you ever wondered where exactly the star-spangled banner came from? Or how it was that baseball became America’s favorite pastime? The answers to these questions and more await you within the halls of the National Museum of American History.

Pay respects to (and become better educated on) those who called America home first at the National Museum of the American Indian.

The National Postal Museum is actually housed in the building that served as the Washington Post Office for over 50 years! It hosts all kinds of activities, including self-guided tours and wine & design evenings.

The National Museum of Asian Art is actually two Smithsonian museums merged into one: the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Together, they house more than 40,000 unique objects from the Orient dating all the way back to the neolithic period.

23 – See masterpieces from the world’s greatest artists at the National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Considered as one of the best museums in Washington DC, the DC National Art Gallery is so vast and full of unique pieces of art that you’ll probably want to go back more than once, especially if you want to make sure to catch as many masterpieces as possible from Renaissance artists, French Impressionists, and of course, legendary American painters.

Founded in 1937, its extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, photos, prints and drawings accumulate to 150,000 treasured pieces! A few out of many highlights include da Vinci’s ‘Ginevra de’ Benci’ and Van Gogh’s ‘Self Portrait.’

Themed guided tours of the museum are available, join an event like Artist Talks or a workshop, and there’s the Ice Rink at the Sculpture Garden outside.

24 – Investigate the country’s foundations at the National Archives Museum

National Archives Museum, Washington DC

American history aficionados, did you know that you can see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and the Bill of Rights documents in person at the National Archives Museum?!

Entering the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, these three preserved artifacts are on display inside, and you can’t help but feel the shivers down your spine looking at the original pieces of paper, now faded yellow and licked in diminishing ink.

You also can’t help but notice the Faulkner Murals, painted between 1935 to 1936 by artist Barry Faulkner. It shows an imagined scene from the days of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The Public Vaults, Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery and the David M. Rubenstein Gallery (containing the Records of Rights) are other exhibits at the museum and are available to take a tour through.

See also: best tourist attractions in Washington DC.

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Revealing royal secrets: Tutankhamun arrives in Washington DC!

Unveiling the mysteries of Ancient Egypt in Washington DC, Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures is the exhibition of a lifetime! Delve into the fascinating life of the young pharaoh through an impressive collection of recreated objects, fascinating decorations and intriguing ideas. Don’t miss this golden chance; it’s history like you’ve never seen before.

25 – Step back in time at the National Building Museum

National Building Museum, Washington DC

From government headquarters to inaugural balls, the National Building Museum has certainly seen its fair share of important people in history walk through its doors.

Originally built between 1882 and 1887, today, presidents and congress still utilize the space for events. This is fitting as the building was designed in grand architecture, taking inspiration from Roman palaces.

A standout feature is the Great Hall, separated into three courts and with a fountain in the center. Marvel at the architecture in person and then move on to exploring the museum’s permanent collections.

Through architectural prints, drawings, photographic images (including negatives) documents, material items and other artifacts, gain a greater understanding of the architectural styles and construction techniques of the historic building.

If you’re here with the little ones, bring them to the ‘ PLAY, WORK, and BUILD’ exhibition. The hands-on block play area, interactive displays and the museum’s Architectural Toy Collection capture the minds of children in an instant.

26 – Get acquainted with DC’s best food on a food tour

food tours in Washington DC

DC is famous for a lot of things, most of them having to do with history and politics. What a lot of people tend to overlook is how rich the area’s food culture is, especially in the neighborhood of Georgetown, but not exclusively.

Some of the other areas to take your pick from include Old Town Alexandria, Little Ethiopia, Capitol Hill and U Street. A food tour is one of the best things to do in Washington DC. Find world-class pizza, cheese, chili, and more as you learn the fascinating history behind this incredibly varied gastronomic hub.

Food-centric excursions are usually around three hours (giving you enough time to get your full fix of local restaurants, cafes and dishes).

27 – Tour the delights of Virginia Wine Country

wine tastings in Washington DC

Speaking of gastronomic pleasures, it doesn’t get more pleasurable than wine and cheese in the nation’s capital. Throw in a delicious local beer for good measure, and you’ve got all the makings for a great tour of the wineries in Virginia Wine Country.

The region is famed for its Virginia wine, growing in the surroundings since the 17th century. There are plenty of wine tours to take your pick, stopping off at multiple wineries to tour the cellars, sample the different reds and whites, and even get to explore the vineyards.

Some examples of the wineries and vineyards to visit are the Philip Carter Winery, Blue Valley Vineyard, Doukenie Winery, Casanel Vineyards & Winery, Bluemont Vineyard and Fabbioli Cellars. Obviously, these activities are 21+.

28 – Crazy rollercoasters, 100 attractions and live shows, visit Six Flags America

Six Flags America, Maryland

If the name seems familiar, it’s because Six Flags America has 27 parks across the USA (including Canada and Mexico)! The one in DC is the tenth park to open under the brand.

Themed around the six nations that have governed Texas (Texas was the playground’s very first location), the park is split into various zones such as Cutthroat Creek, the Grand Theatre and Main Street 1776.

Although it is a classic amusement park, Six Flags is famed for its array of belly-dropping roller coasters! There are a whopping 10 here!

