Our Top 20 Places to Visit in the DMV

Posted on February 28 2018

Our Top 20 Places to Visit in the DMV

Welcome to Part III of the Zeena Travel Series, the final destination in our trip around Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. I hope you've enjoyed our previous posts about what to pack in your carry-on bag and a guide to our favorite restaurants. In this post, we're sharing our favorite places to explore...including historical museums, serious shopping destinations and the prettiest scenic walks you've never seen. So, grab your camera, buckle up that fanny pack and let's hit the streets like a true Washingtonian!

A Note About Metro

There is more to meet the eye when riding the subway. If you don't plan on driving (and paying outrageous parking fees) take a moment to plan your day by visiting the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) website. Here you'll find a map of the subway lines and a handy Trip Planner so you can trace your route and set a budget for fares. Remember, you'll need to purchase a SmarTrip card in order to enter and exit the train station. Also, the number one rule of etiquette for riding the escalators is to stand on the right side so that others can pass you on the left. There's even a word for out-of-town'ers who block the way: esca-lefties (get it?)

Historic Sites

1. The Tidal Basin -- 1500 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

Rent a boat, paddle your way around the monuments, or stroll your way around this man-made reservoir. Martin Luther King Jr., George Mason, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson are all here. In the spring, the Tidal Basin is the prime viewing location for the cherry blossoms and a wonderful place for a picnic (weather permitting!) 

2. Washington Monument -- 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024

The Washington Monument is one of the most iconic structures in D.C. The obelisk stands over 500 feet tall as a dedication to the nation's first president, George Washington. Bring a kite and enjoy the breeze from the Potomac River or stop inside for a tour.

3. The Kennedy Center -- 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is the nucleus of cultural entertainment in the district. View the online calendar to see what's playing in advance. After the show, enjoy fine dining on the rooftop terrace restaurant and spend an evening with the stars. 

Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center (image: diversionsinc.com)

Our Favorite Museums:

The Smithsonian Museum Collective along the National Mall is the pride of Washington DC. Founded in 1846 by James Smithson, the complex is composed of 19 museums, galleries and the National Zoo. Visiting the Smithsonian is free and metro accessible.


 The Smithsonian Castle (www.si.edu)

4. Natural History Museum – 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, in Washington, D.C. 20560

The main attraction of the Smithsonian museums, the Natural History Museum is a must-see if you have kids! Observe live insects at the O. Orkin Insect Zoo, walk beneath gigantic dinosaurs in the National Fossil Hall, and visit the one and only Hope Diamond inside the Harry Winston Gallery. On the ground floor, stop and rest at the Atrium Café. Check out the Event Calendar before you go to make the most of your visit.

5. African American Museum – 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560

Give yourself a few hours to soak it all in. The recently opened African American Museum is the newest and most popular member of the Smithsonian family. Saturated with emotional exhibits and thought-provoking artifacts -- including Nat Turner’s Bible, Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and the Freedom Papers, we suggest you start at the bottom floor and work your way up (*you’ll thank us later!) This museum fills up quickly and space is limited. Book your free one-day pass starting at 6:30am.

6. Holocaust Museum – 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington, DC 20024

A living memorial to the Holocaust, this museum focuses on promoting human dignity and telling the stories of victims of past (and current) atrocities. Not for the faint of heart, the Holocaust Museum is a moving experience and surely, one to remember. 

7. Renwick Gallery – Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20006

The art exhibits here are breathtaking and the gallery is small and easy to navigate. Located only a few steps from the White House, the Renwick Gallery is dedicated to the preservation of the decorative arts.

Renwick Gallery

The Renwick Gallery 

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Asian Art at the Freer & Sackler Galleries

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The Golden Spires of Subodh Gupta at the Freer & Sackler Galleries (image: smithsonianmag.com)


8. The Freer & Sackler Galleries -- 1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560

Two worlds collide at the Freer & Sackler, where Asian art meets American art in a contemporary setting. Together, the galleries have thousands of artifacts, paintings and sculptures from Japan, Turkey, India, China, Korea, Egypt and the Islamic World. 

