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Historic Sites in Washington
D.C. Malls, Memorials, Museums & More
The capital of the United States, Washington D.C. can act as an epicenter for American historical sites. Museums, memorials, and monument decorate the district, making it a prime spot for vacationers, students, and everyday history buffs.
When you think Washington D.C., you think White House. The White House Visitor Center is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., while self-guided tours of the White House are available upon request.
For history dating back to before America was even a thing, the Smithsonian Museums are found on the National Mall in the center of Washington D.C.
The Smithsonian Institution Building – otherwise known as the Castle – is free to the public, and open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Other Smithsonian stops include the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
One attraction that’s never hard to find is the Washington Monument – a major part of the National Mall & Memorial Parks and the tallest obelisk in the world. Completed in 1884, the Washington Monument overlooks the Reflecting Pool, directly to the east of the Lincoln Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial is less than a mile southwest of the Washington Memorial – across from the Tidal Basin.
Other Washington D.C. icons found on the National Mall include the Constitution Gardens, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The National Mall is always open and free to the public – so don’t miss these unforgettable museums, memorials, and monuments in D.C.
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
Established in 1938, the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens covers roughly 700 acres in northeastern Washington D.C. Managed by the National Park Service, the site preserves the ponds and plant life found on the Anacostia River – as well as Kenilworth Marsh.
Kenilworth Park also offers a recreation area with ball fields and room for hiking, picnicking, nature photography, and more. DC's Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are also found on the National Register of Historic Places.
George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens is America's most visited historic estate, having an average of one million visitors annually. The 500-acre Mount Vernon estate is located along the Potomac River, south of Alexandria and Springfield.
Schedule plenty of time to see everything on this beautiful working plantation, including the 18-century flowers in the gardens.Take your time touring George Washington's mansion, which has been restored to how it looked in 1799.
View the tomb where Martha and George Washington are buried and stroll through the Ford Orientation Center to learn about this magnificent estate. The Museum & Education Center features interactive displays, short films and 23 galleries.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Preserving the estate of Frederick Douglass, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site covers over nine acres in southeast Washington D.C. Also known as Cedar Hill, the site has been managed by the National Park Service since 1988.
Drawing nearly 24,000 annual visitors, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site offers tours of the Douglass home, and a visitor center with exhibits, a bookstore, and the 17-minute film “Fighter for Freedom.”
Visitors may also picnic on the grounds, and take in amazing views of the D.C. skyline.
Covering 50 acres, Constitution Gardens is located in Washington D.C. within the National Mall – and is managed by the National Park Service. Established in 1976, Constitution Gardens offer footpaths, wildlife viewing, a scenic pond, and Signers Island.
Reached by a small bridge, Signers Island features the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial. Constitution Gardens is a four-season, outdoor destination open 24 hours a day and free to the public and visitors of DC.
Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site commemorates Black History Month founder Carter G. Woodson. The Woodson Home is set in Washington D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood.
Built 1915, Woodson Home is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and today is managed by the National Park Service. Visitors are encouraged to sign up for walking tours of Dr. Woodson's neighborhood in Washington.
Famously known as President Abraham Lincoln's assassination site, Ford's Theatre is a historic and iconic landmark in Washington DC.
Opened in August of 1863, Ford's Theatre was renovated during the 2000s and now functions as a theatre after again. It, along with the adjacent Petersen House, serve as the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site.
Carve out some time in your travel agenda the next time you're in DC and visit Ford's Theatre. Throughout the year, Ford's Theatre is the stage for a slew of live performances.
Ford's Theatre offers a "History on Foot" walking tour of downtown DC guided by an actor dressed like a Civil War character. With so many excellent and poignant monuments and memorials to experience on your exploration of DC, be sure to add Ford's Theatre to the list.
Meridian Hill Park
Located in the Washington D.C. neighborhood of Columbia Heights, Meridian Hill Park is 12-acre respite from the surrounding urban sprawl. The park was constructed in the early 1900s and named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Apart from the great scenery, the park is also home to the “largest cascading fountain in North America.” Other must-see sights found in Meridian Park include several statues and monuments, including the Joan of Arc, James Buchanan Memorial, and more.
Old Post Office Tower
Located within the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site, the Old Post Office Tower was once the primary post office for the Washington D.C. region. Now, the building is a member of the National Register of Historic Places and provides excellent views of the nation’s capitol due to its impressive stature – standing at 315 feet tall.
Must-sees within the tower include the Bells of Congress, given to the U.S. as gift from England to replicate the bells at London’s Westminster Abbey. Panoramic views of the surrounding structures can be found at the observation deck.
Old Stone House
Known as the oldest building in Washington D.C., the Old Stone House was constructed roughly 300 years ago.
Today, the partially reconstructed home serves as a commemorative structure giving guests the chance to peer into early Georgetown settler and American Revolution life.
The Old Stone House is found within historic Rock Creek Park, giving it a picturesque surrounding with plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities abounds.
Guests can enjoy self-guided and guided tours of the home, perusing the Eastern National Bookstore, and a stop at the English garden found outside of the home.
Located in Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C., Peirce Mill is a former commercial mill now a member of the National Register of Historic Places. Although the mill has long been out of service, it still plays important role in educating visitors of the nation’s capital’s important role in agriculture.
Due to the mill’s desirable location in Rock Creek Park, visitors of the mill site can also explore the region via biking and hiking trails, winding through the nearby scenery. Guests are encouraged to visit the Peirce Barn as well, housing a variety of “Peirce Plantation” exhibits.
Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site
Home to many of America’s most iconic structures and sites, the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site encompasses over 20 acres in total in the heart of Washington D.C. Slicing through the middle of the historic district is Pennsylvania Avenue, or "America’s Main Street.”
Guests traversing the district will find no shortage of must-see attractions – including the White House on the western border, the U.S. Capitol and Reflecting Pool to the southeast, Ford’s Theatre in the center, and more. Visitors are encouraged to arrange a tour of the district with the Old Post Office Tower staff.
Found along historic Pennsylvania Avenue, Seward Square is a small intersection in southeast Washington, D.C. named after former U.S. Secretary of State, William Henry Seward. The square is maintained by the National Park Service due to its historical significance in relation to “Seward’s Folly,” from the Lincoln administration.
Visitors of the square enjoy viewing the statue of Seward’s adopted daughter, Olive Risley Seward, constructed in 1971. Moreover, due to Pennsylvania and North Carolina avenues dissecting the square into four smaller parks, visitors take advantage of the excellent scenery found on all sides.
Old City Cemetery & Museums
The Old City Cemetery was established in 1806 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. An estimated 20,000 people are buried in the cemetery including some of Lynchburg's founding "fathers and mothers". The five cemetery museums provide a history of the cemetery, as well as a history of Lynchburg.
Join in the Annual Memorial Day Bird Walk to see how many new eggs are in the bluebird boxes, or to see how many bird species you spot in the cemetery.