Whether you’ve visited the amusement theme park in another city or state before, or it’s your first time, there’s no doubt about it, visitors love it time and time again!

29 – See ancient Torah Scrolls and thousand-year-old papyrus texts at the Museum of the Bible

Museum of the Bible
credit to Museum of the Bible

The Museum of the Bible is an immersive visual and auditory experience that is unlike any other museum dedicated to the study of religion. You’ll learn how this one book has impacted music, literature, fashion, and culture as well as get to see other priceless treasures from the Vatican.

For a proper, in-depth investigation, consider one of the museum’s guided tours. For example, the ‘Museum of the Bible Highlights Tour’ or ‘The World of Jesus of Nazareth Tour.’ Set up across eight floors, its permanent collections, such as ‘The History of the Bible,’ are spread throughout.

Whether you’re a religious person or not, this is guaranteed to be one far out experience.

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The Drunk Shakespeare Society: where cocktails and classics meet

Mix cocktails and classics for an unforgettable evening at the Drunk Shakespeare Society. A hidden gem behind the Sage Theater, D.C. sets the stage for five fearless actors. While sipping on a variety of alcoholic beverages, the Shakespearean show will be played in a funny way, creating a unique way every time.

30 – Learn what life is like for a real spy at the International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum, Washington DC

Is the Pink Panther theme playing in your head yet? The International Spy Museum has everything you could ever possibly want to know about the real men and women who made James Bond and Mission Impossible, er, possible.

Learn all about the fascinating (and sometimes embarrassing) history of the CIA, MI6, and what really goes on between the world’s superpowers.

What’s been declassified, anyway. The museum explores global secret services, and not just the USA’s agency. Its interactive exhibits (where you can test your spy skills) are epically designed and themed accordingly.

These sections include the Briefing Center, Stealing Secrets exhibit, Making Sense of Secrets, Covert Action, Spying that Shaped History, an Uncertain World and the Debriefing Center.

31 – Visit the famous ARTECHOUSE


The DC ARTECHOUSE is a modern art gallery experience that comes for all of your senses. Cameras aren’t allowed for this one, as it is meant to be experienced whole-heartedly in the moment.

Popular in the 21st century, it brings digital and state-of-the-art technology, advanced design tools and unique architectural spaces. If you’re expecting to find your conventional abstract art, look elsewhere, and artists work hand-in-hand with scientists and digital experts to bring their progressive ideas to life.

At the time of writing, the featured exhibition is a trip through a cyberpunk landscape complete with market, alleyways, and abandoned rooftop. If you’ve ever wanted to spend a day living in a Blade Runner fantasy world, here’s your chance.

32 – Snap a couple of pictures at the Washington Monument

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument may look like a simple giant obelisk, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a meeting spot, a photo opportunity, and it’s surrounded by other historical monuments as well as the scenic Potomac Canal.

A day tour through the gorgeous, history-soaked capital with the Washington Monument as the centerpiece is the perfect way to introduce yourself to DC.

The landmark was erected in honor of the Founding Father (George Washington), and its construction began in 1848! The Egyptian obelisk-shaped tower was built in two phases during the 19th century.

Catch an elevator ride up to the top of this 169-meter-tall stone structure (made from a mixture of marble, granite, and bluestone) for incredible views from the observation point.

See also: 100 Top Tourist Attractions in the US

33 – From Pilsners to Pale Ales to Hazy IPAs, go on a brewery tour with beer tastings

beer tasting in Washington DC

For all craft beer connoisseurs: don’t miss out on testing the local brews while you’re in the capital with a delicious brewery tour and beer tasting! Visiting three breweries, going behind the scenes at each, getting a feel for what goes into manufacturing the perfect ale.

You’ll even learn more about the various tasting notes – favored especially in craft beers. The beer tasting includes sampling 12 different types.

Examples of breweries visited during the tour are Hellbender Brewing Company, Port City Brewing Company and Right Proper Brewing Company, but tour-dependent, these are subject to change.

Beer-tasting experiences last 3.5 hours.

34 – Take a day trip down into the 64 acres of the Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns, Virginia

Another ideal spot for history buffs as well as nature fans, there are over 64 acres of caves and waterfalls to explore deep within the Luray Caverns of Shenandoah Moutains. Officially the largest cavern system in the eastern USA, meandering through the dimly lit caves and stone formations is goosebump-inducing!

It feels like you’re on another planet in the rooms as big as cathedrals, and with ceilings as tall as ten stories. Lookout for the natural illusion: Dream Lake. With a shallow depth of just 50 centimeters, the large waterbody appears much deeper than it is because of the mirrored reflections off of its surface.

As far as day trips go, there are tonnes of activities available (inclusive of your ticket price to the Caverns) including visiting the Luray Valley Museum, Toy Town Junction, and a still-working Mercedes dating all the way back to 1897.

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Sip and paint in the dark at this unique workshop!

This retro-futuristic experience combines the thrill of painting with a fluorescent twist, offering a brush in one hand and a choice of drink in the other. The musical backdrop adds to the atmosphere, making it a perfect outing for friends. By the end of the night, not only will you have had an unforgettable experience, but you’ll also leave with a personal masterpiece to proudly display at home.