9. The Portrait Gallery -- 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001

If you've always wanted to see all of the presidents of the United States in one place, the the Portrait Gallery is for you. Treat yourself to a history lesson and come face-to-face with American legends, peacemakers, celebrities, famous musicians and more!

10. The Air & Space Museum -- Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington, DC 20560

Full of amazing discoveries, the Air & Space Museum is perfect for adults and children. Stand beneath the Apollo 11 spacecraft, watch larger-than-life films at the IMAX theater, voyage through the stars inside the planetarium and explore how aviation changed the world. 


Best Shopping…Ever

11. Tyson's Corner Center -- 1961 Chain Bridge Rd, Tysons, VA 22102

If you're looking for an epic shopping experience, look no further. Tyson's Corner Center offers the widest selection of upscale stores, dining and movie theaters in the area. Tyson's is notorious for it's luxury atmosphere, clean, modern interiors and wide atrium spaces. And the shopping? This 3-story, 2 million square foot fashion haven boasts over 300 stores. They've got all the big names and then some. Discover something new at Nordstrom, A|X Armani Exchange, Bloomingdale's, Zara, West Elm, Uniqlo, Free People...need I go on? If you've never seen Tyson's before, trust me, it's legendary.

Tysons Corner Galleria

 Tyson's Corner Center. (source: wikipedia.org)


Georgetown Waterfront


12. Mosaic -- Voted as one of the most innovative shopping & entertainment districts in the DC area, Mosaic's beautifully designed green spaces and carefully curated fashion destinations such as Anthropologie, Madewell and Williams Sonoma are sure to make everyone happy.

13. Georgetown -- Great shopping, good food, plenty of walking. Georgetown is a maze of historic homes, exclusive retail stores, street vendors, entertainment and hidden discoveries along the Potomac River. 

14. Bethesda Row -- Spend the day (or evening) at Bethesda Row and shop your way through an amazing collection of luxury boutiques like Warby Parker, Apple Store, LuluLemon, Kate Spade, Sugarfina, Kendra Scott and Pink Palm.

15. National Harbor -- Explore the waterfront at National Harbor! Ride the Capitol Wheel -- the only Ferris Wheel in DC! Shop at the Gaylord and grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants. 

Shop - Bethesda Row

Bethesda Row (image: bethesdamagazine.com)

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The Capital Wheel, National Harbor (image: ettractions.com)

Hiking & Walking:

16. Gravelly Park -- George Washington Parkway, Arlington, VA 22202

Gravelly Park is located near Reagan National Airport and is a great place to watch the planes land. Rent a bike, pack a lunch and enjoy watching the boats glide across the beautiful Potomac River.

17. Dumbarton Oaks -- 1703 32nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Travel back in time to this historical home that was dedicated to Harvard University by Robert and Mildred Woods Bliss. A library, museum and world-class garden all in one, Dumbarton Oaks is a sanctuary of learning with a focus on Byzantine and Pre-Columbian Art and Landscape Design.

18. Great Falls -- 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102

If you're looking for a relaxing place to take a deep breath, Great Falls National Park offers all that and more. Walk the trails and relish in the beauty of nature. There is plenty of parking, as well as scenic spots where you can photograph the waterfalls and wildlife.

19. National Arboretum -- 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

Meander through over 400 acres of lovely flowering foliage, hidden gazebos and exotic trees. The National Arboretum was founded in 1927 as a protected botanical site and is host to the original sandstone colonnade from the first construction of the Capitol Building -- the National Capitol Columns. You're going to want to bring your binoculars, you might just spot a bald eagle!

20. Segway Tour of D.C. -- 502 23rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20037

Book a private or group tour and glide around the city on a segway! Visit the National Mall, roll along Pennsylvania Avenue and visit the monuments all without breaking a sweat. 

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Great Falls, VA

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National Capitol Columns


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DC Segway Tour of the National Mall

Looking for more things to do? Check out this post by Washingtonian Magazine. And in case you've missed it, read Part I of the Zeena Travel Series, What's in Your Carry-On Bag? and Part II, Our Favorite Restaurants in the DMV. See you next time!


Jamillah Abdullah, Zeena Team Contributor


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