The best skylines in DC differ from most other major cities in the United States. It isn’t full of skyscrapers and other commercial buildings like New York City and Chicago, and it doesn’t have massive hotels accommodating thousands of guests like Miami.
The D.C. skyline is historic and iconic, and you’ll want to check it out when living there. You’ll encounter various spots offering beautiful views of the city’s best-known structures as you explore Washington, D.C., helping you see its landmarks from another perspective.
There’s something special about enjoying D.C.’s most prominent buildings from afar. This guide covers some buildings that make up the best skylines in DC and lets you know where to enjoy them.
Buildings the DC Skyline Includes
The main reason D.C.’s skyline doesn’t have skyscrapers is the Height of Buildings Act of 1910, which limits buildings to heights of 90 feet on residential streets and 130 feet on commercial streets, with other restrictions in certain areas. This law ensures Washington’s historic structures stand above the rest and that the current skyline remains visible from various surrounding areas. Buildings you’ll see when taking in views of the skyline include the following:
United States Capitol
Few images are more synonymous with Washington, D.C. than the Capitol Building, and its domed roof is visible in many parts of the city. The structure is 288 feet tall at the top of the Statue of Freedom, making it one of the city’s tallest buildings and ensuring it towers over newer construction. There’s no mistaking The Capitol when you see it as part of the D.C. skyline.
The Washington Monument is D.C.’s tallest building and was the world’s tallest structure between its completion in 1884 and the finalization of the Eiffel Tower in 1889. It stands at 555 feet, ensuring it’s a visible part of the D.C. skyline from pretty much anywhere.
The White House
No viewing of the D.C. skyline is complete without seeing the White House. This structure is only 70 feet tall at its highest point, so picking it out from a distance is a little more challenging. It remains visible from many parts of the city, though, as long as you can find an unobstructed vantage point.
The D.C. skyline is surreal as you take it in because its structures are so recognizable. Finding a spot to view these buildings and enjoy them from a distance is a great way to spend an evening as you get to know Washington, D.C.
Five Sites With Beautiful Views of the Best Skylines in DC
Experiencing the best skylines in D.C. starts with finding the ideal location to view them. The city has various spots offering unobstructed sightlines of its most iconic structures, and some of them even permit you to enjoy a drink or meal while you’re there. A few buildings you’ll want to check out for beautiful views of the city include the following:
1. The Old Post Office Clock Tower
The Old Post Office Building is part of the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site and features a clock tower with an observation level. This deck offers panoramic views of the National Mall, including the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Entrance to the building is free and doesn’t require a reservation or ticket, so you can head down whenever you wish to experience the sights.
2. Hotel Washington’s VUE Rooftop
Hotel Washington is directly across from the White House, and its 11th-floor VUE Rooftop restaurant features vistas of the Washington Monument and other National Mall buildings. Enjoying a meal or drink while taking in the sights is something you’ll have to try at least once in D.C. Some of the hotel’s rooms also have beautiful city views if you want to stay downtown for a night.
3. Top of the Gate Restaurant
The name Watergate is notorious because of its involvement in the scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation, but the Watergate Hotel is a luxury property with a rooftop restaurant that’s worth checking out. Top of the Gate features panoramic views of the Washington skyline, and you can also see over the Potomac River and into Virginia from this position, ensuring you have a wonderful time whenever you visit.
4. Washington National Cathedral
The Washington National Cathedral is the city’s third-tallest building, but its location on a hill in Cathedral Heights means it towers over the rest of D.C. and offers beautiful views of the entire city. You’ll have to sign up for a tower climb tour to experience these views, which require a reservation and cost $50 per person. The experience is worth the expense, though, because you’ll see Washington’s most historic sites from a truly unique perspective.
5. The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an integral part of the D.C. skyline, but it’s also a great vantage point for viewing the rest of it. You can take an elevator 500 feet up to an observation deck at the top of the monument and enjoy views of the Capitol Building, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and countless other historic buildings. Riding to the top of the Washington Monument is free, but there’s a service fee if you book your ticket before arrival.
The D.C. skyline is iconic, and by learning a few places with the best views of its historic buildings, you can experience some of the country’s best-known structures from a different vantage point. These rare sights are some of the features that make residing in Washington, D.C., a delight.
Buying a Home in D.C.
Owning real estate in Washington, D.C., is a dream for many because of the city’s history and importance to the country as a whole. It also has a hot rental market because so many people live and work in the region temporarily and require housing, so buying an investment property could be an option.
Nomadic Real Estate offers property management services in the D.C. area. We’ll care for your rental property, even if you don’t live in D.C., ensuring you have vetted tenants paying rent every month. Contact Nomadic Real Estate for more information on hiring a property manager for your investment home.