Things To Do In D.C.: One Week

Take a staycation in the District

Contemplating a staycation?  Have a week to take in all the sights that Washington, D.C., has to offer?  Here is a list of things to consider doing...

The Musts

Walk The National Mall
Not only is it great seeing the U.S. Capitol at one end and the Washington Monument at the other, but the bonus is what's in between.  There are numerous free museums to visit.  Our suggestions:  The Natural History Museum, the American History Museum (when it reopens) and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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Visit The Monuments
If you're going to the National Mall, you have to see the monuments.  Start at the Washington Monument and work your way down to the World War II Memorial.  Then walk along the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial.  The Korean War Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial are also right there.  If you're still feeling spry, try to find the World War I Memorial -- many people can't.
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View The Tidal Basin
If you're already by the above monuments, might as well head across to the Tidal Basin.  If you're there during the Cherry Blossom Festival, bonus!  (The cherry trees blossom around the beginning of April.)  If not, there's still a lot to see. Of course there is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the FDR Memorial.  There's also a Japanese pagoda among the cherry trees.  And there are plenty of pictures to be taken of the water and the paddle boats.  There are also plans for a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to be built near the basin, so stay tuned for that.
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Take A Nighttime Tour Of The Monuments
Don't want to beat the heat?  Want to get away from the crowds?  Take a tour of the monuments at night.  Under the moonlight, you get a new appreciation for the landmarks, which are lit up in their entire splendor.  Tours are available, or just walk it yourself.
More Info: Monuments By MoonlightGray LineTourmobile

Visit The White House
You just can't go to the White House and take a tour anymore, or else this would be on the Must list.  You have to arrange a tour in advance through a member of Congress.  And the list of things you can't take on the tour is longer than War and Peace.  I believe one can still wear pants, but it's questionable on Tuesdays.  Just kidding.  Anyway, if you're willing to put in the effort in advance, it's still a great notch on your tourist belt.

Even if you don't make it inside, get a picture or two from the outside to impress your friends.  While there, also check out The Ellipse and the Zero Milestone on one side and Lafayette Park on the other.
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Visit The U.S. Capitol
Guided tours are available for the U.S. Capitol throughout the year.  Tickets are needed, and they're available daily on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Why visit the Capitol?  It's filled with history, of course, and its structure is beautiful.  And you'll learn some pretty cool things, like the location of the "whispering gallery" in the National Statuary Hall.  If a person stands in one spot in the hall, they can overhear conversations yards away in another area of the hall.  Rumor has it some politicians used to pretend they were asleep in the hall in order to hear what others were saying.  Sweet.
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National Archives
The National Archives is the home for the Charters of Freedom -- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  All three are housed in the Archives' Rotunda.  Recently reconstructed, the Rotunda is an impressive home to the three documents.  The Archives contain even more than that, as it offers galleries throughout the year and educational exhibits on American history.  You can also research your family history at the Archives, if you have the time to spend.
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The Shoulds

Visit Georgetown
There is a lot to do in Georgetown.  Some involves history.  Some just good fun.  Walk around the shopping area, either to find some expensive fashions or just to watch the locals buy their own.  The C&O Canal runs through the area.  Or you can check out John F. Kennedy's old house.  And there are always "The Exorcist Steps" for you movie buffs.
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National Zoo
It always seems to be Panda Mania at the National Zoo, and for good reason.  The guys are really darn cute.  But as little Tai Shan grows up, the frenzy surrounding his birth has calmed.  That means it's a perfect chance to see the entire zoo and the rest of its inhabitants.  The newest addition to the zoo itself -- the Asia Trail -- is a must.  Just make sure you wear your walking shoes -- there is a lot to see.
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Visit The U Street Corridor
Yeah, people will tell you it's not the safety neighborhood in the District.  However, there is a rich cultural tradition awaiting those who venture onto U Street.  The first stop should be Ben's Chili Bowl.  A D.C. food landmark, Ben's offers great chili fries, half-smokes and chili dogs, as well as great atmosphere.  You never know who you'll run into at Ben's.  The next stop would be a jazz club along U Street, harkening you back to the days of D.C. legend Duke Ellington.  If jazz isn't your thing, go to a concert at the 9:30 Club, one of the nation's best live venues.
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Watch The Nationals Play
If you haven't heard, D.C. has a professional baseball team.  And after suffering through a few years at RFK Stadium, they now have their own home.  Nationals Park opened at the start of the 2008 season.  Situated in southwest Washington, it is the cornerstone of a neighborhood rebirth not seen in quite some time.  The catch:  The rest of the area won't be ready until 2009 at the earliest.  Once the neighborhood of bars, restaurants and other entertainment catches up, a trip to a ballgame moves up this list.
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U.S. Supreme Court
This ain't no Judge Judy.  No sir, this is the real deal.  If you visit the court certain times of the year, you can actually sit in on oral arguments before the justices.  If that doesn't float your boat, you can still check out the exhibits inside and the architecture.  The portraits of all the justices are also a draw.
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Rock Creek Park/Great Falls
The one thing many people realize when they first arrive in D.C. is just how "green" it is.  Unlike many urban environments, the District and surrounding area is full of parks, trees and outdoor activities.  Two places to check out:  Rock Creek Park and Great Falls.   If you're in the District, take some time out of your hectic schedule to walk through Rock Creek.  And even though it's not technically in the District, Great Falls is an amazing scenic experience everyone should partake in.
More Info: Rock Creek Park and Great Falls, Va.

