19 Washington DC Landmarks You Must See

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As the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. is certainly not lacking in historic landmarks and monuments to see that bring alive the history of the United States in a dramatic and incredible way.

» Want more? Here are 50 top activities to do in Washington DC. Or see it like a local with these 13 non-touristy things to do.

» You might like 15 Awesome Places to Visit in the United States.

Jefferson memorial and the tidal basin

When visiting the capital, you really should reserve a full day to see all of the Washington DC landmarks we have listed here. As you travel between the landmarks and monuments, you’ll become immersed in the story of the beginnings of America, the wars its fought, and the victories it’s had.

There’s nothing quite like walking around the National Mall where many of these landmarks are. There’s so much to see and do that you’ll easily fill an entire day – or 2-3 if you stop at the many museums that are interspersed throughout.

The White House

The White House

The White House is the official residence of each US president since 1800. It’s located in Washington DC and visitors can admire it from afar or stop by the White House Visitor Center to request access for a self-guided tour

Book this tour – White House and Pennsylvania Avenue Architecture Tour.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument.

Book this tour – Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley

Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial

Vietnam Veteran's Memorial

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is an incredibly moving display of the names of more than 58,000 U.S. service members who fought in the Vietnam War, those who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and those who were declared missing in action during the War. The wall is a poignant reminder of the lives lost in battle.

Washington Memorial

Washington Memorial

Free tickets for the trip to the top of the Washington Memorial are given on a first-come first-served basis starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Washington Monument Lodge at 15th Street adjacent to the monument.

The visit takes you to the top where the view of the city is one of the best you can find. Alternatively, you can just walk around the base and admire the monument and surrounding flags.

Ford’s Theatre

Yes, Ford’s Theatre is still an active theater with regular productions that you can attend, and it’s a pretty cool way to see a historical location. Downstairs is a museum containing many artifacts from Lincoln’s presidency and assassination.  Advance reservations are recommended during tourist season.

Book this tour – The Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour

FDR Memorial

FDR Memorial

The FDR Memorial is one of my favorites on the mall. The monument focuses on the story of the U.S. while FDR was President and features waterfalls and moving statues, including one of FDR in a wheelchair near the entrance.

It’s a peaceful and moving tribute to an American icon. If you’re up for it, take a tour of the monuments at night and you’ll see them in a new, more dramatic, light.

⇒ Over 30% off on unforgettable Night Tours in Washington DC

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is a huge presence in DC, along the Potomac River. It’s a great place to see the Cherry Blossoms from when they are in bloom, or to have a picnic on a sunny day.

Of course, you’ll want to hike the stairs for a view of the towering Thomas Jefferson statue that stands in the middle.

⇒ Book your Washington DC Guided Night Tour here.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opened in October 2011, a few months after the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. Set in the greater National Mall area, the memorial occupies four acres of land in West Potomac Park and looks out over Tidal Basin near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

The site includes both a commanding 30-foot statue of Dr. King and a 450-foot granite inscription wall, featuring 14 excerpts from King’s speeches, sermons and other public addresses.

 Tour to book: African-American History Tour with Reserved Museum Entry

World War II Memorial

World War 2 Memorial

Another moving tribute on the National Mall is the World War II Memorial. In the center of the monument is a shallow pool surrounded by 56 pillars – one for each of the states and territories of the U.S. that sacrificed soldiers to the war.

On one side is a Freedom wall that has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war.

Korean Memorial

Korean War Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial honors the 5.8 million Americans who served in the Korean War (1950-1953). The memorial consists of life-like statues of a patrol squad, a walled triangle inscribed with scenes depicting the Korean War, and a reflecting pool.

Book this tour – DC at Dusk Guided Night Tour

Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral is a historic building that welcomes all visitors, regardless of faith. More than 400,000 people visit the cathedral each year and it has been used for state funerals for 21 American presidents.

U.S. Capitol Building

US Capital Building

The Capitol dome towers above the Roman columns and gardens of Washington D.C., which is the political and geographic center of America. The Statue of Freedom stands atop the Capitol, symbolizing American freedom.

Book this tour – Capitol Hill and DC Monuments Tour by Electric Cart

Old Stone House

Old Stone House

The Old Stone House is a historic building in Washington, D.C., that was built in 1765. Today, a knowledgeable park ranger greets visitors as they enter the building and shares the colorful history of the capital city’s oldest structure. Visitors can take an informal tour through Old Stone House.

Book this tour – Historic Georgetown Architecture Tour

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Iwo Jima memorial

This statue of Marines raising the American flag on Japanese soil after the Battle of Iwo Jima is dedicated to the military service of U.S. Marines since 1775, when they first fought in defense of American soil. The 32-foot soldiers and 60-foot flagpole comprise the largest bronze memorial in the world, while the Stars and Stripes here are made of real cloth. The statue’s flag flies 24 hours a day pursuant to a 1961 proclamation made by President John F. Kennedy.

Albert Einstein Memorial

Albert Einstein Memorial

The Albert Einstein Memorial is a statue of the world-renowned astrophysicist, located on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences. The statue is 12 feet tall and depicts Einstein in a seated posture with a ponderous expression and holding a sheaf of papers.

U.S. Air Force Memorial

Air Force Memorial

The U.S. Air Force Memorial, officially dedicated on October 14, 2006 by President George W. Bush himself, is a new memorial in the Washington area designed to honor the men and women who serve and sacrifice for the U.S. Air Force. Architect James Ingo Freed designed the formidable three-spire monument to depict the contrails of three USAF Thunderbirds flying in the missing-man formation traditionally reserved for Air Force Funerals.

National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is located adjacent to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The memorial features 184 illuminated benches spread across two acres (one hectare), each dedicated to a victim of the tragedy.

U.S. National Arboretum

US National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is a large, diverse expanse of gardens and forests located in Washington, DC. The arboretum is home to the National Bonsai Museum, the National Herb Garden, and 200-year-old U.S. Capitol columns.

U.S. Navy Memorial

US Navy Memorial

The U.S. Navy Memorial is a circular plaza with a “Granite Sea” map of the world in the center. Two tall, arced buildings encompass the map, and there are fountains with pools, sculpted panels, and long columns around it.

Where to Stay in Washington DC

There are a lot of great neighborhoods in Washington where you can stay as a tourist and fully enjoy yourself. Where you stay depends a lot on what you want to do and your budget.

It can be expensive to stay right in the city. For budget travelers, it may be more economical to stay outside the city in Arlington or Alexandria and take the Metro in to the city.

If you can afford it, try to stay as close to the action as possible. You can see prices or book directly with Booking.com through these links:

We recommend these places to stay in Arlington and Alexandria:

» A Local’s Guide to Arlington, VA Hotels – Where to Stay in Arlington for Sightseeing, or Visiting D.C. for the first time.

We recommend these places to stay in Washington DC:

Be Prepared For Travel

Planning and preparing to go travelling is the boring part, but it has to be done and can have a huge impact on the success of your travels. Do it the easy way with our guides:

🧳 Travel Packing List | ✔️ Why You Need Travel Insurance | ✈️ What to Do Before You Leave Home

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Washington DC landmarks we have listed here. As you travel between the landmarks and monuments, you’ll become immersed in the story of the beginnings of America, the wars its fought, and the victories it’s had.” src=”https://www.savoredjourneys.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/washington-dc-landmarks-pin2.jpg” alt=”The US Marine Corp Memorial and the White House” class=”wp-image-33629″ width=”250″ height=”375″/>
19 Washington DC Landmarks You Must See

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