What to See in Washington D.C.

If you’re working out what to see in Washington D.C., the National Mall is the ideal destination to begin. This 3km stretch of manicured lawn is home to the city’s most famous monuments and provides access to Capitol Hill, the White House, and D.C.’s renowned museums. It’s also a great place to gain a perspective of the city and its layout, because all major streets radiate from the central point of the Capitol Building.

Beyond the mall there are further sights to see. Spend time exploring Arlington National Cemetery or George Washington’s family home, Mount Vernon. Grand estates such as Tudor Place, Hillwood Mansion, and Dumbarton Oaks are also not to be missed.

Lincoln Memorial

This is a place to pause and reflect on the price of liberty and freedom. The Lincoln Memorial overlooks the National Mall and pays homage to one of the most important presidents, and eras, in American history. Lincoln sits on permanent watch near the Potomac River, looking up towards Capitol Hill and paints an enduring image of Washington D.C.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The simple yet strikingly beautiful Vietnam Veterans Memorial honours over 58,000 Americans who gave their lives during the Vietnam War. Symbolising far more than the fallen, it reflects America’s coming of age during the tumultuous period of the 1960s and ‘70s. The name of every soldier who lost their life is inscribed here, etched into a gabbro rock wall that reflects the National Mall.

Washington Monument

Built to honour America’s first president, the Washington Monument quietly towers over Washington D.C. This 555ft marble obelisk is the tallest monumental column in the world and features a fascinating construction history. Although building began in 1844, it stood unfinished for 23 years due to the American Civil War and a shortage of funds.  

Capitol Building

Instantly recognisable, the Capitol Building is the heart of US government and overlooks the National Mall. The beautifully landscaped gardens around the building are open to the public. Enjoy taking time out to view the ornate fountains and numerous monuments. Meanwhile, guided tours of the building’s interior are also available, providing a more personal insight into the world’s most influential democracy.

The White House

Home to the president and enshrined in global history, the White House and its grounds sit perpendicular to the National Mall. If you’re looking to gain an in-depth appreciation of this iconic building, large swathes of the grounds are open for you to explore. Take time to browse in the visitor’s centre, which includes artefacts and exhibitions that tell the story of the White House as a national symbol, stage, and home.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Casting a watchful gaze directly towards the White House is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. This hallowed monument sits on the shores of the Potomac River, paying tribute to the third president of the United States and one of America’s founding fathers. Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and is widely credited as an architect of the American Revolution.