35 – See history’s most influential figures immortalized at the National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

Artists, politicians, scientists, inventors, activists, and performers – at the National Portrait Gallery in DC, those faces that helped shape the face of America are on full display.

With over a dozen exhibits highlighting everything from unique photographs of Presidents at work to exquisite paintings of the supreme court justices, the gallery is now fully open both online and in person.

When it was first founded back in 1962, its sole focus was on individuals working for the State, but today, it extends far beyond this, including portraits of those that have made contributions to the history, development and culture of the United States, like poets, actors and sometimes, even antagonists.

Check out their calendar of special events for additional learning opportunities and activities for the whole family.

36 – Relive Lincoln’s final hours on a Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour

Lincoln assassination walking tour in Washignton DC

For history fans with more morose sensibilities, some walking tours around DC offer a trip through the President Lincoln’s final day, complete with a final stop at the infamous Ford Theater where he was fatally shot.

Travel back in time to the tragic event that took place on 14 April 1865 (the 16th President of the US passed away the following morning), taking a deep dive into the incident, and with plenty of backstories and history tossed into the mix.

The tour also includes looks at old photographs from that time period that will help set the mood. Intrigue and mystery await! Guided expeditions typically are two hours, but if you’d prefer to do this one without a guide, there are self-guided audio tours, too.

37 – Learn pottery at The Clay Cafe

The Clay Cafe

DC may have once had a less than stellar reputation, but today it’s actually gotten pretty bourgeois. So much so that it currently houses an adorable little pottery studio called The Clay Cafe.

They offer classes for one or two people at a time, and compared to other pottery classes they cost practically nothing. Try your hand at the Potter’s Wheel and mold your own creation (there are adult, multi-age and hand-building classes), or, pick out an unglazed item already shaped, and paint, hand-dip glaze and fire up your art in the oven.

You’re shown techniques like how to sculpt, creating whatever your mind can imagine, from vases to treasure troves to mirrors — it’s all up to you! There are other art classes available here too: Canvas or Glass Fusing Classes.

38 – Feel enthralled wandering the National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Museum of Women in the Arts
credit to National Museum of Women in the Arts

Where would the world be without women? Seriously … As the first of its kind across the entire globe, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is as empowering as it is educational (and mega insightful!).

Celebrating the femme through its temporary and permanent collections, exhibitions, gallery shows and programs, the aim is to shine a light on the world of women in art (past and present) through expos that also address ‘the gender imbalance in the presentation of art.’

Opening its doors in its current location in 1987, the NMWA houses art across mixed mediums from oil paintings to sculptural works. Guided tours are available and offer informative background titbits and history as you move through the artwork.

39 – Take a boat tour of the National Harbor

self drive boat tour in Washington DC

The Potomac River in DC is as scenic a body of water as they come and it offers an excellent view of some of Washington’s most important landmarks including National Harbor, Jones Point Lighthouse, Mount Vernon, Fort Washington, and Little Hunting Creek.

Take a self-guided boat tour past all of these locations and more, and enjoy the additional benefit of the local wildlife, which includes bald eagles. It doesn’t get much more U.S.A. than that!

There are City Cruises, as well as water taxis that operate around the National Harbor, for example, from the Harbor’s Marina to Alexandria. Other tour operators embark from the Gangplank Marina at the DC Wharf.

Ranging from two to three hours, there are evening excursions too.

40 – Find everything you’re looking for and more at DC’s Union Market

DC's Union Market

DC’s Union Market is home to dozens of specialty shops tailored to just about any need, but it’s so much more than that. It also plays host to daily concerts, exercise classes, art exhibitions, and has a full host of venues ready for dinner parties, weddings, business gatherings, etc.

These are split between various venues within the DC Union district: Balcón (a second-floor gallery space), the Autoshop, Dock5, the Galería open-format kitchen and Estudio media lab. The market is open daily: Monday to Saturday from 8 AM to 9 PM, and Sundays from 8 AM to 8 PM, with the occasional pop-up Freshfarm Farmer’s Market on Sundays.

Don’t forget to check out the Union Market rooftop, which is one of DC’s premier spots for socializing in a relaxed environment.

41 – Get down and spooky on a haunted ghost tour

ghost tour in Washington DC

With centuries of history beneath its streets and sidewalks, it should come as no surprise that Washington DC is home to scores of spooky hauntings (allegedly). Tales of intrigue, deception, and murder most foul will keep you at rapt attention, right up until something invisible knocks over the table next to you and makes you jump.

Some tours focus on the eerie side of Capitol Hill, visiting sites like Treasury Annex, Dolley Madison House and Lafayette Square. Hear ghost stories like the one about the ghoul who scared Winston Churchill at the White House.

Other tours explore the darkside of Georgetown, showing you the very steps that feature in The Exorcist. This is one of the spookier things to do in Washington DC, so calm your nerves with a local brew at one of the city’s many pubs after you’re done!

42 – Tour the White House

White House, Washington DC

The White House has housed some of the most notorious figures in the history of the world, whether for good or for ill.

It is possible to score a tour, but because it’s still such an important location, guided tours are highly coveted, so be prepared to start the booking process well in advance. Like, months.

