The White House and the Washington Monument#14 in Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.
Even if you're only in town for a short trip, visiting the Washington Monument and the White House – two marbleized symbols of the free world – is a must for any first-time D.C. visitor.
At 555 feet and 5 inches, the Washington Monument (at its completion in 1884) was the tallest structure in the world. And nowadays, you can ride one of the monument's glass-encased elevators to the top observation deck to enjoy 360-degree views of the city. You can explore the attraction's exterior for free 24 hours a day, but National Park Service rangers are only available from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. to answer questions. The monument itself is open to visitors every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the National Park Service's Washington Monument page for more information.
Neighboring the Washington Monument to the north is the White House. Home to every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800, the White House is America's most famous homestead. If you opt to tour the building, you'll have the opportunity to visit the State Floor, which includes the East Room, the Green Room and the Blue Room. In order to participate in a tour, you'll need to contact the office of your senator or House representative at least 21 days in advance to ensure your entry, and bear in mind that tours can be canceled last minute. Self-guided tours take place from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Security lines can be long (especially during the summer months), so recent visitors recommend arriving at least 15 minutes early. The White House is a short walk from the Farragut West, McPherson Square, Metro Center and Federal Triangle Metro stops on the Blue, Silver and Orange lines; you can also take the Red Line to Farragut North or Metro Center. To plan your visit, consult the White House's official website. Several of the city's best guided tours also feature stops at the Washington Monument and the White House, including the best bus tours.
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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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