Washington D.C., also known as the District of Colombia, is its own territory just outside of the United States boarder. It was officially founded on July 16, 1790 and established by the constitution of the United States to serve as the nation’s capital. The choice of Washington’s site along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers was as a result of a clash between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. In 2011, DC welcomed a record setting 17.9million visitors, generating nearly $6.0 billion in visitor spending for the city alone. Also in 2011, nearly 1.8 million international visitors from countries like United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, and Japan travelled to DC (“Washington, DC”). If you are planning a site seeing visit to our nation’s capital, then take a look at this summary of various locations that are a must see. Included in the list are some museums, memorials and historical sites. The purpose of this paper is to persuade the skeptical traveler to take a tour around the city of DC and learn about different places and what makes them significant to the people.
To begin, there are various means of transportation to and around DC. One of which is Air transportation. The city is blessed with three regional airports which are the National Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), and Dulles airport. Besides that, there is also Ground transportation which is a subway station that is accessible from the airport terminal and is quick and convenient that takes you directly into the city. In the same way, the tourist can also choose to rent a car. To do so, they would need a valid credit card and a driver’s license to secure the car (Gattuso 270-271). With these various means of transportation to and within the city, the tourist can be well assured quality service, dependability, and convenience. The city provides its tourists with quality services that strive to make you comfortable and feel welcomed while embarking on your various activities. These means of transportation are can be accessed when needed with an ease. Also, they can be counted on without disappointment.
It’s easy to travel around the Washington, DC area using the various forms of public transportation. In fact, it’s advisable to take advantage of these cost effective ways to get around town. Traffic can often get congested and parking can become quite expensive. There are several forms of public transportation that you can use, take a look and see which one would work best for you: http://dc.about.com/od/transportation/a/Metro.htm
The White House
The most famous location to visit in Washington, DC would have to be The White House. Not only is it the home of the first family, it is the meeting place for many world leaders. Probably the most famous and most popular house in the world, but it is also the toughest house to visit. Requests to visit The White House must be submitted through your Member of Congress. You are encouraged to request a tour at least 6 months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance of your planned visit. Self-guided tours are available from 7:30 am to 11:00 am Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 am to 12:00 pm Fridays, and from 7:30 to 1:00 pm on Saturdays. These hours will be extended when possible based on the official White House schedule. Tours are scheduled on a first come, first serve basis. Keep in mind that all White House tours are subject to cancellation at any time. Tours are free of charge to the public. All guests over the age of 18 must present a valid, government issued photo identification (e.g. driver’s license, military ID, etc) upon entrance into the White House. There are many items that are prohibited in the White House (cameras, video recorders, hand bags, book bags, food or beverages, strollers, aerosol cans, guns, pointed objects, etc) and there are no storage lockers available for use so it is recommended to visit the website for a complete list of restricted items before your visit. If you have any items on the prohibited items list, you will not be allowed entrance into the White House (“White House”).
The Library of Congress
Pursing this further, as the traveler continues their trip, he/she comes across a place known as the Library of Congress. If the traveler is an educationist or student, they are likely to visit this place to learn something new. The Library of Congress is an American library that tells us the American story. Only few rooms in all of Washington are more impressive than the main reading room at the Library of Congress. The library has many reading rooms. One of which is that of Thomas Jefferson. This room is built with a 160-ft-high domed ceiling and it takes dedicated readers to concentrate on their research when inside of it. The library is also the largest in the world (Gattuso 128-129). The Library of Congress is not just a library, but a place to find historical knowledge about our nation. This is one of the best places in Washington, DC in terms of knowledge and highly recommended to any tourist visiting the area to stop by for a session of learning. In this place, you are likely to find letters, diaries, pictures, etc. dating back to the beginning of the nation. The stories that we come across, while at this place, makes us reflect more of our nation and can clear up any misconceptions that we have about our nation. The library is very significant to the U.S. as a society because it is the source of our knowledge about our nation. The hours for visiting the Library of Congress vary depending on the building you plan to visit so it is best advised to check out the website (http://www.loc.gov/visit/hours/) prior to your visit. The website will detail the hours for each building. Tours are self-guided but you can plan a tour with your group if you have at least ten people in your group. These tours are based on availability. If you have less than ten people in your group, than you can add yourself to a public tour (“Tours”).
