10. Washington DC: National Archives and US Capitol Guided Tour
Experience the full story of US democracy from the Founding Fathers to the present day. Start your day at the steps to the National Archives, where you’ll meet your expert guide and get VIP-style entry to the building.
The number-one thing visitors to the National Archives want to see are the Charters of Freedom: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. That’s why you’ll go directly to the Rotunda where these documents are kept. Seeing them with your own eyes is a real treat, and your guide will be on hand to provide extra information to make this experience even more meaningful. Many visitors barely glance up to the murals above while they’re here, but your guide will tell you exactly why you shouldn’t overlook them!
Afterwards, you’ll move on to the Public Vaults. Opened in 2004, this interactive exhibit allows you to explore the documents you’ve just seen for yourself, along with a number of other records that are integral to the founding of American democracy as we know it today.
You’ll find surprise after surprise as you continue to explore the National Archives. See recent presidents as children, hear one of the only voice recordings from Theodore Roosevelt, and gain an insight into the people behind the most important office in the world. You’ll step into the vaults for your last stop in the National Archives to see an original copy of the 1297 Magna Carta. Revered for providing the inspiration for the American Revolution, learn about its history and the last-minute auction bid that secured its place here!
Step outside the archives and take in the beauty of the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art. Your guide will show you the most interesting pieces as you pass through this scenic walkway. After you exit, you’ll pass through the National Mall where your guide will point out some of Washington DC’s most important buildings, including the Smithsonian Castle, Hirshhorn Museum and the National Air and Space Museum.
Making your way to the US Capitol next, you’ll have time to admire the stately reflecting pool and memorials outside as you hear about their significance. Once again, entry is pre-reserved so you can step in without any delay. See the original House of Representatives and tour the crypt as you discover how the Capitol continues to make history both nationally and internationally.