Full of impressive history, architecture and dining, Washington, D.C., is one of America’s most compelling destinations and home to the U.S. president, many government officials and diplomats. Each year, more than 20 million people visit, which means the city’s iconic attractions are almost always busy, and reservations are sometimes necessary.
To avoid disappointment, whether Congress is in session or not, have a Plan A and a Plan B for each step of your Washington, D.C., itinerary. For insider’s insights, check out this multifaceted guide to D.C.
How to Get There
- From Reagan National Airport, drive about 5 miles north
- From Baltimore Washington International Airport, drive about 35 miles south
- From Washington Dulles International Airport, drive about 30 miles east
Parking downtown can be a challenge, but about a mile’s walk along the National Mall from most major museums, you’ll find all-day free spots on Ohio Drive or in the lots by the Jefferson Memorial.
Since opening in September 2016, this groundbreaking attraction has drawn about 10,000 visitors per day, prompting the Smithsonian to create a system of free, timed-entry passes. If you can plan at least four months ahead, call 844-750-3012 to reserve passes; otherwise, a handful of passes are available daily on a first-come, first-served basis at the museum’s Constitution Avenue entrance at 9:15 a.m. On average, 60 people wait in line each morning for these passes, so arrive by 8 a.m. to increase your chances.
Once inside, head to the bottom level’s slave ship and work your way up through exhibits from emancipation and segregation to modern-day artifacts like the couch from “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”