Officially founded on July 16, 1790, Washington, DC is unique among American cities because it was established by the Constitution of the United States to serve as the nation’s capital. This capital of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation has an elegance and dignity that’s captured in its monuments, museums and memorials.
The best option for transportation is to hop on the Metro or walk. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) also offers Metrorail and Metrobus services in DC and the nearby suburbs of Maryland and Virginia.
The seat of the Nation’s government provides visitors with some of the world’s most famous landmarks including the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Smithsonian Institution, and a plethora of monuments, museums, historic sites and buildings, and other attractions at the core of the Washington DC area.
No site is more associated with Washington DC than the White House. Home to every U.S. President since 1800, the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue houses the Executive branch of the federal government. The White House complex includes the residency, where the First Family lives, the West Wing with the Oval Office, and the New and Old Executive Office Buildings. Tours are available upon prior request from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays (excluding federal holidays). All White House tours are free of charge.
THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL
A visit to the magnificent U.S. Capitol Building, which houses the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, is an enriching experience of a lifetime. From the statue of Freedom, crowning the cast iron Capitol dome, to the Rotunda frieze, depicting 19 scenes of significant events in U.S. history, the symbolic art treasures and architectural features, discovered throughout the grand corridors and chambers are truly awe inspiring. The Capitol is open to the public for guided tours only, conducted from 8:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
The Smithsonian Institution operates 19 museums, nine of which are found along the Mall. Maintenance and upkeep of the institution’s facilities are for the purpose of educating the public about American identity, culture, and history.
Extending for 3km from the US Capitol to the Potomac River, the tree-lined grassy strip known as the National Mall is the central hub of tourist activity in the city, containing many of Washington DC’s most famous attractions. It is home to the tapering Washington Monument; the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson Memorials; the Capitol; White House; the museums of the Smithsonian Institution; and the National Gallery of Art.
MEMORIALS AND MONUMENTS
Being a capital city, DC is home to some very impressive memorials and monuments, many of which have become firmly associated with American culture and symbols of the United States around the globe.
Washington Monument – The Washington Monument, at 555 feet tall, was the world’s tallest man-made structure until the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889. An elevator to the top of the monument offers visitors an optimal view of DC and the surrounding areas.
Lincoln Memorial – The Lincoln Memorial is a massive stone structure erected to honor America’s 16th president, who served during the Civil War and whose actions have been credited with bringing about an end to legalized slavery.
The other memorials are: Jefferson Memorial, Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial, Vietnam’s Veterans Memorial, National WWII Memorial, and Korean War Veteran Memorial.
INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM
Washington’s newest museum, the International Spy Museum, features the largest collection of publicly displayed international espionage artifacts in the world. It aims to educate the public about espionage and its vital role and impact on historic and current events.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART
Two buildings, the West and East Wings, make up the visually stunning National Gallery of Art that is the most popular art museum in North America. Together they house one of the world’s leading collections of Western paintings, graphics and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
BUREAU OF ENGRAVING & PRINTING
If you like money, this is your kind of place. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is responsible for designing and printing the green stuff as well as stamps and US securities. During the 45-minute tour, visitors see the various processes involved in turning blank sheets of paper into millions of dollars cash. Please note – they don’t give out samples!