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The Best Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

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Visiting Washington, D.C., is a chance to reflect on our national heritage, with memorials and free Smithsonian museums along the National Mall that explore where we've been and where we're going. But the city doesn't take itself too seriously, and after you've had a dose of American history, you can check out vibrant neighborhood markets, the performing arts scene, and green spaces. 

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1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
This extraordinary collection encompasses the dark and the light of our nation's racial history, from the shackles, shacks, and whips of slavery to an exuberant lemon-yellow costume worn onstage by Bootsy Collins when playing bass for the funk...
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6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565, USA
A bronze thinking rabbit, a stainless steel tree, and a cherry-red abstract horse—these may sound like characters from a modern-day version of Alice in Wonderland, but are actually highlights from the National Gallery of Art Sculpture...
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First St SE, Washington, DC 20004, USA
The U.S. Capitol Building is the epicenter of all D.C. political action—this is where the country's most important battles are fought. Home to the House of Representatives and the Senate's meeting chambers for more than two centuries, it's...
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2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566, USA
Overlooking the Potomac River, the Kennedy Center stands as a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy and an iconic landmark for arts in America. Its marble facade, sky-high ceilings, and crystal chandeliers exude grandeur, not to mention the...
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700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408, USA
If you're a history buff, then you'll want to visit the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C. The Archives houses the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. The Archives also have a large online database,...
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1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
Once a dining room belonging to wealthy shipbuilder Frederick Leyland from Liverpool, then a private exhibition space at the mansion of wealthy Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer, American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room...
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225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA
The Eastern Market, now a National Historic Landmark, opened in 1873 to serve the Capitol Hill neighborhood (an 1805 version, located down by the Navy Yard, was a casualty of the War of 1812). The brick market hall, packed with butchers, bakers,...
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555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
The Newseum is an interactive, ever-evolving tribute to our First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Powerful exhibits such as eight sections of the Berlin Wall (the largest display outside Germany) provide...
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3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
The 163-acre National Zoo is cradled by D.C.’s wooded Rock Creek Park, providing a protected, dynamic habitat for more than 1,500 animals. From the micro-world of insects to the larger-than-life world of elephants, the exhibits are engaging...
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2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
D.C.'s most recognized landmark—and the world's tallest freemasonry structure—transports visitors on a 70-second-long elevator ascent to its 500-foot observation deck. A National Park Service Ranger accompanies you and shares the...
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511 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
No theater in America has had a more tragic history than Ford's. During an April 14, 1865, performance, 26-year-old stage actor John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as he sat in the flag-draped presidential box. Shuttered for nearly a...
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4th St SW & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
During three years of living in Washington, D.C., I made it my mission to visit as many museums as I could, and the National Museum of the American Indian quickly won me over. I was greeted by a live dance performance and welcomed into a circular...
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5 Henry Bacon Dr NW, Washington, DC 20245, USA
One of the most humbling spots—the seemingly endless names that reflect back into the countenance of the visitor—puts a solemn sense of humanity into the memorial.
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Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565, USA
With two buildings and a sculpture garden, the National Gallery of Art is a treasure-filled trifecta where each person’s gems will only be uncovered through an immersive day (or more) of cultural exploration. The West Building is a...
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101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA
Established in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal institution in the United States. The library was destroyed by British troops just 14 years after its conception, and Congress used Thomas Jefferson’s collection of 6,487...
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800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
Aside from fictional spies like James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Austin Powers, few of us know much about the world of espionage and that’s probably very deliberate. After all, you can’t expect any good spy to be giving away their trade...
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3500 Water St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Key Bridge Boathouse is the go-to launching point for paddlers of all skill levels. Whether you're in a kayak or a canoe or on a stand-up paddleboard, time on the water is transformative. Its classes, tours, and rentals offer a unique perspective...
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2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA
I found myself contemplating the anxiety in Lincoln's hands, the hasty "drape" of cloth, and piercing eyes that seem to pierce through the decades. Take time to lean against the cool stone pillars and read through the texts of the 2nd Inaugural...
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600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
Opened to the public as part of the country's bicentennial celebration in 1976, this is the largest of the Smithsonian Institution's 20 museums. It is the most-visited museum in the U.S. (and the second-most-visited museum in the world behind the...
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8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
An undulating steel and glass canopy wows visitors who enter the Kogod Courtyard. Inside you'll find diners from the museum's café, tourists soaking their weary feet in the shallow fountain running across the space, and students taking advantage...
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100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
The Holocaust Memorial Museum is a living memorial to the more than 11 million victims who perished at the hands of the Nazis before and during World War II. Built in 1993, the permanent exhibition tells the Holocaust's full story through real...
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Arlington, VA 22211, USA
The Arlington National Cemetery is a 625-acre cemetery where fallen veterans have been laid to rest since the American Civil War. The cemetery lies at the end of Memorial Bridge, across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington,...
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Georgetown, Washington, DC, USA
Georgetown, located along the Potomac River, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. Back in colonial times, it served as a port and major commercial center. Today, it remains a popular destination for shoppers; you can find most of...
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1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA
The most famous residence in D.C. has been occupied by every U.S. president except George Washington (President John Adams was the first, in 1801). Construction began in 1792, so it's the oldest federally occupied building in the city. Tours are...
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10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
The National Museum of Natural History has become the steward of one of the largest natural history collections, with over 126 million specimens including hundreds of mammals from Africa, Australia, and the Americas. This museum always tops...
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641 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
If you’re looking for a Broadway-style show, you won’t find it at Woolly Mammoth. Instead, if you want bleeding edge, creative, innovative, well acted, and well staged productions, then come here. Be warned, though. Every performance here will...
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Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC, USA
Passport DC is a month-long event in May with more than 100 international events and activities that educate visitors and residents of the Washington, D.C., area about our global community. Every first Saturday of the month is the signature event...
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3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA
The Washington National Cathedral stands high over D.C. as a beacon of faith for the nation. The impressive Gothic architecture evokes comparisons to Notre-Dame (despite being built more than half a millennium later). Flying buttresses, spires,...
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1750 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
National World War II memorial honors the hundreds of thousands who fought and who died during World War II. I snapped this photograph of the Freedom Wall, which contains 4,000 gold stars to honor the over 400,000 Americans who died during World...
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5200 Glover Rd NW, Washington, DC 20015, USA
Rock Creek Park is the main stretch of woodland that runs through the city's northwest corridor. If you want to escape the mob of tourists on the Mall, or you just want to spend time in an urban oasis, head to Rock Creek Park. Any section between...