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Top Rated Attractions in Washington DC

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National Gallery of Art

Step inside this art haven with a collection spanning over 141,000 works. You'll encounter masterpieces from renowned European masters like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Vincent van Gogh, as well as groundbreaking pieces by American legends such as Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, and Jackson Pollock. Also, escape the hustle and bustle of the city within the serene oasis of the Sculpture Garden. Adorned with over 60 sculptures by renowned artists like Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and Alexander Calder,the garden offers a peaceful space for contemplation and reflection.

National Mall

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."

Washington Monument

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.

United States National Arboretum

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.

Lincoln Memorial

Located at the west end of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial is one of the principal landmarks of Washington, DC. Its stately form overlooks the Reflecting Pool, a gleaming stretch of water that lies 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.

United States Botanic Garden

The gorgeous United States Botanic Garden presents botanical variety, from the desert to the tropics, along a series of calm and gently meandering paths. A particular waterfall and garden display the flora of the dinosaur age. Seasonal displays include Christmas greens and poinsettias in December and January, chrysanthemums in autumn, and blooming flowers at Easter. Additionally, within the beautiful expanse of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), the National Garden was inaugurated in October 2006 and includes the carefully designed Butterfly Garden.

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