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Washington DC map

Moving from Philadelphia, New York to Princeton, the nation's capital later found a permanent home (by congressional decree in 1790) on the Potomac River, midway between northern and southern states.

As with most political decisions, the land on which the capital city was built was dank and swampy in summer, and bitterly cold in winter - and in the end satisfied no one!

Today, all is forgiven and, as the founding fathers intended, Washington, D.C. is a national showcase of attractions and exhibits offering free admission to the 20 million tourists who visit each year.

Major tourist destinations are almost too numerous to list, but major must-sees on even a short visit include the Capitol building, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House (home to the president and First Family), the sprawling Smithsonian Institution (plan to spend at least an afternoon, ditto for the National Air and Space Museum) and the Washington Monument.

washington dc tourist attractions
On even a short visit to the US capital major tourist attractions in Washington D.C. include
the Capitol Building, (left); the Lincoln Memorial (middle); and the White House (right)

With more time to visit, the travel itinerary should also include the Thomas Jefferson Memorial; the the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the most recent addition to open (in 2011) the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

In addition to major cultural and historical places of interest, the city's political culture also affords some of the nation's top Washington DC restaurants and Washington DC bars to hob-knob with major Washington DC politicians and power brokers.

Smithsonian's latest exhibit, MathAlive!

Kid-friendly Washington DC

With so much to see and do for kids and families in DC, it's difficult to know where to begin!

Besides the obvious and famous attractions like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, one of the city's top family attractions is the National Zoo.

Offering FREE admission, and an easy walk from the Metro (take the Red Line to the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan stop), the National Zoo features up-close visits with gorillas, pandas and dozens of other species of wildlife.

Of course, no visit to Washington DC would be complete without a trip to the Smithsonian including a trip to the National Museum of Natural History for eye-popping displays of dinosaurs and mastodons, as well as the butterfly pavilion and - in the Harry Winston Gallery - the world famous Hope Diamond!

Next stop, the National Air & Space Museum for famous airplanes and rockets, a replica of the Hubble Telescope, fun simulator rides, the planetarium, and an awesome IMAX movie theater.

For parents of tweens and teens, also don't miss a visit to the International Spy Museum for a spooky look inside the world of secret agents where visitors get to be a spy for a day, adopting the identity of a spy for the tour, complete with dossier and polygraph tests. Have fun!

also see in Holidays -> July 4th and in Travel -> Cherry Blossom Time

Christmas in Washington, DC


More travel information about Washington DC around the Web:

Official Tourism Site of Washington, DC - Check out travel news & updates, what's on, online travel bookings, kids' fun pages, maps, pictures & travel videos.

DC Pages - Find one-stop browsing for information on dozens of city attractions.

See Washington, DC - Pictures, descriptions, Metro stops and opening hours for all of the Washington D.C.'s historic & cultural attractions with related links to official sites.

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