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 representative of 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 houses an extensive collection of European and American art in two spectacular buildings. In the grand, neoclassical West Building, Rembrandt, Rubens and Gainsborough are well-represented. The permanent collection includes works from the 13th to 20th Centuries, including a section devoted to Impressionism. An underground concourse with a cafeteria, an excellent gift shop and a walled-in waterfall takes you to the East Building. 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 construction was not completed until 1884. About one-third of the way up the obelisk is a visible change in the marble, evidence of the onset of the Civil War. Construction was halted 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. 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 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."
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.
Throughout the Washington city, you will find traffic circles that are named in honor of war veterans. Scott Circle is located at the junction of Massachusetts Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue. Important offices like Australian and the Philippine's Embassies are located on this circle. The statute of United States Army general Winfield Scott has also been erected in the Circle.
Since its founding in 1935, the Wilderness Society has helped to protect 110 million acres of wild lands throughout the United States. It is no wonder then that a lover of wilderness like Ansel Adams would decide to leave 75 of his most beautiful landscape photographs to this crusading institution. The famous photographer's work can be seen in this permanent collection, along with several other pieces of his work that have been gifted to the gallery since Adams' death in 1984. The collection is housed in a stunning refurbished gallery that won the Merit Award for Interior Architecture from the American Institute of Architects in 2010.
Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives is a part of Charles Sumner School and was established in 1872. Along with the museum and archive, there is also a research room and an art gallery for exhibits. The museum showcases archives of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia. The grandiose features of the museum are a visual treat while they provide an extensive collection of books, manuscripts and archives from time immemorial.
Built in 1840, the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is both a beautiful and historical place of worship. St. Matthew is the patron saint of civil servants, so it is no wonder than this cathedral is one of the most prominent cathedrals in the United States' capital. Each year, the special "Red Mass" is held for the Supreme Court justices, President's cabinet, members of Congress, and - sometimes - even the President himself. This "Red Mass" is so named for the color of the vestments worn by those holding the mass. This famous cathedral, which was designed by New York architect C. Grant La Farge, was also the place where President John F. Kennedy's funeral was held in 1963.
This neo-classical church, National City Christian Church, contains one of the largest pipe organs in Washington DC. Visitors can hear free organ recitals at 12:15pm Thursdays, February through December. The sanctuary, which rises 200 feet above Thomas Circle, was designed by famed architect John Russell Pope. Also on the premises is an International Gift Shop, which sells the crafts of artisans from Third World countries.
Mary McLeod Bethune, a noted teacher and political leader, lived in this house from 1943 until her death in 1955. She served as director of the Division of Negro Affairs under Franklin Roosevelt and was an advisor to three other U.S. presidents. The house was the original headquarters for the National Council of Negro Women. Founded by Bethune, the group sought to promote women in society and eliminate all forms of discrimination. Today, the home is a museum dedicated to Bethune and all American black women. A large collection of writings, artwork, photographs and memorabilia are on display. Donations accepted.