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Washington DC

173 expert recommended attractions

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National Zoological Park

Washington DC 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Home to over 2000 individual animals (400 different species) in natural habitats, the National Zoo is famed for its giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. — Lonely Planet

The panda habitat is part of the Asia Trail, which links the habitats of sloth bears, fishing cats, red pandas, clouded leopards, Asian small-clawed otters and a Japanese giant salamander. — Time Out

Since 2000, the giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, have been the zoo's most famous residents. — Fodor's

This "biopark" exhibits more than 2,000 wild animals and serves as a research institution devoted to the study, preservation and breeding of threatened species. — Michelin Guide

A 163-acre reserve carved out of Rock Creek Park, the Smithsonian's zoological arm is a long-standing family favorite. — Travel + Leisure

Washington National Cathedral

Upper Northwest 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Everyone travels to D.C. to see the noted Government buildings we all grew up learning about in school. This cathedral and its garden is a hidden gem no one should miss. From the... — Afar Magazine

Newly-constructed old cathedral. Pure American. — Not For Tourists

Construction of the sixth-largest cathedral in the world began in 1907, and what is officially known as the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was finished and consecrated in 1990. — Fodor's

Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 plan for the capital city included "a great church for national purposes". — Frommer's

Designated a national house of prayer by Congress, this neogothic Episcopal cathedral is the sixth largest church in the world. — Travel + Leisure

Lincoln Memorial

Washington DC 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

At the west end of the National Mall, this Greek-style temple to the 16th president holds Daniel Chester French's 19-foot-tall statue of Lincoln and carved inscriptions of his famous... — Where

The 19ft marble statue of Lincoln himself, by Daniel Chester French, peers out over the Reflecting Pool, his facial expression seeming to change at different times of day. — Time Out

Anchoring the Mall's west end is the hallowed shrine to Abraham Lincoln, who gazes peacefully across the reflecting pool beneath his neoclassical Doric-columned abode. — Lonely Planet

From this stately memorial the famous marble likeness of a seated, brooding Lincoln stares across the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument and to the Capitol beyond. — Michelin Guide

This beautiful and moving tribute to the nation's 16th president attracts millions of visitors annually. — Frommer's

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United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

National Mall 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

For a deep understanding of the Holocaust – its victims, perpetrators and bystanders – this harrowing museum is a must-see. — Lonely Planet

The mesmerizing and thoroughly wrenching exhibits here are required visits for any American wanting a better understanding of the Holocaust. — Travel + Leisure

Designed by architect James Ingo Freed, America’s only national memorial to genocide. More than 900 artifacts, 70 video monitors, four theaters, contemporary art and room for reflection. — Where

This museum, which opened in 1993 next to the National Mall, tells the story of Holocaust victims in a personal, harrowing way. — Concierge

More than 30 million people from 132 countries have visited this museum since it opened in 1993, and the museum continues to be a top draw. — Frommer's

National Museum of American History

Federal Triangle 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

With five million visitors annually, this museum is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular. As a repository for the country’s cultural, scientific and technological heritage, it holds a... — Where

As a bastion of U.S. culture and history, this museum tells America's story in terms of everyday life. — Frommer's

The 3 million artifacts and archival collections in the country's largest American history museum explore America's cultural, political, and scientific past. — Fodor's

This unique museum captures the essence of America by presenting the objects and ideas that have figured prominently in the nation's material and social development. — Michelin Guide

This institution has accented itself with the daily bric-a-brac of the American experience... along with icons such as Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Kermit the Frog. — Lonely Planet

Arlington National Cemetery

Washington DC 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The county's best-known attraction is the somber final resting place for more than 300,000 military personnel and their dependents, with veterans of every US war from the Revolution to Iraq. — Lonely Planet

The most revered burial ground in the US, this vast military cemetery is one of the capital's most poignant sights. The swaths of rolling terrain are lined with endless rows of gleaming... — Michelin Guide

Service is continuous and the narrated commentary is informative; this is the only guided tour of the cemetery offered. If you've got plenty of stamina, consider doing part or all of the tour on foot. — Frommer's

While you're here, there's a good chance you might hear the clear, doleful sound of a trumpet playing taps or the sharp reports of a gun salute. — Fodor's

It is the right of anyone killed in action in any branch of military service, or who served for 20 years, to be buried at Arlington, along with their spouse. — Time Out

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

National Mall 90 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The National Museum of Natural History investigates the world and its creatures, examines ancient rituals, and explores the unfolding universe. Be sure to see The Last American Dinosaurs,... — Travel + Leisure

