Best known for its vast collection of azaleas, (Washington's favorite porch-flower), this 444-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.
Originally intended as a small reference library, the Library of Congress is now home to the second largest collection of books and reading materials in the world, second only to the British Library. The collections comprises close to a 100 million items, including rare documents such as a Gutenberg Bible, early drafts of the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The splendor of the magnificent Main Reading Room is just one of the attractions worth a visit at the Library of Congress. Browse through the many excellent exhibits on display in the library's three buildings, participate in a guided tour, or attend any of the concerts, lectures and other events hosted here. The library's collection is open to all who hold a valid Reader Identification Card, however materials cannot be taken outside the library premises.
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.
A frequent site of nationally significant memorial services, the National Cathedral is open to worshipers of all denominations. Under construction for most of the 20th Century and completed and consecrated in 1990, this Gothic cathedral is the sixth largest in the world. Flying buttresses, gargoyles, crypts, a 98-foot (30-meter) vaulted ceiling and many intimate chapels contribute to this architectural masterpiece. The grounds invite exploration with curving walkways, well-kept hedges and spacious lawns from which to view the city.
The famous assassination of President Abraham Lincoln here on April 14, 1865 has placed this theater firmly in history. Opened just four years before that fateful night, the theater has now been restored to its 1865 appearance and is again a showcase for plays. The basement-level Lincoln Museum displays artifacts from the assassination, including the gun John Wilkes Booth used to kill Lincoln. Mementos from Lincoln's life are also on display. Across the street is Petersen House, the place where Lincoln died.
The National Zoo is one of the nation's finest zoos. It was created by Congress in 1889, making it one of the oldest zoos in the country. The zoo was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and New York's Central Park. The zoo is famous for its giant pandas from China but you will find all sorts of creatures, both familiar and exotic, crawling about the place. The zoo's Asia Trail gets you acquainted with Fishing cats, Clouded leopards and other Asian animals. In addition, the zoo is home to the Elephant Trails, Lemur Island, Cheetah Conservation and Great Cats where you can witness mighty lions and tigers in action. Birds and reptiles from across the world also call the Smithsonian National Zoological Park their home.