The Capitol City
Credit: eGuide Travel on Flickr

Explore our nations' capitol with these awesome things to do in DC!

Most people know to see the White House, the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, The Smithsonian Museums, and the Capitol building.  And you absolutely should go and see those classic American monuments! 

My personal favorite is the Korean War memorial.  I remember the first time I visited, it was raining, and I was so moved by how life-like all the statues seemed, and I could really imagine them traipsing through the jungle hell-hole that the war in Vietnam was.  Awesome memorial!  Another "classic" that had a big impression on me was the Vietnam War Memorial.   It is a long, black wall etched with the names of all those who gave their lives to that war.  It is a poignant memorial to those American heroes who lost their lives in an untimately futile war.


  But Washington DC is much more than just those uber-famous places--it is a vibrant, exciting city that is full of life.  There are also some truly outstanding, world-class eateries in DC that youl should be sure and check out.  Whether you are there with the kids for a quick getaway, or you have a whole week to explore DC, I think you'll find some off-the-beaten path places to explore in this article that will only enhance your appreciation for this great city.

Hillwood Museum and Gardens

Hillwood Museum and Gardens

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens is a Washington, DC treasure.  Originally purchased in 1955 by Post cereal empire heiress Marjorie Post, the estate is "a museum that [will] inspire and educate the public." [1]

It boasts elaborate and exotic gardens, an extensive collection of Russian and French art, and exhibits featuring the fascinating story of Ms. Posts' life. Don't miss this unusual and fabulous DC attraction!

Hillwood is closed on Mondays, but open from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Saturday and on certain Sundays from 1 to 5 pm.

The Ford Theater

Ford Theater
Credit: AbsolutSara on Flickr

If you don't immediately recognize the photo of Ford's Theater, this was the site of the tragic 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14th.  The theater is actually still putting on shows and productions, as well as being a historical landmark that is open to the public for yours.  What a wonderful (if a bit macabre) way to have history come alive! 

You can buy tickets in advance for a very reasonable 2.50 per person, but a great insider tip is that if you get there at 8:30 am, there are a limited number of free, same-day-visit tickets!  There is the theater to see, as well as a museum that is downstairs.  Also, right across the street is the Petersen house, where President Lincoln was carried directly after the shooting occurred.  This house is included in your tour ticket as well.  You can't beat the value of this stop if you are looking for things to to in Washington DC!

City Walks: Washington, D.C.: 50 Adventures on Foot
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Freer and Sackler Gallery

Freer and Sackler Gallery
Credit: Casbr on Flickr

The Freer and Sackler Galleries are a lesser-known part of the Smisthsonian Institution.  Featuring incredible exhibits of Asian art and culture, these galleries are a must-do for any art enthusiast or connoisseur of Asian culture--or if you just love a great museum.   Almost never crowded, the galleries are a gem of the DC art landscape.  Some of the most popular exhibits include the Peacock Room, and the Middle Eastern collections.


Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, admission to these world-class galleries is free.

Frederick Douglas National Historic Site

Frederick Douglas
Credit: dbking

The Frederick Douglas Historic site is comprised of the famous abolitionist's home and also a visitor center with exhibits about his life's work.  Douglas, and African-American born into slavery, is one of the most important abolitionists and African American rights fighters of all time.  From his humble beginnings, he lived a life of great influence and changed the course of America. 

The site and grounds are open daily all year, and also tours of the property given by rangers are given on a daily basis.  The grounds are free to tour, but if you want to go in the house you will need a ticket.  Tickets are priced very reasonably at only 1.50 each.

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum
Credit: kellinahandbasket on Flickr

If you or any of the members of your family are James Bond fans, then this is a must do on your trip to DC.  The International Spy Museum is all about espionage, featuring some really interesting exhibits and artifacts from the spy trade.  There are a bunch of interactive things that you can do while you are there.  One is called "Operation Spy."  It is a timed activity where, acting as a "spy", you have to locate an explosive device before time runs out!  Another are their "Spy City TOurs", which is a guided bus tour where your "handler" (the bus driver) shows you some cool espionage sites.

Hours vary seasonally, so be sure and check the website, but typically they are open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.  Ticket prices range from 15-30 bucks depending on what all you want to do. 

Bistro Bis

Bistro Bis
Credit: morissey on Flickr

Bistro Bis is a Capitol Hill French eatery in Washington DC.  Featuring modern decor and a menu that ranges in price from 12-50 dollars, this mid-priced restaurant is a great introduction to the local foodie scene.  The cuisine is a modern take on classic french cooking, and boasts such favorites as Escargot Forestière, Beef Bourguignon, and Crêpes au Potiron.  For desert, try the Poire Bordelaise , a red-wine poached pear, or the Crème Brûlèe à la Vanille.  Delicious.

I hope you enjoy your time in Washington DC.  Hopefully this list of things to do in DC has given you some inspiration to visit our capital city!