Washington DC is full of historical places.

Thousands of tourists visit Washington DC to learn about the history of the United States.

The Capitol Building and the White House are the most popular tourist attractions, but there’s plenty more to see.

We’ll show you the world’s largest museum, war memorials, and presidential monuments.

With so many visitors, Washington landmarks can get really crowded.

So we’ll also reveal the best times to visit and some popular tours for priority access.

Check out these must-see historical places on your next trip to Washington DC.

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1. U.S. Capitol

The U. S. Capitol is the geographic and political center of Washington DC.

Inside, are the branches of Congress, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

The Capitol Visitor’s Center is open Monday thru Saturday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding holidays.

Areas beyond the Visitor’s Center are accessible by guided tour only.

Tour prices start at $11 but are crowded and must be booked months in advance.

The Best of DC Tour gives visitors priority entry to the Capitol and avoids the crowds.

Included is the Capitol Rotunda and National Statuary Hall.

You’ll also receive priority entrance to the National Archives and a cruise on the Potomac.

  • Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 8:30am-4:30pm
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $11
  • Address: First St SE, Washington, D.C., DC 20004, United States

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2. The White House

The White House is where the President and the First Family live and work.

People from all over the world come to Washington DC to catch a glimpse of the White House.

Tours of the White House can only be booked through a Congressman 6 months in advance.

To get more information, you can visit The White House Visitor Center located a few blocks away at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave.

Here you’ll find White House exhibits, a house model, and recreations of the interior.

They’re open from 8am to 3pm, excluding holidays, and admission is free.

There are several bus, trolley, and walking tours that will give you an outside tour of the White House.

These tours range in price from $42 to $125.

  • Opening Hours: White House Visitor Center Daily 8am-3pm
  • Admission: Tours from $12
  • Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20500, United States

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3. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial honors Dr. King’s struggle for freedom, equality, and justice.

It covers four acres inside West Potomac Park, part of the greater National Mall area.

The site includes a 30-foot statue of Dr. King and a 450-foot granite wall with quotes from his speeches.

lt overlooks the Tidal Basin, not far from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

Going on a self-guided audio tour is a great way to visit the King Memorial.

You’ll learn about the King Memorial and other memorials in the area.

You’ll hear an audio history of the cherry trees as well as the men memorialized on the tour.

The best time to visit is early spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $37 USD
  • Address: 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20003, United States

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4. Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is the most visited National Park Service Site in Washington DC.

A 19-foot marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln dominates the memorial.

Inside are his most famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address, and the second inaugural.

The Lincoln Memorial on the west end of the National Mall and is open 24 hours.

Tours of the Lincoln Memorial start at $5.

One of the most popular tours of the Lincoln Memorial is the DC at Dusk guided night tour.

A luxury coach delivers visitors to all DCs memorials, floodlit for night viewing.

After taking this tour, you’ll understand why DC is one of the most beautiful cities at night.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $5 USD
  • Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20002, United States

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5. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is another one of Washington DCs most visited landmarks. 

The memorial comprises three parts, the Three Soldiers Statue, the Women’s Memorial, and the Wall. 

The Memorial Wall is the attraction with the names of 58,000 killed or missing soldiers. 

Visitors come to the wall to pay their respects and leave notes by the names of the fallen.  

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is open 24 hours, and admission is free. 

Or you can get a self-guided audio tour for $5 and learn more about its history.

There’s also a variety of day and night trolley and bus tours starting at $45. 

  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $5 USD
  • Address: 5 Henry Bacon Dr. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20245, United States

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6. Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates American soldiers who fought the Korean War.

It is next to the Lincoln Memorial at the south end of the National Mall.

The 19 stainless steel statues represent a patrol squad made up of every branch of the armed forces.

On the Wall of Remembrance, you’ll see the names of those wounded, killed, or missing in the Korean War.

Like many of the memorials on the National Mall, the Korean War Memorial is open 24 hours.