The Washington National Cathedral
Furthermore, as the traveler continues to tour, if he/she is a religious person, they are certainly welcome to stop by at the Washington National Cathedral which is home to the sixth largest cathedral in the world. Its actual name is the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, although it is known as the Washington National Cathedral. It is well known for its impressive structure of English Gothic mixed with rich architectural sculpture. Over the last few years, the National Cathedral has been home to many memorial services and celebrations. The cathedral is a diverse community of people. It offers prayer services to those in need of them. Special events are also held here throughout the year such as choir performances, jazz, and concerts. The cathedral is of great importance to the people of the state as well as all other citizens around the country. It is a place of worship for people of Catholic faith. The cathedral provides various spiritual services for people such as choir groups, concerts, jazz, etc. Its location is also fascinating because it is in the heartland of the country. People from all over the world come to visit this area yearly and are stunned by its beautiful design and size. People who are spiritually strong in their faith find this place of worship to be a necessity to them and a place to find comfort, empathy and love when in need. There are several different types of tours available at the Cathedral http://www.nationalcathedral.org/visit/tourAndTea.shtml (“Tours”).
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Another great place to visit in Washington D.C. is the National Air and Space Museum. This museum located in the National Mall. Specifically it is located at Independence Avenue at 6th Street, SW in Washington D.C. The museum is open every day, except for Christmas day. Summer hours are March 17 to September 3 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. However, extended hours are 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. Unfortunately, there are no museum parking lots, but there are public parking lots located nearby. These, though, have fees that vary. Inside the museum there are 22 exhibit galleries, the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater, flight simulators, a three level museum shop, and food-court-style restaurant. There is also an exhibit for the kids. How Things Fly is a hands-on exhibit that includes fascinating demonstrations, paper airplane contests, and many fun interactive devices. In one section of the museum, visitors can get a close up view of the Wright Brothers original flyer. Also there are 170 other artifacts on display. The story of America’s effort to land a human on the moon is told in the Apollo to the Moon exhibit. Looking at Earth, Exploring the Planets, and Explore the Universe are a few other exhibits to check out. Looking at Earth shows visitors how view of our world from space help us to better understand the Earth. Several examples of satellite imagery and aerial photography are on display. Exploring the Planets highlights the history and achievements of planetary explorations. On site is a full scale replica of the Voyager spacecraft that traveled to the outer planets. “What’s New” is a section in the exhibit where there is a full scale model of the Mars rover, along with continually updated images from current missions of exploration. Various methods used by humankind to observe the universe, such as with the naked eye, through a telescope, and finally to the digital age, are all demonstrated in Explore the Universe. If you are interested in learning about space and planets then The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is the place for you. There are plenty of exhibits and hands on activities for the whole family to enjoy. If you enjoy learning about the history of airplanes, it is recommended for you to visit the wonderful museum. If you are interested in both air and space, then it is highly recommended you visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
The United States Botanic Garden
If you are a flower or plant enthusiast, than The United States Botanic Garden is a must see for you. The Botanic Garden was established by the U.S. Congress in 1820 and is the oldest botanic garden in North America. The Garden has been recognized as a museum and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. You can explore and discover several exhibits within the Botanic Garden. Because the exhibits are live, each season can bring its own extraordinary exhibit. There are also several permanent exhibits on display as well. The Conservatory Exhibit houses a collection plants from subtropical, tropical, and arid regions. The National Garden is an outdoor garden exhibit. And the Bartholdi Park is a favorite “secret” garden and a tapestry of theme gardens (“Exhibits”). You can visit the Garden freely on your own or you can have a 45-minute highlight tour. The Botanic Garden is free and is open all year. Personal cameras are permitted but photographs are not allowed for commercial use. (“Botanic Garden”)
