Uncover the Historical and Cultural Gems of Washington, D.C.

Welcome to the interactive course guide for The Great Tours: Washington, D.C.. Here you will find select content from the course, as well as quizzes, reader polls, interactive maps, further reading suggestions, and more.

Interior of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

Spiritual D.C.: The National Cathedral and More

Take account of the plethora of religious institutions in Washington, D.C., and consider the role of faith in the city’s history. Stop first at St. John’s Episcopal Church, closely associated with the presidency, and D.C.’s architecturally rich Catholic churches. Visit Jewish and Muslim houses of worship, and finally take in the historic and artistic treasures of the Washington National Cathedral. […]

National Zoo in Washington D.C. entrance

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Trace the history and mission of the National Zoo, a Smithsonian Institution now housing 300 animal species. Learn about the Zoo’s remarkable exhibits of zoological rarities, from the clouded leopard to the giant panda. Take note of the zoo’s approach to recreating natural habitats, and the institution’s deep involvement with animal research and conservation of endangered species. […]

High class restaurant in Washington D.C.

Dining Out in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. offers an astonishing wealth of dining experiences, from historic to contemporary. First discover two of D.C.’s long-standing food traditions: seafood and soul food. Visit treasured historic restaurants around the city, and delve into the city’s world cuisine, from Ethiopian and Mediterranean to global fusion. Also take note of food festivals that take place in D.C. throughout the year. […]

National Harbor in Maryland, ferris wheel at night with lights

Washington’s New Waterfront

Investigate the history of D.C.’s riverfronts on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, and the outstanding revitalization programs now underway. Stop at Kingman and Heritage Island Park, and Anacostia Park, featuring trails, boat tours, and wildlife watching. Then visit National Harbor, District Wharf, and the Georgetown waterfront, with their many dining, shopping, and cultural offerings. […]

Baseball stadium

Washington for Sports Fans

Sports have a long-standing place in the history and culture of D.C. Track the backstory of baseball, football, and basketball teams in Washington, and learn where to watch and play these highly popular sports now. Delve also into D.C.’s hockey and soccer scene, and the abundance of “imported” sports in the capital, from rugby and cricket to Irish hurling and Gaelic football. […]

Exploring Washington’s Great Outdoors

DC contains an array of beautiful, green spaces, offering an alternative to the urban landscape. Among many, discover the story and the amenities of historic Rock Creek Park, and the riverfront walks and outdoor activities along the Potomac Heritage Trail. On the Anacostia River, visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, with its plethora of wildlife, and the botanical riches of the National Arboretum. […]

Richard Kurin Photo

Presented by Professor Richard Kurin, Ph.D.
Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large
Richard Kurin is the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassadorat-Large, the first person in the history of the Smithsonian Institution to hold that title. He received his BA in Anthropology and Philosophy from the University at Buffalo, and he earned both his MA and his PhD in Anthropology from The University of Chicago. During his graduate studies, Dr. Kurin was awarded a FulbrightHays Doctoral Dissertation fellowship and a Social Science Research Council fellowship.