5 of the Most Popular Sights to See in Washington D.C.
Updated: Apr 14
Nestled along the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia, Washington D.C. is our nation’s capital city. It is home to the three branches of the federal government, iconic monuments, landmark museums, and of course, the residence and working center of our country – the White House. From memorials to buildings, there is something special about Washington D.C. architecture.
DC Tours is your personalized guide to Washington D.C. with fun, educational bus tours that will take you throughout the city. Not sure where to get started? Let’s begin with five of the most popular sights visitors check out in Washington D.C.
1. The Lincoln Memorial
A seated President Abraham Lincoln watches over the National Mall from within his neoclassical open-air temple. Lincoln’s statue is 19-feet tall and is surrounded by 36 columns, interior murals, and inscriptions.
The steps of the Lincoln Memorial are the location of many famous speeches, most notably Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
Interestingly, there have been a number of myths over the years about the Lincoln Memorial, including Lincoln’s hands making sign language symbols, coded by the French sculptor, Daniel Chester French. The National Park Service notes that this was in fact, not true.
Pro-tip: Interested in other presidential memorials? Head a couple of miles south east along the Potomac River where you will find numerous other memorials, including the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
2. The Washington Monument
Across the National Mall, the Washington Monument stands tall, mirrored in the iconic reflecting pool at its feet. The obelisk took over 100 years to complete. Although Congress approved the initial project in 1783 to honor President George Washington, construction didn’t begin until 1848. Then the Civil War, quarrels over funding, and more halted progress until final completion in 1884, opening to the public in 1888.
The Washington Monument’s height is a towering 555 feet, made of granite, marble, and bluestone gneiss. It is one of the most visited attractions in the city, and is the tallest monumental column in the world.
3. The United States Capitol
The enormous cast-iron dome, breathtaking sculptures and art in the rotunda, and the former House and Senate Chambers are iconic features of the United States Capitol building, where our nation’s elected officials debate. While the interior of the Capitol is not currently open to the public, the exterior and Capitol Hill provide exceptional views.
French-American engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant designed Washington D.C. in 1971 and decided that the Capitol Building be built at the tope of the hill, surrounded by the neighborhood, known as Capitol Hill. The complex also includes the Supreme Court Building, Library of Congress, Congressional Cemetery, as well as other locations.
4. Military Memorials
There are several memorials dedicated to the men and women who served the United States Armed Forces, in remembrance of their bravery and for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial is in Arlington, Virginia, located across the river from the National Mall. It features the Iwo Jima Memorial, perhaps better recognized as the statue of Marines raising the American flag during WWII as a tribute to all Marines who gave their lives, as well as those who fought with them.
Many memorials throughout the city recognize service in various conflicts, including the WWI Memorial, WWII Memorial, Korea Memorial, and Vietnam Memorial.
5. The White House
Take a trip to Pennsylvania Avenue and visit the executive mansion of the president of the United States. The White House has been the home to every U.S. president since 1800 including Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. It was reconstructed after the British set fire to it during the War of 1812, and had several renovations during the 20th century.
The beautiful grounds include exquisite outdoor spaces like the Rose Garden, and the White House’s South Lawn, featuring ceremonial gardens, tennis and basketball courts, a vegetable garden, and a landing area for Marine One, the president’s helicopter. You will be able to view the White House from the outside and the White House Visitor Center is a free, interactive attraction located nearby.
Explore Washington D.C with DC Tours
Enjoy a daytime, moonlight, or private tour of Washington D.C. with the knowledgeable team at DC Tours. We have educated visitors on the history and significance of the city’s sights for more than 20 years.
DC Tours is your full-service tour guide, with the ability to transport you to numerous tour locations. Discover the blooming of cherry blossoms in the spring at the Tidal Basin, or learn about cultural heritage at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
See what Washington D.C. has to offer and book your tour today.