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Top 10 Things to Do in the Washington, DC Capital Region

Must Sees of Washington, DC


There is so much to see and do in Washington, DC that you can’t see it all in just one visit. A well-rounded trip should include exploring the National Mall and some other activities too. Here are some tips to help you get around the popular attractions and some suggestions of fun and more relaxing things to do in the capital region.

1. Visit the Smithsonian

Smithsonian Castle, Washington DC
Photo © Mark Williamson/Getty Images
Start at the Smithsonian Institution Building where you can pick up a map and information on all of the museums. These national treasures cover a wide range of subjects from art to space exploration. Plan to explore the exhibits that you are most interested in, but don’t try to see everything at once. Be sure to save time to see an IMAX movie at the Natural History Museum or the National Air and Space Museum.

2. Tour the National Monuments and Memorials

Photo © Massimo Pizzotti/Getty Images
Our national monuments are truly spectacular. The best time to see them is at night when they are illuminated, less crowded and parking is easier. During daytime visits, take a tour bus. Listen to informative park ranger talks and you won’t have to negotiate congested city traffic.

3. Tour the Three Houses of Government

Photo © Tetra Images - Henryk Sadura
Explore the U.S. Capitol Building, the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court and you will gain a fuller understanding of the division of power within our democratic government. Plan ahead and note that some tours must be scheduled in advance through your Congressional representative.

4. Take a Walk Through Georgetown

Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Georgetown, the capital’s historic waterfront, today bustles with activity. The area is a shopper’s paradise and the streets are lined with restaurants of every nationality. Take a tour of historic sites, do some shopping and enjoy a meal at a local restaurant.

5. Walk, Bike, or Kayak Along the C & O Canal

Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Washington DC region is lucky to have this wonderful historic park that offers a quick relief from hectic city life. Take the whole family for a walk and learn about the historic C & O Canal, explore the region's bike trails or spend a few hours kayaking and enjoying the breathtaking scenery.

6. See a Show or Concert at the Kennedy Center

Photo © Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images
Live theatrical productions at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts are entertainment at its finest. Purchase tickets in advance for performances ranging from musicals to concerts by the National Symphony, or see a free show at the Millennium Stage.

7. Attend a Concert at Wolftrap Farm Park

Photo © Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Listen to all types of music at this National Park dedicated to the performing arts. Outdoor concerts are featured in the summer, and indoor performances are held the rest of the year. The park is located in Vienna, Virginia, just 20 minutes from Washington, DC.

8. Take a Hike at Great Falls Park

Photo © Skip Brown/Getty Images

Take a picnic and enjoy spectacular views of the Potomac River at this 800 acre park, located just 14 miles from Washington DC. Great Falls offers a variety of activities including hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, bicycling, and horseback riding.

9. Explore Mount Vernon

Photo © Virginia Tourism Corporation
Explore the state-of-the-art galleries and theaters, visit the 500-acre estate of George Washington and his family, and tour the 14-room mansion that is beautifully restored and furnished with original objects dating back to the 1740s. Be sure to plan enough time to tour the outbuildings, including the kitchen, slave quarters, smokehouse, coach house and stables. The Mount Vernon Estate is located in Northern Virginia, just minutes from Washington, DC.

10. Take a Walking Tour of Old Town Alexandria

Photo © Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

Explore a quaint historic town just over the Potomac River from Washington, DC. The lively waterfront area has plenty of things to do. Visit colonial houses, public parks, churches, museums, a marina, unique shops, and restaurants.

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