Washington, D.C. – History, Culture & Places to Visit

Washington, D.C. is the capital city and only federal district of the United States of America. It was founded on July 16, 1790, and it is located on the east bank of the Potomac River, which is the southwestern and southern border with the state of Virginia and also shares a border with the state of Maryland on the rest of the sides.

The city was named for George Washington, who is considered a founding father and the president of the United States. It is an important world political capital and the seat of the U.S. federal government alongside several international organizations.

Apart from its historical significance, Washington is a beautiful city with numerous museums, war memorials, and government buildings. It is a proper headquarters of the nation that has enormous importance in various aspects.

That being said, it offers countless places to explore, whether you are looking for interesting shops or boutiques or you prefer to visit culturally significant sites. In case you want to indulge yourself and check out this beautiful city but do not know where to start and which places are worth seeing, we have put together a list of must-see locations in the section below.

The United States Capitol and Capitol Hill

Source: wikipedia.org

The Capitol is widely recognized as a symbol of the United States, and it is the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate. With its beauty and design based on the dome of St. Peter’s in Rome, it stands out above all other buildings in the city.

Same as the city, this building has grown over the course of years, and its central portion was built between 1793 and 1812, while the main facade was enlarged during the late 50s and early 60s.

The interior of the building is decorated with frescoes, reliefs, and paintings that paint a beautiful picture of scenes from American history. One of the main interior attractions is the Chamber of the House Representatives, decorated with statues of leading historical figures.

In the underground passage, you will find the Library of Congres, the largest library in the world, modeled on the Opera House in Paris. You can visit portions of the library on your own, while free tours will show you some additional beauties of the interior.

The Lincoln Memorial

Source: wikipedia.org

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most popular and beloved memorials in Washington, D.C. It is located at the far end of the mall, separated from the Washington monument by the pool.

At its center lies a 19-feet tall marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln surrounded with 36 columns, each one representing one of the states that existed at the time of Lincoln’s death. The statue was designed by famous sculptor Daniel Chester French, while Jules Guerin painted the murals on the inside walls.

Since its completion, the Lincoln Memorial has been the scene of numerous historical events. Some of the notable ones were when President Franklin Roosevelt arranged for the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to give an open-air concert on the steps of Lincoln Memorial and when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream…” speech.

The White House

Source: cdn.britannica.com

The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States, and it was the home of every president except George Washington. James Hoban built the building in 1792, and after it was burnt by British forces in 1814, it was rebuilt in 1818.

Tours of the interior must be reserved through the Congressional office or embassy, but you should do it well in advance since every tourist in Washington wants to visit this gorgeous, historically important, and iconic building.

Not far from the building is the free White House Visitor Center, where you can find excellent interactive exhibits that display details about the White House and the presidential families. This includes the furniture of the past presidents, a model of the residence, historical changes, and videos with insights of the presidents about their life inside the building’s walls.

The Washington Monument

Source: washington.org

The Washington Monument is one of the most iconic locations in D.C. This 555 feet tall obelisk was built through separate stages since its construction did not proceed smoothly. Although the plan for the building was approved by Congress back in 1783, the construction started in 1848.

The project was stopped and continued throughout the years for various reasons such as lack of funds, political wrangling, and wars. The tower was finally completed in 1885 by the Army Corps of Engineers.

When visiting, you can take an elevator to the very top for aerial views over the mall and much of Washington D.C. The cultural significance of this monument is unparalleled, and a circle of 50 American flags surrounds the base.

National Museum of Natural History

Source: naturalhistory.si.edu

National Museum of Natural History is one of the most popular places to visit in Washington, especially if you are going to do it with family. The museum features various exhibits about the natural world that are entertaining for people of all ages.

Some of the most popular exhibits include the renowned Hope Diamond and the collection of gems and minerals and Ocean Hall, which features beautiful underwater photography and a replica of a 45-foot North Atlantic Right Whale.

The museum also has the Hall of Human Origins, which follows the human revolution over six million years. It provides fun for the whole family with fascinating dinosaur exhibits and the interactive Discovery Room.

National Museum of American History

Source: dcfray.com

The National Museum of American History covers the political, cultural, scientific, and technological history of the United States since the Revolution. It displays valuable historic pieces of history, such as Thomas Jefferson’s desk, one of Edison’s lightbulbs, and the original American flag.

Beyond these pieces, you can also find exhibits that display the lifestyle of Americans, what they ate, where they worked, what they wore, how they traveled, and how they governed themselves.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Source: civilrightstrail.com

This museum focuses on themes of history, culture, and community while exploring the changes in definitions of American citizenship and equality. It highlights African American culture alongside the entire African diaspora.

The themes of the exhibits cover African American food traditions, the influence of African American sports stars, and African craftsmanship. There are also numerous historical objects on display, including artifacts known as “Spirit of Tuskegee” and the section of the original Woolworth lunch counter.

Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin

Source: cdn.trolleytours.com

The memorial for the United States’ third president, Thomas Jefferson, is based on the Roman Pantheon design. Inside the building, there is a 19-feet tall statue of standing Jefferson surrounded with engraved excerpts of the Declaration of Independence.

The monument is located at the far end of the Tidal Pool, which reflects it on the surface. The edge of the water is surrounded by cherry trees that were a gift from Japan. It is one of the prettiest Washington attractions during the spring when trees start to bloom during the spring.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Source: wikipedia.org

This National Cultural Center was opened in 1971 and was named in memory of President John F. Kennedy. It is located near the Potomac River and was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone. The building is the home of the National Symphony Orchestra that hosts some of the world’s most renowned artists every year.

It has three main stages and several smaller ones that combined present over 2000 performing arts shows and events each year, among which around 400 are free. It is one of the most important United States venues alongside the Los Angeles Music Center and Lincoln Center in New York.

National Zoological Park

Source: nzpnewdelhi.gov.in

The National Zoo in Washing is a home of nearly 2000 different animals, birds, and reptiles. Among numerous species presented in this object, about a quarter of them are endangered. This is one of the world’s best zoos, not just for the quality of the visitor experience but for its animal care and sustainability.

You can check the day’s schedule if you want to see feeding times, demonstrations, educational games, talks, and various other activities you can enjoy in the Zoo. It is one of the favorite places to visit for the whole family.

Final Words

This concludes our brief look at the Washington D.C. Although we did not mention numerous other locations worth investigating, our list can be an excellent guideline to start the journey and explore the city further.

Whether you are interested in art, food, culture, history, or monuments, the United States capital city has it all. It is a city that bears enormous significance not just for American culture but also for the whole world, and with that being said, it is well worth investigating.