If Only DC were a Tourist Destination…

We’re posting some of our favorite things to see and do in DC, but there are hundreds of things to do in the nation’s capital. Destination DC is the Visitors’ Bureau; you can find loads of travel and activity information here. Cultural Tourism DC strives for “experiences that are authentic to Washington.” Take a walking tour of historic neighborhoods or find some kid-friendly activities. And of course, DC has more than its fair share of historic buildings. Check out the guide to the local National Register of Historic Places.

The White House and Capitol

These two are not under the radar like the National Building Musuem, but they do require some planning.

For the White House: Requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress (or your embassy in Washington, DC if you are a foreign citizen). Requests can be submitted up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. You are encouraged to submit your request as early as possible as a limited number of spaces are available. If you can’t book a tour, you should at least take a walk through President’s Park for some classic DC photo opps.

For the US Capitol: The Capitol Visitor’s Center is relatively new. It opened in 2008, and simply requires a timed ticket. This tour includes the Crypt of the Capitol, the Rotunda, and National Statuary Hall. Statuary Hall showcases some of a collection of two statues from each state, donated by their respective state to honor notable residents. To visit the Senate and House galleries, you must obtain gallery passes from the offices of your Senators or Representative.

Speaking of congressional representation, did you know that citizens of the District of Columbia have no voting rights in Congress? That is why our license plates boast the slogan “Taxation without Representaion.”

National Building Museum

The National Building Museum is one of the under-appreciated gems of DC and one of our favorite places in the city. Built in 1887, it originally served as the Pension Office. The Great Hall, with 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns, always hosts one of the Presidential Inaugural Balls – and is a great place for kids to run around on a gloomy day. Outside, the building is circled with a 1,200-foot terra cotta frieze depicting the Civil War. The building itself is worth a visit, but the exhibits are also excellent. Ongoing exhibits include Washington: Symbol and City and, for kids, the Building Zone. We’re not sure how to feel about the exhibit opening the month of our wedding: Designing for Disaster. Where’s the love, NBM? (photo: National Building Museum)