Washington, D.C./Tourist Attractions

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There are countless opportunities for sightseeing in Washington. The National Mall is a large, open park area in the center of the city. Located in the center of the Mall are the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Pier. Also located on the mall are the Lincoln Memorial, the National World War II Memorial at the east end of the Reflecting Pool, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The National Archives houses thousands of documents important to American history including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

The Cherry Blossoms of Washington, D.C. — so beautiful, there is an entire festival dedicated to them in the spring.

Located alongside the Mall are several museums comprising the Smithsonian Institution, chartered by Congress in 1846. The Smithsonian museums have free admission, and these museums as well as several other private and public institutions are listed lower on this page. Located directly south of the Mall, the Tidal Basin features rows of Japanese cherry blossom trees that were presented as gifts from the nation of Japan. Located around the Tidal Basin are the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the District of Columbia War Memorial, with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial set to open in August 2011. Outside of downtown D.C., the Metro D.C. area has numerous historical sites and neighborhoods, such as Georgetown and Old Town Alexandria, to name a few.

National Air and Space Museum


National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Almost all space and aircraft on display are originals or backups to the originals.

National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Located on the National Mall, the museum specializes in African art and culture. It was established as a private museum in 1964, and officially became a part of the Smithsonian Institution in August 1979.

The museum's main entrance is situated off the gardens in front of the Smithsonian Castle on Independence Avenue Southwest. The National Museum of African Art is an underground museum with subterranean connections with the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art.

Artwork in the museum comes from all parts of Africa, but most of it is from the region south of the Sahara. Represented countries include Mali, Cameroon, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco, among others. Most of the items in the collection are sculptures, masks, furniture, and musical instruments made from wood.

National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History

The The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Among the items on display are the original Star-Spangled Banner and Archie Bunker's chair. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and located on the National Mall.

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is a museum operated under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution that is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. The collection includes more than 800,000 objects, as well as a photographic archive of 125,000 images.

The National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is an art museum, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Open to the public free of charge, the museum was established in 1937 for the people of the United States of America by a joint resolution of the United States Congress. The National Gallery of Art has one of the finest art collections in the world. European and American paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, and decorative arts are displayed in the collection galleries and Sculpture Garden. The permanent collection of paintings spans from the Middle Ages to the present day. The strongest collection is the Italian Renaissance collection, which includes two panels from Duccio's Maesta, the great tondo of the Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi, a Botticelli on the same subject, Giorgione's Allendale Nativity, Bellini's The Feast of the Gods, the only Leonardo painting in the Americas, Ginevra de' Benci; and significant groups of works by Titian and Raphael. The European collections include examples of the work of many of the great masters of western painting, including Grünewald, Cranach the Elder, Van der Weyden, Dürer, Hals, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya, Ingres, and Delacroix, among others. The collection of sculpture and decorative arts includes such works as the Chalice of Abbot Suger of St-Denis and a superb collection of work by Rodin and Degas.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, along with the Freer Gallery of Art, are an Asian art museum that form the national museums of Asian art of the Smithsonian Institution. Its collection includes 9,917 Asian art objects.

The gallery is located on the National Mall directly behind the Smithsonian Castle. Its main gallery spaces are underground, and the building connects to the National Museum of African Art.

The Sackler Gallery frequently hosts international exhibitions highlighting aspects of Asian art.

The Freer Gallery contains art from the Mediterranean, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Muslim world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as American art. It houses 25,518 objects spanning 6,000 years of history, including but not limited to ancient Egyptian stone sculpture and wooden objects, ancient Near Eastern ceramics and metalware, Chinese paintings and ceramics, Korean pottery and porcelain, Japanese Byōbu, Persian manuscripts, and Buddhist sculpture. Collections span from the Neolithic to modern eras.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Kiepenkerl by Jeff Koons

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an art museum beside the National Mall. Notable artists in the collection include: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, John Chamberlain, David Smith, Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning, Milton Avery, Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Nevelson, Arshile Gorky, Edward Hopper, Larry Rivers, and Raphael Soyer among others. Outside the museum is a sculpture garden, featuring works by artists including Auguste Rodin, Jeff Koons, and Alexander Calder.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has an extensive collection of American art. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum has a broad variety of American art that covers all regions and art movements found in the United States. Among the significant artists represented in its collection are Nam June Paik, Jenny Holzer, David Hockney, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Albert Bierstadt, Edmonia Lewis, Thomas Moran, James Gill, Edward Hopper, and Winslow Homer.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery administered by the Smithsonian Institution. Its collections focus on images of famous individual Americans.

Renwick Gallery

The Renwick Gallery is a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, that focuses on American craft and decorative arts from the 19th century to the 21st century. It is housed in a National Historic Landmark building that was begun in 1859 on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Anacostia Museum

The Anacostia Museum is a Smithsonian Institution museum in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Its focus is the national history and culture of African Americans, for presentation to scholars and to all visitors—domestic and international.

National Postal Museum

The National Postal Museum located opposite Union Station was established through joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution and opened in 1993. The museum is located across in the building that once served as the Main Post Office of Washington, D.C. from 1914, when it was constructed, until 1986. The museum houses many interactive displays about the history of the United States Postal Service and of mail service around the world. Also on display is a vast collection of stamps.


Smithsonian National Zoological Park

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park commonly known as the National Zoo, is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, and as part of the Smithsonian Institution, does not charge admission. The National Zoo has two campuses. The first is a 163-acre (66 ha) urban park located in northwest Washington, D.C. The other campus is the 3,200-acre (1,300 ha) Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI; formerly known as the Conservation and Research Center) in Front Royal, Virginia. Altogether, the two facilities contain 2,000 animals of 400 different species.