The National Aquarium
And then of course, if seeing and learning about various forms of aquatic life excites you, than a visit to the National Aquarium in Washington, DC is a definite must during your visit. Seeing some of the most beautiful and exotic sea creatures is something breathtaking, from a Red Lionfish to a Guineafowl Puffer. With all the many exhibits on display, you are guaranteed to see something different every trip you take. The National Aquarium is a nonprofit aquatic education and conservation organization with a mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures (“About Us”). The location in Washington, DC has over 1,500 animals and 250 animal species to explore (“Explore Animals”). There are also four different exhibits to explore, National Marine Sanctuaries, Freshwater Ecosystems, Amphibians Gallery, and the Amazon River Basin Gallery. The National Marine Sanctuary exhibit features animals and habitats preserved and protected by America’s National Marine Sanctuaries program. The Freshwater Ecosystem is a gallery that highlights American rivers, including the Rio Grande, the Potomac River, the Colorado River, and the Mississippi River. The Amphibians Gallery showcases salamanders, newts, frogs, and toads to display their amazing adaptations and biology. And the Amazon River Basin Gallery shows some of the diverse life on the planet (“Exhibits & Experiences”). The Aquarium is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Summer Hours (May 25 through September 3) are Sunday – Thursday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Friday – Saturday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Last admission is 30 minutes prior to closing. Animal feedings and aquarist talks are daily at 2:00 pm. Ticket prices are as follows: Adults (12-59), Military, and Senior (60+) are $9.95, Child (age 3-11) are $4.95, and Children under 3 are free. Groups of 15 or more also have discounted tickets available (“Tickets & Hours”). Make sure to check out the Calendar of Events for any upcoming special events scheduled during your visit.
Korean War Memorial
One more place to visit in Washington D.C. is the Korean War Memorial. The memorial is located in the National Mall. This particular memorial is southeast of the Lincoln Memorial. Daily tours are from 10am to 11pm. No ticket is needed and there are no fees. The Pool of Remembrance, the Shadow Wall, and a field of soldiers are all part of the memorial. There are many figures of soldiers being shown walking through the fields of Korea. The soldiers in the field wear all of their gear on them. Their gear includes their full backpacks hidden under their rain ponchos. On their feet you can see their boots and uniform pants. However, if you look at their uniforms you can clearly see they represent a soldier from every branch of Armed Forces there are fighting in the war together. In one of their hands they carry a gun. The look on their face is serious. The statues give off a creepy sort of vibe, but express how solemn it really was. Lastly, each soldier is a depiction of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. Along with the figures there is a pool called the Pool of Remembrance. At the edge of the pool there is a granite slab. On that slab of granite they have the number of casualty’s engraved shows why it was a war, and not just a disagreement. In addition to the field of soldiers there is the Shadow Wall next to it. On the wall are pictures of soldiers, all from the different military branches. 2500 pictures are on the wall. For the full experience you should absolutely go see this memorial. Near to the Korean War Memorial are the WWII memorial and the Vietnam War memorials (Korean)
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Located in the National Mall is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Admission to the museum is free. However, if you visit March through August you need to get a pass to see the Permanent Exhibition. Even though passes are required March through August, they are not needed for September through February. You can get these passes online or at the museum on the day of your visit. Passes go fast so it is recommended to get yours online. Online passes are only a dollar each, but remember to print your passes! The earliest pass is 10 a.m. and the latest pass is at 4 p.m. If you plan to see all the other exhibits, or have a pass, then you don’t have to wait in line with everyone else. Although passes are required March through August, they are not needed for September through February. There are also many activities for families. Be sure to pick up a Family Guide (Plan A Visit).