Admission is free, with guided and self-guided tours available starting at $5.

The floodlit images of the 19 statues are especially moving at night.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $5 USD
  • Address: 900 Ohio Dr. SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20024, United States

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7. National World War II Memorial

This memorial to Americans who served in World War II is on the National Mall, by the Lincoln Memorial.

The oval-shaped site contains 56 pillars, two arches, and a reflecting pool.

Each of the 56 pillars represents a different US state or territory.

The two arches represent American victories in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

The 4000 gold stars are symbols of the ultimate sacrifice made by over 400,000 Americans in WWII.

This historical landmark is open 24 hours, and admission is free

Park rangers offer tours of the memorial every hour from 10am until 11pm.

Private guided and self-guided tours are also available starting at $36.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $36 USD
  • Address: 1750 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20024, United States

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8. Washington Monument

Built in honor of George Washington, the Washington Monument is DCs tallest building. 

From the 500-foot-high observation deck, visitors get a bird’s eye view of the nation’s capital. 

It’s one of the most visited and most photographed landmarks in Washington. 

Admission is free, and the Washington Monument is open daily from 9am to 5pm. 

The Washington Monument is included on many sightseeing tours of Washington DC. 

Tours start at $21 and include water taxis, bikes, trolleys, and bus tours. 

The Washington Monument is also close to other attractions on the National Mall. 

Pick the ones you want to see, and choose a tour that visits them all. 

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
  • Admission: Free, Tours from 21 USD
  • Address: 2 15th St NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20024, United States

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9. Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a tribute to the third president of the United States.

Jefferson was a Founding Father and the author of The Declaration of Independence.

The 19-foot-tall statue of Jefferson overlooks the Tidal Basin and Washington Monument.

The Jefferson Memorial is part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

It’s one of DCs top landmarks and is included on most National Mall monument tours.

The walking tours start at $5 and include access to the interior of the memorial.

For more relaxing options, there are bus tours and Potomac River cruises that offer views of the memorial, the mall, and the cherry blossom trees.

The Jefferson Memorial is open 24 hours, and admission is free.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $5 USD
  • Address: 16 E Basin Dr. SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20242, United States

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10. Library of Congress

Washington DC’s Library of Congress is the world’s largest library.

This is where they keep the nation’s important historical documents.

It’s a working research library, and visitors can view books and documents in one of its 22 reading rooms.

On arrival, sculptures and stained-glass windows in the Thomas Jefferson Building welcome visitors.

The Library of Congress is open Monday to Saturday, 8:30am to 4:30pm, and admission is free.

The best way to see the Library of Congress is by guided tour.

It’ll be easier to navigate the large collections and view specific points of interest.

The library is included on many guided tours of DC, and prices start at $25.

  • Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 8:30am-4:30pm
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $25 USD
  • Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, D.C., DC 20540, United States

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11. National Museum of Natural History

The green-domed Museum of Natural History was one of the first Smithsonian Museums. 

It’s one of the world’s leading resources for scientific and cultural research. 

Exhibits include millions of insects, rocks, fossils, plants, tools, and artwork. 

If you bring kids along, they’ll love the Butterfly Pavilion and the dinosaurs. 

In the Butterfly Pavillion, there is a climate-controlled room with tropical plants and live butterflies. 

Tickets for this section are $6.50 for kids and $7.50 for adults. 

The museum is open every day except Christmas, and admission to most exhibits is free. 

Private guided tours of the museum are also available, starting at $36. 

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5:30pm
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $36 USD
  • Address: 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20560, United States

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12. National Archives Museum

The National Archives Museum displays America’s most valued founding documents.

It’s home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Tourists visit the National Archives to learn about US history.

The Public Vaults feature interactive exhibits where guests can get hands-on with history.

A $1 guided tour is available every day at 9:45 am by reservation only.

Another popular tour is the Best of DC Tour.

Guests receive priority entry to the National Archives and the US Capitol.

