There’s much more to Capitol Hill than the US Capitol building that stands atop it. It is both the heart of the American government and a vibrant neighborhood at the geographic center of Washington D.C. From the Capitol Grounds—a lush landscape of sweeping lawns and more than 4,000 trees—to the Capitol Reflecting Pool and Congressional office buildings, there is much to see and do on the Hill.
Capitol Hill is home many historically and politically important building monuments, including the Supreme Court building, three Library of Congress buildings, and the Folger Shakespeare Library and Theatre. While you can visit these sights on your own, a Capitol Hill tour is a great way to gain context and delve deep into American history. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see Congress in session. For a bit less traditional Hill experience, you can take a guided ghost tour—legend has it that the Capitol is haunted!
Things to Know Before You Go
- You must reserve tickets to the Capitol Building interior in advance.
- Bars and restaurants are sprinkled throughout the Hill, especially in the Atlas District, along H Street NE.
- Though most of Capitol Hill is walkable, you can cover more ground on a bike, Segway, or electric cart tour.
- The US Capitol Visitors Center and information desk is a great place to start your visit.
- The Capitol Hill area, including the Capitol Building, is kid-friendly and wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Smack in the middle of Washington D.C., Capitol Hill stretches north, south, and east from the US Capitol and the National Mall. East Capitol Street is the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, running east through Lincoln Park until it reaches the Armory and RFK Stadium. The area is easily accessible on foot and by all forms of public transportation; driving is more difficult due to limited parking.
When to Get There
Capitol Hill is buzzing with activity both day and night. September to November and March to May are thought to be the best times of year to visit Washington D.C., when temperatures are mild and comfortable. The Hill is particularly lovely in cherry blossom season—generally in early April.
Touring the Capitol Hill Neighborhood
As you head east from the storied steps of the Capitol, the neighborhood turns into a lovely tangle of residential brownstone row houses shaded by big, elderly trees often teeming with gray squirrels. The center of gravity on the Hill is the Eastern Market. This covered bazaar and the surrounding blocks showcase local food, outsider art, handmade crafts, and a general bohemian vibe. It’s the place to be seen on weekends with families and friends.