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Washington DC

184 expert recommended attractions

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United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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

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

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

A deeply moving, wholly absorbing history lesson awaits visitors to this large museum-research complex, conceived "to commemorate the dead and to educate the living." — Michelin Guide

Designed by architect James Ingo Freed, America’s only national memorial to genocide — Where

Since its opening in 1993, the Holocaust Museum has attracted legions of visitors to its permanent exhibition, The Holocaust. — Time Out

National Zoological Park

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

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

The zoo's biggest draws are two giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. — Frommer's

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

Two words: baby panda. — Not For Tourists

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

Lincoln Memorial

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

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

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

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 speeches. — 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

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

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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 — Where

One of the most popular museums in the Smithsonian collection, The National Museum of American History tells the story of America through its politics, technology, wars, pop culture, and food. — Travel + Leisure

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

Among the exhibitions, America on the Move chronicles the changing ways Americans have got around a large country and how different modes of transport have transformed the nation. — Time Out

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

National Mall 91 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 — Travel + Leisure

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

This is one of the world's great natural history museums. — Fodor's

The Smithsonian’s second-most popular museum clogs with kids, but adults will find lots to love here too. — Lonely Planet

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

Washington National Cathedral

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

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

Washington National Cathedral was built in 14th-century Gothic style, stone upon stone, without structural steel, an exercise that took most of the 20th century and was only finished in 1990. — Time Out

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

National Museum of the American Indian

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

Opened in 2004, the National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institute, is located on the National Mall just across from the National Air and Space Museum. — Travel + Leisure

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

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

Arlington National Cemetery

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

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

Visit again and again--just not during tourist season. — Not For Tourists

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 — 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

Washington Monument

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

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

The idea of a tribute to George Washington first arose 16 years before his death, at the Continental Congress of 1783. — Frommer's

Completed in 1884, 555-foot marble obelisk honoring George Washington, now the world’s tallest freestanding masonry structure. Elevator to museum and observation deck. — Where

Five hundred and fifty-five feet of monolithic tribute, the monument to our first president stands in the center of the Mall like a watchtower over the city. — Travel + Leisure

The Washington Monument was completed in 1884, 101 years after Congress authorized it. — Time Out

White House

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

It's amazing when you think about it: This house has served as residence, office, reception site, and world embassy for every U.S. president since John Adams. — Frommer's

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

America's most famous house was designed in 1792 by Irish architect James Hoban — Fodor's

The White House has survived both fire and insults (Jefferson groused that it was 'big enough for two emperors, one Pope and the grand Lama'). — Lonely Planet

The National Archives Museum

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

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

An atomic bomb-proof strongbox protects the U.S. Constitution from terrorists and thieves.  — Atlas Obscura

It's hard not to feel a little in awe of the big three documents in the National Archives. — Lonely Planet

This Classical Revival "temple" just off the Mall holds the nation's documentary treasures, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. — Michelin Guide

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 89 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

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

To prove to Europeans that America was cultured, John Adams plunked the world's largest library on Capitol Hill. — Lonely Planet

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 collection — Where

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

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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

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

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 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

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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

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

This fascinating museum welcomes more than nine million visitors annually, making it one of Washington's and the world's most popular. — Michelin Guide

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

The world's most-visited museum is heavenly for adults and a must for kids. — Travel + Leisure

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

National Gallery of Art

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

The two buildings of the National Gallery hold one of the world's foremost art collections, with paintings, sculptures, and graphics that date from the 13th to the 21st centuries — Fodor's

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

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

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

Housing one of the world's foremost collections of Western paintings, sculpture, and graphic arts, from the Middle Ages into the 21st century, the National Gallery has a dual personality. — 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

Shopping or something. — Not For Tourists

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

Most of Washington, D.C.'s must-see monuments are clustered on the western end of the National Mall, so it's possible to see them all in one day. — Concierge

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

National Portrait Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

Modeled after its namesake in London, the National Portrait Gallery conserves some 20,000 paintings sculptures, photographs, engravings and drawings. — Michelin Guide

Dumbarton Oaks

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

Dumbarton Oaks welcomes the public to its museum and gardens and is located in historic Georgetown — Where

Diplomat Robert Woods Bliss and his wife, Mildred, bought the property in 1920 and tamed the sprawling grounds into acres of splendid gardens. — Fodor's

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

An absolute treasure. — Not For Tourists

One of the finest mansions in DC is set in some of its finest gardens, a multi-terraced study in pruned elegance. — Lonely Planet

International Spy Museum

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

For all the future Aldrich Ames out there. — Not For Tourists

A fitting home for this museum, which displays the world's largest collection of spy artifacts. — Fodor's

Interactive monitors test one's powers of observation and teach you what to look for when it comes to suspicious activity. — Frommer's

One of DC’s most popular museums is flashy, over the top, and probably guilty of overtly glamming up a life of intelligence gathering. — Lonely Planet

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

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

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

Works by Dubuffet, Picasso, Rothko, Calder, Warhol and current stars. — Where

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

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