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Top Five Most-Visited Tourist Attractions in Washington

If you’re thinking about visiting Washington, DC you should know that Washington’s most-visited tourist destinations are quite deserving of their popularity.

5. National World War II Memorial

The newest war memorial on the National Mall, the National World War II Memorial boasts some five million yearly visitors.

Dedicated to all Americans who served in the conflict, its two towers symbolize the two theaters of the war (Atlantic and Pacific) and its 56 columns represent the U.S. states and territories that contributed to the war effort.

Each column has two wreaths: Oak for industry, wheat for agriculture, equally important to winning the war.

Its centerpiece, the Freedom Wall, features 4,048 gold stars, each one representing 100 American servicemen who lost their lives in the greatest conflict in history. It is a touching and appropriately grand memorial!

4. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

No memorial in Washington is without its controversy, and Maya Lin’s now-acclaimed design was perhaps the most contentious.

Her design, what she called a “park within a park,” features the 58,000+ names of every American killed or missing in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam era.

Though the idea of incorporating such a listing of names was not Lin’s own (in fact, a requirement of the design contest), it was innovative not in that the memorial has the names, but instead, the names are the memorial, and all other elements are subordinate to experiencing the names.

The most-visited war memorial on the National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial receives an estimated 5.3 million visitors annually.

3. National Museum of Natural History

A top-ten most-visited museum in the world, the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum is the Institution’s largest by collection size (145 million items, held across 1.32 million square feet of public galleries and storage space)!

Visited by some 7.1 million yearly museum-goers, its highlights include an award-winning Hall of Oceans, as well as a Hall of Human Origins, Hall of Mammals, and a Hall of Dinosaurs, the latter slated to open in 2019 after five years of renovations.

Its most famous item is undoubtedly the Hope Diamond: The gem, the largest blue diamond in the world weighing in at 45.52 carats, is renowned for its clarity as well as its purported curse: several of its owners have met terrible fates after taking possession!


2. National Air and Space Museum

The fourth most-visited museum in the world, the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum sees more than 7.5 million visitors a year.

This museum, free of charge and open to the public throughout the year like all Smithsonian museums, has some of the most famous and important air and spacecraft in history, including the Bell X-1 (the first supersonic airplane), Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module which took the first humans in history to the Moon and back, and the Wright Flyer, the original first airplane. It’s a lot to see, so make sure you budget some time to get through the highlights (at least an hour).

If you go, make sure to touch the moon rock on display!

1. The Lincoln Memorial

Rightly famous around the world as the crown jewel of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial sees approximately 8 million sightseers yearly.

It is wholly deserving of its title, renowned for its inherent overall grandeur, world-famous vistas, and iconic sculpture of America’s 16th president, known as the Great Emancipator and Preserver of the Union.

A must-see of must-sees, you simply can’t miss it!

Looking for more things to do in DC?

Try Five Family-Friendly Things to Do, learn how to do all the free stuff during your visit and consider how much more you can see on a private tour.