Washington National Cathedral#10 in Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.
Construction first began on this massive cathedral – the sixth largest in the world – in 1907, but it wasn't actually completed until 1990. Designed in the Gothic style, the Washington National Cathedral sits surrounded by gardens, creating a pleasant atmosphere for visitors. Take a stroll around the cathedral and peer at its high vaults and flying buttresses, or step inside to admire its intricate glass-stained windows. Another highlight is the cathedral's Gargoyle Tour. This tour – offered between May and September – gives you a chance to gaze up at the building's stony grotesques and gargoyles. (There's even a Darth Vader gargoyle that was appointed in the 1980s along the right-hand side of the northwest tower.)
Recent visitors were wowed by this cathedral's grand architecture and colorful stained-glass windows. If you're religious, consider attending one of the free worship services, which are offered every Sunday at 8, 9 and 11:15 a.m. Evening prayers led by the choir are also available on Sundays at 4 p.m.
Visitors are welcome to join tours of the Washington National Cathedral daily. Standard Highlights tours are offered Monday through Saturday starting at 10:15 a.m. and on Sundays at 1 p.m. These tours are included with cathedral entrance fees, which cost $12 per adult and $8 for children between 5 and 17. Kids 4 and younger visit for free. Other tour tickets are $5 to $75 each.
The closest Metro stop to the Washington National Cathedral – Cleveland Park station – sits about a mile away near the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. Several buses also stop in the area, and fee-based parking is available in the cathedral's underground parking garage. A gift shop and cafe are also located on-site. Check out the cathedral's official website for more information.
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#1 Lincoln Memorial
Although the Lincoln Memorial is just one of the District's many monuments, the larger-than-life Honest Abe is also among travelers' favorites. History buffs might enjoy the man of few (albeit powerful) words' two famous speeches, the second inaugural address and the Gettysburg Address, which are both etched into the memorial's opposing walls. Meanwhile, art history and architecture aficionados will enjoy admiring the building's striking design by Henry Bacon, complete with 38 Doric columns, 36 of which signify the states in the Union at the time Lincoln passed away.
Though most agree the Lincoln Memorial is worth checking out during the day or at night, many recent travelers say the most captivating time to visit is after dark when the attraction is lit and less crowded. Plus, evening temps will make peak summer visits more comfortable.
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