Local Attractions

The National Mall is home to Washington, DC's most famous monuments, memorials, and museums and the starting point for most visitors. The National Mall is America's most visited national park, where the past, present, and future come together. Most of the sites below are on or near the National Mall.

U.S. Capitol

US Capitol  

The U.S. Capitol Building is the center of American democracy. The world-famous domed building is home to the House and Senate, and it's where America's congressmen and congresswomen conduct business, debate laws, and pass bills on behalf of the American people.

The U.S. Capitol is open to the public for guided tours; the House and Senate galleries are open to the public only when in session, and passes must be obtained from one of your members of Congress. Click here for more information on hours and passes.

Monuments and Memorials

Our national monuments are truly spectacular and "must see" attractions when visiting the nation's capital. Among the most iconic are the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Almost all of these are in or near the northwestern quadrant along the mall and are best seen on foot. Many of them are open 24 hours and offer great views of the city. Click here to plan your visit to our nation's most symbolic sites.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial & Washington MonumentPhoto by Michael Kleinberg

Museums

Smithsonian Museum   

Washington, DC is in a class of its own when it comes to high quality museums. Start at the Smithsonian Institution where you can pick up a map and information on all 19 Smithsonian museums.

The museums are among the most popular attractions in DC and cover a wide range of subjects from art to space exploration, and all are free to visit. All Smithsonian Museums have interactive components and unparalleled collections of artifacts.

The hard part is choosing which ones to visit - a few of the most popular are the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Air and Space Museum, which holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world.

  Air & Space Museum

Two more can't-miss museums are the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, both free. The National Gallery of Art is one of the world's preeminent museums. The Gallery's collection includes some 141,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, decorative arts, and new media tracing the development of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. Plan ahead to visit the profoundly moving Holocaust Memorial Museum as timed passes are required to visit the Permanent Exhibition.

International Spy Museum  

Most of the museums are free, but this is one museum that is actually worth paying for. The International Spy Museum, one of D.C.'s most popular attractions, is noisy with films and interactive displays. The Spy Museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. This museum is fun for all ages because spies are cool.

White House

A visit to the White House can be one of the most memorable experiences during a trip to the nation's capital. The White House, constructed between 1792 and 1800, is the official residence of the President of the United States and a living museum of American history.

Since 1800 when the first work of art, the full-length portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, was acquired, objects including paintings, sculpture, furniture, and china have been purchased by, or donated to, the White House in this ever-changing historic structure. To arrange a tour you must make a request in advance through one of your members of Congress. Plan ahead as a limited number of spaces are available

White House

Mount Vernon

George Washington's beloved Mount Vernon is located in Mount Vernon, Virginia along the shores of the Potomac River and is the most scenic tourist attraction in the Washington, DC area. The 500-acre estate designed by George Washington includes a 14-room mansion that is beautifully restored and furnished with original objects dating back to the 1740s. Visitors can explore the mansion, the outbuildings, the gardens and the new museum and learn about the life of America's first president and his family.

Mount Vernon