The Best Places to See in Washington DC

An Easy, Fun and Nearly Free Sightseeing Trip to the U.S. Capitol, and the Monuments of Washington DC

The Capitol Building, Washington DC

Washington DC is one of the most interesting and different US cities. Unlike traditional skyscraping US cities, DC has a sprawling, horizontal old-world feel, complete with beautifully organized monuments, parks and museums that have been perfectly preserved. Getting around DC couldn't be easier, with an easily accessible subway system called the Metro. Most points of interest in DC are no more than 2 miles away from each other, so you're never all that far from the next destination or metro stop. The monuments are all completely free to see, as well as most of the museums in town, like the Smithsonian.

The National Mall

Your free sightseeing tour in Washington DC starts here!

National Mall

The majority of the monuments in DC are located in the large lawn-park of the city, the National Mall. Here you'll find famous sites like the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, U.S. Capitol Building, The Ulysses S. Grant Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Korean War Veterans Memorial. A trip to DC wouldn't be complete without a look at the monuments during a clear night. All of the monuments are perfectly lit for nightime viewing.

As you can see on the photo to the right, the Reflecting Pool is the centerpiece for the National Mall. It is capped on both sides by the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol Building. 

In the forgeround, you can see the WWII Memorial, which is adjcent to the Washington Monument. 

Lincoln Memorial

The beautiful Greek style temple tribute to Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln Memorial

At the far west end of the National Mall lies the Lincoln Memorial. Resembling an ancient Greek temple, the monument is one America's favorite pieces of architecture. Construction was initiated in 1912, and featured a large sculpture of the United States' 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Read more about the Lincoln Memorial here.

Planning Your Trip to DC

Take advantage of all the fun free things to do in Washington DC with an authorative guide

The Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C. (Unofficial Guides)
Eve Zibart

A good guide book on DC is pretty much essential for a fun trip. There's so much to see and so much to plan out, so many monuments, so many hotels to choose from, so many museums to visit, so many restaurants to eat at, so many ways around the's good to have a reference on hand before and during the trip. This one is highly rated amongst buyers and includes bonuses like DC travel with kids, and hints on where to save cash and time along your route.

Washington Monument

The sight you can see from all over DC, a tribute to George Washington

Washington Monument

Washington DC's tallest structure and the largest stone structure in the world is known as the Washington Monument. The monument was built to pay tribute to the country's first and perhaps greatest president, George Washington. The monument symbolizes the ideals of George Washington, and his accomplishments which have remained intact to this day--namely the independence of the United States, and the formation of the three branches of government. The Washington Monument is also an excellent landmark. Being largely visible from anywhere in the city, it will always give you a sense of direction on where you are.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Honoring veterans that served in the Vietnam War

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Honoring soldiers that fought in the Vietnam war and died or are unaccounted for, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is perhaps the most emotional monument in DC. The names of the soldiers are memorialized on the Memorial Wall, which lies to the north of the reflecting pool. The reflective wall is made of two large portions of black granite and beautifully pays tribute to the Vietnam Veterans.

A Convenient Washington DC Travel Guide...

The perfect size guide to carry around while traveling

Washington, D.C. (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Alice L. Powers

DK Eyewitness books always makes an excellent guide that is small enough to take on the go, while providing easy to look up info at a glance. This is important! You don't want to be wasting time during your trip trying to find what you are looking for. This guide couldn't be simpler to use.

National World War II Memorial

A tribute to the veterans of World War II in the National Mall

World War II Memorial

A relatively new memorial to DC, this monument to the World War II troops was completed in 2004. The National World War II Memorial lies near the Washington Monument, directly facing the Lincoln Memorial.

The US Capitol Building

Where congress does its official business in Washington DC

US Capitol Building

One of the great symbols of the United States is its massive Capitol Building. Lying in the near center of Washington DC, the Capitol and on top of the Capitol Hill area, the building houses the U.S. Congress. A new visitors center will be completed in Novemeber 2008, complete with dining, exhibits, and theatre.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

A moving sculpture tribute memorial to Korean War Veterans

Korean War Veterans Memorial

A lifelike tribute to Korean War Veterans lies south of the Lincoln Memorial, in the National Mall area. These intense sculptures, numbering 19, are placed amongst juniper bushes and granite to resemble the treacherous Korean terrain the US troops faced in the Korean War.

The Jefferson Memorial

A tribute to the third President of the United States at the Tidal Basin

Jefferson Memorial

A tribute to the United States' third president and one of its founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, was erected in 1939 near the Tidal Basin of the Potomac River. The Tidal Basin provides stunning views of the Greek style architectural piece, and is also one of America's most favorite pieces of architecture. A large bronze statue lies inside the monument, standing directly in the center of the domed area. Read more about the Jefferson Memorial here.

The White House

The workplace for the current President of the United States

The White House

The White House is a functioning workplace for the President of the United States of America. One of the most famous images in the world, the front and backsides of the White House are immediately recognizable. The only way to see the White House is on foot, since Pennsylvania Ave has been closed in front of the White House for security reasons.


The city across the Potomac River from Washington DC

Arlington National Cemetery

The city of Arlington lies directly across the Potomac River from Washington DC, and has many more monuments and sites. The city contains a busy downtown area, Rossyln, as well as the Arlington National Cemetery and Pentagon. Arlington also has plenty of great places to stay, most being a quick drive or Metro ride to DC. The city has a beautiful system of landscaped sidewalks and park areas, perfect for a stroll or jog along the Potomac. Arlington is the perfect place to stay on your sightseeing trip to Washington DC due to its proximity to monuments just across the river, as well as attractions in city of Arlington itself.

Photo Credits:

All photos from flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


48 leaves
1158 forum posts
I think the Lincoln Memorial is an amazing building. I would love to see it in person.
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472 forum posts
Joanne on said:
I took a bus tour of the eastern US several years back, and remember seeing most of the places listed here. I loved spending time there.

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