Paris might have Notre Dame and Venice, Saint Mark’s Basilica, but Washington has its own touch of gratifying Gothic design—the National Cathedral (Wisconsin and Massachusetts Ave., NW), which began construction in 1907 and, remarkably, did not have its final stone laid until 1990. Just the facts: it played host to the state funerals of three American presidents, it’s the sixth largest cathedral in the world (second largest in the U.S.), and fourth tallest structure in D.C. (the Washington Monument takes top prize).
While most who visit the city opt for tours of the aforementioned Washington Monument and seats of power such as the United States Capitol and White House, a visit to the National Cathedral is a great way to mix up any trip to the nation’s capital. And, through October, you can tap into your medieval side with a Gargoyle Tour, which explores both the gargoyles and grotesques that are scattered in—and outside of—the cathedral.
The tour includes a slideshow followed by an outdoor tour. Admission is $10 per adult and $5 for children 12 and under. No reservations are required for the tour and the meeting spot to assemble is the 7th floor auditorium (use elevators just inside the Wisconsin Ave. doors). Remember to bring your binoculars and cameras.
Here’s a list of upcoming tours and times: