20 things to do near Washington D.C.
There’s so much to see and do in our nation’s capital it’s really easy to forget the sights and attractions just outside the city. You canstay in Washington, D.C., and then take a day traveling to a few of these places and still be back in time to get a good night’s rest in your hotel room so you’re ready for your adventures the next day.
Here’s your guide of 20 places to visit within one hour of Washington, D.C.:
1. Arlington National Cemetery
This 624 acres worth of cemetery is a place to remember and pay tribute to soldiers who have fallen on duty. Explore through other parts of the cemetery to find and see the various monuments and memorials, as well as a chance to see the Changing of the Guard ritual at theArlington National Cemetery.
2. U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
A statue of six soldiers putting up the U.S. flag, depicting a prominent moment from World War II, stands in honor of all U.S. marines who have fought and given their lives to their country. TheU.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is located nearby the Arlington National Cemetery so you can admire and pay your compliments to the two without traveling too far.
3. National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorialwas built to remember those men, women and children who passed away on Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. To honor those who fell, 184 steel and granite benches were made and placed on the west side of the Pentagon for people to come and view and pay their respects to.
4. DEA Museum & Visitors Center
Visitors aren’t openly welcomed to tour FBI or CIA headquarters, but you can stop by for free between Tuesday and Friday to tour the DEA Museum & Visitors Center. Through tour guides, videos and exhibits, you learn just what the Drug Enforcement Administration does and about the impact of drug addiction.
5. Netherlands Carillon
The Netherlands Carillon is symbolic of the friendship between the Netherlands and the United States. The U.S. received this gift after aiding the Dutch people during WWII, and today many visit it to listen to the music of the 50 bells hanging in the tower, take in the views of Washington, D.C., and sit in peace while being surrounded by blooming flowers.
6. Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
The trail network making up thePotomac Heritage National Scenic Trail follows paths explored by former President George Washington. It’s a great outdoor activity allowing you to walk, run or bike these trails, as well as take them by boat or horse.
7. George Washington’s Mount Vernon
American history lovers or just those who admired George Washington should travel toMount Vernon where George and Martha lived. Guests get to visit the Mansion and Washington’s Tomb and feel what it was like to spend the day on about 50 acres of his stunning plantation.
8. George Washington Masonic National Memorial
On any of the seven days of the week, you can see this tourist attraction, which is also a library, research center, performing arts center, concert hall and meeting site. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial stands open to the public thanks to generous contributions from Freemasons and a few other donors.
9. Torpedo Factory Art Center
Located on the waterfront of the Potomac River is a former torpedo factory (hence the cool name) that’s been turned into an art center.Torpedo Factory Art Center is three floors of open galleries and studios filled with beautiful original artwork by various artists.
10. Great Falls Park
A chance to be outdoors enjoying nature and history all in one place is atGreat Falls Park. This 800 acres worth of gorgeous, clean park is in northern Fairfax County with plenty to do and explore, including hiking along Mather Gorge’s cliff tops.
11. National Colonial Farm
AtNational Colonial Farm visitors can hike through winding trails, see Mount Vernon off a boat dock and travel to there by passenger boat. Bring good walking shoes and your camera to fully enjoy this farm any time during the year.
12. U.S. Naval Academy
See what the Yard is all about on a guided walking tour of theU.S. Naval Academy. The public guided walking tours are offered year round, with times varying depending on day of the week and month. You might get to see the noon formation if touring then and partake in tax-free shopping if you do the tour, dine at Drydock and shop in their gif shop.
13. Annapolis Maritime Museum
If you can’t take the smell of anything fishy, the Annapolis Maritime Museum isn’t for you. Those who welcome seafood can learn all about oysters, try out oyster tonging and fish from their dock and pier.
14. National Harbor
Fort Washington, Maryland
National Harbor is a place to shop, dine and have a total waterfront experience. There are always events happening or you can get involved with the many shops and restaurants and then end your night on a bench overlooking the waterfront with its pretty views.
15. Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park
At Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park visitors can learn about this early Civil War battle, see the cemetery that sits in the center of the 223-acre park or venture along some of their hiking trails.
16. Oatlands Historic House and Gardens
Established back in the early 19th century, Oatlands Historic House and Gardensis an elegant mansion, colorful gardens and rolling farmland. This area is full of nearly 200 years worth of American culture and history and has different activities available every season of the year.
17. Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor has been a seaport since the 1700s and stands as a city landmark and the center of tourism for Baltimore today. Tourists shop, eat and visit other attractions, like the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center, while visiting this famous eastern spot.
18. Fort McHenry
This fort, shaped like a star, is an American national monument and historic shrine. The defense of Fort McHenry back inthe 1800s during the Battle of Baltimore helped inspire Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
19. Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
Baseball fans know this name well, as George Herman “Babe” Ruth was a baseball player and America’s very first sports celebrity. At the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, guests can see and hear about the life and baseball career of this Baltimore native.
20. Edgar Allan Poe’s Grave
Edgar Allan Poe had a very unique way with words, which earned him the nickname of “America’s Shakespeare”. He wrote various types of short stories, lyric poetry and darker horror stories. His literature is still read today, so anyone who’s a fan can take the short drive from Washington, D.C. to visitEdgar Allan Poe’s grave.
Washington, D.C., keeps tourists busy with all its governmental and historical sites, but make the time to venture outside the city to see what other historical, cultural and fun attractions are nearby. It’ll make your trip to the capital an even better experience.