Exhibits track the natural world since prehistoric time (anthropology to zoology). In the Rotunda, taxidermic African elephant Henry stars in a replica Angolan habitat. Hall of Geology,... — Where

The National Museum of Natural History is the largest of its kind in the world and one of the most visited museums in Washington. — Frommer's

The gem at the heart of the Museum of Natural History is a state-of-the-art IMAX cinema and an 80,000sq ft brushed steel and granite Discovery Center housing a cafeteria and exhibition space. — Time Out

The National Museum of Natural History, part of the Smithsonian Institution, ranks as one of the most visited museums in the world. — Michelin Guide

National Museum of the American Indian

National Mall 90 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The Smithsonian's newest museum, opened in 2004, stands apart visually and conceptually from the other cultural institutions on the Mall. — Fodor's

Dedicated to America’s colonised and historically abused indigenous people, the National Museum of the American Indian is the most recent addition to the Mall’s museum ring. — Time Out

Opened in September 2004, the NMAI is the first national museum dedicated to Native Americans and the first new museum on the Mall since 1987. — Michelin Guide

Use videos, interactive technology, and displays of artifacts to help you learn about Native cosmologies, history, and contemporary cultural identity. — Frommer's

The award for most impressive external architecture of any museum on the Mall (and perhaps in the city) goes to the Museum of the American Indian. — Lonely Planet

White House

National Mall 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

America's most famous house was designed in 1792 by the Irishman James Hoban. — Fodor's

Inspired by the stately presence of the Executive Mansion, this area maintains a decorous gentility, with manicured parks, elegant row houses and grandly conceived public structures.... — Michelin Guide

Presidential residence from the time of John Adams. Photo ops from north and south gates. Self-guided public tour requests must be submitted through a member of Congress at least 21 days... — Where

Part showplace, part workplace, probably one of the world’s most-recognized buildings, it’s hard to imagine now that until the 20th century the public could walk in freely. — Time Out

Tours are arranged for groups of ten or more through the offices of a U.S. citizen's member of Congress or an overseas visitor's embassy and can be requested up to six months in advance. — Concierge

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

National Mall 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The opposite of DC's white, gleaming marble is this black, low-lying 'V,' an expression of the psychic scar wrought by the Vietnam War. — Lonely Planet

The sombre black granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial have become a shrine, with pilgrims coming to touch the more than 58,000 names. — Time Out

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated to the American men and women who served in the Vietnam War. — Travel + Leisure

"The Wall," as it's commonly called, is one of the most visited sites in Washington. — Fodor's

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is possibly the most poignant sight in Washington: two long, black-granite walls in the shape of a V. — Frommer's

Washington Monument

National Mall 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

There's a 12-foot-tall replica of the Washington Monument hidden under a manhole nearby.  — Atlas Obscura

The capital's most conspicuous landmark, and... an indelible symbol of the city that bears his name. — Michelin Guide

The phallus itself. — Not For Tourists

Closed indefinitely for elevator repairs. Completed in 1884, 555-foot marble obelisk honoring George Washington, now the world’s tallest freestanding masonry structure. Elevator to museum... — Where

Just peaking at 555ft (and 5in), the Washington Monument is the tallest building in the district. It took two phases of construction to complete; note the different hues of the stone. — Lonely Planet

National Gallery of Art

National Mall 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The two architecturally opposed buildings that make up this museum jointly contain one of the world’s most extraordinary art collections. — Travel + Leisure

When we were kids, my parents would take (okay, drag) us to visit the Smithsonian Art Museums. I dreaded those trips. What kid wants to spend an afternoon looking at canvases with... — Afar Magazine

Rodin sculptures; masterpieces acquired from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; three French and Italian period rooms; and a selection of drawings from da Vinci. — Concierge

The National Gallery's world-class collection of masterpieces traces the development of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. — Michelin Guide

Set in two massive buildings, the National Gallery of Art houses a staggering art collection (over 100,000 objects), spanning the Middle Ages to the present. — Lonely Planet

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

National Mall 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

World’s largest collection of aircraft and space vehicles (Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Bell X-1, 1903 Wright Flyer). Renovated Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall with Apollo Lunar... — Where

The imposing Tennessee marble modernist block, by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, incorporates three skylit, double-height galleries, which house missiles, aircraft and space stations. — Time Out

The museum, now in its 36th year, chronicles the story of the mastery of flight, from Kitty Hawk to outer space. — Frommer's

This is the country's most visited museum, attracting 9 million people annually to the world's largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft. — Fodor's