The Coulds

Arlington National Cemetery
Located in Arlington, Va., the cemetery is both a memorial to those who died defending our country and a stark reminder of the reality of war.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the statue of Iwo Jima and the gravesite of President John. F. Kennedy are some of the famous memorials on the grounds.
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Washington National Cathedral
The National Cathedral is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world and second-largest in the United States.  The architecture of the church is marveling, as is its history.  It holds the tomb of Woodrow Wilson.  And, of course, there's legend of Darth Vader...
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National Arboretum
Find thee a shrubbery!  The National Arboretum is the place to find many kinds of plants, shrubs, flowers and other botanical wonders.  The Arboretum is also home to the National Capitol Columns, which used to hold up a portion of the Capitol until expansion in 1958.  Think U.S. Stonehenge.
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News junkies unite!  Not only can you watch news 24-7 on cable TV, you can live it at the Newseum.  The newly designed museum dedicated to all forms of journalism is filled with fun for the whole family.  Try your luck at breaking news at the NBC News Interactive Newsroom or check out the front pages of 500 newspapers -- on a daily basis.  Cool stuff.
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Old Ebbitt Grill
The Old Ebbitt Grill is Washington's oldest saloon, located near the White House.  While it has moved locations several times through its long and storied history, the thrill of eating and drinking at the same establishment that Teddy Roosevelt hung out at remains.  What's even better is you don't have to get dressed up.  So after a long day of touring D.C., stop by in your casual clothes for some clam chowder and crab cakes.
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International Spy Museum
If you ever wanted to be an international spy, or perhaps you just really liked "Get Smart," you'll enjoy the International Spy Museum.  Located near the Verizon Center, the museum offers a thorough history of undercover intelligence and all the gadgets that go along with it.  When you enter the museum, you can even pick your own alias, and pick up clues along the way -- even by crawling through an air duct, if you so choose.  Plenty of fun here for the whole family.
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The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center offers some of the best in performing arts all year long.  Buy tickets to an evening performance or stop by at 6 p.m. daily for a free performance on the Millennium Stage.
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National Gallery Of Art and Sculpture Garden
Not only can you see many important pieces of art inside the Gallery, but you can walk through the outdoor Sculpture Garden to see even more.  A fountain flows in the summer, and an ice skating rink is created in the winter for year-round enjoyment.
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National Geographic Society Museum
This museum, located near the Farragut North Metro stop, is an ever-changing look at the world around us.  From beautiful photography to historic displays, the museum is constantly filled with new and different exhibits sure to generate awe, wonder and thoughts about life on earth and the human impact on it.
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Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Ever wonder what Washington, D.C., was like before it before it became the Nation's Capital?  The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is probably the closest thing to it.  This is the last natural marsh in the District.  That's right, D.C. used to be a swamp.  See the land as it used to be.
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Even More

Washington, D.C. Punk Tour
Did you know D.C. has a deep tradition of punk rock?  It does indeed.  Take a walking tour of the punk scene.
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Shop In Dupont Circle
Some great bookstores and more...
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Eat In Cleveland Park
Great restaurants line Connecticut Avenue.
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Watch A Game At Verizon Center
The Capitals and Wizards play here, and tickets aren't hard to get.
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Go To Eastern Market
A fire devastated historic Eastern Market in April 2007, and the building that housed most of its tenants is being rebuilt (it could reopen in 2009).  In the meantime, a temporary building has been built to make sure merchants can still make a living and sell their goods, which range from arts and crafts to delicious food.  Don't let the construction stop you.  Eastern Market is still definitely worth exploring and will give you a good sample of life in D.C.
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Union Station
Besides being a travel hub, Union Station also offers many shopping and dining options.  It also houses many cultural events, especially around Christmastime.
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Tour D.C. By Bus
The D.C. Circulator offers several routes through the District to help you get to more tourist locations without worrying about driving and parking.  Cost of a ride is $1.
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Tour D.C. By Segway
If you don't want to tour by bus, but still want to save tread on your shoes, perhaps a Segway is for you.  Strap on a helmet and climb about one of these unique contraptions for a tour.  There are several companies in D.C. that offer tours by Segway, including:
City Segway Tours
Segs In The City

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