I remember when we were first assigned here years ago we went on a tour of what we called the Mint and it was not only very interesting/informative but really a lot of fun. You got a good idea of how our national currency was made. We were teenagers back then.
A few years ago my nephews wanted to see this while they were visiting. First, there was a very long line just to get in the door. The video presentation that you see while waiting was actually more interesting/informative than the actual tour. You are rushed through and they cut down the areas that you can see before depositing you in the gift shop so maybe you can buy some reminders of all that you didn't see here.
Don't waste your time on seeing this.
Luckily I have friends from the DC metro area who were kind enough to warn me that tours of The White House are Boring with a capital-B and not worth my time. There are only a handful of rooms inside this giant mansion that tourists are allowed to see anyway, and really, who cares about a bunch of old furniture? (Okay, some of you antique lovers probably do, but most other people don't, including children.) Plus, it's an uncomfortable pain in the butt to try to get anywhere near official government buildings in the first place, because they are crawling with security, and you'll probably have to go through at least one security checkpoint.
Unique Suggestions: Just take a stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue and see it from the outside.
Fun Alternatives: Take this opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery or Old Town Alexandria instead.
The US Capitol. Stay away! Who wants to share a room with crooked thieves that call themsleves politicians. Okay, I'm just kidding, but the building is much nicer outside than inside. So if you need to make time for other things and don't know where to save some time. Do a walk around the Capitol instead of a tour inside.
Instead of waiting in line for hours to go in the Washington Monument, consider substituting a trip up the tower of the Old Post Office Pavillion. Though not quite as tall as the monument, the post office tower gives you a nice view of the city - from the Capitol right down Pennsylvania avenue. The best part is that it's free, and there is almost never a line. There is even a nice shopping area and food court inside the pavillion.
Do not wait in line two days for tickets to the top, buy online from park service.
The tour is short, and half of the windows are covered at the top.
Heard others saying they waited in line for free tickets 2 days..not worth that amount of time!
Unique Suggestions: Buy tickets for 1.50 each online from National Park Service.
Fun Alternatives: Go over to the Lincoln Memeorial and sit on the steps..DC doesn't get any better than that (you will see what I mean).
This will probably sound very unpatriotic but I really believe visiting the Washington monument is a total waste of time. Arranging timed tickets and then queuing to take an elevator to look out tiny windows-boorrring! D.C. has so much more to offer than to waste many hours here. Take a photo from the Mall + keep on moving!
Not exactly a tourist trap, just a place to avoid. One sweltering August afternoon, I decided to go to the National Aquarium. I paid $3 to get in. Other than the air conditioning, it was not worth the three bucks. Skip it and take a trip to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which is truly worth the money. I will admit that I learned a few things about aquatic life that I did not previously know, but it was only one floor in the basement of the Department of Commerce Building. Not impressive.
'THE' Smithsonian. I realize that everyone wants to go into the Smithsonian castle, but there really isn't anything in there except for administrative offices and a map of where the real museums are. Take a picture outside, walk through the garden then move on without wasting valuable time inside.
The FBI Building tour. Ugh, what a waste of time. Watching the agent shoot different types of guns in the fireamrs demonstration at the end of the tour was kind of cool, but that was the only redeeming factor. If you've seen someone else shoot a machine gun before, don't waste your time on this tour.
Easily found in most 'touristy' cities in North America.....Here they are departing the Potomac river near Washington National (Ronald Reagan) airport.
Don't put the White House on the top of your list. It's hardly ever open, and there are long lines to go inside. A better alternative is to just admire it from the outside.