National Treasures: Monuments & Museums

Experience the past and present of the Capital Region as you explore famous national monuments, the Smithsonian museums and more.

Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC, tidal basin, fall, USA
Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC
View from a hill of the cemetery and DC skyline
Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia
Tall Ships in Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland's Inner Harbor
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at night
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is the newest memorial on the National Mall and the first to honour a non-president.
Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland
Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland
Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC, tidal basin, fall, USA
View from a hill of the cemetery and DC skyline
Tall Ships in Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at night
Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland

The Capital Region has shaped a nation and changed the course of world history. Experience iconic national monuments in Washington, DC; world-class museums in Virginia; and cultural attractions in Maryland.

National Monuments & Memorials

Explore Washington, DC’s most famous monuments along the National Mall, a park-like promenade in the heart of the city. Admire the towering Washington Monument and get up close to the massive marble statue of America’s 16th president at the Lincoln Memorial. Neighbouring monuments honour Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and, most recently, Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The pillars and fountains of the World War II Memorial, the lifelike statues of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the dramatic Vietnam Veterans Memorial offer moving tributes to those who lost their lives in each.

Just across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia, the green rolling hills of Arlington National Cemetery are the final resting place for more than 400,000 American patriots, including John F. Kennedy. Don’t miss the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded by the U.S. Army 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather.

A short drive away in Emmitsburg, Maryland, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial salutes firefighters who died while serving. In Sharpsburg, Antietam National Battlefield commemorates the most violent one-day battle in American history, which took place on 17 Sept. 1862.

Cultural Treasures

While it honours the past in grand fashion, the Capital Region also celebrates its ever-evolving art and culture.

Be entertained and inspired in the Washington, DC metro area, where the world-renowned Smithsonian museums, including the American Art Museum, National Museum of Natural History and National Air and Space Museum are popular stops. Other fascinating exhibits and collections can be found at the interactive International Spy Museum and the National Geographic Museum.

For concerts and live theatre, visit the historic National Theatre or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where both the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera perform.

In Maryland, explore the Inner Harbor in Baltimore's city centre, a cultural hot spot known for street performances and historic attractions. Tour the Civil War-era ship USS Constellation and take on the same duties as those who served on board, and learn about baseball legends and the lore of America’s favourite pastime at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. Nearby, the American Visionary Art Museum and Walters Art Museum offer thought-provoking art for all ages.

Virginia’s notable art attractions include the ultra-modern Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke and the glass collection of The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk. In Richmond, visit the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, and the American Civil War Museum.

Free Things to Do

There's a wealth of free things to see and do in the Capital Region! All the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, including the ones named above, offer free admission. Take in a performance at the Discovery Theater, the Smithsonian’s theatre for kids. Nearby at the National Archives, research genealogy, historic documents and more.

In Baltimore, the Mount Vernon Cultural Walk winds past beautiful architecture, art and antiques, Historic Charles Street, America’s first Roman Catholic cathedral and more. The Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail explores a historic African American neighbourhood known for art, music, entertainment and civil rights history. Visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave if you appreciate the master of literary macabre.

In Richmond, the expansive Virginia Museum of Fine Arts features everything from ancient Egyptian works to Fabergé eggs. Look deeper into local history at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, where exhibits span 16,000 years.

Looking for more? Explore the top historic and scenic byways on a US road trip. Or, discover the unique culture of the Chesapeake Bay. And sign up for our enewsletter for the most up-to-date Capital Region information!

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