See History Comes Alive and the Future Take Shape in D.C.



Not only is Washington, D.C. home to the country's three-tiers of government, it is also a popular tourist attraction for people from around the world. 10Best has taken the Metrorail, driven and walked around the nation's capital to bring to you the top attractions and activities the area has to offer. (It was exhausting and a trip to the shoe store will probably be needed.)

You can't go to the nation's capital without a trip to The White House  even if it's just for a selfie taken outside the gates. However, if you plan far ahead, you can get tickets from your member of Congress for an inside tour.

Memorials are an iconic part of the district so we narrowed it down to the two must-sees -- the Lincoln Memorial and the National World War II Memorial. Both are sites to behold but they are breathtaking at night so consider making two trips.

2016 is sure to be a big year for the National Zoological Park as their brand new panda boy cub, Bei Bei, will be on display beginning in mid-January. Try to see the panda display first when you come because crowds are sure to be high throughout the year.

Whatever your interests are, you are sure to find the perfect attraction or activity in the district.

 

 



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Honoring the 16 million who served in the U.S. military and the more than 400,000 who gave their lives, the National World War II Memorial offers a breathtaking tribute. Two semi-circles are made up of 56 granite pillars standing tall inside the memorial which account for the 48 states, the District of Columbia, the Alaska and Hawaii territories, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands who partipated in the war. The Freedom Wall, which features the message, "Here we mark the price of freedom," features 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. METRO: Smithsonian.


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Known as America's first home, George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, just outside of Washington, D.C., features a mansion, outbuildings, gardens, animals, a distillery and gristmill, and a four-acre farm. What was once an active plantation is now a bustling tourist attraction. Visitors may purchase tickets to one of ten tours offered including a cruise down the Potomac River, a visit to the rarely opened basement and see the first president's garden and landscaping designs for the grounds. Washington took his last breath inside the mansion's master bedroom in 1799 and the estate serves as his final resting place. His wife Martha and other relatives are also buried in The Tomb.


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We have all seen paper copies of fine works of art hanging in homes and businesses. Once, you step inside the National Gallery of Art, you get to see the real pieces for your own eyes. The west building features early European and American works and boasts the only painting by Leonardo Da Vinci in the Americas. Meander over to the east building to take in contemporary art work including Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso. For those coming here in the winter months, head over to the museum's garden ice rink where you can rent skates and take lessons. METRO: Smithsonian


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Independence Day on the National Mall


 

Francis Scott Key was not talking about fireworks when he composed the national anthem with lines like "And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air..." But the nation's capital knows how to put on a party to celebrate Independence Day. While the nearly 20 minute firework show is the main draw, thousands of people head to the National Mall to see the parade down Constitution Avenue Northwest from 7th to 17th street and take in several concerts throughout the day. Make sure to take plenty of water for the free event because Washington, D.C> gets rather hot in early July. METRO: Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, or Judiciary Square. (Note: the Smithsonian station is closed on July 4th.)


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Initally owned by President George Washington's adopted grandson, Gen. Robert E. Lee served as custodian of the land until it was seized by the federal government to be used as a military cemetery in 1864. Today, Arlington National Cemetery is home for veterans and those killed in the line of duty from every conflict dating back to the Civil War. U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft, Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy, and the Space Shuttle Challenger crew are among those buried there. The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider is not to be missed. Metro: Arlington Cemetery


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This spot on the list is actually dedicated to two companion museums. The National Air and Space Museum is easily the most popular building along the National Mall and features the 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and a lunar rock that visitors may touch. Many take in shows at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater or sight see in the Albert Einstein Planetarium. Take a short drive to Chantilly, Va. to check out the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which features two huge hangers and houses the space shuttle Discovery. Many go to the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower to get a 360-degree view of Washington Dulles International Airport. METRO: Smithsonian and Wiehle-Reston East


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In 1912, Toyoko Mayor Yukio Ozaki gifted Washington, D.C. with 3,000 cherry trees. To commemorate his generosity, the Cherry Blossom Festival was born. Tourists from all over the world come to the Tidal Basin to see the blooms which come out on average between late March to early April. The peak bloom date is the day that 70 percent of the blossoms are open. While the blooms may be the main attraction, the festival features a variety of creative and diverse activities that promote contemporary arts and culture, the enviroment and education. While most events are free and open to the public, some require paid admission. Metro: Smithsonian


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National Mall


 

To serve as a symbol of unity, strength and wisdom, the 16th President Abraham Lincoln is honored with this memorial featuring a statue seated below the inscription, "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever." Completed 57 years after his assassination, the Greek Doric temple was also the site for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech delievered during the the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom rally in August 1963. While the site is impressive during the day, the view will take your breath away at night. Metro: Smithsonian.


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National Zoological Park
Photo courtesy of National Zoo


 

Lions, monkeys and elephants. Oh my! Located in Northwest Washington, D.C., The National Zoological Park features a vareity of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The stars of the show are the pandas. The newest cub, Bei Bei is sure to be a draw once he out on display in early 2016. Fans will line the fences at their exhibit with large telephoto lens to capture every panda movement. The best part is visitors get to see all of these unique animals from around the world for free (Yes. You read that right.) Make sure you wear good walking shoes because the 163-acre park has hills. Also, don't stand under the ropes when the orangutans are on the move. You will thank me later. Metro: Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan or Cleveland Park.


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White House / White House Visitor Center


 

Given its name by President Teddy Roosevelt, The White House boasts 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms and six levels in the residence. The 55,000 square foot home has served as a safe harbor for U.S. Presidents since 1800 and welcomed leaders and dignitaries from around the world. Decisions on World Wars, crises and ground breaking policies have all taken place behind these walls. While it is famously missing its cornerstone, the historic site also features a tennis court, jogging track, swimming pool, movie theater, billiard room and bowling alley. White is a tough color to keep clean and it takes 570 gallons of paint to cover the outside walls. Metro: Federal Triangle or Metro Center


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Meet Gina Gallucci White

Gina Gallucci White is an award winning freelance writer with articles appearing in such regional publications as Frederick Magazine, The Daily Record, Montgomery Magazine and The Gazette. She...  More About Gina

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