The United States is a dynamic place with a seemingly endless list of potential destinations when it comes to discovering the authentic heart and soul of this captivating country. From soaring mountaintops to white sand beaches, breathtaking canyons to dense forests filled with wildlife it would be hard to find any interest or passion that couldn’t be peaked by traveling to at least one of the U.S.’s primary regions. While the west coast brings the sun and the south brings the flavor, there’s something incredible about taking the time to experience the nation’s capital first-hand.
You don’t have to be a political enthusiast to appreciate the vibrant energy, sense of innovation and potential that this east coast destination holds. Washington DC is a completely unique stop on the map. Encompassing stories and landmarks that celebrate history, culture, artistic endeavors and of course politics, Washington DC offers guests insight into some of the United States’ most intriguing features, all packed into just over 68-square miles of land. When you’re planning a trip here for the first time, there’s a lot to take in. Beginning your adventures with these 5-stops is a good way to get a sense of just how mesmerizing the nation’s capital can be.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
While the U.S. is dotted with natural history museums, there’s nothing like stepping foot inside the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History when you’re visiting Washington D.C. First opened in 1910, this museum continues to impress and inspire thousands of visitors annually. Easily recognized by its green dome, this museum houses over 140-million artifacts and specimen aimed at provoking a sense of intrigue and discovery amongst guests. Integrated into the National Mall, The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History provides plenty of space for exploring with a floor plan that covers over 300,000 square feet.
Even the most well-intentioned travelers can find Washington DC difficult to cover in its entirety when you’re visiting with limited time. With so many monuments, landmarks and points of historical significance waiting, it’s often best to include a comprehensive tour on your first visit to get to as many important stops as possible. One of the best routes to taking in a multitude of important landmarks is by waterway. First-time visitors will most definitely want to book a National Monuments Sightseeing Cruise from Georgetown with the Potomac Riverboat Company. This 2-hour excursion lets guests hop aboard a riverboat and take in the many sights and sounds of Washington DC from the vantage point of a Potomac-based river boat. As you glide down the water, your knowledgeable captain and guide will point out sights that include the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, The Washington Monument, Arlington Memorial Bridge and many more. Vessels typically accommodate up to 100 passengers at a time and offer multi-level viewing decks that provide unobstructed views of those places you came excited to see.
While the river cruise sounds exciting, sightseeing from above is a totally different experience. You can book a Sightseeing helicopter charter to fully enjoy the view of the skyline and the iconic landmarks of the city.
Arlington National Cemetery
Many of the nation’s great names, families and military heroes who fought and sacrificed for the defining freedom of the country have found their final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery. When you’re visiting Washington DC, a trip to this hallowed destination is well worth the effort. The meticulously maintained grounds were first established in 1864 and today provide visitors with paths through breathtaking headstones honoring soldiers and dignitaries dating back to the Civil War era. Scenic landscaping completes this beautiful picture. While self-guided visits are welcome, guided tours are always available for those looking for a bit more insight into the ground’s history.
Roof Terrace Restaurant
The best memories on a first-time visit anywhere are often defined through flavor and Washington DC is no exception. When you’re here and looking for a place that provides a savory meal with an incredible view, look no further than dinner at Roof Terrace Restaurant. Sitting on top of the Kennedy Center at 2700 F Street NW, this elegant and upscale restaurant is the perfect place to dine on traditional favorites when you’re craving a panoramic moment or getting ready to take in a show. Whether you’re in the mood for Blue Crab Gumbo or fried lobster tail, there’s a delicious dinner waiting for every guest. Feel free to savor the moment by pairing dinner with something sweet to sip and indulging in the best skyline views the city has to offer.
Monuments Moonlight Tour
Washington DC is a destination that delivers inspiring moments by day but has a way of dazzling visitors by night. As the sun goes down and the monuments light up, the nation’s capital takes pride in illuminating those places that speak to a strong and momentous past. The ideal way to take in the glittering facades of the many landmarks across Washington DC is by trolley when you book a Monument by Moonlight Tour. This 2.5-hour excursion provides ample opportunities to be inspired by landmarks such as The Lincoln Memorial, White House, and Washington Monument as they’re bathed in a glowing light. As your guide offers up insightful and historical information to accompany each landmark, you’ll enjoy the added bonus of streets that are free from daytime crowds.
Caitlyn Knuth is a travel writer whose own adventures have inspired her to write about everything from the most delicious cafés in Paris, France to the breathtaking salmon runs in Juneau, Alaska. Working in association with LUXbnb, she enjoys writing and sharing about the Washington DC in the hope others will pack up and head out on adventures of their very own to the nation’s capital.