Washington DC Places

TripWhat's travel guide to Washington DC; our list of the best things to see, including The White House, Library of Congress and National Museum of American History.
  • The best place in Washington DC: The White House

    The White House

    1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia Creek sandstone in the Neoclassical style. It has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he expanded the building outward, creating two colonnades that were meant to conceal stables and storage.
    Downtown food nearby
  • Library of Congress

    Library of Congress

    101 Independence Ave SE
    Originally founded by the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, this grand building, also called the Jefferson Library, has the largest collection of books in the world. The most popular points of interest are the massive main reading room and Great Hall. On the Winter and Summer solstices the Great Hall is filled with an odd silver glow that gives the impression you are surrounded by floating clouds, and this makes those days the most crowded. The main reading room is known as the Sacred Room, and is absolutely stunning. You must be 18 or older to use the reading rooms and have a user card, which can be obtained by presenting a driver's license or completing a self registration form. Guided tours will not bring you into the reading room, but will take you up in the dome, where you can see the room in its full glory. There are also a number of rotating exhibitions from the Library's vast collection on display at any one time, as is a Gutenberg Bible.
    Anacostia eat nearby
  • National Museum of American History

    National Museum of American History

    National Mall1400 Constitution Ave NW
    10AM-5:30PM, summer 10AM-6:30PM. There is a lot here in one of the city's most informative museums, covering topics ranging from war to technology, social and political history. The biggest draw, though, is the Treasure Room (yes, the one of Stephen Colbert obsession), with an astonishing set of iconic Americana objects, ranging from the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln's top hat, to Kermit the Frog and Dorothy's ruby slippers!
    restaurants nearby
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum

    Smithsonian American Art Museum

    8th St & F St NW
    The collection here is a walk through encyclopedia of American Art—Gilbert Stuart's stern presidential portraits through Nam June Paik's house-sized America sculpture of neon and televisions.
    Downtown food nearby
  • Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

    Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

    1661 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    The building that now houses the Renwick Gallery was originally the home of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. It was designed by James Renwick, Jr., and construction began before the Civil War. Near completion, it was used during the Civil War as a government warehouse, and construction was finally completed in 1874. By 1897, the Corcoran Gallery collection outgrew the space and relocated to a new building on 17th St. The building was transferred in 1965 to the Smithsonian Institution for use as an art gallery.
    Downtown eat nearby
  • Smithsonian National Zoological Park

    Smithsonian National Zoological Park

    3001 Connecticut Ave NW
    Apr–Oct 10AM-6PM, Nov–March 10AM-5PM. Free. This is one of the world's great zoos, with a collection of 400 species, 2,000 animals, all right in the center of the city (in Rock Creek Park). The National Zoo is quite large and filled with more animals and exhibits than one could see comfortably in one day without rushing, so be sure to get a map at the entrance, take your time, and be prepared to walk a great deal. Bring water—the concessions here are insultingly expensive. The most crowded exhibits are nearly always the Pandas and the Ape House. The former is an almost guaranteed letdown—the pandas are perhaps the zoo's shyest residents (the Ape House is fun no matter the crowds, though). Sleeper hits include the Seals & Sea Lions Exhibit, the Reptile House, the remarkable Aviary, and the irresistibly cute prairie dogs.
    Woodley Park restaurants nearby
  • National Portrait Gallery

    National Portrait Gallery

    8th St & F St NW
    The renovation is the talk of the town. The new enclosed courtyard has received universal accolades (Conde Nast Traveler calls it one of the seven modern architectural wonders of the world) and its cafe is certainly one of the most attractive places in the city to break out your laptop and enjoy the WiFi. Back to the museum—its most popular exhibit is the Hall of Presidents, although the current hot gallery is that of Contemporary Portraiture.
    Downtown food nearby
  • Ford's Theatre

    Ford's Theatre

    511 10th St NW
    Tours: 9AM-5PM daily. Shows: $40-55, tours: Free. This is where John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, and he was taken across the street to the Petersen House where he died. Ford's Theatre is not only a historic site, but remains a working theater, with regular performances. Theater here is usually the most traditional of the downtown venues, offering dramatic work that is "as eloquent, intelligent and respectful of humanity as Mr. Lincoln." The truly coveted tickets are for the annual Christmas Eve performance of A Christmas Carol. The daily tours take you through the theater and the onsite museum, and also spill across the street to the Petersen House, where Lincoln died.
    Downtown eat nearby
  • National Postal Museum

