A trip to DC is not complete without a visit to the Capitol building, where the US Congress and House of Representatives have met for more than two centuries. Construction of this symbol of democracy began in 1793; over the years, it has been burnt, rebuilt, expanded and restored. The exterior is characterized by its neoclassical design and massive dome that has been crowned by the bronze Statue of Freedom since 1863. Inside, visitors can admire an impressive collection of artwork, such as the frescoes on the first floor painted by Italian-Greek-American artist, Constantino Brumidi.
East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 226 8000
The 35-acre Congressional Cemetery has been the final resting place for many notable Washingtonians for more than two centuries. The cemetery, originally called Washington Parish Burial Ground, quickly became associated with the US Congress in the early 1800s. Connecticut Senator Uriah Tracy became the first Congressman buried here in 1807; consequently, until the 1830s, almost every Congressman who died in DC was buried in Congressional Cemetery. After years of neglect in the 20th century, efforts have restored this Capitol Hill landmark to its original beauty, with revitalized brick pathways and newly-planted trees and gardens. The cemetery offers various tours, educational events, and concerts, such as those by the US Marine Band, who often play near the grave of the famous composer John Philip Sousa. Also buried here is J. Edgar Hoover, the first Director of the FBI.
1801 E St SE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 543 0539
Located in the shadows of the Capitol building, the Folger Shakespeare Library boasts the world’s largest collection of materials relating to Shakespeare and his works. But that’s not all – the library is also home to rare Renaissance books, manuscripts and other works of art, not to mention its gardens and beautiful indoor spaces. The library’s Elizabethan theater puts on a variety of classical and modern plays related to or inspired by Shakespeare. Over the years, the Folger Theatre has received 125 nominations and 23 Helen Hayes Awards for its excellence in performance in the DC area.
201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 544 4600
One of the city’s relatively new museums, the National Postal Museum first opened its doors in 1993. Though the building that houses the museum is hardly new – it’s DC’s old post office, which was constructed in 1914 – the exhibitions here are dedicated to postal history dating all the way back to colonial times. The massive atrium contains vintage airmail planes, a reconstructed railway mail car, and a Ford model A postal truck from 1931.
2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 633 5555
Walk 11 blocks east from the Capitol building and you’ll run into Lincoln Park, the largest park in Capitol Hill. This urban park was part of the original layout of Washington, which was planned by Pierre L’Enfant. Bookend statues on either end of the park commemorate two of the greatest leaders in US history – President Abraham Lincoln and civil rights activist and educator, Mary McLeod Bethune. Unveiled in 1974 in front of a crowd of more than 18,000 people, the statue of Bethune was the first monument in DC to honor a black woman.
In another lifetime, the Hill Center was known as DC’s first naval hospital. The hospital saw its first patient in 1866, a 24-year-old African American man named Benjamin Drummond. Today, the Old Naval Hospital has been renovated and transformed into a cultural center for the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The 11 program rooms host all sorts of educational activities, from yoga classes to cooking courses. Hill Center also features six gallery spaces for exhibition and sale of contemporary artwork.
921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 549 4172
Who doesn’t enjoy an old-fashioned game of bingo? Luckily for connoisseurs of this fun group activity, Capitol Hill’s American Legion Post 8 offers bingo on the first Sunday of every month from 1 to 4 p.m. The lively event is frequented by a raucous crowd, and cash prizes are awarded to the winners of each round. A bar adjacent to the bingo hall provides cheap refreshments beforehand or during the short break between each round. It’s a great place to socialize or try your luck at winning a few bucks.
224 D Street SE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 543 9163