It won’t cost you anything to tour the White House, but security is high and tours are subject to cancellation at no notice for just about any reason.

Fun Fact: The White House forms part of The President’s Park and is just one of the few national treasures to visit inside the complex.

Lafayette Square, The Ellipse (the iconic grass patch in front of the presidential building), the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the Treasury Building (first opening in 1836) and the White House Visitor Center are also located within the grounds.

At the Visitor Center, mosey around the exhibition for a personal glimpse inside the U.S. President’s home over the years through 90 artifacts. You can also take a digital, virtual tour through the White House here.

Lastly, lucky visitors traveling here in spring or autumn (fall) can book a tour of the White House gardens, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden and the Rose Garden.

43 – Learn about the holocaust so that it never happens again at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The best way to prevent one of the worst moments in human history from ever happening again is but learning about it. The Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC displays photos, films, and artifacts all linked to the Holocaust (1933 to 1945), as well as offering academic research and resources to get involved.

It’s a harrowing yet super insightful and educational experience, and the museum hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions so visitors can get a visual understanding of the victims, survivors, rescuers and liberators.

Spread out across three floors, the main exhibit is titled ‘The Holocaust’ and also contains personal objects and eyewitness testimonies. There are also ways to connect with survivors and days of remembrance are offered to pay respect to the dead.

44 – Take a magical nighttime tour of the DC monuments

DC monuments nighttime tour

There are plenty of iconic historical monuments to check out during the day in DC, but landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the White House look even more impressive when illuminated at night.

This type of tour is also a fabulous option if your days are already jam-packed with activities but your heart is still set on seeing the most famous landmarks in the capital city. Typically, the evening excursion is three hours.

Whether it be by bus, electric car, or bike, you’ll come away from one of these city tours in Washington DC with a lot more knowledge about American history and some gorgeous photos to show off to your friends.

Hot tip: Don’t miss our selection of the 15 best night tours in Washington DC.

45 – Stop and sketch some plants at the United States Botanic Garden

United States Botanic Garden, Washington DC

Another national treasure born out of the mind of President George Washington, the U.S. Botanic Garden is dedicated to spreading knowledge about cultivating, conserving, and sustaining plant life.

While commercial photography is strictly forbidden within its walls, visitors are encouraged to take photos for themselves, and it is well worth it, as the gorgeous plant exhibits found within are second to none.

Discover the indoor gardens and floral galleries within the Conservatory, from its collection of orchids to medicinal plants, those from the Mediterranean, World Deserts, Hawaii and the Tropics, as well as hosting the Primeval Garden and Children’s Garden.

The gorgeous outdoor spaces are spread between the Rose, Regional, Pollinator, Bartholdi and First Ladies Water Gardens. Sketching is also welcome, and there are tables and chairs available for extended enjoyment.

46 – Catch a play in the same theater where Lincoln saw his final one at Ford’s Theatre

Ford's Theatre, Washington DC

The theater where President Lincoln saw his final play is still open for business. It still looks pretty much the same as it did on the night of his assassination, and the actual booth where it happened is completely closed off to outsiders in order to keep it preserved.

Established as a premier theater in 1961, the showhouse shut down after the president’s assassination in 1965, reopening as a theater in 1968 for the first time since.

Ford’s Theatre offers educational tours and presentations about its history as well as full performances of classic plays like “A Christmas Carol”. Presented by the theater, its 90-minute ‘History on Foot-Investigation: Detective McDevitt’ walking tour is one of the most authentic activities to get involved in here.

47 – Check out the Washington National Cathedral, the 6th largest Gothic cathedral in the world

Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral is the sixth-largest Gothic cathedral in the world! Its conception and design date all the way back to George Washington, and its gorgeous architecture is an ongoing labor of love designed to make you look to the sky and consider all that is above.

Countless world leaders and people of influence have walked through the halls of this cathedral, and it houses memorials to some of history’s most important figures. Officially known as the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, it is part of the Episcopal Church.

Join for its grand concert season, one of the guided tours, or take a meander through the Bishop’s Garden, the Olmsted Woods and along the Prayer Pathway outside.

48 – Enjoy the lively atmosphere at The Wharf DC

The Wharf DC, Washington DC
credit to The Wharf – Washington, DC

When it comes to waterfront destinations, Washington, DC isn’t usually the first in mind, but The Wharf, one of the country’s most innovative and vibrant waterfront neighborhoods, has established the city as a true waterfront city.

Piers and waterside promenades at The Wharf offer more than just leisurely riverfront walks; it provides access to water recreation and even transportation.

The Wharf transforms the Potomac into a water lover’s paradise with Waterfront yoga classes, Ice-skate on DC’s only over-water ice rink, a state-of-the-art marina, live concerts on the Transit Pier Floating Stage, and much more. Lap up the waterfront dining with plenty of restaurant and bar options, as well as a bunch of stores lining the waterways.

49 – See the beautiful cherry blossom trees that surround the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC

Thomas Jefferson is one of the most important people in American history and, arguably, the face of democracy as we know it.

His memorial is surrounded by gorgeous cherry blossom trees, which were a gift from Japan all the way back in 1912. Spring is the optimal time to visit the memorial as the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and there are few sights more breathtaking.

