10 Things to Do in Southwest D.C.

Updated July 22, 2020.

Southwest D.C. has come a long way in the last decade. It used to be the place you never wanted to be at night, but now it’s come to life and is coming into its own! There is plenty to do there these days, so don’t shy away because of its former reputation. If you do, you’ll be missing out!

10. Visit the Waterfront

The Southwest Waterfront has long been a place to get fresh seafood, enjoy riverside dining, and catch a boat, but now it’s even more than that! There are apartments, a boardwalk, more restaurants than ever before, and green space perfect for relaxing on a summer’s day!

9. See the Titanic Memorial

There are many Titanic memorials throughout the world, and D.C. has their own as well! It’s in a nice spot on the south side of the Southwest Waterfront, and an easy walk from the Southwest Waterfront Metro Station. It was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and has stood here since 1968! (No, they didn’t get the pose from the movie.)

The Titanic Memorial

8. Visit the National Forest Service

Separate from the National Park Service, the National Forest Service preserves and protects our National Forests! There is a small but informative museum inside the building at the corner of 14th Street and and Independence Avenue SW. You can even chat with Smokey the Bear!

Meet–and talk to–Smokey the Bear!

7. Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Most of D.C.’s iconic monuments are on the National Mall, but a few major monuments and memorials are in Southwest! The newest memorial is the one for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it’s in a beautiful spot right by the Tidal Basin.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is currently the newest memorial in D.C.

6. Walk Around the Tidal Basin

And speaking of the Tidal Basin, this is one of the most picturesque spots in all of Washington, D.C. It’s beautiful in every season, but word to the wise: it’s definitely most crowded at Cherry Blossom time!

The Tidal Basin is one of the most beautiful spots in D.C. all year long. Check out peak foliage in the fall!

5. Admire FDR

One of the largest memorials in D.C. is the FDR Memorial. And it makes sense, since he is the only president who has been elected or ever will be elected to four terms. You’ll walk through each term and see the major milestones of each, from the Great Depression to World War II and the Fireside Chats.

American Eagle at the FDR Memorial

4. Check out Thomas Jefferson

The Jefferson Memorial is one of the most photographed and most popular memorials in the country, and it’s in one of the most beautiful spots. Don’t skip the museum and gift shops underneath, and if you’re there in time for a ranger-led talk, take it!

The Jefferson Memorial at Cherry Blossom Time

3. Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

This moving museum is one of the most popular. Just steps from the National Mall, it’s easy to find. You can reserve tickets online in spring, summer, and early fall, or pick up walk-up tickets in late fall and winter. Plan to spend 2-3 hours here.

2. Become a Spy at the International Spy Museum

You read that right! You’ll be given a new identity when you walk into this fantastic museum. It’s one of the most interactive museums I’ve ever visited, and while it’s one of the few you have to pay for in D.C., I for one believe it’s one of the fewer that’s worth the price!

International Spy Museum at its new location.
More here: Your Guide to Visiting the International Spy Museum

1. Tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Speaking of great tours, this is a pretty cool one. You really get to see them making the money we use every day! You can book tickets in advance or simply walk up during the slow season.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Read on: How to Tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Need more D.C. Neighborhood guides, foodie recommendations, and things to do? Take a look at my Washington, D.C. Page!

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