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An aerial view of the cityscape of Washington D.C.. There are various highways in the foreground with the lights of the cars illuminating the roads. The Washington Monument is in the distance. It is evening. Photo via Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

D.C.'s 20 best views, mapped

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All urbanites love rooftops. We love rooftops for the fresh air they offer and the pleasing aerial views of the world around us—manmade, natural, and otherwise.

Rooftops feed that little conqueror hidden in all of us. Looking out across the architecture and down at the little ant-like pedestrians, we can imagine the world as ours alone and admire the strategic advantage granted by our position high above our domain. Plus, in the event of an apocalypse, rooftops are an ideal place from which to snipe zombies.

Thanks to the District's height limits, rooftops in almost every corner of D.C. offer above average panoramic views. Still, not all rooftops are created equal. Below are 20 of D.C.'s most exceptional vantage points, listed geographically from the most Northwest to the most Southeast.

[UPDATE 3/13/17: Portions of Curbed DC's original maps of D.C.'s best views were integrated into this new, expanded version. New images were added.]

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1. Washington National Cathedral

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3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20016
(202) 537-6200
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Twice a year, the Washington Ringing Society leads a guided tour to the top of the National Cathedral. A trip to the top costs $20, but in return tour guests enjoy a up-close demonstration of the ringing of the Cathedral’s bells, as well as some of the highest panoramic views in the city, with sight-lines stretching as far west as the Blue Ridge Mountains.

An aerial view of the Washington National Cathedral. The top of the building is a dome shape. There are trees and a body of water in the distance. Photo of view from the National Cathedral via Mr.TinDC

2. Wisconsin Apartment Building

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2712 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

Along Wisconsin Avenue, between the Russian Embassy and the National Cathedral, a stretch that breasts the apex of one of the city’s highest hills, are several high-rise apartment buildings. The roofs of buildings like the Wisconsin House, Sherry Hall, Garfield House, and others, offer fantastic views of the entire city, the Potomac, Rock Creek Park, Arlington, and beyond. Grab a cocktail, put your feet up, and watch the planes fly in and out of Reagan.

The Wisconsin Apartment building which has two towers and resembles a castle. Photo of view from Wisconsin Apartment Building via Lauren Rauk

3. Highland Park Apartments

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1400 Irving St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010

These apartments above the Columbia Heights Metro offer four different rooftop terraces. That’s four different places from which to glare down with judgment at the U Street hipsters, the AdMo frat-stars, the Dupont yuppies, and the scandal makers on Capitol Hill. Afterwards, you can look out towards the sunset and contemplate the pitfalls of stereotyping.

A row of buildings with a glass atrium over the entrance in the middle. The facades are tan. Photo via Highland Park

4. Dorchester House

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2480 16th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

The Dorchester House and the nearby Camden Roosevelt are both in that enviable area near Meridian Hill Park on 16th Street that give an enviable view of downtown just before the road dips into a downward slope.

In the foreground is a chair and table and a fence on a roof deck. There is a view of Washington D.C. in the distance. Photo via Apartments.com

5. 1905 Restaurant Roof Deck

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1905 9th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

A post shared by 1905 Bistro & Bar (@1905dc) on

6. The Cairo

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1615 Q St NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

A post shared by Keri Douglas (@keridouglasdc) on

7. U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima)

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US Marine Memorial Cir
Arlington, VA 22209

This memorial, more often known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is one of the best spots in the D.C. area for getting some top-notch views of the city. It's also one of the best in the area for checking out the Fourth of July fireworks.

8. Netherlands Carillon

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N Marshall Dr
Arlington, VA

Nab yourself a view of some of Washington, D.C.'s most notable monuments from afar with help from the Netherlands Carillon. Located adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery, this structure, a gift from the people of the Netherlands, was first installed at a nearby site in 1954.

The Netherlands Carillon monument against a sunset in the sky in Washington D.C. Photo via Joseph Gruber

9. Arlington House

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Arlington National Cemetery
Fort Myer, VA 22211

This mansion, otherwise known as The Robert E. Lee Memorial and the Custis-Lee Mansion, was once the home of General Robert E. Lee. It overlooks both the Potomac River and the National Mall with additional views of the Arlington National Cemeter.

The Arlington House in Washington D.C. The building has columns in front of the entrance. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Howcheng

10. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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2700 F St NW
Washington, D.C. 20566

The straight-laced ambiance of the restaurant atop the world-famous Kennedy Center has about as much spunk as a Weekly Standard staff meeting. What’s worse, the food is overpriced and boring. But the view is unbeatable. Grab a cocktail, skip the mediocre fare, and gaze back down the Potomac at the picturesque Georgetown waterfront.

A building near a waterfront in Washington D.C. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Tom

11. The Hay-Adams

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800 16th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

12. P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge and Terrace

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515 15th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

The bar and accompanying terrace on the top floor of the swanky W hotel in downtown D.C. is welcome to anyone who can afford $15 cocktails. But while the price points are steep, the views of the White House are unbeatable. Kick back with a gin and tonic, look down on the epicenter of American political power, and pretend like you’re more than just a meaningless bystander.

A rooftop is in the foreground. In the distance is the cityscape of Washington D.C. and the Washington monument at night. Photo of view from P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge via Wally Gobetz

13. Old Post Office Tower

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1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

In March of 2017, the Old Post Office's clock tower finally reopened after being closed for some time due to renovations. To enter the clock tower, admission is free with hours running from Thursday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a last entry at 4:30 p.m. The tower is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The facade of the Old Post Office Tower in Washington D.C. The exterior is tan and the building has one tower. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Mike Peel

14. Residences At Market Square West

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801 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

For the political wonks and ladder climbers on the Hill, few buildings offer better aerial glimpses of the city’s political landmarks and monuments. After a long day brown-nosing inside the Rayburn, come back to the perfect view of Washington’s political might. When the weather’s right, condo-owners here can recline with a glass of scotch and reflect on the tenets of game theory while staring out the Washington Monument and all its symbolic glory. If you’re not lucky enough to have an apartment in one of these buildings, or friends living in them, all hope is not lost. There are several bars and restaurants, as well as a park and a church, around the city that offer views on par with the rooftops listed above.

A building with columns is in the foreground. There is a courtyard. There are other buildings surrounding the courtyard. Photo via Life at the Top

15. Newseum

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555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

From the Hank Greenspun Terrace on Pennsylvania Avenue, find yourself some of the best views of the Capitol from up high. Unfortunately, if interested in venturing to this location, you'll have to be willing to pay around $20 to enter the Newseum. It's all worth it, though.

In the foreground is a street. In the distance is the Newseum in Washington D.C. The Newseum building is large and white and there are columns on the front facade. Photo of view from the Newseum balcony via Ethan Trewhitt

16. Tidal Basin

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W Basin Dr SW
Washington, D.C.

For the rooftop averse, the best ground level views in the city might be the parklands surrounding the Tidal Basin. As long as you can ignore the algae and occasional floating piece of trash, the views across the water towards the FDR, the Martin Luther King Jr. or the Jefferson Memorials are inspiring. Plop down with a picnic in spring and the view will colored by the light pink and white blooms of the Cherry Blossom trees.

In the foreground is a body of water. In the distance is the Washington monument. There are trees with pink cherry blossoms. Photo via Shutterstock/Songquan Deng

17. Harbour Square

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510 N St SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

This view from the Harbour Square co-op in Southwest D.C. is close to the Washington Channel and has an excellent view of the Harbour. Also, as one tipster pointed out, when the fireworks go off at nearby Nationals Stadium, there's a good view of those as well.

In the foreground are trees and a lawn. In the distance is a body of water and a boat marina. Photo via E.L. Malvaney

18. Hains Point

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Ohio Drive SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

Runners, cyclists, and cherry blossom enthusiasts know that Hains Point provides great views across the Potomac into Virginia and Southeast D.C. Even though massive sculpture "The Awakening" has since moved to a new home in Maryland, Hains Point is worth the trip for seeing sunsets like this.

19. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

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1411 W St SE
Washington, D.C. 20020

While it may seem hard to believe that such breathtaking views can come from a two story home, the vantage point from this Anacostia landmark across the river is impressive.

