National Archives

Top choice landmark in Downtown & Penn Quarter

Image by Barbara Noe Kennedy Lonely Planet

It's hard not to feel a little in awe of the big three documents in the Archives: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, plus a copy of Magna Carta. Taken together, it becomes clear just how radical the American experiment was. The archival bric-a-brac of the Public Vaults makes a flashy rejoinder to the main exhibit. In spring and summer, you can reserve tickets ( for $1.50 and use the fast-track entrance on Constitution Ave.