The Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of the soldiers who gave their lives in service to the country. Two of America's former presidents, John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft are buried here. The crew of the Challenger space shuttle, civil rights leader Medgar Evers and film star Audie Murphy are among the many honored here. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, containing remains of unidentified soldiers from World Wars I, II, and the Korean War, are protected by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment or the Old Guard 24 hours a day. The changing of the guard ceremony is a moving tribute to them.
Located at the west end of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial is one of the principal landmarks of Washington DC, its stately form overlooking the Reflecting Pool, a gleaming stretch of water that lays sprawled before its base. Daniel Chester French's 19-foot (5.7-meter) statue of Lincoln, seated and deep in thought, watches over the nation he helped create, alongside the carved text of the Gettysburg Address, providing a glimpse into a weighty period of American history. The memorial itself draws inspiration from the Greek architectural style, its 36 Doric columns represent the number of states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death. Surrounded by greenery on the banks of the Potomac River, the Lincoln Memorial makes for a soul-stirring, picturesque sight, a fitting ode to one of the nation's most revered Presidents.
The National Gallery is the national art museum, established in 1937, houses an extensive collection of European and American art in two spectacular buildings. It boasts exquisite collections in the form of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, medals, and decorative arts, showcasing the development of Western Art to date. Designed by I.M. Pei, this triangular building is a key city landmark and home to famous pieces of art and other temporary exhibitions.
The symbol of the city of Washington DC, this 555-foot (169-meter) marble obelisk on the National Mall honors the nation's first president, George Washington. The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid in 1848, but it was fully constructed only in 1884. One can witness a visible change about one-third of the way up the obelisk marble - evidence of the onset of the Civil War. Construction was stalled during the war, and when the builders returned to the same quarry to complete the project afterward, enough time had passed to cause a significant change in the color. It is an emblem of the United States and an icon of the nation; the Washington Monument is a moving sight, its elegant form mirrored in the Reflecting Pool of the Lincoln Monument nearby.
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 some 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."
Best known for its vast collection of azaleas, (a popular porch-flower), this 446-acre (180-hectare) garden park has much else to offer. Fountains, pools and open space separate a series of focused gardens at the United States National Arboretum. The National Bonsai Collection, a gift from Japan, is a fascinating exhibit of tiny trees. Other notable sections are the aquatic garden (filled with lotuses of many varieties) and the National Herb Garden.
One of the largest cathedrals in the world, the National Cathedral is more than an Episcopal cathedral; it is a national shrine. Being the site of several significant memorial services, the cathedral lives up to its role of a ‘spiritual home for the nation’. The final Sunday sermon delivered by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is only one among the many notable historic moments that the cathedral has witnessed. The flying buttresses, gargoyles, crypts, an enormous vaulted ceiling and intimate chapels all contribute to this architectural marvel. Furthermore, the curving walkways, well-kept hedges and spacious lawns invite exploration. When in Washington, a visit to this national treasure simply cannot be missed.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum takes you on an inspiring journey, chronicling the discovery and evolution of iconic American art and artists. Exhibiting artworks right from the 17th Century to the present day, the museum boasts of an elaborate and expansive collection. Spread across three levels, the noteworthy exhibits here include the works of Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keefe, Gilbert Stuart, Albert Bierstadt, Franz Kline, Andy Warhol and many others. Depictions of various art movements and periods make for compelling exhibits for the visitors. Docent-led tours offer an interactive way to explore the museum. The Renwick Gallery, the sister wing of the main building, is also a must-visit attraction.