Lincoln Memorial at Dusk After a Rainstorm in Summer

A First-Timer’s Guide to DC

DC is an incredible city and there are tons of things to do here! However, fitting them all in one summer is not going to happen. Here are some of the top things you have to do if it’s your first time here!

1. Visit the Monuments at Night
TFAS student at the World War II memorial after sundown on The National Mall.

The monuments are gorgeous any time of the day, but at night they are incredible. (Also, it’s cooler out!) They are all lit and usually a little less crowded.

2. Visit the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is free to visit and has incredible exhibits! Currently, there is an exhibit showcasing original documents that inspired the lyrics to Hamilton and James Madison’s copy of The Federalist Papers. If you want to enter the main reading room, head across the street to pick up your Library of Congress card for free!

3. Visit the Capitol

There is a tunnel that connects the Capitol and Library of Congress, so check them out at the same time! You can reserve a tour time through your Representative or you can get a red coat tour at the Capitol all for free.

4. Visit a few of the museums

There are so many museums so you may not visit all of them in one busy summer. Try to visit the ones that interest you such as Air and Space, American History, African-America, etc. There is a lot of history and amazing exhibits all for free!

5. See the Fourth of July Fireworks
Student enjoying 4th of July in National Mall.
Enjoy Independence Day on National Mall.

Independence Day in the nation’s capital is an awesome experience whether you watch festivities from a roof-top, on the national mall, or on a paddleboard on the Potomac. There is also a free concert and parade the day of before the fireworks begin.

6. Walk Georgetown and Stop for a Cupcake

History and pastries, what else do need? There are cool historical sites in Georgetown including the Old Stone House, the oldest structure on its original foundation in Washington, D.C., Julia Child’s first home, and many more! Make sure to stop by one of the famous cupcake shops while you are there too!

7. Visit Arlington Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 service men and women along with former Presidents, astronauts, Chief Justices, etc.It is the only Arlington national cemetery where servicemen from every war in U.S. history rest.

8. Visit the National Zoo
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is home to more than 2.700 animals representing more than 390 species.

The zoo is part of the Smithsonian, which means it’s free! Go see the famous Pandas, which are on loan from China symbolize cross-cultural collaboration between the United States and China.

9. Visit the National Archives

The National Archives are home to the most famous historical documents of American history, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. There are many other exhibits where you can see original documents throughout American history. It is also free!

10. Visit the Old Post Office Tower

The top of the tower gives an incredible view of DC! It is open 9 am – 5 pm daily, but last entrance is at 4:30 PM. Head over for some amazing photo opportunities.