The museum is busy during the tourist season, so reservations are recommended.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5:30pm
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $36 USD
  • Address: 701 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20408, United States

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13. Arlington National Cemetery

Soldiers from every American war are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Admission to Arlington is free, and visitors can start at the Welcome Center.

The cemetery is on the grounds of what was the estate of General Robert E. Lee.

There are two ways to tour Arlington: a self-guided walking tour and a tram tour.

A tram tour is $15 and departs every hour from 9am to 4pm daily.

Notable sites include President Kennedy’s grave, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Arlington House.

The changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a must-see when visiting Arlington.

This moving ceremony takes place daily, every hour, on the hour.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 8am-5pm
  • Admission: Tour from $15 USD
  • Address: Arlington, VA, United States

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14. National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum is one of the largest and most popular Smithsonian Museums.

It is devoted to all things aeronautic.

Inside, you’ll see three galleries displaying America’s historic flying machines.

There’s everything from the Wright Brothers’ first airplane to Apollo command modules.

There are digital displays that trace the history and science of flight in the United States.

A private two-hour tour of the Air & Space Museum is available, starting at $79.50.

The tour features a private guide and an in-depth history of the space race and moon landings.

Other group tours are available starting at $36.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5:30pm
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $36 USD
  • Address: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C., DC 20560, United States

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15. Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral is a Washington landmark.

It is set on 59 acres of manicured gardens and forests.

The gardens and grounds are best enjoyed during spring and fall.

More than 400,000 visitors and worshippers visit the Neo-Gothic Cathedral each year.

The cathedral is very popular with first-time visitors and gothic architecture fans.

Sunday services are free, and on weekdays, there is a $12 admission charge.

It’s also the chosen venue for state funerals, including 21 American presidents.

Private bus tours are available starting at $60.

  • Opening Hours: Sunday services open to all; Monday to Thursday 5:30pm; Gardens & grounds open daily
  • Admission: Services free; outside service hours $12; Tours from $60 USD
  • Address: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20016, United States

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16. National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History features the best of American memorabilia.

They collect and care for objects that represent the experience of the American people.

The most popular exhibit is the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired America’s national anthem.

Another popular exhibit is the dresses worn by America’s first ladies.

Other artifacts include Lincoln’s top hat and the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz.

For visitors who want a closer look, there’s a private tour available for $79.50

Included are a personal private guide and a 2.5-hour in-depth tour of the museum.

Other bus and sightseeing tours are available starting at $36.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5:30pm
  • Admission: Free, Tours from $36 USD
  • Address: 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., DC 20560, United States

Check Tours Official site


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FAQs

What are the best Washington DC places to see with kids?

The best places to see with kids are The Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum.

For over 100 years the Natural History Museum has inspired curiosity and learning through its collections.

Inside The Air and Space Museum, kids can see first hand the history of aviation and the space program.

On display are the Wright Brothers’ first flying machine, the Friendship 7 space capsule, and the Apollo 11 command module.

There’s also a model of Star Trek’s Enterprise from the original TV series.

Which historical Washington DC places can you see in one day?

There are one-day tours of Washington DC that stop at 10 historical places.

The first stops are generally the White House and the Capitol.

National Mall will definitely be another popular stop.

You’re also likely to visit all the presidential memorials, war memorials, and the Washington Monument.

What are the best historical Washington DC places to see at night?


The best historical places to see at night are the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

Both are open 24 hours and can get crowded during the day.

Besides being less crowded at night, the night view of both is spectacular.

The night lighting and the reflections in the Tidal Basin create an effect that daylight can’t match.

What are the best historical places to see in Washington DC during cherry blossoms season?

The best historical places to see during cherry blossom season are those located in the Tidal Basin.

The Tidal Basin is where the cherry trees are.

A $5 Tidal Basin Audio Walking tour takes you right through the blooming cherry trees.

You’ll be guided to the Jefferson Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.