You might not think that Washington, D.C., is a fun city – after all, it’s full of government buildings, lobbyists, and lawyers. But it might surprise you. There a lot of beautiful monuments and free museums in the national capital, and not just the ones you see on TV! So while everyone else is trudging up to the gates of the White House (it’s almost impossible to tour the White House these days) why don’t you try out one of these fantastic sites instead? If you really want to stare at a fence for a glimpse of the White House, it’s up to you, but here are some other interesting activities to do in Washington, D.C.
Visit the United States Capitol
If you’re a political junkie or a fan of “House of Cards” you have to take a tour of the United States Capitol, the home of Congress. Not only is the building truly magnificent, but unlike the White House, it’s still possible to get a tour. You can buy tickets for an official tour, or, if you want to see more of the action, contact your Congressman or Congresswoman for an invitation to view the proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. When you’re done your tour you can visit the Library of Congress – it’s the biggest library in the world full of important historical documents preserved in what might be the most beautiful building in Washington.
The National Zoo
Located just north of the center of the city, the National Zoo is dedicated to conservation and biology, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying for the cute animals! The Giant Pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Bao Bao were recently joined by a new cub, Bei Bei! But it’s not just Giant Pandas. There are elephants, bison, lions, and orangutans! The great apes get to migrate freely between two enclosures right above the visitors using special cables the zoo calls the Orangutan Transport System or “O Line.” The Smithsonian Institute administers the zoo and just like the museums admission is free.
Take a guided tour of the national as they are spread throughout the city and it’s difficult to see all of them on foot. Each monument is unique and impressive, so you can join one of the bus or bike tours and learn a little history and make sure you don’t miss anything. Our recommendation? Take a nighttime tour when the monuments are illuminated and the marble glows with hope.
Relax at the National Arboretum
Take a break from the city and head to the National Arboretum, an overlooked attraction in Washington D.C. The Arboretum has 446 acres of gardens and trees adorned with flowers and bright foliage from around the globe. You have to explore the different regions of the park where you can step into whole other parts of the world, like a Japanese Woodland, Korean Hillside, Knot Garden, or the Prairies, just to name a few. Our favorite spot? The National Bonsai and Penjng Museum with a cute collection of miniature bonsai trees. Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk around the entire park, there are tours on trams that run around the whole Arboretum.