Visiting Washington DC, the capital city of the United States is a cherished dream of each nature lover as the entire city is teeming with oodles of scenic vistas and several other breath-taking and awe-inspiring splendors. This gorgeous city in the US is home to several national parks where one can marvel at an exotic collection of flora and fauna species and the mystical land of the state boasts of Hoh Rain Forest, magnificent islands, volcanoes, forests, and many more things to attract tourists towards itself. Below mentioned are the top 25 sights to explore in Washington so continue reading it till the end if you are planning a trip to the United States.
This gorgeous monument was established in 1922 in Nebraska with a motive to show respect and honor to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. He managed to abolish slavery in the country. The idea of the project appeared in 1856 Abraham Lincoln died and it is believed that the actual construction of the memorial lasted for almost eight years.
The Memorial is very similar to the Parthenon. It is a grand temple in the ancient Greek style, which is based on 36 white marble columns. This number was chosen by chance. This amount of states belonged to the United States at the time of the sixteenth President. In the central part of the temple, there is a chair, where Abraham Lincoln sat. The statue reaches 5.79 meters. On both sides of the sculptures there carved two of the most famous and significant speeches for the USA. At the top of the memorial, there are 48 strings on the ledge. They symbolize the number of states that were part of the country at the opening of the memorial.
At night, the building whose height is 57 meters and its width is 36 meters, is illuminated. This makes the memorial even more majestic and grand.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The United States is a great country, which has a rich history, great achievements, and unfortunately heavy losses on the way to the cherished goals. In order to recall those tragic memories, the Americans have erected various memorials that commemorate those who suffered in the name of the Fatherland.
One of such memorable works is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is located in the Washington Constitution Gardens on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial.
A domain is trench lined V-shaped and polished with black granite. On a huge wall 58,000 names of Americans who lost their lives or got extinct during the Vietnam War, are carved. The whole composition is crowned in the form of a bronze sculpture of three soldiers on a hill on the inner side of the memorial. Warriors are made by F. Hart. The architect Maya Lin is the creator of the project.
The memorial complex was opened in 1982, on the 13th of November. Since that time, it has entered a network of national parks.
National Mall (The Mall)
The National Mall is the central point of Washington, which focuses on all the most important historical sites and monuments. The National Mall is a long green park area with various monuments and fountains, and framed buildings of the Smithsonian museums. The main Boulevard was officially opened in 1965. Today it includes a large complex of monuments, museums, parks, and a variety of structures that have the status of a national treasure.
In the center of the National Mall, there is a marble stele (the Washington Monument) height of 169 meters, dedicated to the resistance of the first president of the USA. Inside the stele, there is an elevator, which can deliver you to a special observation deck, from where everyone can enjoy the view of Washington.
There is a very interesting fact that the Americans do not mourn on the National Mall memorials dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers. They play football there and have a good time with their families in picnics, lying on the green lawns.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
After 40 years from the date of the announcement of the armistice of the belligerents (Korea and the United States) in 1995, the memorial to the dead and missing soldiers was installed. This “conflict” was ignored by the state government for quite a long time and therefore got another name Forgotten War. In 1995, on 27 July justice and truth prevailed, and the monument to those who sacrificed their precious lives for the sake of their country was installed.
Korean War Veterans Memorial consists of a commemorative wall on which pictures of the hostilities are carved. There are also 19 statues of warriors, which reach heights of 2.5 meters. The composition includes 12 white soldiers, 3 blacks, two Hispanics, one Asian, and one Indian. All of them are the work of the famous sculptor Frank Gaylord.
It is interesting that three statues of soldiers are beyond the trees so it would be pretty difficult to count them altogether. As planned by the architects, the soldiers come out of the woods, wading through juniper bushes that symbolize Korean unfavorable terrain. The granite strips are a reflection of the difficulties which American soldiers had to overcome.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
In Washington, there is a plethora of memorials and monuments dedicated to the great men of America. One of the most outstanding monuments is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is the only president in the history of the United States, which led the country for four terms. The idea of perpetuating this memorial of the 32nd President appeared more than 50 years ago, but the memorial was officially opened in 1997 by Bill Clinton.
