Here are some suggestions for things you might want to in town when visiting Washington, DC.
You can start at the Lincoln Memorial. Next, you can walk to the Washington Monument. On the way, you can see the World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. This is about a 1-mile walk. It should take you about 2-2.5 hours if you stop by and see everything
Once you get to the Washington Monument, see if you can go to the top. Here is a link with more information on how to book the tickets: http://www.nps.gov/wamo/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm
From the Washington Monument, if you look to the north, you can see the South Lawn of the White House. It can be difficult to get a tour of the inside, but it is a neat experience to walk around the outside.
Next, you should also try to do a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, where Congress works. This is another 1-mile walk. You can do this on the same day or a different day. Here is the link on how to book a tour of the Capitol: http://www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/book-tour-capitol
You can also visit the National Archives. Here you can see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. You could combine this with the American History Museum, which is just a couple blocks away. Maybe stop and have lunch in the sculpture garden across the street if it’s a nice day.
You will be visiting D.C. at the height of cherry blossom season, which is a very pretty time (but also brings lots of tourists). Seeing the cherry blossoms is quite spectacular. Most of the cherry trees are around the Tidal Basin, near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial (which are also both great places to visit). The FDR Memorial is particularly nice at night. This is also not far from the Holocaust Museum.
The Pentagon – This will be a cab/metro ride into Arlington. Reservations for a Pentagon tour can only be booked from between 14 and 90 days in advance. You will not be able to get a reservation less than 14 days in advance, so I would try to book this right away. Here is the link for the website to book a tour: http://pentagontours.osd.mil/tour-selection.jsp. If you are not able to book a tour of the Pentagon, you can still go see the 9/11 Memorial by the Pentagon (located outside the building, right where the plane struck). The 9/11 Memorial, like the FDR Memorial, is also quite dramatic at night.
Also, while you are in Arlington, you might want to see Arlington National Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial (also known as the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial). They are both pretty close to one another.
All of the Smithsonian museums are free and you can just walk in, but some of the private museums require tickets.
- Spy Museum (has an admission fee)
- Air and Space Museum (free)
- American History Museum (free)
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (free, but may require a timed pass; see www.ushmm.org)
- National Museum of Natural History – I am not sure if you are interested in natural history, but this has everything from dinosaurs to the Hope Diamond on display.
- Newseum (a museum about the history of the press and the First Amendment; has an admission fee)