Things to Do – Yes, there is more than football!
Celebrate an authentic American experience in the Capital Region USA
At once an international crossroads and America’s ultimate hometown, Washington, DC offers visitors world-class museums and monuments, unique neighbourhoods, top-rated restaurants, gorgeous parks and gardens, and endless performing arts options. Where else in the world can you visit with a 19-foot President Lincoln, read the real US Constitution, see Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and admire internationally acclaimed art?
Free things to do
You’ll find DC is a very affordable city when it comes to planning your itinerary. In fact, no other destination offers so many FREE, world-class attractions. All of the monuments and memorials and every single Smithsonian Museum (including the National Zoo!) are free of charge, as well as the National Gallery of Art, National Archives, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and more. Plus, many attractions offer a free or low cost component. For example, the Kennedy Center hosts free performances on its Millennium Stage, while the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company offers special pay-what-you-can performances on select days.
In nearby Virginia and Maryland, a host of free activities await travellers:
- Civil War Driving Trails – More Civil War battles were fought in the Capital Region than anywhere else in the USA
- Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – See the space shuttle Discovery at this Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum facility located near Washington Dulles International Airport
- Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia – Veterans of every American war from the Revolution to the country’s most recent conflicts are buried here, along with president John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline
- Take the all-American road trip on a scenic byway across the Capital Region – From Chesapeake Country along Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Virginia’s Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway adjoining the famed Shenandoah National Park
- Get Cultured! – Visit the Capital Region’s acclaimed collections at museums and galleries including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum and the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland. In Virginia, don’t miss the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, the Torpedo Factory Arts Center in Alexandria and the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.
- Commune with nature at the Assateague Island National Seashore, located near Chincoteague Island, Virginia and Ocean City, Maryland. Assateague contains over 37 miles of pristine beach and is home to more than 300 wild ponies. Admission is free for bikers and visitors on foot.
- Enjoy the sunrise as you stroll along the boardwalk of the Capital Region’s Atlantic Oceanfront resorts: Ocean City, Maryland and Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Birding trails across Maryland and Virginia are the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors – from the Atlantic Ocean to the Allegheny Mountains
It’s no secret that DC’s dining star is on the rise. Foodies flock here for our celebrity chefs, top-rated restaurants and, of course, exceptional cuisine. Recently ranked in the Top 10 “America’s Best Restaurant Cities,” Washington, DC offers eclectic dining options throughout its many unique neighbourhoods. Whether you’re looking for an over-the-top evening experience or a quick bite at lunch, DC has something to satisfy every taste bud.
The Capital Region is known for seafood, and especially blue crab and oysters. Spreading newspapers across the table and cracking open hot, steaming Chesapeake Bay crabs coated in Old Bay seasoning is a local ritual. Favourite local crab shacks include Jimmy Cantler’s near Annapolis, Maryland and the Quarterdeck in Arlington, Virginia.
As the largest producer of fresh, farm raised oysters in the US, Virginia is fast earning the title of “Oyster Capital of the East Coast”. From briny to mild, these bite sized delicacies can be enjoyed at regional restaurants, like Rappahannock in Richmond, or seasonal festivals like the Urbanna Oyster Festival in November.
Wine lovers will delight in the 300+ wineries and wine trails across the Capital Region. Virginia was recently named one of the top 10 wine travel destinations by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Sip a luscious Viognier, Virginia’s official grape, or sample Bordeaux style blends and varietals. In colonial America, fermented cider was the drink of choice and that tradition has made a comeback in recent years with a new generation of cidermakers crafting fine ciders. If you prefer handcrafted brews and spirits in your glass, the Capital Region won’t disappoint. The region is home to over 130 craft breweries and 10 distilleries, featuring local ingredients and flavours in their artisanal libations.
While the mountains, beaches and waterways of the Capital Region offer an abundance of recreational opportunities, you don’t have to leave the city to get your fill of outdoor thrills. From active pursuits to unique tours, urban adventures await you in the Capital Region.
Exercise while you sightsee in DC by taking part in a tour designed with active travellers in mind. DC’s wide sidewalks and flat roads make it perfect for exploring on foot or bicycle; in fact, the District has been named one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the US. Runners can join a knowledgeable local for a jog past the city’s famous sights and neighbourhoods with a tour from City Running Tours. Bike your way around DC’s iconic monuments and memorials or simply sit back on a double-decker bus. Or get out on the water for guided and self-guided tours of the city by kayak, stand up paddleboard or river cruise. For those with niche interests, DC offers tours for foodies, history buffs, ghost hunters and even junior spies!
The Capital Region’s rich heritage isn’t limited to politics. Our musical heritage ranges from jazz to country to go-go and rock n’ roll. Music legends like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Ralph Stanley and Patsy Cline all hail from the Capital Region. Visit the clubs where these legends launched their careers, catch performances from up and coming artists in venues large and small, or stay up all night dancing to your favourite beats – you’ll find your rhythm in the Capital Region.
From trendy dance clubs to intimate bars and lounges, DC is a place of seemingly endless nightlife options. And in a city that claims Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Jelly Roll Morton and Shirley Horn, it’s no wonder DC not only appreciates, but celebrates jazz. The U Street “Black Broadway” Corridor stays true to its roots to this day as the epicentre of jazz culture in DC. Restored to its former glory after being shuttered, the Howard Theatre hosts popular musical acts and once launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and the Supremes, among others. As the nation’s capital, DC is also regularly on the circuit for major concert headliners and performing artists appearing in a myriad of live music venues, from the intimate 9:30 Club to the 20,000 seat Verizon Center.