Despite the years of the Great Depression and lack of money the construction of this gorgeous complex was started. On this basis, one could argue that the American attitude to the attractions in the status of “National” is quite serious. The memorial was erected and designed by the renowned landscape architect and designer Laurence Halprin. The idea was simply brilliant. He wished to display each period of the Roosevelt Presidential term with a kind of space filled with staircases, granite walls, niches, statues, greenery, and waterfalls. Every object, structure, or monument has its own individual meaning.
The entire memorial complex forms a four actions performance with a real prologue, epilogue, and the main characters. They are the 32nd President of the US and the history of the USA.
The Washington Monument is located in the capital of the United States, on the west side of the Esplanade. It is a 4-sided stone structure in the form of a 169-meter stele. The monument was created and erected in the memory of the founder and the first President George Washington, who has become a real “father of the nation”.
The Memorial was built in the likeness and image of the traditional Egyptian obelisk. The Stele stands proudly above the beautiful city, being the tallest stone building in the whole world. To reduce the time and energy in reaching the top there is an elevator inside the monument, which in seconds will take you to a special viewing platform where you can enjoy the magnificent panorama of Washington, perfectly smooth beautiful streets that bird’s-eye view forms a surprisingly perfect weave. In all its glory from this point, you can witness the Capitol Building, the White House, the Lincoln Monument, and Thomas Jefferson Monument.
The base of the monument is surrounded by 50 flags representing 50 different states of the USA. They complete the memorial`s composition.
Stella between Washington and Lincoln Memorials is situated Mirror Pond, which is due to its amazing structure has virtually no surface water and clearly displays the monument.
In 1943, the Jefferson memorial was opened officially. The idea of constructing this memorial appeared to pay honor to Thomas Jefferson who was one of the most important and greatest political leaders of the country and also the founder of the American state, the third president of the nation, and the author of the most sold Declaration of Independence.
It is believed that the idea of constructing this monument was suggested by Franklin Roosevelt and the construction started in 1938 in West Park close to the Capitol, White House, and some other popular buildings.
In the heart of this memorial, there is a statue of the President standing gracefully on the campus.
According to the John Pope project, the Memorial is a neoclassical building in the form of the Roman Pantheon. The inner sides of the walls contain Jefferson’s quotes and his most prominent, meaningful work and bills. There is a very interesting fact: the statue was originally made of plaster due to lack of funds, and only in 1947 the Jefferson Memorial was made of bronze.
There are beautiful cherry trees around the memorial. It is a gift from the Japanese authorities in Tokyo. These trees during the flowering period, together with an excellent monument form a picturesque landscape.
Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral is a compulsory item in the list of places to visit first. This delightful building attracts tourists from all over the world with its extremely refined architecture. The Cathedral, built in the Gothic style, has acquired such fame mainly thanks to its stained glass windows, gargoyles, and amazing gardens that surround it.
To show importance to the national events, Washington Catholic Church was established for mass worship. It was to become people`s property and open to everyone, and is not restricted to any specific religious community. Presently, the gorgeous temple is reckoned to be the largest Catholic Cathedrals that are established in the Western Hemisphere.
The idea of the construction of the Cathedral appeared at George Washington`s head in 1791. But only in 100 years have people managed to bring the idea to life. The construction of the church began with a special cornerstone brought from Palestine (Bethlehem) and inserted into the granite “frame”.
At the moment, Washington National Cathedral is not only a beautiful sight but also one of the most important social as well as religious centers in the country.
National Gallery of Art
Washington has one of the richest galleries, which boasts of a unique collection of several works of art from around the world: the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. This is one of the few places in North America where you can observe a diverse collection.
Art Gallery was opened in 1937 on the basis of the largest private collections and investments by Samuel Henry Kress, Andrew Mellon, Lessing J. Rosenwald, and Joseph E. Widener, who gave the gallery more than two thousand paintings, and sculptures, porcelain, and various items of decorative art.
