Tourism in Washington

Washington, D.C. is one of North America’s top tourist destinations… and for good reason.  Impressive monuments, great museums, a thriving culinary scene and walkable, interesting neighborhoods make it a memorable experience.

In this section you will find some of the top things to do while in and around the USA’s capital city.

  • The White House

    Home to every U.S. president since John Adams in 1801, the White House is America's most famous residence. However, due to security concerns, White House tours are temporarily unavailable to foreign nationals.  For a virtual tour or more information, consult the White House's official website.

  • The Washington Monument

    At 555 feet tall, located just across from the White House, the Washington Monument was once the tallest structure in the world. From the top of the monument enjoy a 360-degree view of the city. The Monument is free to visit year round but tickets should be acquired in advance. For tickets and more information, visit the National Park Service’s website.

  • The Memorial Route

    D.C. is well known for its numerous memorials. Visitors can take a walking tour to see many of these impressive sights on the National Mall. Start at the World War II Memorial on 17th Street, progress westward on to the Lincoln Memorial, followed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Continue across Independence Avenue to the Martin Luther King and FDR Memorials, and finish with the Jefferson Memorial. The most famous monument, the Lincoln Memorial, was built in memory of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The memorial, inaugurated in 1922, is an architectural icon of the city and the nation.  All memorials are free and can be viewed 24 hours a day. Find out more about each memorial here.

  • Capitol Hill

    Located on the eastern end of the National Mall, the U.S. Capitol, with its iconic dome,  is perhaps the most magnificent building in Washington, D.C. Inside, members of the House of Representatives and Senate debate and create national policy and law.
    The Library of Congress, which has the largest collection of books in the world, and the U.S. Supreme Court are located nearby. For more information on how to book a tour of the Capitol, visit this U.S. Capitol Visitor Center website.

  • National Archives

    The National Archives houses the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

  • Smithsonian

    Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world's largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities. Be sure to visit: the Air and Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of American History, among others. Find out more about the Smithsonian and all of its museums here.

  • Shopping

    Shoppers of luxury goods will enjoy CityCenterDC – the Rodeo Drive of Washington, D.C..  Funded by our very Qatari Diar, these high-end shops, including Burberry, Longchamp, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Zadig & Voltaire, are prominently located in the heart of the District. Another great shopping location is Chevy Chase (upper Wisconsin Avenue) which hosts stores such as Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Versace and Channel.

  • Sports

    Washington, D.C. sports teams compete in a variety of national leagues including baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, and soccer. Depending on what time of the year, you may want to catch a Washington Nationals, Redskins, DC United, Wizards or Capitals game. Find out more about the professional sports teams based in Washington, D.C.,here.

  • Georgetown

    The famous neighborhood of Georgetown is popular for its beautiful waterfront and high-end shopping and dining. Considered by many as one of the prettiest areas of the city., the neighborhood is best explored by foot. For more information on how to get to Georgetown and what to do while there, visit the following website.

  • The Kennedy Center

    The Kennedy Center is the busiest performing arts facility in the United States and annually hosts approximately 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly two million. It produces and presents theater, dance, ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, and folk music, in addition to multi-media performances for all ages. Find out more on the Kennedy Center official website.

  • Washington Food Scene

    Even politicians have to eat and when they do, they do it well.Washington D.C. is known for a great variety of restaurants and markets.The 14th street corridor located in the heart of the downtown district has numerous restaurants offering good and imaginative food. The Eastern and Union farmer markets are a great place to go on the weekends with fresh produce and flowers, delicatessen, baked goods, meat, fish, and cheese. Recently ranked in the top 10 of America’s Best Restaurant Cities, check out this guide to D.C. for foodies.

  • Arlington National Cemetery

    This cemetery, which overlooks Washington from the Virginia side of the Potomac River, serves as a memorial to American's of national importance, including presidents, Supreme Court justices and a number of military heroes. Each year, more than 4 million people visit Arlington cemetery. For more information about the cemetery, visit its official website.

  • Historic U Street and The Howard Theatre

    The U Street Corridor of Washington, D.C. is one of the city’s most vibrant historical areas with many things to see and do. The neighborhood was the center of Washington's African American community and became known as “The Black Broadway”. The Howard Theatre on U Street launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. When the nation was deeply divided by segregation, the theater provided a place where “color barriers blurred and music unified.” Another landmark of U Street is the famous Ben's Chili Bowl, where you can try the infamous Chili Half-Smoke. Find out more about what to do in the U street corridor here.

Seasonal Activities

  • Cherry Blossoms

    After politics, Washington, D.C. is best known for its Cherry Blossom trees. Every spring, usually in late March or early April, nearly 1,700 Cherry Blossom trees lining Washington D.C.’s Tidal Basin burst into color in a beautiful display of floral fireworks. This natural phenomenon attracts people from all over the world.Here is a guide to everything you need to know about cherry blossoms and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

  • Kayaking on the Potomac

    In summer, kayaking is a popular activity in the Washington, D.C. area along the Potomac River that divides Washington D.C. and Virginia. If you are interested in knowing more about kayaking in D.C. click here

  • Potomac River Boat Tours

    See Washington, D.C. from the water.  Several operators offer a variety of boat tours during warm weather months.  Take any one a number of sightseeing cruises, or enjoy a lunch, dinner or moonlight outing. Consider taking a boat to historic Mount Vernon, the beloved home of George Washington, located just down river.  Click here for more information.

Outside Washington, D.C.

Take a break from the city.  A number of great destinations are within a couple of hours drive from the nation’s capital.

  • Historic Mount Vernon, home to President George Washington offers a look into life at a 18th century plantation. Enjoy great vistas from the mansion’s famous veranda.  Just a short distance from downtown, Mount Vernon is accessible by car or bus.

  • Baltimore, Maryland

    Located less than an hour north of Washington, D.C., “Charm City” is home to the world famous Inner Harbor, just off the Chesapeake Bay.  Top tourist attractions include the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  Baltimore is also home to Johns Hopkins University.Click here for more information.

  • Charlottesville, Virginia

    Home to two U.S. presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, the small city of Charlottesville is an easy two-hour trip from Washington, D.C. by car or train.  Visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Thomas Jefferson’s architectural marvel, Monticello, and the University of Virginia.Click here for more information.

  • Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

    Explore the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains just a couple of hours west of Washington, D.C. in western Virginia and West Virginia’s panhandle.   Popular destinations include: Shenandoah National Park and its famous Skyline Drive as well a number of small towns and notable caves.

  • Step back in American history at Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history museum for a glimpse into life in 18th century Virginia.  The Historic Area is an interpretation of a colonial American city, with exhibits of dozens of restored or re-created buildings related to its colonial and American Revolutionary War history. Modern day thrill seekers can choose from a number of roller coasters at Busch Gardens theme park or get wet at Water Country USA.