Things To Do on Capitol Hill
Some of the government’s most powerful edifices – the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and the U.S. House and Senate – make their homes on this famed incline, where Instagram-ready views of the Capitol Dome come at almost every turn.
Capitol Hill is one of the city’s most popular places to live, with 19th-century rowhouses and a market plus a vibrant dining and nightlife scene. Politicos, young staffers and tourists alike head to the neighborhood both for its government buildings like the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court and the surrounding historic, walkable, restaurant-filled blocks.
From halls of power to food halls, the Hill is forever hopping.
It’s the center of the U.S. government, the center of the city and is a central hub for locals and visitors alike. Mini neighborhoods like Eastern Market and Barracks Row comprise Capitol Hill, highlighting its unique blend of federal and local diversions. Here are some great ways to explore the neighborhood.
See Congress in session at the U.S. Capitol
Catch lawmakers in action with an advance pass from your Senator or House Representative. Find out how to arrange a visit to one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.
Take a picnic to the park at the Bartholdi Fountain
On the U.S. Capitol grounds, this flower-packed park with benches surrounds an ornate, fountain with statues of women that once graced the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition. In summer months, it provides a cool respite from the humid temps. In case you didn’t know, Bartholdi also designed the Statue of Liberty.
Explore a foodie haven near Eastern Market
Getting hungry? Make Barracks Row, the city’s oldest commercial district, your next destination. The strip that runs along 8th Street SE, which gets its namesake from the country’s oldest Marine Corps post nearby, has undergone an incredible revival over the last decade. There, you will find everything from quick bites and family-friendly carry-out storefronts to Michelin-starred establishments like Rose's Luxury and Pineapple & Pearls. If it’s sweets you crave, District Doughnut serves up handcrafted gourmet doughnuts seven days per week. Or slurp down raw oysters – a popular snack since DC’s early days (First Lady Dolley Madison was a fan) – at one of the strip's many pubby restaurants.
Go to a play at the Folger Shakespeare Library
The intimate playhouse at the world’s greatest collection of Bard’s works was modeled after an Elizabethan inn, with tiered wooden balconies and carved oak columns. It hosts classical plays, concerts and readings throughout the year.
Take a self-guided tour of the Supreme Court of the United States
Line up to take a self-led trip - or maybe hear an argument (when court is in session) - at the 1930s, neoclassical marvel with its bronze, bas-reliefed doors and columned interiors. On days the court isn’t in session, docents give short, free lectures on the building and its functions.
Continue your patriotic march to the Library of Congress
The largest library in the world holding millions of photos, films, recordings and maps, as well as featured exhibitions and tours that bring the library’s vast collections to life.
Escape into the green world of the U.S. Botanic Garden
In a glassed-in, Art Deco structure, this living plant museum holds cacti, orchids and a two-level tropical rainforest garden. Frequent events include gardening seminars and cooking classes.
Sneak away to the Summerhouse on the U.S. Capitol Grounds
On the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, this open-air, redbrick, hexagonal structure was completed in 1880s and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Arched doorways, seating and a tiny, burbling grotto lure romantics and solitude seekers.