The gallery complex consists of two buildings – the East and West, which are connected by quite a spacious underground channel. The Eastern structure resembles two connected prisms and the Western one is like the Pantheon and performed in the style of neoclassicism. This building is adjacent to a sculpture garden area of about 25,000 square meters.
Presently, the gallery houses more than 1,200 paintings of famous talented artists, a huge variety of sculptures from the Middle Ages and the 19th century, and many other works of art.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The memory of the tragedy that befell the Jewish people who suffered from the Nazis and their supporters is preserved not only in those countries where Jews were destroyed but in many others. The United States is no exception. In Washington, there is a large Holocaust Memorial Museum, whose main task is to pay tribute to the millions of people who lost their lives. The museum also collects all the documents related to the Holocaust.
Since its opening in 1993, the Washington Museum has been considered to be one of the most popular and most visited ones. It has already been visited by about 30 million visitors from all over the world in twenty years. The Museum shows millions of unique archival documents, thousands of horrific pictures, and records of stories of people who survived the harsh concentration camps. In addition to a variety of exhibits, from which the blood in the veins sometimes freezes, you can see the documentaries and feature films that in great detail tell about the sources of anti-Aryan ideology and the actions against the Nazis carried out by the Americans.
For many years, the Holocaust Museum in Washington is opposed to racial hatred, fighting for the dignity and freedom of every person.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival is considered to be one of the most colorful, delicate, and fragrant events in the United States. Tourists from all over the world come to see the beautiful blooming of these trees. In 1935, the first festival was organized in Washington. Since that time, it has become an annual event.
The city owes so a beautiful phenomenon to the Mayor of Tokyo Yukio Ozaki. As a sign of friendship, he presented a gift of 3,000 cherry seedlings. They have been encouraging with their flowering inhabitants of the country and foreign guests for more than a hundred years. Since those times this place has become a real national landmark, which marks the coming of spring in the city every year.
During the five weeks of the festival, you can amaze yourself with the appealing beauty of the colorful flower garden and visit a variety of interesting events dedicated to contemporary and traditional art: concerts, dancing, and sports.
By the way, it is very interesting that during the conflict between the United States and Japan three were cut down, but soon the US authorities realized the absurdity of the situation. After the armistice, Japan endowed the city with 3800 new seedlings.
National Air and Space Museum
One of the most exciting and favorite places, the National Air and Space Museum is among the Americans and tourists. There is probably no more interesting museum with a similar theme throughout the world. Here are composed the most extensive collection of spacecraft and aircraft, and almost all the exhibits – are original copies, and only some are exact duplicates of analog. Even an experienced traveler will feel himself a little kid and be surely surprised by what he saw in his childhood.
At the entrance to the museum, there is a real moonstone, but directly in the building, you can see the real landers of “Apollo” (including those that walked on the moon), exact copies of satellites, Charles Lindbergh’s airplane, the Wright brothers’ glider and even a model of the spacecraft from the famous “Star Trek”. In addition to exhibits on American history of aviation and astronautics, the museum presents and Soviet instances: SS-20 missiles and “Pioneer”, various tubes of food, and even the identity of Yuri Gagarin.
It is very interesting in the museum. For the most demanding visitors there is an attraction that simulates weightlessness, and a special cabin of the spacecraft, where you can touch and feel everything with your hands and sit “at the helm”.
In Washington, there is an interesting museum dedicated to the news, the main purpose of which is a detailed demonstration of the process of creating news and media work. The basic ideas of the founders of the museum are embodied in the architecture and design of the building – the main facade is made of glass, it allows passersby to see everything that’s going on, and at the entrance to the museum, there is a marble slab height of 22.5 meters, which bears the text of the First Amendment to the constitution of the USA.
The exposition of the Newseum covers an area of almost twenty-three thousand square meters that tells everyone about the history of the information industry, which has been developing for over five centuries. It is a seven-storied building. There are many theaters, shops, customer service, and 14 galleries dedicated to the history of journalism.
An interactive newsroom of a famous TV Company is very popular among visitors. Every visitor can try himself as a correspondent for the live broadcast. The exhibition of the museum, where all comers are allowed to try on the role of a reporter through a fun computer game that resembles as closely as possible the actual conditions is also of great interest.