Whilst your historical momentum is running high, consider a trip to Monticello, the former home of America’s third president, and spend a few hours exploring the plantation established by Thomas Jefferson.

Take a tour inside the house and different rooms, wander the farm, the flower and fruit gardens (with produce and florals blooming seasonally) and visit the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants.

Located two hours out of town, a day trip to Monticello is recommended. Combine the two iconic sites into one, and there are many Thomas Jefferson-focused tours that travel to both the memorial and home of the former leader.

50 – Step inside the world of Assassin’s Creed at VR ZONE DC

credit to VR ZONE DC

From escape rooms to arcades, VR ZONE DC is the ultimate playing field for all things virtual reality! When you’re bored with the mundane, flip the switch and fall into new realms and fantasy worlds with more than 30 games to choose from!

If you’re keen to test out the VR escape rooms, take your pick from themed options like Escape The Lost Pyramid or Beyond Medusa’s Gate (both set in the world of Assassin’s Creed Origins), The Dagger Of Time (set in the world of Prince of Persia) and plenty more!

Playing in VR arcade mode, you have the choice to switch games at any time. These range from multi-player games (like Elven Assassin) to kid-friendly options such as Job Simulator to action games like Pistol Whip.

51 – Dine under the stars or enjoy a glass of wine with a view from the best rooftops

Whiskey Charlie
credit to Whiskey Charlie

Why dine out at an ordinary restaurant when you have the option of a rooftop setting with views? Here are some of the best rooftop restaurants and bars.

Open til real late on weekends (2 AM), Vue Rooftop is hard to beat with its seasonal craft cocktails, plates of food bursting with color, and direct-facing vistas of the White House.

Inspired by all things nautical (go figure with its waterfront location), Whiskey Charlie is an amazing cocktail lounge on the 10th floor of the Canopy Hotel. Another cocktail bar option down at the wharf (and two minutes away) is 12 Stories atop the InterContinental Hotel.

Stylish and elegant CUT Above is a great option for couples (with al fresco dining) and TAKODA beer garden always has 16 crafts on top AND 11 draft cocktails!

52 – Tour the beautifully preserved mansion and gardens of the Hillwood Estate

Hillwood Estate, Washington DC
credit to Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

Famous socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased the Hillwood Estate in 1955 and it quickly became one of the hottest spots for the country’s wealthy. A philanthropist by nature, Marjorie decided to dedicate her life to transforming the estate into a museum that would carry on her passion for educating others about world culture.

Walking through the museum is like dancing back in time, its impressive 20,000-piece collection acting as a living museum. Walking from room to room, see Russian imperial art, French 18th century decorative art, and personal items of Merriweather’s, including clothing and jewelry.

The mansion and gardens are beautifully preserved, and the estate continues to support the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and numerous other notable causes.

53 – Learn about all the ghosts of Georgetown, and try the delicious food while you’re there

Georgetown tour

If America is known for one thing around the world, it’s the decadent food culture. Georgetown in DC is one of the best neighborhoods in the country to experience this rich food culture firsthand.

Of course, Americana isn’t just about food, it’s also about history, architecture, and ghost stories! This gem of a town has a rich supply of all of the above, and the local experts are more than happy to show you everything you need to see.

The former tobacco port town dazzles with its quaint cobbled streets and hipster boutiques, and you’re also in luck when it comes to wining and dining out in this area! Don’t miss exploring its C&O Canal and Towpath, with boat tours available.

54 – Couples, choose a romantic dinner cruise

dinner cruises in Washington DC

Why dine the ordinary way in the capital city of America when you can experience a magical dinner cruise on the Potomac River aboard a luxury boat?

Under the night sky and shimmering stars, sit back, relax and delight in a three-course meal as you cruise along the waters, with sightseeing in between as you pass by famed monuments and attractions with unique views from the river.

The stylish boat has different dining spaces for you to choose from. Dine inside a glass atrium dining room or on the open-air observation deck. Lasting between two to three hours, there are some dinner cruises with a buffet option over set courses, followed by a bit of dancing with live DJs.

Landmarks to look out for include the Jefferson Memorial, Georgetown Waterfront, Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

55 – Visit the immense Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Calling it the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception can be a bit of a mouthful, so it’s a good thing the largest Catholic church in the United States is also affectionately referred to as America’s Catholic Church.

At more than 77,500 square feet, the basilica also houses the world’s largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art. Stand in awe, admiring the mosaics, stained glass windows and stone carvings.

If you’re a fan of record breaking architecture that also happens to be breathtaking and holy, America’s Catholic Church is a must see. Although its first foundations were set in 1920, it was styled in the classic European cathedral design of Romanesque-Byzantine architecture.

56 – Check out the contemporary art at the Hirshhorn Museum

Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC

For almost fifty years, the Hirshhorn Museum has served as a primary hotspot for American contemporary art. It’s one of the many landmarks that make up the National Mall, and it’s completely free to visit. It’s set up across four levels.

The breathtaking outdoor sculpture garden is one of a kind, and there’s almost always something new on display inside. Spend a good hour or three investigating its ever-changing exhibitions showcasing its collection of over 12,000 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, performance art, installations and digital media.

