The District of Columbia, on the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia, has been set aside as the national capital, so the federal government would not be located in one state. Pierre-Charles L’Enfant was commissioned by George Washington to plan the city, and you can clearly see L’Enfant’s layout of a road network crossed by wide avenues. The most important of them is Pennsylvania Avenue, connecting two emblematic buildings: the White House and the impressive domed Capitol. At the same time and maintaining L’Enfant’s vision of an open and spacious city, the vast National Mall with its museums and monuments extends.
National symbols such as the Capitol and the White House are accessible to visitors, as well as dozens of other tourist attractions, including world-class museums and important monuments.
Many of the most important things to see and do are in the northwest quadrant along the National Mall and are best seen on foot. Summer can be unpleasantly hot and humid, so the best times to visit Washington are spring and fall.
1. The White House
The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States. The home of every president, except George Washington, was originally built by James Hoban in 1792, and after being burned down by British forces in 1814, it was rebuilt in 1818. Although interior tours include East, Blue, Green and Red Coins; the ballroom; and the state dining hall must be booked well in advance through your congressional office or embassy, every tourist in Washington will want to see this iconic building, at least from the outside. The free White House visitor center, a short distance away, has excellent interactive exhibits, which show details about the White House and presidential families. It includes furniture from former presidents, a model of the residence, historical changes and videos with presidents’ ideas of their stay.
The Ellipse, a 54-acre stretch of lawn extending to Constitution Avenue, hosts summer concerts by the US Army Band. Next to the White House is the 1833 Greek Revival Treasury complex and the 1871 Executive Office building, one of Washington’s most striking former government buildings. From Lafayette Square, one of the city’s best known statues of Andrew Jackson, Lafayette and others overlook the White House.
2. The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument’s 555-foot white tree is a familiar icon of the National Mall and a beautiful sight, especially when reflected in the long reflective pool at its foot. The construction of the obelisk in honor of the country’s first president was not smooth. The plan was approved by Congress in 1783, but the ground was not broken until 1848. When the tower reached 156 feet in height in 1854, political feuds and lack of funds stopped the project for several years. , and the civil war caused further interruptions, that the tower was not styled until 1885, when it was finally completed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
You can still see the different stages of its construction by three changes in the color of its facing stones; inside are engraved stones from various states, cities, foreign countries, individuals and civic groups, including many donors who have assisted in its private funding stages. You can take an elevator to the top for aerial views of the mall and much of Washington. The base of the monument is surrounded by a circle of 50 American flags.
3. The Lincoln Memorial
The most popular of all Washington memorials, the Lincoln Memorial is at the end of the mall, separated from the Washington Monument by the Reflecting Pool. In its center is a 19-foot marble statue of a seated and thoughtful President Abraham Lincoln surrounded by 36 columns, one for each of the states that existed at the time of Lincoln’s death. It is the most famous work designed by the famous sculptor Daniel Chester French. Jules Guerin painted the murals on the interior walls, showing important events in Lincoln’s life.
Since its completion in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial has been the scene of several historic events. In 1939, when the all-white Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to let famous African-American singer Marian Anderson perform at a concert in Constitution Hall, President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt s ‘arranged for her to give an opening. air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, attended by 75,000 people and broadcast to millions of radio listeners. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech “I have a dream …” from the commemorative stages in 1963, marking history here again.
Visiting this and other shopping mall landmarks is one of the favorite things to do in Washington, D.C. at night. The monuments are all lit and many, like the Lincoln Memorial, are open 24 hours a day. The Lincoln statue is particularly powerful, lit at night inside the darkness of the temple and framed by the illuminated white columns.
4. Olympic National Park
From ocean beaches to glacial peaks, the Olympic National Park is full of incomparable landscapes. The park covers most of the Olympic Peninsula, and the roads surround the park only with a scenic route on US 101, never crossing the mountainous heart of the park. Iconic coastal areas like Ruby and Rialto Beach define the rugged western edge of the park, just a short drive from the oversized trees and abundant foliage of the Hoh rainforest. Other popular park attractions include the snow capped peaks of Hurricane Ridge and the inviting waters of Sol Duc Hot Springs.
