Part of the original design for the federal city, this massive park stretches from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. It has played host to many momentous, world-changing events throughout history including the 1963 March on Washington, the Million Man March and several presidential inaugurations. Today, the National Mall serves as a place for reflection, a memorial to American heroes, a symbol of freedom and a forum for the exercise of democracy. The Smithsonian museums, the Vietnam Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the iconic Washington Monument are a few of the most well-known of the National Mall's many iconic sites. Certainly, any visit to Washington DC should start with a tour of the United States National Mall, aptly named "America's front yard."
The Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens is the legacy of Marjorie Merriweather Post, a famous socialite and founder of General Foods. The 40-room mansion dates back to the 1920s and houses a huge collection of art, jewelry and other artifacts that belong to her. View rare Faberge eggs, historic portraits, exquisite tapestries and pieces of china. Walk through the landscaped gardens and enjoy the colorful flowers and plants.
Dating back to 1946, the National Air and Space Museum is home to quite a few aircraft that narrate fascinating stories. Everything from the iconic Wright Brothers' Flyer and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis to World War II planes and Apollo 11 is displayed here, attracting history aficionados, science buffs and aviation fans alike. you also have the option of using the audio-visual aid to understand the technical aspects. Also found here is the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater where you can marvel at aircraft and space films on the five-story screen. Apart from that, the National Air and Space Museum also has the original Star Trek model of the USS Enterprise on display, which is a special attraction.
Great Falls Park, straddling both banks of the Potomac River, offers stunning views. The more attractive side of the park lies in Virginia. Rushing whitewater pours through steep, jagged crevices into a narrow gorge. Photographers, hikers, and nature-lovers find much to enjoy here. The park offers many trails, and the towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal parallels the river. Fishing is allowed, but only with a valid permit. Kayaking, canoeing and rafting is recommended for advanced outdoors-men only. The Maryland side also features Great Falls Tavern with displays of canal history. One-hour round trip barge excursions are offered on a restored stretch of the canal from April to November.
An array of various gardens surrounding the many museums around the National Mall form the Smithsonian Gardens. Gear up to take a tour of these 180 acres of greens, varying from traditional gardens to green houses and vegetable patches in a pair of comfortable shoes and a dash of sunscreen! Visit the Pollinator Garden featuring several spices of bees, wasps, flies and beautiful butterflies. Then head to the National Museum of African Art and enjoy the rooftop Enid A. Haupt Garden (open from dawn to dusk). Relax in the beautifully designed Courtyard Garden or check out the Orchid Collection, indoor plants, and tropical plants at the Greenhouse Nursery. You can also visit the Heirloom Garden, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden, the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, the Victory Garden at National Museum of American History and many more.
On the Potomac river, resides one of the biggest projects that Oxon Hill has seen in times to come, the National Harbor. Complete with hotels, convention centers, stores and offices, this site has something for everyone. They also organize cruises, tours, food festivals and other such events. You can dock your boat at the pier and head out to explore the area. Don't miss out on seeing the unique public sculpture "The Awakening", emerging from the ground.
Seeing the nation's capital by bike is not only healthy, but it also allows visitors to get a closer view of DC. This guided bicycle tour takes in many of Washington's magnificent monuments and landmarks; everything from the White House and Washington Monument to the to the Freer Gallery and Rock Creek Park. The standard tour covers about eight miles in three hours. Most of the tour is on paved paths and gravel trails. The company also rents bikes, wheelchairs and scooters.
Harbour Belle, one of the fleets of DC Cruises, takes you on a breathtaking ride on Washington's waterfront. As you cruise along, you can take in the views of some of the famous monuments of the city. The upper deck of the ship is a great spot to dance the night away on peppy DJ-spun music. The charter can be hired for $900 per hour and is ideal for receptions and private parties.