Notable artists whose work to see here include Princess of Polka Dots: Yayoi Kusama, Auguste Rodin, Willem de Kooning, Picasso, Jackson Pollock and many more!

57 – Appreciate the nature of the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Escape the city hustle and bustle and come to Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens to witness Lotus flowers in bloom and nature at its finest.

Not only a relaxing day out, but this park has a mount of historic significance and was the place where the Nacotchtan (the first indigenous Algonquian tribe) first settled, and only centuries later did the first European explorers arrive on the scene.

In the 1600s, much of the original protected landscape, consisting mostly of wetlands, was removed where farms were built. Then, 200 years later in the 1800s, a man named Walter Shaw discovered parts of the wetlands still in existence and decided to build a magnificent water garden through it.

Interweaving pathways were constructed separating the ponds, and it’s around them you can appreciate the original, native marshland beauty of Washington.

Spot beavers and turtles, dragonflies whizz by and more than 250 different species of birds call the park home. Every Tuesday morning, there are dedicated bird-spotting walks to join.

58 – Take a segway tour around the city

segway tour in Washington DC

Let’s face it, there’s a lot to see in America’s capital, and walking from site to site can quickly tire you out.

That’s not a problem on a segway tour of the city! Plus, you’ll be able to see double the attractions you would normally be able to see on a walking tour, including the White House, The Lincoln Memorial, and the FBI building.

The whole activity is 2.5 hours, but this also includes a mandatory safety briefing, instructions on how to ride the two-wheeler (so no need to worry if you haven’t driven a Segway before), and getting you kitted with your helmet, etc. Don’t forget to snap a few photos along the way!

59 – Regale yourself with history in Old Town Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria tour

The rich history of Old Town in Alexandria dates all the way back to the Founding Fathers. Located in the city’s downtown area; it’s considered the heart and soul of Alexandria; built around the Potomac River waterfront, it’s as picturesque as ever!

Cue the cobbled roadsides, colorful shopfronts and smart old-worldly redbrick and pastel homes. The most famous part is the King Street Mile where you could spend forever photographing the centuries-old architecture or dining curbside at a lovely cafe or bar.

One of the most famous draws is, of course, Mount Vernon, but there’s so much more to see and do around Alexandria, so it’s worth checking out the rest of the city and surroundings.

60 – See JFK’s beautiful legacy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is one of the premier entertainment venues in the country. Baptized a mere two months after the President’s assassination, the center is dedicated to showcasing the very best in classical and contemporary music, opera, drama, and dance, and it rarely disappoints.

From symphony orchestras to world-famous comedians and everything in between, there’s always something good on! Plus, there are three FREE daily guided tour options for a more personal encounter: the Main Kennedy Center Building, the REACH or the KC Campus Highlights Tour.

Throughout, learn about how the center came to be, then pop into the JFK Gallery and check out its permanent expo, Arts & Ideals: President John F. Kennedy.

61 – Get an in-depth look into how the National Geographic Museum team operates

National Geographic Museum, Washington DC

The name “National Geographic” is synonymous with natural exploration at this point, and anyone looking for an in-depth glimpse into how the National Geographic Society operates should consider taking a trip to their headquarters in DC.

The museum hosts a rotating selection of exhibitions all year round, each one dedicated to the very best conservationists, photographers, and scientists. The five primary focus areas are ocean, land, wildlife, histories and culture, and the expos center around these.

A deeper understanding of the natural world awaits!

62 – See the headquarters of one of the worlds largest museum complexes when you visit The Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Castle, Washington DC

The Smithsonian boasts a large number of collaborating museums dedicated to a wide variety of subjects, but the Smithsonian Castle is their headquarters and a great starting point for anyone looking to explore their halls.

The castle itself, built in 1855, is an architectural marvel. Within its walls, you’ll find a selection of the very best exhibits from across the other Smithsonian museums. An official Historic Landmark since 1977, the building was designed by the architect James Renwick Jr.. It was modeled in the Norman style and made from red sandstone, giving its facade its glorious grand appearance.

They also offer specialty dining options! Also on the grounds are its Enid A. Haupt Garden and Katherine Dulin Folger Rose Garden.

63 – Catch an NFL game or arena show at FedExField

FedExField, Maryland

There is nothing quite like attending a football game and when visiting Washington DC, the FedExField should be on your radar. As the home stadium of the Washington Commanders, you are guaranteed a day of excitement in the stands as the NFL stars duke it out on the pitch.

Feel like a total VIP when booking one of the themed suites for gameday. These include the Arcade Suite, Legends Suite and Military Suite. There are also regular, fully-equipped suites to rent.

If you want to break out your dancing shoes in the evening, look out for the many touring pop and rock acts that regularly pack out the arena.

64 – Check out the 6,000 pieces of modern art in The Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection
credit to The Phillips Collection

Calling all art aficionados, find yourself in seventh heaven at The Phillips Collection! In 1921, art collector and philanthropist Phillip Duncan founded America’s first modern and contemporary art museum. It’s still there today, and is currently home to almost 6,000 unique pieces of modern art.

Some of the most famous works to see here include ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, ‘The Blue Room’ by Pablo Picasso, ‘The Road Menders’ by Van Gogh, ‘Garden at Les Lauves’ by Paul Cezanne and ‘Dancers at the Barre’ by Degas.

