Washington, D.C. Travel Guide

Washington DC school trip travel guide

An introduction to Washington, D.C.

The US capital, the District of Columbia, was named after Christopher Columbus, who was recognised as "discovering" America as well as of course the country's first president, George Washington. So it comes as no surprise that Washington, D.C. is home to some of the country's most important historical and political sites. It is easy to feel the sense of power in Washington that stems from the dominating institutions which can be found here, from the Supreme Court of the United States to the official residence of the President, the White House.

The National Mall contains an array of striking historical monuments and memorials and is a historical site in itself; it is where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his immortal "I Have A Dream" speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Museums are in abundance and all of the Smithsonian Institution museums in the district (17 - as well as a zoo!) are free to explore.

All visits are covered by our externally verified Safety Management System and are pre-paid when applicable. Prices and opening times are accurate as of May 2018 and are subject to change and availability. Booking fees may apply to services provided by Voyager School Travel when paid on site.

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History

Jefferson Memorial

The memorial of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, serves to remember one of the best-rated presidents in the country’s history. Immortalised as the leading author of the Declaration of Independence, many of Jefferson’s words are inscribed on the walls of the Greek style pantheon built in his name.
nps.gov/thje/index.htm

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial celebrates the life of the USA’s most famous President, Abraham Lincoln, who won the Civil War of Independence and abolished slavery throughout the United States during his presidential term. Ever since its completion in 1920, the Lincoln Memorial has been an important site for many political speeches including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”. Within the memorial building sits the 19ft statue carved in Lincoln’s likeness and the words of his Gettysburg Address.
nps.gov/linc/index.htm

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument commemorates the life of the first President of the United States, George Washington, who triumphantly declared the country Independent after the victory of the American Revolution. 
nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a poignant reminder of the tragedy of the battle. A black wall, designed by a Yale University student, Maya Ying Lin, is inscribed with the names of the 58,000 Americans who died in military service during the Vietnam War. The vast wall of glossy black granite is striking in terms of its size and conflicting beauty, as well as in the way that it fits in so seamlessly with its natural surroundings.
nps.gov/vive/index.htm

National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum houses the largest collection of historic aeroplanes and spacecraft in the world. It is also an important centre for research into the history, science and technology of aviation and space flight, along with the study of space. Go and see the original Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 Command module and a lunar rock sample that visitors are permitted to touch!
airandspace.si.edu

Price Free
Opening times Daily:  10:00 - 17:30

National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History tells the political and social history of the United States. It has collected and preserved more than 3 million artefacts, which are all national treasures including Abraham Lincoln’s top hat and Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers as seen in the Wizard of Oz. The collections form a fascinating mosaic of American life and comprise the greatest single collection of American history on display today.
americanhistory.si.edu

Price Free
Opening times Daily:  10:00 - 17:30

United States Holocaust Museum

This is the United States’ own memorial to the holocaust that aims to remind people of the fragility of freedom and the myth of progress. It concerns itself with the American response to Nazi Germany and preserving the memory of what took place in order to prevent it from ever happening again.  Around 4 million guests pass through its doors each year and everyday visitors are represented by an average of 100 different nationalities.
royalcollection.org.uk

Price Free
Opening times Daily:  10:00 - 17:20

National Museum of Natural History

Stretching over 18 football fields (1.5 million square feet!), the National Museum of Natural History holds much to be seen; from 30 million insects and 4.5 million plant specimens to 2.5 million cultural artefacts, you are sure to find your time well occupied. 
naturalhistory.si.edu

Price Free
Opening times Daily:  10:00 - 17:30

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is the 18th museum to become part of the Smithsonian Institute. The museum works alongside native cultures to preserve, study and protect their cultures by reaffirming their traditions and beliefs and by encouraging their artistic aspirations. 
nmai.si.edu

Price Free
Opening times Daily:  10:00 - 17:30

Arlington Cemetery

Declared a national shrine and a living history of freedom, no one who visits the cemetery can remain unmoved by the rows upon rows of graves that commemorate the lives of people who died to serve the USA.
arlingtoncemetery.mil

Price Free
Opening times Open daily
Apr – Sept: 08:00 – 19:00
Oct – Mar: 08:00 – 17:00

World War II Memorial

The World War II Memorial is in honour of the 16 million soldiers who served in war, the 400,000 of those who died and all those who supported the war effort during the devastation of World War II. It symbolises the defining event of the 20th century and is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people.
nps.gov/wwii/index.htm

International Spy Museum

Visit The National Archives for your chance to see North America’s most important political documents which shaped the nation including The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.
spymuseum.org

Price £14pp
Opening times See website

Law & Politics

The White House

The White House is world famous as the official residence of the First Family of the United States and has been ever since President John Adams was inaugurated in 1797 as the second President of the U.S. It was built between the years of 1792 and 1800 and with its 132 rooms is hardly inconsiderable in size. The East Wing is reserved for the First Lady and her staff, whilst the West Wing is used by the President and the Executive team.
whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events

Price Subject to availability
Opening times Subject to availability

US Capitol Building

The most impressive of the U.S. government sites is undoubtedly the Capitol Building, which houses the meeting chambers for the House of Senate, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Supreme Court. Together, these three political wings are more powerful than the President and his administrative power at the White House. The building is also partially open to the public as an art gallery.
aoc.gov/us-capitol-building

Price Subject to availability
Opening times Subject to availability

Supreme Court of the United States

The most impressive of the U.S. government sites is undoubtedly the Capitol Building, which houses the meeting chambers for the House of Senate, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Supreme Court. Together, these three political wings are more powerful than the President and his administrative power at the White House. The building is also partially open to the public as an art gallery.
supremecourt.gov

Price Subject to availability
Opening times Subject to availability

The Pentagon

The Pentagon is the Headquarters of the U.S. defence and is one of the largest office buildings in the world. The National Capitol would fit into any one of the five wings which make up the whole building. Each tour includes the mission of the Department and each of its branches of service; you will see numerous displays that highlight and depict significant moments in U.S. military history.

Price Free
Opening times Daily:  10:00 - 17:30

National Archives Museum

Visit The National Archives for your chance to see North America's most important political documents which shaped the nation including The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.
museum.archives.gov

Price Free
Opening times Daily:  10:00 - 17:30

Art

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art was created for the American public in 1937 and displays works from the 13th Century to the modern day. The gallery was made possible by a generous Mr Andrew Mellon, who began collecting with the intention of creating a gallery for the public, as an individual. On his deathbed, he donated all that he had collected, and it became the property of the United States. Funds for the construction of the West Building, where the collection is housed, were provided by Mr Mellon’s charitable and educational trust. It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who accepted the donation on behalf of the American people.
nga.gov

Price Free
Opening times Mon - Sat: 10:00 - 17:00
Sun: 11:00 - 18:00

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