Washington D.C. is situated on the east coast of the USA, along the banks of the Potomac River. The city has an area of just under 70 square miles, but it sure packs a lot in! Washington was founded as the nation’s capital in 1791.
As soon as you land here you get a sense of the power and history that this metropolis represents. Most visitors start at the National Mall, a two-mile green strip often referred to as “The Nation’s Front Lawn”. Clearly there’s no shopping to be done at this Mall.
What it does offer is a sweep of the country’s most famous monuments and museums, all in one place. Begin your tour of the Mall at the Zero Milestone, the proposed reference point for distances on all US maps. To the north you’ll see America’s most famous residence, The White House. To the south stands the Washington Monument. Rising 555 feet, this marble obelisk is the centerpiece of the National Mall.
The US Capitol Building, on top of Capitol Hill, is the nation’s seat of federal government. Rest a while by the Reflecting Pool. Surrounded by America’s most iconic tributes to its heroes and founding fathers, it’s easy to let your mind wander back through the various chapters of America’s history. Nestled in the trees is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Engraved in its walls are the names of tens of thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the battlefields of Vietnam.
The nearby Lincoln Memorial is where Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. Admire the many sculptures and waterfalls at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial further along the Mall. Across the Tidal Basin, Thomas Jefferson keeps a watchful eye on the White House from his own memorial, built in the style of ancient Rome.
The Mall is also home to many of the nation’s Smithsonian buildings. To learn more about this interesting collection of museums and galleries, stop by at the Information Center in the Smithsonian Institution Building called the Castle. The whole family will enjoy the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where you can let your imagination fly high among historic airplanes and spacecraft. Create your own headlines at the Newseum, an interactive museum dedicated to the world of news media.
The Botanic Garden of the Capitol Building offers an escape from monuments and museums. But the Mall is not the only attraction in D.C.. To explore the many attractions outside of the Mall, the convenient Capital Bikeshare system is available all over the city. In picture-perfect downtown neighborhoods such as DuPont Circle, browse bookstores by day and try the cafés by night.
Another charming central suburb is Foggy Bottom, named after the fog that rises from the Potomac River. Here you’ll find the Watergate Hotel and the Kennedy Center. Pass Washington Circle to get to Georgetown. With its eighteenth-century buildings, it is the oldest district in D.C., and today university students give it a lively atmosphere.
Wisconsin Avenue and M Street offer many boutique stores and galleries. North from here is the National Cathedral, one of the largest churches in the United States. In the nearby Smithsonian National Zoo, the residents are sure to delight monument-weary children. Another family favorite is the International Spy Museum.
Play undercover agent in an interactive game where nothing is as it seems! Just across the river in neighboring Virginia is the nation’s most hallowed ground, Arlington National Cemetery. Wander among rows of tombstones dedicated to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. President John F. Kennedy’s final resting place, marked by an ‘eternal’ flame, is one of the most visited graves. From Arlington House you can look back over D.C. and its surrounding suburbs.
Washington has a lot more to offer than the political buildings and stately monuments that it is so famous for. And no matter how often you’ve seen these landmarks in the news or in movies, nothing beats the real thing!