Not only is there a consistent rotation of exhibitions and special events, but the museum can also be rented out as a hall for weddings, dances, fundraisers, and other major events.

65 – Visit the home of Robert E. Lee, Arlington House Memorial

Considered to be one of the most brilliant military tacticians of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee is memorialized at his old family home, Arlington House. The exhibits tell the story of the Lee and Custis families that lived here but also of the generations of enslaved people who lived and labored at the house and its grounds.

(For newbies to American history, Robert E. Lee was the Confederate Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia (then also the Southern armies) during the American Civil War in the 19th century.)

The story of Lee and his allegiance to his Virginia homeland is complicated. The Arlington House memorial takes a wide look into the whole story and uncovers the truth about this revered general and his complex legacy.

66 – Walk through curated gardens from all over the world at the United States National Arboretum

United States National Arboretum, Washington DC

The United States National Arboretum houses dozens of unique, curated gardens from all over the world. Gorgeous Asian flowers, exotic firs and spruces, you name it, they’ve got it. More of its collections comprise the Azalea, Dogwood, Gotelli Conifer, Holly and Magnolia, National Boxwood and Perennial Collections.

Gardens are spaced out categorically: spend a couple of hours meandering through the Fern Valley, Friendship Garden, Grove of State Trees, National Herb Garden, Washington Youth Garden and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.

The arboretum is open from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays and is free to visit. Make sure to check out the event calendar on their website for special events!

67 – See where John Quincy Adams went to live after his presidency in Meridian Hill Park

Meridian Hill Park, Washington DC

The fountains in Meridian Hill Park are truly a sight to behold. Atop the hill sits the mansion where John Quincy Adams moved after his presidency, repurposed numerous times over the years, bringing it to its current state as a public walkthrough attraction.

Construction of the grand villa began in 1819, and the former US president moved in in 1829. It was used as an outdoor recreational space after his passing, and then during the Civil War, Union troops encamped here. It wasn’t until 1936 that Meridian Hill became a fully-fledged formal public park!

Its new landscapers modeled the grounds after the classic Italian-style gardens (hence the fountains), and it comprises the lower and upper-level plazas.

68 – Join in on a scavenger hunt

scavenger games in Washington, D.C

Sure, you could go to DC and take in the gorgeous historical monuments of the capital during a traditional site-seeing tour…Or you could embark on an exciting scavenger hunt that will not only take you through the historical sites, but also classic film locations and local hot spots.

Test your mystery-solving skills on dozens of puzzles and games. And don’t worry about availability, you book your own start time! It typically takes two to three hours to get through the game.

The hunt is powered by a mobile app, and even better if you’re on vacation as a large group because you can play (and race) against your friends to see who makes it through the riddles first!

69 – Brave the tough vetting process and take a walking tour of The Pentagon

The Pentagon, Virginia

The Pentagon is extremely strict about how they handle their tour bookings, and they only offer them during very specific time windows, but they still manage to bring in over 106,000 people annually, and they even offer self-guided tours.

See where some of the most important – and most difficult – decisions in history have been made as you stroll past the office of the Secretary of Defense and a number of military displays.

Just outside of the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense is the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, built in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the tragic 9/11 event.

Constructed in a timeline format, the memorial was designed to honor the 184 people who were on board American Airlines flight 77, as well as the 125 lives lost inside the Pentagon at the time of the attack.

Listening to a 24-minute audio tour whilst here; learn about the event that changed history, and information covers both the Pentagon as well as the World Trade Center at the time that it happened.

70 – Behold the gorgeous Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C

From a former rock quarry utilized by Native Americans to tobacco plantations during the 1700 and 1800s, Rock Creek Park is one of Washington’s most scenic national parks. A federal recreational park since 1890, there’s loads to do, see and explore! It’s home to the Peirce Mill (now a Visitor Center), which, at 200 years old, is Washington’s only remaining gristmill.

Also here is the Nature Center for all hiking information with a few exhibits on, as well as a Planetarium. Explore the colonial houses, working mills and Civil War fortifications. Speaking of, there are over 15 Civil War sites to investigate, like Fort DeRussy and the Battleground National Cemetery.

Go for horseback rides, play a round of golf, go fishing, hiking, biking and picnicking, or enjoy a boat ride along the river.

71 – Stop in for a bite at one of DC’s numerous fancy eateries

Le Diplomate
credit to Le Diplomate

Washington DC is famous for a lot of things, but the city’s food culture cannot be overlooked. You could spend weeks here and still not manage to stop at every mouthwatering restaurant.

Some varied highlights include the Old Ebbitt Grill, Rose’s Luxury, Le Diplomate, Ben’s Chili Bowl, and Compass Rose.

For foodies who take their dining out seriously, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to the Michelin-star options! There is currently only one restaurant with a three-star status: The Inn at Little Washington (one hour outside the capital, it’s totally worth it).

Two-star options include Pineapple and Pearls, minibar by José Andrés and Jônt. And there are 20 restaurants sporting a one-star, from the likes of Fiola to Cranes to Sushi Nakazawa.

