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Destination Guide

 
 
Washington is a manageable city, with lots to see and easy ways to get around. These are just a few of the attractions popular with visitors and locals alike.

Tour 1: Monuments, Memorials and Museums

The original plan for Washington was designed to incorporate monuments to the many heroes of American history. The wide avenues and large expanses provide plenty of room to honor those who have led the country and those who have given their lives for it.

Certainly the best place to start is the National Mall, where the symbol of the city'the Washington Monumentstands. From the monument, you can proceed to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, FDR Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial for a nice half-day walking tour.

On the eastern side of the mall are many museums of the Smithsonian Institution. Some of the more popular ones are the National Air & Space Museum, National Gallery of Art, National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History. The Freer Gallery contains a large collection of Asian art, and the latest addition to the area is the National Museum of African Art.

Nearby, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, educates the public on the tragic history of the Holocaust; it is dedicated to the millions of people who lost their lives during the massacre.

Tour 2: History and Government

Begin early at the White House, home and office of the President of the United States. Tickets for the guided tour must be obtained at the Visitor Center'they are given out on a first come, first serve basis. Once you?ve toured the Executive Mansion, take a short walk through Freedom Plaza to the FBI Building. Tours include a history of the agency, a look into the sophisticated crime lab and a firearms demonstration. From here, its another short walk to the National Archives. Stop in and see the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the foundation of American freedom.

Pennsylvania Avenue joins the White House to the U.S. Capitol, symbolically linking these two branches of government. Tours of the Capitol are available, or visitors may wander around on their own. When the legislature is in session, balcony seats are open to the public. Check The Washington Post for a daily schedule.

On the east side of the Capitol, discover the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. Walk up 1st Street from there to Union Station. Several restaurants and an ethnically diverse food court await hungry sightseers.


Tour 3: Georgetown and the Waterfront

Start at the impressive John F. Kennedy Center?a living memorial to the 35th president. From the terrace overlooking the Potomac river, there is a nice view of Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island; a fitting tribute to this early environmentalist, it is covered with nature trails and local species of trees and flowers.

Next to the Kennedy Center is the infamous Watergate Hotel. Several shops and restaurants are located on the ground level. Walk down to the water and along the river, and you'll soon come to the Washington Harbor. Stop for a drink or a tasty bite at Sequoia with its beautiful views and relaxed atmosphere. From here its a short walk up the hill to M Street in the heart of bustling Georgetown. Stroll the main streets and window shop, or duck down a few of the side streets, and take in the gorgeous 19th-century town homes.

Georgetown has plenty of places to eat?Aditi for spicy Indian food and Zeds for exotic Ethiopian. Clydes is a fun place for happy hour and the Sea Catch has a great oyster bar and is right on the C&O Canal.


Tour 4: Nearby Virginia

Arlington National Cemetery, directly across the river from the Lincoln Memorial, has a fascinating history. Its landmark is Arlington House, once the home of Robert E. Lee. Guided tours of the cemetery, with Tourmobile Sightseeing, make stops at the Kennedy Gravesites, Tomb of the Unknowns and Arlington House. Visitors may also walk through the grounds, but private cars are not allowed.

A scenic drive down George Washington Memorial Parkway leads right into Old Town Alexandria. Stop into Christ Church and see Washingtons personal pew, and then head over to Gadsbys Tavern where he spent countless evenings merry making. King Street has wonderful shopping and restaurants, and ends at the riverfront. Stop for a drink at the Chart House on the waterfront or wander through the Torpedo Factory, now an arts center.

Continuing south, the parkway ends, appropriately, at the home of George Washington: Mount Vernon.

Several local companies offer guided tours, both traditional and offbeat. Old Town Trolley Tours and Tourmobile Sightseeing sell day or multi-day passes allowing visitors to get on and off at various locations throughout the city. The DC Ducks combine land and water tours in the same vehicle?you don't have to get out of your seat! For something different, take a C&O Canal Barge ride or Bike the Sites. For an aerial view of the capital city, contact Capital Helicopters.

There is definitely no reason to be bored in Washington DC!

Louise Baxter