In the foreground are trees and a body of water. In the distance is the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Photo via Ted Eytan

20. Fort Lincoln Park

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Fort Lincoln Dr NE
Washington, D.C. 20019

1. Washington National Cathedral

3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20016
An aerial view of the Washington National Cathedral. The top of the building is a dome shape. There are trees and a body of water in the distance. Photo of view from the National Cathedral via Mr.TinDC

Twice a year, the Washington Ringing Society leads a guided tour to the top of the National Cathedral. A trip to the top costs $20, but in return tour guests enjoy a up-close demonstration of the ringing of the Cathedral’s bells, as well as some of the highest panoramic views in the city, with sight-lines stretching as far west as the Blue Ridge Mountains.

3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20016

2. Wisconsin Apartment Building

2712 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20007
The Wisconsin Apartment building which has two towers and resembles a castle. Photo of view from Wisconsin Apartment Building via Lauren Rauk

Along Wisconsin Avenue, between the Russian Embassy and the National Cathedral, a stretch that breasts the apex of one of the city’s highest hills, are several high-rise apartment buildings. The roofs of buildings like the Wisconsin House, Sherry Hall, Garfield House, and others, offer fantastic views of the entire city, the Potomac, Rock Creek Park, Arlington, and beyond. Grab a cocktail, put your feet up, and watch the planes fly in and out of Reagan.

2712 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

3. Highland Park Apartments

1400 Irving St NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
A row of buildings with a glass atrium over the entrance in the middle. The facades are tan. Photo via Highland Park

These apartments above the Columbia Heights Metro offer four different rooftop terraces. That’s four different places from which to glare down with judgment at the U Street hipsters, the AdMo frat-stars, the Dupont yuppies, and the scandal makers on Capitol Hill. Afterwards, you can look out towards the sunset and contemplate the pitfalls of stereotyping.

1400 Irving St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010

4. Dorchester House

2480 16th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
In the foreground is a chair and table and a fence on a roof deck. There is a view of Washington D.C. in the distance. Photo via Apartments.com

The Dorchester House and the nearby Camden Roosevelt are both in that enviable area near Meridian Hill Park on 16th Street that give an enviable view of downtown just before the road dips into a downward slope.

2480 16th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

5. 1905 Restaurant Roof Deck

1905 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

A post shared by 1905 Bistro & Bar (@1905dc) on

1905 9th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

6. The Cairo

1615 Q St NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

A post shared by Keri Douglas (@keridouglasdc) on

1615 Q St NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

7. U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima)

US Marine Memorial Cir, Arlington, VA 22209

This memorial, more often known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is one of the best spots in the D.C. area for getting some top-notch views of the city. It's also one of the best in the area for checking out the Fourth of July fireworks.

US Marine Memorial Cir
Arlington, VA 22209

8. Netherlands Carillon

N Marshall Dr, Arlington, VA
The Netherlands Carillon monument against a sunset in the sky in Washington D.C. Photo via Joseph Gruber

Nab yourself a view of some of Washington, D.C.'s most notable monuments from afar with help from the Netherlands Carillon. Located adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery, this structure, a gift from the people of the Netherlands, was first installed at a nearby site in 1954.

N Marshall Dr
Arlington, VA

9. Arlington House

Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer, VA 22211
The Arlington House in Washington D.C. The building has columns in front of the entrance. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Howcheng

This mansion, otherwise known as The Robert E. Lee Memorial and the Custis-Lee Mansion, was once the home of General Robert E. Lee. It overlooks both the Potomac River and the National Mall with additional views of the Arlington National Cemeter.

Arlington National Cemetery
Fort Myer, VA 22211

10. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

2700 F St NW, Washington, D.C. 20566
A building near a waterfront in Washington D.C. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Tom

The straight-laced ambiance of the restaurant atop the world-famous Kennedy Center has about as much spunk as a Weekly Standard staff meeting. What’s worse, the food is overpriced and boring. But the view is unbeatable. Grab a cocktail, skip the mediocre fare, and gaze back down the Potomac at the picturesque Georgetown waterfront.