    National Postal Museum

    2 Massachusetts Ave NE
    The Smithsonian's own philatelist Shangri-La has one of the world's largest collections of rare stamps, as well as exhibitions of how mail has been delivered throughout history, and other ways that the mail shapes culture.
    Capitol Hill restaurants nearby
  • Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14

    Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14

    701 7th St NW
    Children: $8, adults: $10.75. The Regal cinema shows all the popular, current movies. Beware, though, that this movie theater is popular among the teens (especially on weekends and in the evenings) who can get rambunctious.
    Downtown food nearby
  • G-Star Raw

    G-Star Raw

    1666 Connecticut Ave NW
    M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 10AM-9PM. Men's and women's denim boutique, specializing in (as you would expect) trendy jeans and jackets.
    Dupont Circle
  • World Market

    World Market

    5335 Wisconsin Ave NW
    An odd large store which is a ton of fun to browse, offering all things international, from offbeat home decor, wines, teas, toys, and candies!
    Chevy Chase
  • The Anacostia Community Museum

    The Anacostia Community Museum

    1901 Fort Place SE
    The Smithsonian's least visited museum, far from the Mall, is a small but superbly exhibited tribute to Anacostia and D.C. "East of the River", and also to African-American history.
    Anacostia food nearby
  • Nationals Park

    Nationals Park

    1500 South Capitol St SE
    Nationals Park is brand new, having opened just in 2008, and is home of the equally new Washington Nationals baseball team, The Nats. The Nationals, though, have history beyond its latest 2005 beginnings—D.C.'s first baseball franchise from 1891-99 bore the same (interchangeably with the Washington Senators), as did its two other successors throughout the twentieth century. None were very successful though. The first disbanded after nine years with a 0.366 win percentage; the second and third eventually left the city to become the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers. And the modern incarnation was formerly the Montreal Expos. Following in the D.C. tradition, the latest incarnation of the Nats performed progressively worse with each passing year, until 2010, when the team finally started turning itself around, and acquired a bonafide superstar-prodigy in pitcher Stephen Strasburg. The games are fun, and are a great excuse to spend the latter half of a day in the Waterfront District, and to enjoy the new stadium. The stadium is big, with comfy seats, an enormous scoreboard, and happily vendors from venerable D.C. food establishments like Five Guys, Ben's Chili Bowl, and Dogfish Head and Flying Dog Brewery.
    Anacostia eat nearby
  • Carter Barron Ampitheater

    Carter Barron Ampitheater

    4850 Colorado Ave
    Concerts/shows only late spring–early fall. Free-$30. This has got to be the most fun, most beloved concert venue in D.C.—a big open air amphitheater off in the woods. What legendary performers haven't performed here? Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Louis Armstrong, Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, BB King, the National Symphony Orchestra, Nat King Cole, Peter Paul & Mary, and Kool and the Gang have all been here. Several big local festivals call this place home, notably the great, free annual Blues Festival. It was most famously host to the Shakespeare in the Park festival in late summer, until the Shakespeare Theatre Company opted to move the festival to their new building downtown. This is must lamented by locals, as watching Hamlet, for example, deliver his soliloquy in the dark night under the stars, surrounded by the rich natural sounds of Rock Creek Park, is a one of a kind experience, and the festival was considered a requisite Washingtonian event.
    Petworth restaurants nearby
  • Peirce Mill

    Peirce Mill

    Tilden St & Beach Dr NW
    A historic water-powered mill in the park and a national historic site, Peirce Mill and restrooms are currently closed to the public for repairs. The restrooms located at Picnic Grove 1 are still open.
    Cleveland Park food nearby
  • Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium

    Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium

    5200 Glover Rd
    Deep inside the park, the Nature Center offers hands-on exhibits, guided nature walks, an "observation beehive," and a full planetarium. Especially good for kids.
    Barnaby Woods eat nearby
  • National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

    National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

    605 E St NW
    Law enforcement is probably the most dangerous profession in the U.S., and this monument bears the names of nearly 20,000 officials who lost their lives on the job. A big law enforcement museum is being built underground across the street, but for the time being you'll have only the memorial to walk around.
    Downtown restaurants nearby
  • Union Station