72 – Grab drinks at the best bars in the city

Round Robin Bar
credit to Round Robin Bar

After all the historic and cultural endeavors to investigate during your DC vacay, end off the day with a cold one at the city’s best bars.

Decked in rich interiors that ooze old-world charm, grab fine cocktails from one of the city’s oldest drinking jaunts at the Round Robin Bar — established in 1847! For a boozy-filled experience like none other around, Barmini by José Andrés is an ‘avant-garde’ cocktail lab that’s as trendy as ever!

Travelers with an affinity for delicious brews, head to ChurchKey — an award-winning craft beer bar with a super ambient setup. The beer menu is extensive, from bold, herbal and citric IPAs to Belgian Blond Ale.

From adult juice boxes to hot cocktails, Calico is super funky … from the menu to the space to the vibes. You’ll want to snap a million pics here of everything!

Overlooking the waters on the wharf, Tiki TNT is favored for its incredible setting, views and colorful drinks, food and interiors. With an on-site rum distillery, choose between three levels of seating options.

Want to make new friends while being shown all the local hotspots and drinking holes? Join one of the fun pub crawls in Washington DC.

73 – Catch a show at the 9:30 Club

9_30 Club in Washington DC

For over 40 years, DC’s 9:30 Club has played host to some of the most legendary musical acts of all time, including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Tony Bennett himself.

Both Rolling Stone and Billboard have named it the #1 nightclub in the world.

Make sure to check the event calendar often if you’re planning a visit, as tickets sell out fast and often!

How to get to Washington DC?

Before you arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport, consider pre-organizing airport transfers in Washington DC before traveling.

This means that when you touch down in the capital and you’re ready to leave the airport, your private driver awaits you to transport you directly to your accommodation. Alleviate some of the stress with this preplanned option, saving you time and effort.

Where to stay in Washington DC?

From hotels housed inside historic buildings to ultra-hip stays, here are some of the best accommodation options in town. Renowned for its exceptional service, the rooms at the Riggs Washington DC are super plush and each one follows a different color scheme.

Feel like the rich and famous when checking into the iconic Waldorf Astoria Washington DC. You’ll feel right at home and may never want to leave — the extra dreamy and expensive finishes certainly help add to the feeling.

For travelers who prefer a contemporary touch, the bright, warm and over-the-top comfortable rooms and suites at the Conrad Washington DC are a treat. The floor-to-ceiling windows with views don’t hurt either!

Loved for its location nearby iconic landmarks and monuments, The Jefferson Hotel is another five-star stay that epitomizes classic elegance and old-school sophistication.

With all of the on-site facilities, a rooftop pool, excellent locale and art in all the bedrooms, the Viceroy Washington DC boutique hotel is stylish and funky.

Visiting Washington DC on a budget?

If you’re visiting more than just one city or state in the USA, there are ways to save where you can, for example, with a Washington DC Sightseeing Pass. There are a few different passes available, depending on your tour style and preference.

The usual is a one, two or three-day city sightseeing pass which grants you technically, “free” entry (as you’ve already paid) to more than 15 sites, activities or select tours.

Other passes are for traveling around the city. Hopping onto a double-decker bus, ride the red, blue, yellow or green loop and feel free to hop back on and off the bus at one of the designated bus stops at your leisure. There are even whiskey-tasting passes gaining you access to some of the city’s major distilleries.

Where to go next?

Just over an hour’s drive from Washington DC, Baltimore is great for a day trip full of true culture, and home of sporting legends. Don’t miss out on the things to do in Baltimore, like food tours through Little Italy or sunset sails.

Head East and visit Gettysburg. Tour the scenic battlefields and learn more about the Civil War, and its National Military Park is one of the best things to do in Gettysburg.

Traveling further north, discover all the things to do in Philadelphia. The city has a banging food scene, nightlife for adults, epic playgrounds for kids and plenty of historic monuments. Over a 2.5-hour drive from the country’s capital city, it’s great for a day trip or an overnight venture.

Iconic NYC is easily reachable within a four-hour drive by car, or two hours and 50 minutes via train. Top things to do in New York City include exploring the Upper East Side, Brooklyn, Times Square and Soho!

If you’re keen on exploring the deep south, maneuver your way to Richmond — Virginia’s capital. Under two hours away, it’s good for a day trip as well or as your next travel destination. Its Virginia State Capitol building and Maymont Estate are examples of the amazing things to do in Richmond, spending hours at each.

Both Norfolk and Virginia Beach are roughly a 3.5-hour drive from Washington, heading deeper south as you move from one town to the next. The things to do in Norfolk range from amusement parks to botanical gardens to aquariums to beaches. Sitting at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, check out the things to do in Virginia Beach next (20 minutes from Norfolk).

Final thoughts

From some of the most important monuments in American history to famous buildings and structures to outdoor activities to world-class museums, the capital offers travelers an abundance of things to do in Washington DC.

What are your favorite places to visit in Washington? Share with us your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear your travel tales!

As always, happy and safe travels!

Syd Ghan, our globetrotting expert based in Montreal, has journeyed across North America, Europe, and Australia. Passionate about uncovering hidden gems, Syd ensures TourScanner readers get the most current and captivating insights on destinations worldwide.