Washington Newseum is a place where everyone will always find something interesting and informative.
National Museum of Natural History
Established in the capital of the United States, the National Museum of Natural History is included in the complex of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum’s collection began to be gathered in 1846 simultaneously with the establishment of the institute and the official opening that took place in March 1910.
In the collections of the National Museum, there are over 126.5 million different artifacts. The most famous of them is a grand model of the African elephant and an amazing whale skeleton of an ancient Basilosaurus.
From the moment of its appearance at the Museum (1959), the elephant became a real symbol and the largest land mammal of the exhibits and artifacts in the world. Skin elephant, weighing up to two tons, was donated to the institute by Joseph Fenikovi. He hunted it in Angola in 1955.
The skeleton of the ancient huge whale Basilosaurus was exhibited in the museum in the late 19th century. This is a unique instance of the most accurate of the skeletons of such incredible creatures.
There is also a magnificent collection of gems, minerals, insects, plants, fish, and even photos.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Every major city has interesting attractions, popular places, and tour facilities, but there are few cities that can compete with this Washington. The USA capital forms a kind of monumental museum complex of enormous size. In addition to various memorials and monuments, there are also interesting cultural, religious, and community centers. The most prominent one is the Arts Center which is established on the river banks of the Potomac River, not far from the Lincoln Memorial.
The complex consists of seven amazing theaters: Laboratory Theatre, Outdoor Theatre, Opera House, Family Theater, Jazz Club “KS”, Eisenhower Theatre, and Concert Hall. Many events take place here. Among the most popular ones are operas, plays, concerts, ballets, films. One of the most enchanting and interesting events takes place within the walls of the Centre of Fine Arts named after John Kennedy. It is a Shakespeare Festival, held under the guidance of Shakespeare Theatre.
The White House is not only a formal “refuge” of all US presidents but also a great, incredibly beautiful building, which became a landmark symbol of the USA. The White House is located in the “heart” of the city of Washington.
The construction of the Presidential Palace was started in late 1792 by the architect James Hoban under the direct supervision of George Washington. In eight years the President’s House was finally completed. President John Adams was the first to settle here.
The White House has a very fascinating and unique history. The building survived the fire twice – in 1814 at the hands of the British in 1929 when the country was under the rule of President Herbert Hoover. After all the accidents the White House was restored in order t preserve the real appearance of the monument. Now it looks just like 200 years ago.
The mansion is made in the Palladian style and consists of two wings and six floors. The interior of the house has different assignments, titles, and interior decorations, for example, the Oval Blue Room for festive receptions, Green – for informal meetings, and the Oval Office – the workplace of the President.
Capitol Building is a place where the US Congress works. In addition to its main function, it is also the main, the most popular and recognizable landmark of America throughout the country. The building is located in the state capital Washington. A place called Capitol Hill was chosen for its construction. Hence, the “name” of the Capitol. Such a choice has its meaning. This hill was named in honor of such hill in Rome, on which the temple was built, where the Senate worked and made decisions for the Roman Empire.
Capitol Building is the place you want to see in your life at least once. The amazing and unimaginable power that has accumulated there over the years of existence blows from it. Even the design of the interior reflects the struggle for freedom and democracy, and all the defeats and the victories.
In addition to the Capitol building, which is only a small part of a huge complex that includes the US Supreme Court and the famous Library of Congress, there is also a superb park of 54 hectares. However, the most popular place among tourists is the fourth floor, where you can observe the work of the Senate and various committees.
National World War II Memorial
Only after visiting the capital of the United States, one can say with great confidence that the American people are a nation that has always respected the most important events. It knows how to translate its respect in architecture and beyond. One such embodiment a memorial to World War II stands. It stores the eternal memory of the 16 million US Army soldiers and 405-thousand missing.
This memorial was installed in 2004. It is the “youngest” of all the monuments located on the main avenue. It is located almost between Washington and Lincoln Memorials. This Memorial was designed and realized with the utmost seriousness. Therefore, its construction lasted for a long time.