The Air & Space Museum is the most popular Smithsonian museum. — Lonely Planet

The National Archives Museum

Federal Triangle 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The National Archives is at once monument, museum, and the nation's memory. — Fodor's

The Rotunda of the National Archives displays the country's most important original documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. — Frommer's

See the “Charters of Freedom”—the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Theater with free films. New David M. Rubenstein Gallery and Visitor... — Where

Seeing the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Magna Carta all under one roof (in the main rotunda) is impressive. — Travel + Leisure

The vast collection of the National Archive & Record Administration (NARA) represents the physical record of the birth and growth of a nation in original documents. — Time Out

Library of Congress

National Mall 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

A renowned Beaux-Arts landmark, the original Library of Congress is reputedly Washington's most richly ornamented building. — Michelin Guide

Created by an act of Congress in 1800, this often-overlooked Washington landmark occupies a resplendent 1897 building connected by tunnel to the Capitol building. — Travel + Leisure

World’s largest library holds more than 162 million items, among them more than 38 million books, plus the Gutenberg Bible and a re-creation of Thomas Jefferson’s 6,487-volume founding... — Where

The largest library in the world has more than 155 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. — Fodor's

Before you stop in the Orientation Galleries, or line up for that tour or enmesh yourself in the library's literature, first take time to stroll around the building. — Frommer's

National Mall

National Mall 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

A bustling ceremonial avenue of embassies and other distinguished buildings. — Frommer's

America's "town green"—that might be the best short description of this fabled strip of Washington, D.C. It's the heart of almost every visitor's trip to Washington. — Fodor's

The Mall serves as the cultural heart of the capital and a political forum for the nation. Its imposing buildings and broad vistas underscore Washington's reputation as "the City Beautiful". — Michelin Guide

Planner Pierre L'Enfant's grand landscape from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. All memorial sites free. — Where

Shopping or something. — Not For Tourists

National Portrait Gallery

Downtown / Chinatown 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Devoted to the intersection of art, biography, and history, this museum has on view hundreds of images of men and women who have shaped U.S. history. — Fodor's

This gem is found in the busy Penn Quarter of downtown D.C. It is my favorite place to bring visitors. — Afar Magazine

The National Portrait Gallery features people who played a role in the shaping of the nation and its culture. — Time Out

There are portraits of every American president (including Gilbert Stuart's Lansdowne portrait of George Washington and Pat Oliphant's caricatures of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon). — Concierge

Famed faces of U.S. history and culture. Only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House. Daily 11:30 am-7 pm. Gift shop, café. — Where

Dumbarton Oaks

Washington DC 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Tucked away in the highest point of this elegant neighborhood, you'll find the onetime "country estate" of Mildred and Robert Bliss. — Afar Magazine

Dumbarton Oaks welcomes the public to its museum and gardens and is located in historic Georgetown. Site of the United Nations 1944 beginnings. A 19th-century manse plus Philip... — Where

The Byzantine, pre-Columbian, and medieval art at this stately mansion are some of the most under-appreciated collections in D.C.  — Atlas Obscura

This gracious museum and research institution is situated at the heart of what has been called "America's most civilized square mile." — Michelin Guide

An absolute treasure. — Not For Tourists

International Spy Museum

Downtown / Chinatown 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

If you are intrigued by spies, and want to separate fact from fiction, then the place for you. — Afar Magazine

A must-visit for both wannabe spy kids and their John le Carré-reading parents, this terrific interactive museum gives you the chance to try your hand at espionage. — Travel + Leisure

Dedicated to the craft, practice and history of espionage around the world. Items like a WWII German Enigma cipher and an East German camera for seeing through walls. Exhibits on spy... — Where

“They say you're judged by the strength of your enemies”—James Bond, Quantum of Solace.  — Atlas Obscura

The only facility dedicated to the study of international espionage, this museum has a permanent collection of artifacts and spy gadgets. — Concierge

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Washington DC 86 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This spectacular, aggressively modern cylindrical building by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill enlivens the predominantly neoclassical architecture lining the Mall. — Time Out

The collection features just about every well-known 20th-century artist and touches on most of the major trends in Western art since the late 19th century. — Frommer's

An unmistakable architectural statement on the Mall, this cylindrical building houses one of the finest collections of modern art in the country. — Michelin Guide

The Smithsonian’s cylindrical modern art museum is the best of its kind in Washington. — Lonely Planet

Conceived as the nation's museum of modern and contemporary art, the Hirshhorn is home to nearly 12,000 works by masters. — Fodor's

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    56 museums and galleries
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    35 places of historical interest
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    26 parks, gardens and outdoor attractions

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