Washington D.C. was so much fun to explore! I had no idea how much the city had to offer, but now that I know, I’m going to share that info with you. Here are some things to do in Washington D.C.
Before visiting D.C., I had no idea that many of the famous historical monuments I always saw in movies and pictures were all located in an area called the National Mall. When I first heard “National Mall”, I thought it had to do with shopping, but I was way off. The National Mall is home to the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, and the Capitol building. I’ve only just scratched the surface with this list, but it gives you an idea of what’s there.
There are actually a lot of memorials and historical pieces of remembrance that make up the National Mall. It would take days to see it all because it’s so extensive. Some of my favorite parts include the WWII Memorial, the Capitol building and the Jefferson Memorial.
When people say “The Smithsonian”, they are probably referring to one specific museum, but the truth is there are actually many museums under the Smithsonian umbrella. Most of these museums flank the National Mall and are free to enter. Some of the more popular ones include the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, and National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The Smithsonian that I found most interesting is the National Museum of American History. The first American flag is held here with a unique exhibit to show it off. As well, the famous ruby-red slippers from the Wizard of Oz are displayed. My favorite exhibit is one that holds a dress from each of the first women of the United States. It was so cool being able to see the styles of different time periods as well as the styles of each woman. If you have the chance to visit this museum, I definitely recommend it.
Iwo Jima, also known as the United States Marine Corps Memorial, is located in Arlington just outside of Washington D.C. It shows one of the most historic battles fought in WWII, Iwo Jima. Something interesting about this memorial is that the base is engraved with every major battle the Marine Corps has ever fought since 1775. I went at night and it was truly magnificent to see the 78-foot memorial lit up with lights. It’s a very peaceful and humbling memorial to visit and 100% worth the stop.
Arlington National Cemetery
This was a stop that I way underestimated. I don’t have any relatives buried here so I didn’t expect for the Arlington National Cemetery to impact me so much, but it did! There is something called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which is a symbolic tomb that represents all the military individuals who have died in war and have never been recovered. I was able to watch the changing of the guard for this tomb and it was a beautiful experience. It really caused me to reflect on the freedoms and liberties I take for granted. Even though there are so many reasons to visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at the top of my list of reasons.
The White House
Did you know you can take a tour of the White House? That’s right! Of course, it’s only a wing of the historic building since it’s still functional, but it is still a great stop to make on your trip. Without going on a tour to the White House, it’s actually hard to get close to it. There is a large fence and loads of security around the place that makes it hard to get closer than a few hundred feet from it. The only way to get closer (without knowing someone) is to take a tour.
I took a self-guided tour, but I also saw a few individuals who had guides. It’s completely free to get tickets and go on a self-guided tour so that’s the option I opted for. Much like other buildings in D.C., the White House holds so much history and is well maintained. Furniture, paintings, and other items are kept in the rooms you tour and it’s so interesting! I can’t even properly describe how cool it is so you’ll just have to see for yourself!
Also, if for some crazy reason you don’t get tickets to tour the White House, there is a visitor’s center close to it that is also pretty interesting.
One of my favorite parts of my time spent in Washington D.C. was touring the Capitol Building. For this one, I did have a tour guide and it was so worth it. She was able to tell us about the history of certain paintings and interesting facts about things we saw in the building (and there are lots of interesting facts). Something that was fun for my group and I was searching for the statues from our respective states. Each State in the United States was able to pick two people that they felt represented their state well (usually someone born there) and have statues made of the people to represent the state in the Capitol building. These 100 statues are all over the building so it’s almost like a scavenger hunt trying to find them.
There is also a great view of the National Mall that can be seen from the Capitol building. Needless to say, there is so much to see here and I enjoyed my tour soooo much. 10/10 recommend scoring a tour for here if you can.
I think that about wraps up my rambling for this blog post. However, I still have more to say about Washington D.C. so stay on the look out for future posts. As always, thanks for reading my blog! Let me know what you thought of this post in the comments. Find me on Instagram to follow along with my life and receive more travel tips.
Check out my latest post “Top 5 Underrated Cities in the United States”. Til next week!