National World War II Memorial is a “Rainbow” pond, surrounded by 56 columns, decorated with laurel wreaths, which represent the unity of the state. A pair of arches on the sides of the pond symbolizes victory in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Individual stars for each of those killed on the battlefield of the World are carved on the Liberty Wall. Two magnificent memorial fountains end the whole composition.
Library of Congress
There are a few cities in the world that could “boast” such a rich library as Washington. The Library of Congress is designed for employees of the scientific research sphere, government organizations, and institutions, as well as for schools. The pride of the library is not only a unique, rich collection of books but also the amazing beauty of both the building and the interior. We can say that it is a work of art.
This historical library was discovered in 1800.
It took 5000 dollars to build it. In those days it was called as a huge sum as plenty of money was spent to purchase more than 700 books, which were mainly intended for members of Congress.
During its existence, the library has experienced several accidents: during the Anglo-American War, because of the great destruction and fires very rare and valuable books were lost. In 1851, another strong fire damaged a large collection of unique books. The following years were spent on the restoration of the collection.
Nowadays, the Library of Congress is not only renowned as the largest and the most beautiful in the world, but also unique in the number of valuable collections. In total there are 30 million books stored here, 5,500 of them are ancient artifacts.
One of the most popular and significant wonders in Washington is Ford’s Theater. The theater building was erected in 1861 and is located in the center of the city. It is not difficult to get to it from anywhere in Washington. In 1865, during the play “My American Cousin” Abraham Lincoln who was the then president of the country got assassinated
Theatrical performances are held here in our days. And on the first floor, there is a large exhibition devoted to the death of Lincoln. Here you can get to witness the evidence of the life of the president or the biography and you can marvel at some of his personal belongings and the stuff that is related to injury and death. The most interesting and valuable exhibits are “Derringer” of 44 calibers from which a president was shot. There is a knife by which a person sitting next to Lincoln was injured. Across the street from the theater, there is the Peterson House (German tailor), in which the head of the United States died.
The most popular and the most visited place in the Theater is the auditorium. There is a seat on which Lincoln was sitting when he was a gunshot. Since that time, nobody sat there.
Old Post Office Pavilion
Building of the former post office was erected in the late nineteenth century, namely in 1899. But the structure that is now called the old post office is rather symbolic, as the building served as a post office for a brief period. For quite a long time the post office was empty, and after a complete renovation of the Old Post Office some premises were occupied by a variety of entertainment, shopping facilities, offices, and restaurants.
The building is interesting not only by its past, but also by the magnificent architecture in the Romanesque style, which is of great historical value. Today this place attracts many tourists from all over the world. People come here to enjoy the beauty of the panorama and spectacular views of elegant Washington from the observation deck, which is located at a height of 82 meters. Two elevators help visitors to get upstairs.
On one of the many floors of the building there is an interesting exhibition of various bells. The most interesting and famous of them is the bell, which is a replica of its counterpart from Westminster Abbey and the bell, which pleases its ringing destinations on special occasions and every Thursday.
In Washington, there is a very solid and elite district, characterized by a power measured way of life, but at the same time it is very “live” and teems with young people. This is not surprising as in the heart of the university Georgetown University is located. It is renowned as one of the most prestigious schools in the country. By the way, Bill Clinton studied there.
There are many mansions, book and antique shops, restaurants and boutiques in this area. It all adds Georgetown a special luster, as well as color and atmosphere. Later in the afternoon the streets come alive and become filled with young people, laughter and fun.
Among Georgetown University`s most interesting places there is a building made in the Gothic style; a stone house, which was built in 1765 and is considered to be the oldest building in Washington, DC; as well as the Tudors museum-estate. This house is known by the fact that a granddaughter of the “father of the city” George Washington lived there once.
After the cultural program one can immerse in the rich world of shopping that Georgetown offers.
Located in Washington, the capital city of United States, The National Archive Building is a kind of “memory” of the country. It is here that the great and important documents of the United States in the form of a unique exhibition are kept. The Archive has a collection of original Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, the Constitution of the United States and several billions of pages of documents. Unfortunately, visitors have no opportunity to touch the exhibits. Moreover, the documents can be read with great difficulty because of special lighting, which prevents damage to the exhibits. However, everybody can come here and watch all the famous documents with their own eyes and is considered to be very informative and entertaining.