The hiking trails of Olympic National Park cross many different landscapes, including a moss room and the Marymere Falls, suitable for families. An unmissable hike for all ages, the Hoh River Trail explores the rainforest and the river corridor with a flat path for 13 miles before climbing to the lateral moraine of Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus. For great places to stay overnight, the Olympic National Park campgrounds put visitors near the impressive scenery presented by this wilderness area of western Washington.
After the city of Leavenworth went bust after a forest industry boom, city leaders rallied to the city and decided to change their image. Today, the town of Leavenworth proudly recognizes itself as a Bavarian village, and it’s common to see residents wearing lederhosen or blowing a morning serenade on an Alpine horn. There are several annual festivals, including a Christmas light festival in December.
Outdoor recreation is also a major tourist draw for Leavenworth, with iconic destinations like Icicle Gorge and Alpine Lakes Wilderness nearby, home to one of Washington’s best hiking trails. To the east, the Wenatchee Valley is famous for its apples and hosts the annual Washington State Apple Blossom Festival.
6. North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades is one of the most unspoiled regions of the country in the United States. Fishermen, walkers and nature lovers are all catered for in the national park, which shares a border with British Columbia, Canada. A walk through the park on the North Cascades Scenic Byway is rewarded with fantastic views. Some of the many highlights of this route include the Washington Pass Overlook, the aquamarine waters of Ross Lake and the western-inspired town of Winthrop in the Methow Valley.
Many of the hiking possibilities in the North Waterfalls are steep, although some of the best hikes in the area also include family hikes with breathtaking views of the mountains. The North Cascades Institute in the park offers educational opportunities and overnight tours. Bordering the southern edge of the national park, the national recreation area of Lake Chelan is home to one of the deepest lakes in the country and offers a magnificent setting for the mountain town of Stehekin (accessible only on foot, by boat or by seaplane).
7. Deception Pass State Park
Spanning Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands in Puget Sound, the Deception Pass Bridge is an iconic landmark of the region and a civic achievement dating back to the Civilian Conservation Corps. On both sides of this scenic bridge, Deception Pass State Park easily ranks among Washington’s best (and most visited) state parks. Activities such as carpooling, hiking, and boating are among the park’s most popular activities, and a large campground makes for several days of adventure. For those who wish to go under the bridge with a boat, knowing the tides will be the key to success.
8. Museum of Glass, Tacoma
Located between Seattle and Olympia, Tacoma is one of the largest cities in Washington. Formerly industrial, the city has developed a variety of museums and exceptional cultural places. Perhaps the most remarkable, the Glass Museum presents exquisite and translucent pieces by world-renowned and native artist from Tacoma Dave Chihuly. Nearby, a walkway decorated with glass sculptures known as the Bridge of Glass allows visitors to reach the nearby Washington State History Museum. For automotive interests, there is the brilliant appeal of LeMay – America’s Car Museum, which exhibits heritage vehicles from its world-class collection.
9. Washington State Capitol Building
Located against the southern end of Puget Sound, Olympia is a fairly quiet state capital. The large white dome of the Washington State Capitol building rises 287 feet above the tree-lined streets and downtown. Free guided public tours provide highlights of the building, including the five-ton Tiffany chandelier and permanent sculptures. Other major Olympia attractions surrounding the Capitol building include the Olympia Farmers Market, the Hands On Children’s Museum and the nearby Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
10. Pacific Crest Trail
Spanning the entire length of the United States, from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses some of its greatest landscapes through Washington. Starting with the Columbia River Gorges at sea level, the PCT heads north to reach iconic landscapes such as Goat Rocks Wilderness, Snoqualmie Pass and the mountain town of Stehekin before reaching the Canadian border. You don’t have to be a long distance hiker to enjoy some of the PCT – some of the best day hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail extend to Washington, Oregon and California.