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Top Rated Attractions in Washington DC

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Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Early morning is the time to catch the blooming water-bound plants of this park. Run by the National Park Service, the 12-acre marshland park is often overlooked by visitors who head for better-known Washington sites. As a result, the park is an uncrowded getaway. Nature-lovers and children especially will enjoy more than 100,000 flowering plants and fauna sightings.

National Zoological Park

Skirted by the surging waters of Rock Creek, the National Zoological Park is a forerunner for the title of America's finest wildlife facilities. 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. The zoo's Asia Trail gets you acquainted with fishing cats, clouded leopards and other Asian animals. Also, 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.

Great Falls Park

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.

Gravelly Point Park

This pleasant park is situated just north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. With its flat terrain and location right on the water, the park attracts cyclists and boaters, but its biggest draw is probably the close proximity to the airport (a mere 400 feet away). People come to watch the planes land and take off, flying in low right above them. An added bonus is a nice view of the Washington skyline.

Gunston Hall

Constructed in the mid-1700s, this Georgian manor was owned by George Mason, a statesman and one of the authors of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Guided tours of the house feature the elaborate interior woodcarvings and period furniture. Outside the house, visitors can walk through formal boxwood gardens, with a view of the Potomac River. Various outbuildings, the kitchen, schoolhouse and laundry room can be seen as well. Visitors can try their hand at archaeological excavation and have a chance to discover original artifacts.

Glen Echo Park

This former amusement park changed its focus from thrilling rides to artistic amusements, many of which are directed at families. A beautiful hand-carved carousel is the only ride still operating in the park, now administered by the National Park Service. Visitors will find plenty of entertainment ranging from performances at the Puppet Company Playhouse to children's stories at the Adventure Theatre. Dances like swing, square-dancing and the waltz, among others, are held at the Spanish Ballroom.

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