Washington D.C. area, United States
Attractions and Where to go in Washingtong D.C.
Washington D.C. offers just as fascinating attractions as other well-known cities in the United States. Washington's true charm lies in its sovereignty, which it has by being the home to the centers of all three branches of the federal government, by the impeccable beauty of its streets and public parks, as well as by the numerous historic landmarks and memorials located at the heart of the historic downtown district.
It's no surprise that Washington D.C. looks so impeccable and offers visitors all sorts of attractions and recreational activities. You could not expect anything less of the most notable nation in the world, whose president constantly acts as host to important dignitaries and heads of state.
The National Mall
Most attractions in Washington, D.C. are located within an extensive national park called the National Mall, which includes the area between the Washington Monument and the Capitol of the United States.
Within the National Mall are the iconic White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Institution, which houses the largest collection of documents, specimens, and artifacts from all over the globe. The National Museum makes Washington seem as if it were an open-air museum, where people can wander freely, take pictures, and see the United States' historic legacy represented by the following landmarks, monuments, and memorials:
George Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk that leads to the main landmarks in the American capital. Upon completion, it was the tallest structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower was erected at the end of the 19th century.
Built to honor one of America's most admired presidents, this beautiful landmark is in the form of a Greek temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two of his best-known speeches.
National World War II Memorial
This memorial is dedicated to Americans who served in this 20th century conflict. Officially opened to the public in 2004, the memorial was erected to honor Americans that died in war and to pay tribute to the war veterans that were still alive for their honor and courage.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
This solemn spot in the National Mall honors those who died in service during the Vietnam War. It is made up of two granite walls with the names of 58,200 people who gave their lives for their country.
The United States Capitol
This awe-inspiring building is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Because of its importance and beautiful architectural design, the Capitol has appeared in many movies and documentaries, so you've probably seen its picture somewhere before.
The White House
The White House is the magnificent official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. It is famous for its oval office, where important issues have been discussed and historic decisions made in the most powerful nation in the world. Almost all American presidents have lived in the White House, except for George Washington, because the house was built under his presidential term.
United States Botanic Garden
Located on the grounds of the Capitol, the elegant and fantastic botanic garden houses an extensive collection of green and flowering plants from all regions of the United States.
The National Aquarium in Washington, D.C. has thousands of specimens of fish and reptiles in tanks. It highlights the animals and their natural habitats preserved and protected by US national parks and sanctuaries.
Also located on the National Mall, this unmistakable building, which looks like a castle, is home to the Smithsonian Institution. It was founded to increase the diffusion of knowledge among men by John Smithson, a British scientist who left the value of his estate to the United States for this very purpose. Strange as it may sound, James Smithson never set foot on American soil but his legacy would eventually become the prestigious institution that it is today.
Nineteen museums in the United States, most of which are located in Washington, DC, art galleries, on-line museums, nine research sites, a zoo, two monthly publications, and even a television channel make up the Smithsonian's cultural heritage. It features the largest collection of objects, artworks, and specimens in the world. The Smithsonian Institution is a wealth of knowledge at your finger tips.
Located along the National Mall are a number of museums belonging to the Smithsonian Institution, dedicated to the collection and care of objects of scientific, artistic, or historical importance. Here, you'll find many types of museums covering all sorts of subjects and categories. Since, most of the museums are free of charge, we recommend taking the time to visit them all during your Washington, D.C. vacation:
- African Art Museum
- American History Museum
- Natural History Museum
- American Indian Museum
- Air and Space Museum
- National Gallery of Art
Other attractions that can't be missed in Washington, D.C.
The Tidal Basin
The Tidal Basin is the name of a partially man-made inlet, forming a part of the West Potomac Park and the Potomac River. It is surrounded by lovely cherry trees and a commanding view of the Potomac River and downtown Washington. D.C., site of the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. You can also rent a pedal boat and spend a wonderful day outdoors.
Golf at East Potomac Park
The extensive park known as East Potomac Park is located on a small peninsula south of the Tidal Basin. It is a delight to play golf on these perfectly landscaped greens featuring splendid views of the Potomac River, which inspire great games. This is the nation's capital's main golf course so you might even find yourself playing next to an important politician or celebrity!
Near Washington D.C., you'll find a couple of theme parks and other family attractions, ideal for families with kids. You can find the 12-time award-winning Busch Gardens Williamsburg, (which has been voted the "World's Best Theme Park") as well as Six Flags America, a fantasy-land amusement park with all sorts of thrilling rides that will blow you away. You can find the National Zoological Park here, which is also part of the Smithsonian. Featuring a collection of numerous species, like the giant panda, the zoo provides an exciting learning experience.
Besides the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., there are other important museums with fantastic collections, such as the International Spy Museum with an interesting collection of spy gadgets and technologies used in this fascinating trade. At the National Geographic Museum, you can see extraordinary collections of photographs and artifacts, and at Newseum, the world's most interactive museum, you'll enjoy learning about the last five centuries of news history with the most state-of-the-art technology.
Churches and Shrines
For those who enjoy religious architecture, Washington, D.C. features the gothic-style Washington National Cathedral and the Byzantine-style National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, both interesting landmarks in Washington, D.C.
You've probably seen pictures of the Pentagon in movies. This landmark houses the U.S. Department of Defense and is one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the world. Photography is not allowed inside or outside this impressive site.
Arlington National Cemetery
The Arlington National Cemetery is located near the Pentagon. Established during the Civil War, it features the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one of the more popular sites here. It honors unknown servicemen who died in battle and whose remains could not be identified. It is also home to the grave of President John F. Kennedy, marked with an eternal flame and to the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, dedicated to the memory of the crew who died in 1986 during launch. At the site's entrance, you'll see the famous military memorial statue, known as Iwo Jima, erected in honor and memory of the brave men and women in the United States Marine Corps, who gave their lives for their country.
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