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If you have limited time in Washington, D.C., and would like to have a full-fun experience of several landmark attractions (rather than a rushed experience of many), then this is the itinerary for you. Start: Metro on the Blue, Orange, or Silver Line to the Capitol South stop on Capitol Hill or on the Red Line to Union Station.

Important note
: An ideal Washington, D.C. itinerary would include a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and a tour of the White House. However, their popularity and admission procedures make visits to these sites difficult to incorporate into a set schedule. For instance, the only way to visit the interior of the White House is by making a reservation through the office of your congressional representative or senator, as much as three months in advance. Best advice?  Absolutely try in advance to book a White House tour and to obtain an African American Museum visitors pass, and then, if successful, tweak our one, two and three day itinerarys accordingly.

1 The Capitol

This is Congress’s “House,” its cornerstone laid in 1793 by President George Washington. The Capitol was completed when the 19-foot, 6-inch Statue of Freedom was placed atop the dome in December 1863, at the height of the Civil War—the same year that Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. Head inside the Capitol Visitor Center to take the hour-long guided Capitol tour (highly recommended), armed with the timed passes you’ve ordered in advance online. If you’ve neglected to order these, you may still be in luck: Go to the “visitors without reservations” walk up line to see if any same-day passes are available. The Visitor Center is itself worth checking out.

Exit the Capitol and head south on First St. SE to return to the Capitol South Metro station, where you take a Blue, Orange or Silver Line train to the L’Enfant Plaza stop. Exit at Maryland Ave. and 7th St. SW, walk down 7th St. SW to cross Independence Ave, and continue along 7th St., stopping midway to take in the:

2 National Mall

Stroll the green promenade, glancing eastward to spy the Capitol, where you started, and westward to spot the Lincoln Memorial in the distance, where you’ll end up later today. Once you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, it’s time to resume touring.
       
Continue across the Mall and cross Madison Dr. to enter the West Building of the:

3 National Gallery of Art

There is joy to be had in visiting this templelike memorial to contemplate the inspiring life and spirit of the nation’s 16th president. Citizens of the world surround you, reading aloud the words inscribed on its walls: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal . . .” Stand at the top of the memorial’s steps and face away from Lincoln to take in the sweeping view, from the Reflecting Pool below you, all the way to the Capitol nearly 2 miles away. In the middle distance is the National Mall, and that’s where you’re headed next.

Follow the path that parallels the Reflecting Pool, continuing past the National World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument, cross 15th Street, then 14th Street, to reach the:

5 Pavilion Café at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden

Order an Italian hoagie or a Mediterranean salad and maybe some sangria, and try to snag a seat at one of the outside tables, in pleasant weather, so you can take in the sights. Be sure to wander through the entire garden to admire all 18 sculptures and a breathtaking mosaic by Chagall, the garden’s newest piece.

Exit the Sculpture Garden and proceed westward down the Mall, or hop a DC Circulator bus at Madison Dr. and 7th St. to reach the:

6 National Museum of American History

This Smithsonian museum has upped its game in a most timely way. Beyond its signature exhibitions of the Star Spangled Banner, the First Ladies gowns, and Julia Child’s home kitchen, all of which you should certainly see, is an entire wing newly devoted to the theme, “The Nation We Build Together.” These new, informative and moving permanent exhibits trace America’s 500-year journey of many voices forming one nation.
           
Exit the museum to Madison Dr., walk to 12th St. and board the DC Circulator bus to the

7. Lincoln Memorial

Visit this temple-like memorial to contemplate the inspiring life and spirit of the nation’s 16th president. Citizens of the world surround you, reading aloud the words inscribed on its walls: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal . . .” Stand at the top of the memorial’s steps and face away from Lincoln to take in the sweeping view across the green sweep of Mall.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.