Another Great Vantage Point

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘christaki’

You already know what we think the five best vantage points in the city are, but there’s one that didn’t make the list the first time around that must be added: the top of the Capitol dome.  See that little railing in the image above?  You can get up there!  It’s a bit of a tricky process as you’ll need to contact your congressional representative to set it up, and a member of Congress has to actually lead the tour.  You’ll also have to sign a waiver that releases the Capitol from liability in the event that you tumble down the 300-plus stairs.

The tour is absolutely amazing: your tour guide will explain the history of the Capitol, and you’ll stop at various spots inside to see the view from inside the dome (you’ll have to resist the urge to drop things on the unsuspecting tourists below).  But the really stunning part is when you get up to the very top of the Capitol at that railing– you can walk outside and see the most perfect view of the city.

It’s an incredible experience to be standing on top of the Capitol, seeing all the avenues of the city radiate outward from where you’re standing.  I took a private tour just last week and was completely blown away by it all (of course, that may be due to the fact that my boyfriend proposed while we were up there, and we’re now engaged!).  Either way, it’s a spectacular view that may take a bit of coordination with your member of Congress, but it is absolutely worth it.

Shannon grew up in the greater DC area/Maryland suburbs, went to Virginia for college and grad school (go Hoos!), and settled in DC in 2006. She’s an urban planner who loves transit (why yes, that is her dressed as a Metro pylon for Halloween), cities, and all things DC. Email her at Shannon (at)!

4 thoughts on “Another Great Vantage Point

  1. It really is the most amazing view. I did it when I worked on the hill and it was AWESOME. Also seeing the inside of the rotunda from the top level and how the inner rotunda and the outer dome are two separate structures is really cool.

  2. Great post. Thanks for the link to the flickr photo set. I’ve interned there and given tours. I never got to go up in the dome. It’s really something up there. I wonder what famous people have gone up those same stairs?

  3. Oooooh I recommended that when you wrote the 5 best vantage points article – in the comments. Glad you listened!!