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D.C. Walk Through U.S. History

The Portrait Gallery, Air & Space Museum and War Memorials

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.9 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  Visiting Washington, D.C., can feel like the school trip from hell: No matter who you are, no matter what you're interested in, you're... more »

Tips:  The 19 museums in the Smithsonian system and the National Zoo offer free admission.

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Points of Interest

Unless you're a hardcore Lincoln fan, nix Ford's Theatre, an overrated attraction. Start instead at the newly renovated National Portrait Gallery. Point your kids toward the presidential portraits and have them find Gilbert Stuart's famous George Washington--they know it from the dollar bill.
Eighth and F streets NW
... More

Housed in another Smithsonian building, the National Museum of American History originally opened in 1964. Its mission is to collect, care and study "objects that reflect the experience of the American people," from popular culture, science and technology, family life, agriculture, coins and currency and much more.

A recent multimillion dollar,... More

Practically every key aircraft is here (the Apollo 11 command module, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis)--plus the IMAX Theater has a five-story screen and the gift shop sells astronaut ice cream. Count on crowds: This is the most-visited museum in the city.
Independence Ave. and Fourth St. SW
Admission Free
Daily... More


To escape the throngs, head for the war memorials. While you study the new World War II monument, let the kids race around its circular plaza.

The war memorials are located adjacent to the Mall, between 17th and 23rd streets.


The newest memorial on the National Mall, this tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., the great civil rights leader.
It is the first major memorial along the National Mall to be dedicated to an African-American and someone who was not a US president.

The memorial conveys three themes that were central to King’s life: democracy, justice, and hope. The... More

Then walk along the south side of the Reflecting Pool to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Its granite wall may be a knockoff of the Vietnam Memorial, but the 19 statues of soldiers are heroic.

Climb the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and read the two greatest speeches in American history, Lincoln's Gettysburg and Second Inaugural addresses, carved on the walls inside.

This stark black gash still has the power to quiet children and bring adults to tears.

Crammed with leather sofas, brass beds and vintage photos, the Hotel Tabard Inn in Dupont Circle feels like an old club. Nab room No. 62--the penthouse--and you'll get a huge living room and your own kitchen.
Hotel Tabard Inn
1739 N St. NW
Doubles from $163

Try the Moby Dick House of Kabob. Eat your takeout along the Potomac or the towpath of the C&O Canal, a relic of the brief period when Washington was a commercial city
1070 31st St. NW
Monday-Thursday: 11am-10pm
Friday: 11am-11pm
Sun: Noon-9pm

At Dolcezza, the creamy handmade gelato is a treat George Washington could have sunk his teeth into.
1560 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Monday-Thursday Noon-11pm
Friday Noon-Midnight
Saturday 11am-Midnight
Sunday 11am-10pm