    Union Station

    50 Massachusetts Ave NE
    Not just a train station or metro stop, the grandiose 1908 Beaux Arts building by legendary American architect Daniel Burnham makes it worth a look—the ceremonial entrance is stunning. Open long after the museums close, it contains shops, restaurants and a cinema. A large monument to Christopher Columbus stands outside the building.
    Capitol Hill food nearby
  • National Book Festival

    National Book Festival

    National Mall
    One Saturday and Sunday in Mid to Late September. Sponsored by the Library of Congress, this festival celebrates books, authors, and reading. Highlights include listening to your favorite author speak, queuing up to have a book signed, taking the kids to visit their beloved PBS Kids characters, and collecting stamps from all the US states and territories in the Pavilion of the States.
    Anacostia eat nearby
  • Newseum


    555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    9AM-5PM (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's). $22 adults, $18 seniors, $13 minors, free 6 and under. Of all the most hyped, overpriced museums in D.C., this one actually deserves the hype and even the admissions fee—it's an incredible, one-of-a-kind museum. With seven floors, it has a lot to see, and the exhibits are an interesting blend of high tech (a "4-D" theater) and low tech historical documents, all about the news, how it shapes American society, and how indeed the first amendment is so central to the nation's history. Check the nation-wide newspaper row in front of the Pennsylvania entrance. For foreigners, while the museum is a testament to the free press, be prepared for some solid pro-US bias in its selected news.
    Downtown restaurants nearby
  • 9:30 Club

    9:30 Club

    815 V St NW
    doors open: 6PM-11:30PM. cover: $10-60. The capital's flagship music venue. Check the calendar first, but know that the acts will be big. It's very small by big-name concert venues, but big by D.C. standards, boasts top-notch lighting and sound systems, and expensive booze. The place is small enough where you are going to have a great view no matter where you are standing.
    Columbia Heights
  • National Aquarium

    National Aquarium

    1401 Constitution Ave NW
    9AM-5PM daily; feedings: 2PM. Adults $9; Children: $4; Under three: Free. Located in the basement level of the Department of Commerce building, the National Aquarium is much smaller than the one in Baltimore—if you can, make a point to go there instead. The aquarium was recently renovated, though with its small size, there are no dolphin shows. It offers the "America's Aquatic Treasures" exhibit which takes approximately 45 minutes to see. In addition to standard Aquarium fish, there are sharks, eels, alligators, turtles, and other reptiles.
    Downtown eat nearby
  • The National Institutes of Health

    The National Institutes of Health

    9000 Rockville Pike
    The mammoth collection of buildings housing the majority of the nation's government bio-research. Admission of non-employees to the grounds requires a security screening (since the 9/11 attacks and the later anthrax mailings, there have been worries about the security of the bio-weapons research programs here).
    restaurants nearby
  • Gallaudet University

    Gallaudet University

    800 Florida Ave NE
    Gallaudet is the nation's and the world's first university for the deaf, and remains the world's only university where all classes and services are tailored to the needs of the hearing-impaired. Aside from being the principal institution and center for American Sign Language, the university also comprises a National Historic District, a designation received for its several excellent examples of fanciful North American High Gothic architecture. The most famous of these is the campus' centerpiece, Chapel Hall. Tours can be arranged to be in spoken English, but only with a good amount of advance notice (they are routinely available in ASL), and are geared at information for prospective students and their families.
    Brentwood food nearby
  • Matchbox Chinatown

    Matchbox Chinatown

    713 H St NW
    M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F 11AM-11:30PM, Sa 10AM-11:30PM, Su 10AM-10:30PM; closing times listed indicate time of last seating. $10-30. Matchbox looks like a tourist trap. It's in the right neighborhood, has gimmicky (if really cool) decor with an insane variety and quantity of matchboxes decorating the tables, and is enormous but still packed with people all times of the day. But some of the food here is actually really good: charcoaled sliders and wood-fired NYC-style pizza. (The rest of the menu, however, would befit a bonafide tourist trap.) It's also a good place to go for a drink, especially when the weather is warm and they open up their outdoor seating.
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of places in Washington DC uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.