2700 F St NW
Washington, D.C. 20566

11. The Hay-Adams

800 16th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20006
800 16th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

12. P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge and Terrace

515 15th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
A rooftop is in the foreground. In the distance is the cityscape of Washington D.C. and the Washington monument at night. Photo of view from P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge via Wally Gobetz

The bar and accompanying terrace on the top floor of the swanky W hotel in downtown D.C. is welcome to anyone who can afford $15 cocktails. But while the price points are steep, the views of the White House are unbeatable. Kick back with a gin and tonic, look down on the epicenter of American political power, and pretend like you’re more than just a meaningless bystander.

515 15th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

13. Old Post Office Tower

1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
The facade of the Old Post Office Tower in Washington D.C. The exterior is tan and the building has one tower. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Mike Peel

In March of 2017, the Old Post Office's clock tower finally reopened after being closed for some time due to renovations. To enter the clock tower, admission is free with hours running from Thursday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a last entry at 4:30 p.m. The tower is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

14. Residences At Market Square West

801 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
A building with columns is in the foreground. There is a courtyard. There are other buildings surrounding the courtyard. Photo via Life at the Top

For the political wonks and ladder climbers on the Hill, few buildings offer better aerial glimpses of the city’s political landmarks and monuments. After a long day brown-nosing inside the Rayburn, come back to the perfect view of Washington’s political might. When the weather’s right, condo-owners here can recline with a glass of scotch and reflect on the tenets of game theory while staring out the Washington Monument and all its symbolic glory. If you’re not lucky enough to have an apartment in one of these buildings, or friends living in them, all hope is not lost. There are several bars and restaurants, as well as a park and a church, around the city that offer views on par with the rooftops listed above.

801 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

15. Newseum

555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
In the foreground is a street. In the distance is the Newseum in Washington D.C. The Newseum building is large and white and there are columns on the front facade. Photo of view from the Newseum balcony via Ethan Trewhitt

From the Hank Greenspun Terrace on Pennsylvania Avenue, find yourself some of the best views of the Capitol from up high. Unfortunately, if interested in venturing to this location, you'll have to be willing to pay around $20 to enter the Newseum. It's all worth it, though.

555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

16. Tidal Basin

W Basin Dr SW, Washington, D.C.
In the foreground is a body of water. In the distance is the Washington monument. There are trees with pink cherry blossoms. Photo via Shutterstock/Songquan Deng

For the rooftop averse, the best ground level views in the city might be the parklands surrounding the Tidal Basin. As long as you can ignore the algae and occasional floating piece of trash, the views across the water towards the FDR, the Martin Luther King Jr. or the Jefferson Memorials are inspiring. Plop down with a picnic in spring and the view will colored by the light pink and white blooms of the Cherry Blossom trees.

W Basin Dr SW
Washington, D.C.

17. Harbour Square

510 N St SW, Washington, D.C. 20024
In the foreground are trees and a lawn. In the distance is a body of water and a boat marina. Photo via E.L. Malvaney

This view from the Harbour Square co-op in Southwest D.C. is close to the Washington Channel and has an excellent view of the Harbour. Also, as one tipster pointed out, when the fireworks go off at nearby Nationals Stadium, there's a good view of those as well.

510 N St SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

18. Hains Point

Ohio Drive SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Runners, cyclists, and cherry blossom enthusiasts know that Hains Point provides great views across the Potomac into Virginia and Southeast D.C. Even though massive sculpture "The Awakening" has since moved to a new home in Maryland, Hains Point is worth the trip for seeing sunsets like this.

Ohio Drive SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

19. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

1411 W St SE, Washington, D.C. 20020
In the foreground are trees and a body of water. In the distance is the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Photo via Ted Eytan

While it may seem hard to believe that such breathtaking views can come from a two story home, the vantage point from this Anacostia landmark across the river is impressive.

1411 W St SE
Washington, D.C. 20020

20. Fort Lincoln Park

Fort Lincoln Dr NE, Washington, D.C. 20019
Fort Lincoln Dr NE
Washington, D.C. 20019