CitySights DC

Get to Know Washington, D.C. With These FAQs

Washington, D.C., is a fascinating city to visit, and it’s a primary destination for families each year. Not only are there many monuments and buildings that are significant to the nation’s history, there is such a wide array of museums and educational opportunities, it can be difficult to narrow down the list of options. We’ve compiled this list of FAQs about Washington, DC, as well as answers to help visitors organize trips to the city.

What Should We See if We Have Limited Time?

Most people visit the National Mall, where you can find the major memorials and monuments. The National Mall comprises the Jefferson, Lincoln, MLK and FDR monuments as well as memorials to those killed in WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The National Mall is bookended by the National Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument about at the center of the two. The area is flanked by gardens and museums as well.

How Do We See the Smithsonian?

The Smithsonian Institute includes 19 separate museums and the National Zoological Park, most within about a mile radius. Because it would take weeks to fully appreciate them all, most visitors pick two or three museums to explore at length. Regardless how many one chooses to visit, comfortable walking shoes are a must. The Castle serves as the Smithsonian Visitor Center, which is a good place to start touring.

Which Attractions Are Free to Visit?

Many of the attractions are free for the public to visit, but people can save time in line by paying a small fee to get reserved tickets at some of them. Others are privately owned and charge an entry fee. Visitors are advised to check in advance to see whether the attraction they want to visit requires a fee or advance tickets. Some of the more popular sights that require tickets are the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. Capitol, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and the Washington Monument.

What If We Have Children With Us?

Small children may find the walking difficult during a large-scale tour of the city. One of the best ways to view many of the main attractions is to take a sightseeing tour. Families can sit in comfort of a bus tour or cruise boat and learn about various sites with the help of a knowledgeable guide. Tours can take visitors to see national monuments, Arlington National Cemetery or viewpoints from the Potomac River. Moonlight tours, bike tours and even Segway tours are available.

How Can We Tour the White House?

Public tours are available several days a week in the morning. However, visitors must request a pass from their state representatives in Congress at least a month in advance. Groups for the self-guided tour are limited to 10 people.

What National Celebrations Shouldn’t Be Missed?

Washington, D.C., plays host to several major celebrations throughout the year, and visitors may want to time their trips to coincide with one of these events. In March, the city will have both the Nation’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The city plans many events around Memorial Day, and the Independence Day celebration is extensive. Many people prefer to visit during the end-of-year holiday season, when the city glows with lights and Christmas celebrations.

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