Washington DC's Top Historical Gems: A Guide to Exploring the City's Rich Heritage

Advisor - Ali Hamdany
Curated By

Ali Hamdany

Icon Share


  • USA

  • Washington DC

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • City Travel

cherry blossoms in front of the National Monument
Curator’s statement

Washington DC is a city that seamlessly blends rich history with luxurious experiences, making it a must-visit destination for those who enjoy both. As a history lover, you'll appreciate the city's impressive collection of historic landmarks, from the White House to the National Mall. Meanwhile, as a luxury traveler, you can indulge in upscale dining, luxurious accommodations and high-end shopping in neighborhoods like Georgetown and CityCenterDC. Together, history and luxury make Washington DC a truly worthwhile experience.

The Fora Difference

Book with Ali to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.

[object Object]
Killer perks

Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you

[object Object]
Personalized recs

Customized travel planning for your style

[object Object]
Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay

Previous slide

The Jefferson, Washington, DC

DC hotel that is at once classic and contemporary with lavish interiors and spa-inspired bathrooms for ultimate relaxation in the capital.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Guaranteed 1pm check out.

  • Upgrade whenever possible.

The Hay-Adams

Refined property in downtown DC nearby the White House, set in a 1928 Italian Renaissance-style building with luxury rooms and suites.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

InterContinental the Willard Washington D.C., an IHG Hotel

Near the White House in the heart of Washington DC, the Willard is an iconic, historic hotel popular amongst presidents, foreign dignitaries and celebrities alike.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & guaranteed late check-out.

Next slide
Advisor - Ali Hamdany

Unlock perks by contacting Ali to book your trip.

Things to do in Washington DC

view of the Lincoln Memorial at sunset

Let's start with some important dates. The peak season to visit the many Washington DC historical sites is roughly from about mid-September to November, and from mid-January to June. The off season is from the end of August up to mid-September, and from Thanksgiving up to mid-January. The cherry blossoms are in bloom from mid-March through May.


The best time to go to museums are on weekdays since the locals are busy working, hence less crowds. There are plenty of museums to satisfy a variety of interests.

The most popular ones are the International Spy Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian National American History Museum, and the Library of Congress.

My favorite is the International Spy Museum. Just a tip, the Holocaust Museum can get emotionally intense, so make sure you give yourself some time afterward to decompress.


National Mall: Ideally you can visit the National Mall, a must-see historical site in Washington DC, during the day and night, but if you only have time to visit once, take my advice and visit at night. You won’t regret it. Don’t forget to stand in the footprints of MLK Jr., at the Lincoln Memorial.

Arlington National Cemetery: The cemetery covers over 600 acres and contains the graves of over 400,000 people, including some of America's most famous leaders and heroes. Always a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who have served. Also visit the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial and pay respect to the Victims of 9/11.

George Washington’s Mt. Vernon: From the Pentagon Memorial you can take a boat ride to George Washington’s Mt. Vernon for a tour. The estate was the plantation home of George Washington, the first President of the United States, and his wife, Martha Washington. Along with the mansion. it has over 20 different garden areas, including a fruit garden, a kitchen garden, a greenhouse and a botanical garden. It also has a working farm to depict life from back then. I enjoy this tour every time I do it!

Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour: This your lets you relive Lincoln's life through various places. This is also a good tour just to see the city in general. It will take you to places like the Ford's Theatre, Lincoln Cottage, Peterson House, the National Museum of American History and of course the Lincoln Memorial.

Daughters of the American Revolution Museum: If you are looking to do something unique, visit this museum, which takes you to an American home with objects that existed from the 17th century to the early 20th century.

Pro Tip: If you plan ahead, you can check with your local congressman's office for free tickets to a White House tour, plus a few other things.

Places to eat & drink in Washington DC

aerial view of a marble bar in a sleek restaurant

Mama Ayesha’s Restaurant: This place was started by a Palestinian immigrant in the 1960s, so If you feel like having something Middle Eastern, go here. Make sure to order the lamb chops. After your meal, take a picture against the mural for Instagram.

Florida Avenue Grill: If you are a fan of House of Cards or The West Wing, you probably know this place. It opened in 1944 and has hosted many politicians and celebrities. You can go here for breakfast for some pancakes, or go for lunch to get some soul food.

Osman and Joe's Steak n' Egg Kitchen: This breakfast and brunch spot has been a local favorite since the 1970s. It does tend to get crowded, but you’ll be glad you waited. Try the classic steak and egg breakfast.

Ben’s Chili Bowl: This institution started in 1958 and has been named one of the "Top 10 Best Chili Dishes in America" by USA Today. Try their chili dogs and half smokes.

Old Ebbitt Grill: Steps away from the White House, this place has been serving customers since 1856. Considered to be one of the oldest restaurants in DC, it is a worth a visit for the history buffs. It has an extensive collection of political memorabilia and has hosted numerous presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as other prominent figures such as Mark Twain and Buffalo Bill Cody. Try the oysters on the half shell and crab cakes.

Cedar Knoll: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this restaurant sits on a picturesque setting along the Potomac River. You will have to venture out to Alexandria for this, but for someone who is passionate about history, it's worth the drive. It’s known for its grilled swordfish, seared scallops and slow-cooked short ribs.

1789 Restaurant & Bar: Located in Georgetown, this restaurant is named after the opening date of Georgetown University. Go here for some lobster bisque, filet mignon and roasted duck breast with a side of history.

The Occidental Grill & Seafood: Considered one of the favorite dining destination for presidents and other political leaders, this restaurant sits right inside the Willard InterContinental hotel. Go here for their seafood.

Day trips from Washington DC

low-angle shot of old brick buildings against a blue sky

If you have time and want to venture out of the city….

Manasses National Battlefield Park: This is about a 50-minute drive outside DC, toward Virginia. You can book a driving or walking tour here.

Old Town Alexandria: I love going here. This place is hustling and bustling with people, restaurants and shops. The best part is, it all sits right at the Potomac River.

This is definitely not an all-inclusive list of what a history buff can find in Washington DC, but it's a good start.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel tips? Check out Fora Advisor Meredith Lynch's guide, Luxury Relaxation & Spa Holiday in Virginia State.

Advisor - Ali Hamdany

Travel Advisor

Ali Hamdany

Get in touch with Ali

Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.

You can normally expect a response from Ali within a business day or so. You’ll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Washington DC.