Looking for details on our DC travel dates?
June 2012

There are so many things to see and do in Washington D.C.!  You cannot expect to fit them all into one day but you can get a good taste in the time available to you.  Be sure to reserve tickets for monuments in advance (even the free ones offer online tickets so you can skip the lines).  The Metro offers a trip planner on their website and even a mobile version to use on your phone while you’re in the city.
National monuments, federal buildings, the Smithsonian, etc

Some traditional things, some non-conventional things

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The National Mall
There are 10 different Smithsonian Museums and Galleries located on the National Mall (National Air and Space, Hirshhorn, Arts and Industries, African Art, Sackler, Freer, The Smithsonian Castle, American History, Natural History, American Indian Museum). They are all open from 10am to 5:30pm. You will not have time to see them all but the most recommended are the American History, Air and Space, Natural History, and the Hirshhorn.
For art lovers, the National Gallery of Art can also be found on the National Mall. It is open from 10am to 5pm and consists of two buildings.

The Washington Monument stands at over 555’ tall, making it the most prominent feature of DC. It is open for tours from 9am to 5pm and has extended hours in the summer months. While visiting the monument is free, it does require a ticket. Tickets can be secured in two ways. You can get in line at the monument at 8:30 in the morning to receive as many as 6 same day, timed tickets – available on a first come, first serve basis – or you can reserve tickets online for a $1.50 fee per ticket.

Other sites on the National Mall include the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the Vietnam, WWII, and Korea War Memorials. These are all open to visitors 24 hours a day.

Arlington Cemetery
The cemetery opens at 8am. You can pick up maps and guidebooks, view exhibits, or check out the bookstore in the visitor’s center. There are also restrooms. You may view the graves of presidents William Howard Taft and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, along with the gravesite of Jackie Onassis Kennedy. Every half hour the “Changing of the Guard” ritual can be seen at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Capitol Building
You can schedule a tour of the capitol through one of your senators or representatives (find their contact information here: www.senate.gov or www.house.gov). The Capitol Visitor Center is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm and is where your tour begins. You may also see the Visitor Center and Exhibition Hall without tour passes. The House and Senate Galleries can be viewed on weekends, only if they are in session. You must obtain those passes through your senators or representatives, as well. There are tight restrictions on what items can be brought into the capitol so be sure to read the guidelines closely.

National Zoo
From April to May, the animal exhibitions are open from 10am to 6pm. Almost a quarter of the animals are endangered species including giant pandas, Asian elephants, and Sumatran tigers.

National Archives
See the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence in the rotunda of the National Archives Building. In the Public Vaults you can search immigration records, see evidence from famous investigations, and much more. Spring and summer hours are 10am to 7pm.