Washington is known for...
There's no denying that the one thing that most defines Washington, D.C. is the government. The White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court — the three branches of government which impact the lives of every single American — all sit within a few blocks of each other. From there, the list grows with the hundreds of office buildings where the many departments, agencies and administrations that guide our nation reside. Walking through these hallowed halls — where presidents, cabinet secretaries, senators and representatives past and present have toiled to lead and guide our nation — is truly awe-inspiring.
Washington, D.C. may be the museum capitol of the world. A quick search turns up nearly 75 different museums offering their own unique collections. They range from the famous (and we might add enormous) National Museum of American History and the National Air & Space Museum, both part of the 19 museums of the Smithsonian Institution, to the Hillwood Museum, the International Spy Museum and even a Madame Tussauds wax museum. Whether the collections are diverse and all-encompassing or small and eclectic, each offers an important view into a compelling part of American and world history.
3. National Mall:
The very heart of Washington, D.C. and perhaps the nation itself, the National Mall sees some 24 million visitors each year. Many of the city's great museums line the eastern portion of the mall, before giving way to some of America's great monuments. The iconic Washington Monument towers over the mall. The powerful World War II Memorial pays homage to one of our greatest generations. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with its deep, black surfaced etched with thousands of names, still brings tears to the eyes of many. And then there's the Lincoln Memorial overlooking the famed Reflecting Pool. The site of some of D.C.'s most famed moments, the backdrop in hundreds of movies and television shows, it's perhaps the single place that tops most visitor's "Must See" lists.
When kids think of Washington, D.C., they might first think of the President of the United States. But often their second thought is of the National Zoo's famous panda bears. On loan from China, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are the zoo's main draw. The rare black and white bears come from the bamboo forests of central China. Extremely endangered, a mere 1,600 are still believe to exist in the wild, with another 300 or so in zoos and animals parks around the world. One of the National Zoo's most popular features is a webcam that allows people around the world to watch Mei Xiang and Tian Tian live as they go about their daily lives.
5. Cherry Blossoms:
In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo, Japan gave the first of what would be hundreds of Japanese cherry trees to the people of Washington, D.C. Fast forward a few decades, and the beloved pink and white trees had become an iconic part of the downtown D.C. landscape (and much of the surrounding region for that matter). Today, more than 100 years since the first official trees were planted, the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is a huge event, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to ooh and ahh over the delicate blooming blossoms as they stroll around the Tidal Basin and Washington Monument.