Washington DC Attractions

Washington DC AttractionsThe National Mall is the best place to begin sightseeing in Washington, D.C. With good walking shoes (a necessity for a comfortable visit), one can go by foot to a range of museums and monuments, as well as the Capitol Building. History, art, science, and politics await exploration.

The Smithsonian Castle should be the first stop for those wanting to maximize their museum time. Here one can get material from the information center about which Smithsonian branches are having which exhibits when and what the hours are. There is also a lovely garden behind the castle, along with several small galleries.

Perhaps the most popular of the Smithsonian's offerings is the Air and Space Museum, several blocks east of the Castle, next to the American Indian Museum. The Air and Space Museum holds artifacts from the history of flight, including early airplanes and space capsules. Across from the Castle lie the Natural History Museum, with its noted butterfly garden, and the American History Museum. Art enthusiasts will want to visit the Hishhorn Museum, next to Air and Space, and both buildings of the National Gallery of Art, across from Air and Space. Those serious about art who do not mind a little more walking may want to venture the half mile off the mall to the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum between Ninth and Eleventh streets.

The Washington Monument presides on the National Mall's western boundary. To the east and south one finds memorials to presidents, national figures, and America's war dead. Each approaches their subject a different way, providing a history and experience in stone and metal. The Vietnam War Memorial records the names of that conflict's dead. Some visitors trace the names of people they know. The Korean War's memorial features life-size figures of soldiers. The Lincoln Memorial takes pride of place overlooking the Reflecting Pool and is one of the most photopgrahed images of the National Mall area. Nearby is the Tidal Basin, around which one finds the Roosevelt Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the newest Mall addition, the Martin Luther King Memorial.

Here is an insider tip: Calling one's member of Congress before visiting Washington can get one privileged entry to the White House, Capitol building tour, the Pentegon, Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court, among others. Note that a background check is required for some of these.

However one organizes a Washington visit, new insights about national history and politics' inner workings await.