Washington DC Monuments

Sights to See in DC

The District of Columbia offers plenty of fun and education for all ages
Author: Tom Garzilli

If you’re headed to NHF’s 66th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, September 18–20, be sure to check out some of these popular and more easily accessible sights while in the nation’s capital:

Walking Tour of the National Monuments

The District is home to many of America’s most famous sights, including the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson memorials, and the Washington Monument. A walking tour can be arranged for a small or large group. Just remember to bring a water bottle, as DC can get very hot, even in the fall.

Library of Congress:

This massive library contains a staggering number of books about many topics. It offers activities for children and adults. There are cafes and gift shops in the buildings. Several guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more. Admission is free.

National Portrait Gallery:

Another free attraction, this five-floor art gallery features portraits of famous historical figures. Pop art, mixed-media exhibits and sculptures are also on display, appealing to art lovers of any stripe. Nearby Chinatown is a good place to wander for a few hours. The Verizon Center, home to DC’s professional basketball and hockey teams, is down the street.

National Museum of Natural History:

A part of the famous Smithsonian Institution, this museum helps visitors get a glimpse into the planet’s history. It covers topics ranging from fish, dinosaurs and ancient Egypt to coral reefs and insects. With frequent one-time-only events and changing exhibits, repeat trips to the museum can be full of surprises.

National Gallery of Art:

Art of every kind lines the walls here. Designed by world-famous architects, these buildings display pieces by highly renowned artists, including Leonardo da Vinci. Explore the connected sculpture garden just outside the main building.

View of Jefferson Memorial
Timothy Mainiero/Thinkstock

National Museum of Crime & Punishment:

This unusual museum is dedicated to the history of crime and law enforcement. The timeless story of cops and robbers unfolds here, but with an educational twist. Several temporary exhibits mean every visit is unique and timely. The Cop
Shop gift store is free to enter.

International Spy Museum:

Perfect for all ages, the Spy Museum is a fun and educational experience about espionage in American history and media. Entering the museum, visitors are temporarily given a new identity. After enjoying exhibits about the CIA, famous spies and James Bond films, your secret agent skills are put to the test. If you pass, you get to be America’s newest spy!

National Zoological Park:

If you’re looking for an educational yet fun afternoon for the kids, this is it. Visiting the National Zoo is like taking a free safari right in the heart of DC. The zoo, which has more than 2,000 animals, is easily accessible. There are motorized wheelchairs you can rent; nonmotorized wheelchairs are provided free of charge.

United States National Arboretum:

Two miles from the Capitol building is one of the country’s foremost botanical research centers. Open to public visits, the arboretum features several gardens of exotic trees and plants. Further,  it has several art installations on its grounds.

National Air and Space Museum:

Chronicling the history of human flight, this museum on the National Mall is an incredible collection of airplanes, helicopters and other exhibits that will dazzle visitors of all ages. The last space shuttle was recently put on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center, a secondary site located near Dulles International Airport, about 30 minutes by car. The view from the observation tower alone makes it worth the drive.