PLANNING A TRIP TO WASHINGTON, DC?
Planning a trip to Washington, DC? There are countless museums, galleries, memorials, parks, and gardens. Check out the Online Request Form below for congressional sponsored tours, and a member of my staff will be in touch to help you plan a memorable trip to our nation’s Capital. In the meantime, I have some helpful information to start your own trip planning. Below is an overview organized by the quadrants and prominent neighborhoods.
JAVA WITH JAMES
Join Senator Lankford and staff for coffee and conversation every Wednesday the Senate is in session.
9:00 AM ET
316 Hart Senate Office Building
120 Constitution Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
HELPFUL TIPS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL TO D.C.
Be aware, DC has a lot to offer, and it would be impossible to hit everything in a weekend or even a week.
- Bring your best walking shoes
- Fall and winter could be below 40 degrees and windy
- In the spring and summertime, be aware of allergies, random rain showers, and humidity
- Make restaurant reservations beforehand
- Learn about the Metro System, a great way to get about the city
- DC is known for our Smithsonian Museums; I will mention some, but visit the site for a complete list
- Check out https://washington.org/, a great source to reference and bookmark as you’re preparing for your trip
LAYOUT OF DC
Washington, DC was designed by French engineer Pierre L’Enfant after its commissioning in 1790 to resemble a square diamond that wouldn’t exceed 100 square miles (10 miles x 10 miles). Initially, the entire District included part of Virginia, which later returned to the state in 1847. The design sits the United States Capitol at the center of the original District.
The District is sectioned into quadrants: NW, NE, SE and SW. This outline will be broken up by selection determined by the quadrants. For example, 1000 Lincoln Street NW entails that the building is situated northwest of the Capitol. It’s helpful to be aware of North and South Capitol Street, which breaks the west and east side of the city, and East Capitol Street, which splits north and south. There is no “West Capitol Street” since that would be in the center of the National Mall. This is helpful when planning, so if your hotel address has NW, you will know what is nearby and be able to plan for things in other quadrants, etc.
THE NATIONAL MALL
If you have not been to DC before, I would start my trip at the National Mall. The US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial is about a 45 minute walk or 2.3 miles. Below is a list of popular attractions on the National Mall—most of the attractions listed are free to enjoy.
- Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (SW)
- National Gallery of Art (NW) An art lover’s must! Plus, the only da Vinci in North American
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (NW) Something for all ages, and the Hope Diamond
- Hirschhorn Art Museum (SW) contemporary art
- National Museum of American History (NW) has lots to look at, from the Star-Spangled Banner to Dorothy’s red slippers
- National Museum of African American History and Culture (NW) Timed-entry and the newest Smithsonian
- Washington Monument (more info below)
- See the White House South Lawn from the Ellipse N.W. side of the Monument
- World War II Memorial (Center)
- Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool (Center)
- Korean War Veterans Memorial (SW)
- Ending at the Lincoln Memorial, watch the sunset on the steps behind the Lincoln
the Tidal Basin
Once you get to the Washington Monument/World War II Memorial, this would be an excellent opportunity to extend your walk/bike ride to include the Tidal Basin (you can also make this a stand-alone activity on another day). Walk from the Washington Monument to Thomas Jefferson Memorial (.9 miles), then continue around Ohio Drive SW to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (.7 miles), then continue on to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (.2 miles), and then back to the mall and up to the Korean War Veterans Memorial (.3 miles), ending at the Lincoln Memorial. This would add a total of 1.3 miles to your trek.
Did you know you can actually go to the top of the Washington Monument?
- Same-day walk-up tickets: Washington Monument Lodge, located along 15th Street between Madison and Jefferson drives, opens at 8:45 a.m. for distribution of free, same day, timed tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis
- Online reservations: Order tickets online up to a month in advance of your visit. Inventory for the next available day (30 days out) becomes available at 10 a.m. each morning.
- 24-Hour Advance Reservations: A limited number of additional tickets are made available at 10 a.m. each day for the next day’s visits
CAPITOL HILL (NE/SE)
Capitol Hill is the hub for the US Government, home to the United States Capitol, Senate, House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court. Sometimes referred to as “the Hill”—this neighborhood relates to the workplace of many residents of the Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1800.
- Supreme Court (NE)
- Library of Congress, Timed Entry Reservations (SE)
- US Botanic Garden oldest continuously operating botanic garden in the United States (SE)
- Walk the U.S. Capitol Grounds – US Capitol Historical Society has a walking tour ($)
- Eastern Market (Orange line)Weekend farmer’s market and DMV local goods for sell
- US Marine Barracks, Friday nights at 8:45 p.m. from May through August, U.S. Marine marching units and the President’s Own U.S. Marine Band perform precision drills and all-American music. Tickets are free, but reservations are required.
NAVY YARD (SE)
The waterside Navy Yard district is known for the Nationals Park baseball stadium and nearby sporty rooftop restaurants with great views due to its close proximity to Capitol Hill. In addition, there is a lot of nautical history, from the American Revolution to present day. During the warmer months, there are outside recreational opportunities.
SOUTHWEST DC (SW)
From the National Mall down the Potomac, Southwest Washington includes the Tidal Basin (Jefferson and Roosevelt memorials). The Southwest Waterfront is centered on a marina and the Wharf, which has a historic fish market, dining, and shops.
- Museum of the Bible ($) documents the narrative, history, and impact of the Bible
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- National Museum of the American Indian, devoted to the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
- The Wharf Waterfront
- International Spy Museum ($) documents the tradecraft, history, and contemporary role of espionage
Downtown Washington DC is full of hotels and restaurants with lots of access to the metro stops. This area is known for business and is the fourth largest central business district in the United States.
Gallery Place/ Chinatown Town (Green and Redline)
- National Archives (Green) is home to the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights
- The National Portrait Gallery houses the portraits of the Presidents—the nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House.
- Ford’s Theater and Lincoln Museum ($) infamous for being the site of the assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln
- National Building Museum ($) dedicated to architecture, engineering & design
- Capital One Arena where the Capitals and Wizards play
The White House (Orange, Blue, and Silver Line)
- See the White House from Pennsylvania Avenue NW at Lafayette Square
- The White House Visitor Center feature over 100 historical artifacts, interpretive panels, looping videos of photos and archival footage, and interactive elements for visitors of all ages.
DuPont (Red line)
- Embassy Row stretch of Massachusetts and New Hampshire Avenue extending out from DuPont Circle along which one finds many (but not all) of the District’s foreign embassies.
- The Phillips Collection ($) America’s first museum of modern art
Other Northwest Attractions
Georgetown is charming, with cobblestone streets, many shops, and restaurants. This is a historic neighborhood in Northwest DC, founded in 1751 and originally part of the Province of Maryland. Georgetown remained a separate municipality until 1871. There is no metro stop to Georgetown—the closest is Foggy Bottom (orange), about a 20 minute walk away.
EXPLORE OUTSIDE OF DC
- Arlington Cemetery John F. Kennedy’s gravesite, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Changing of the Guard
- Mount Vernon ($) George Washington’s Estate
- Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, displays thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and a Concorde, in two large hangars.
- Old Town Alexandria, Virginia historic district along the Potomac. Old Town is marked by cobblestone streets and 18th-century townhouses.
- The Pentagon Memorial