Sure, it gets a bad rep in the press, but Washington, D.C. is actually a really beautiful place that also just happens to have politicians living in it. It's also an extremely tourist-friendly destination.
Whether you're new to town or planning a trip, you will eventually visit the Washington Monument, the Air & Space Museum and the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Below, are the five places you must visit to get the D.C. experience and really have something to write home about.
Established in 1927, the United States National Arboretum is composed of 446 acres of land with over 9 miles of roadways. Whether you're a nature buff, a budding botanist or just an outdoorsy type of person, the Arboretum has something for you.
|The National Capitol Columns- USNA website|
Wherever you choose to go, you'll find something beautiful and interesting but the Bonsai & Penjing Museum, the National Capitol Columns and the Azalea Collections are specially noteworthy.
Like almost everything in region, the Arboretum is metro accessible, but you'll really want to have a friend bring you or event rent a car so that you can explore more. Wear comfortable shoes as you'll probably walk a lot and be sure to pack a lunch. There are plenty of eating areas where the whole family can rest and absorb nature.
Admission to the Arboretum is free. It closes only December 25th.
Paddle boating on the Tidal Basin is a great family activity that will keep you busy for an hour without making too much of an effort. If you've never been before, you should know that it is not as easy as it looks, so it can also be a good bonding exercise. If you're the competitive type, get two boats and race in the safety of the Basin while enjoying people and monument watching.
In summer, be sure to bring water and a hat.
Prices for Summer 2011 are $12/hr for a two person boat or $19/hr for a four person boat. Closes for Winter after Columbus Day.
3. Get lost in the stacks of the Library of Congress
You don't have to be a bibliophile to appreciate everything the Library of Congress has to offer. Not only does the LoC offer an extensive collection, it also host tours, concerts and more. Show up during visiting hours to take one of their free tours or check out their calendar of events to catch a special show.
|Library of Congress|
Creative Commons: saturnism
Admission to the Library of Congress is free.
4. Take a break in the Kogod Courtyard
Housed in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, the Kogod Courtyard is a beautiful space on its own right. While you are there, you'll want to visit the National Portrait Gallery and the adjoining Smithsonian American Art Museum. Both are filled with one of a kind works and stories.
The Kogod Courtyard itself offers a respite in the city's Penn Quarter, just a few blocks away from the National Mall. Just sit at one of the tables and enjoy a respite from your vacation.
Creative Commons: cliff1066™
Admission to the Kogod Courtyard is free. Wi-Fi available.
Did you know that the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is open to the public on daily basis? The architecture of the center itself is worth a visit, but the Kennedy Center also offers free tours and free programs on its modern Millennium Stage. World-class performers often perform on the Millennium stage and future scheduled performers include Charles Covington Jr., Beauty & Melody Orchestra of Sichuan, and the International Young Artist Piano Competition.
Creative Commons: Kyle Rush
Admission to Kennedy Center tours and Millennium Stage performances are free.