They have many fun and educational exhibits inside the museum. Among those is the Permanent Exhibition, Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story, A Dangerous Lie, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, and more. The Permanent Exhibition is the only site that requires a pass. Remember the Children is an exhibit for the kids. The exhibit presents the Holocaust in a way a child can understand what was going on. Many of the visitors to this exhibit highly recommend it (Remember). The Permanent Exhibition takes up three floors of the museum. It presents a narrative history using more than 900 artifacts, 70 video monitors, and four theaters. The exhibition is divided into three parts: “Nazi Assault”, “Final Solution”, and “Last Chapter”. This exhibit is recommended for visitors to be 11 years of age and above. The reason for that is the narrative begins with images of death and the destruction left behind told in the words of what U.S. soldiers witnessed during liberation of Nazi concentration camps (Holocaust). Going through each exhibit and learning about one of the most known times of genocide is definitely a learning experience, especially if you have never learned about it before. All the information can be saddening to some people. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is a great place to visit and learn about one of the most terrible parts of world history.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
A for sure must see on your list in Washington DC is a monument honoring a part of American history, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The beautiful Vietnam Veteran Memorial is a national memorial that was established in 1982 to honor our service members who died in the Vietnam War and those who are still unaccounted for, or missing in action, during the controversial war. In 1983 there were 58,191 names engraved. As of May 2011, there are 58,272 names. The construction of the wall was designed by Maya Lin with a very specific type of material in mind. The stone used to build the wall was selected due to its reflective quality. When people look at a name engraved into the wall, their reflection can be seen. This is meant to symbolically bring the past and the present together (“The Wall”). Many people find names of loved ones and will take a pencil and paper to scratch over their loved ones name so that they have a remembrance to take with them. You can visit the Memorial 24 Hours a day; however, the Rangers are only on duty daily from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm to answer any questions (“Operating Hours”). The main part of the Memorial is adjacent to the National mall, just North East of the Lincoln Memorial. They also provide interpretive programs every hour on the hour from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. The Memorial is free to the public. If you plan on having an event, a permit may be required.
And finally, The National Archives is an essential sight to see, especially if you are interested in American History. Established in 1934, it serves as the official repository for all federal records judged to be of enduring value. Its holdings date from the 18th century to present and include the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (“National Archives”). The museum hours vary on the season; Spring and Summer hours (March 15 – Labor Day) are 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, the Fall and Winter (Day after Labor Day – March 14) are 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. The last admission to the Museum is 30 minutes prior to closing. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Admission to the Museum is always free. There is a lot to see when you visit the museum so it is recommended that you plan on at least 90 minutes exploring during your time (“Visit”). Reservations are not required for individuals or groups wishing to visit through the general public entrance. If you are planning your visit around during the height of tourist season, reserved reservations are highly recommended. There is a minimal online reservation fee of $1.50 per person. Visitors with advanced reservations enter through the Special Events doors, therefore avoiding long lines at the General Admission doors. There are no refunds on any ticket orders. The Museum may be closed due to special events, national security concerns, or other reasons. In these cases, attempts may be made to re-book your tickets to another date. Photography is prohibited in some areas of the exhibit. Food, gum chewing, and beverages are also prohibited. There is a café in the Museum that is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am through 4:00 pm. The National Archives is ADA compliant and is accessible to all persons (“Visit Us”).
If you are big into organic foods and ingredients there is definitely a great restaurant for you. Located at 2132 Florida Avenue sits a restaurant called Nora. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday through Saturday 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. However, it is recommended you make a reservation beforehand. Inside the building the atmosphere is romantic and quiet. There are also private rooms available. The price of food ranges from $25 to $34. (Nora). According to the menu there are numerous dishes to choose from. For starters they have Chilled Andalusian Gazpacho, Seared Maine Dayboat Scallops, and Shaved Organic Prosciutto, among others. Also there are three different choices in salads. Main courses include Amish Veal Roast, Tokyo Hot Pot, and South Carolina Wreckfish (Nora). For a full menu, go to www.noras.com
In a review a critic explains Nora Pouillon was one of the first East Coast Chefs to praise organic foods. Ms. Pouillon is a great person in the green movement, for even her waiters wear 100 percent certified organic cotton t-shirts. Even they dye on the shirts is environmental friendly (Sietsema). In conclusion, if you like to be environmentally friendly and like organic goods, then this is the place for you.
Therefore, based on the previous points of view, we hope that we are able to convince the skeptical traveler to take a tour to Washington D.C. and explore the wonderful things the city has to offer. Statistically, the city has proven to be one of the most frequently visited places in the country over the past few years and it’s also known for attracting people from all over the world. It is not just a city, but a historical site waiting to be explored by the doubtful tourist.
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