Russell Pope had passed the design of this National Archive Building. It was performed in the style of neoclassicism. Along the perimeter of buildings there are 72 large Corinthian columns, and the number of steps – 39 pieces, which lead from the southern port to the Constitution Street. It symbolizes 39 public figures who signed the US Constitution once.
The National Archives is a quite popular place among historians, researchers, students and scientists. The doors of the institution are opened to all. An entrance to the exhibition hall is free where to enter you need to go through check-in with metal detector. Nobody is allowed to use cameras here.
National Zoological Park
The National Zoo is located in Washington is the US and is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Its formation began in 1887 with the purpose of preservation of endangered fauna of the continent. It all started with a small plot of land, home to several species of bison and other animals. Nowadays, the zoo covers an area of almost 66 hectares and is home to almost 3600 different species where one-third of this population is on the verge of extinction. The main feature of this zoo is that living conditions of fauna here are as realistic as possible.
You can watch the buffalo, zebras, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, sloths, tigers, various species of birds at this Zoo. There is a separate room which boasts of large aquarium where you can marvel at octopuses, crabs, and cuttlefish. There are also spiders, centipedes and beautiful butterflies.
In addition, zoologists at the National Zoo are engaged in cultivation and breeding of red wolves, golden lion tamarins and Blackfoot ferret. All this is very important to maintain the USA fauna balance.
Union Station is the train station, is established in the centre of Washington, near the Capitol. This magnificent station was established in 1911. Since that time, it has been enlisted among some of the most beautiful and well-maintained monuments in America and beyond. In general it can be called a work of art.
In 1984, the last passenger train departed from the Union Station. The total drop of rail traffic was because of the rapid increase of the automotive industry. Somewhat later, in 1988, the station building was restored and renovated.
Presently, the Union Station is the real pride of Washington. The station building combines elegance, space efficiency and excellent architectural design. A feature of the station is the dome, which height is 90 meters. In addition to the dome, the station has Rotonda, magnificent chandelier and a unique collection of glass decorative items.
Union Station is a place that every tourist should visit. It is reckoned for its amazing architecture and impeccable atmosphere, and superb interior design.
Washington is the US capital, a city that is not included in any US state, but Georgetown and neighboring regions officially named the District of Columbia. In Washington itself over 600 thousand people live, but the population of the District of Columbia, reaches 5.5 million.
Washington appeared in 1791 in the north of the Potomac River, receiving the name of the first president of the United States. This is the main administrative center of the country.
Where to go, what to see in Washington?
Washington is an incredibly festive city. There are a record number of monuments and obelisks. If you are confused of which place to cover first in Washington then start from the center- or rather, from the National Mall.
Witness the incredible Washington Monument, made in the spirit of the Egyptian obelisk. This giant stele height of 169 meters is reflected in the reflecting pool, the surface of which is never a ripple. Take the lift to the observation deck; from where you can see the whole city from a bird’s flight.
Surrounded by the main monuments of the capital, there are other equally iconic sights of Washington: the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson Memorial. About military events remind a monumental complex devoted to al the super heroes of the Second World War, a monument to veterans of Vietnam and the memorial to the fallen in Korea.
What do you need to see in Washington in the first place? Probably it is still the famous White House and the Capitol, where there are the Supreme Court, the US Congress and the Library of Congress. It is the repository of tens of millions of books. In addition, walking on the National Mall, you cannot escape some of the largest museums belonging to the Smithsonian Institution – Postal Museum, Portrait Gallery and the Museum of American Art.
Do not forget that in Washington there are dozens of private and public museums dedicated to “narrow” themes: women’s art, history of espionage, the Holocaust, natural history, space exploration, centuries-old industry news and much more.
For tourists with children there is also a list of what to see in Washington. For example, it is the National Zoo. It contains thousands of rare animals, many of which cannot be seen in nature.
You can finish the walk in the unique Washington Cathedral built in the Gothic style, which is not limited to any religion. It opens its doors to all believers.