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.
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.
Designed by John Russell Pope, this Roman-style monument to Thomas Jefferson, the nation's third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, is elegant and simple. Jefferson's 19-foot (5.79 meter) statue stands within, surrounded by some of his most inspirational writings. This is a perfect after-dinner destination. At night, the view of the Washington Monument across the tidal basin is one of the most attractive vistas in Washington, especially when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
One of two Smithsonian museums that feature Asian art, the Freer Gallery houses more than 26000 works from all points of the Asian continent, including China, Japan, Korea and India. These works include Asian porcelains, Japanese screens and Islamic art. The works of American artists influenced by Asia are also featured. The most spectacular of these is James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room, designed for a British shipping magnate and moved to the United States from London in 1904. The Sackler Gallery is interconnected with this gallery via underground exhibition space and houses an impressive collection of Chinese paintings, ceramics and jades.
The gorgeous U.S. Botanic Garden conservatory 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. A part of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), the National Garden, was opened in October 2006 and includes the carefully-designed Butterfly Garden.
Nestled in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, the Phillips Collection is a century-old modern and contemporary art museum. Founded by the avid art collector, Duncan Phillips, the establishment is also America’s first museum of modern art. This former home of Duncan Phillips now houses several thousands of art works. Interestingly, the galleries here are frequently rearranged to make way for the works of newer artists and to facilitate newer experiences for the visitors. In addition to the famous exhibitions held here, the museum also offers award-winning educational programs for people of all ages. An impassioned ode to the power of art, this museum is a must visit for all modern-art lovers.
Nestled in the picturesque Kalorama neighborhood, Spanish Steps were constructed as a part of the City Beautiful Movement. This movement was an architectural reform movement in the United States of America during the late 1800s which encouraged architects to beautify the city by adding impressive structures to it. Robert E. Cook, a local architect, took inspirations from the Spanish Steps located in Rome and designed this beautiful structure in 1911. There is an elegant lion-head fountain at the top of the stairs which also promises splendid views of the city.
This park is located north of the Reflecting Pool amid the capital's many famous monuments and memorials. A beautiful place for a stroll, the paths wind through the trees taking you to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a lake and a memorial to the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Steeped in history, this is a must-see on any DC tour.
An array of various gardens surrounding the many museums around the National Mall form the Smithsonian Gardens. Gear up to take a tour of these 180 acres of greens, varying from traditional gardens to green houses and vegetable patches in a pair of comfortable shoes and a dash of sunscreen! Visit the Pollinator Garden featuring several spices of bees, wasps, flies and beautiful butterflies. Then head to the National Museum of African Art and enjoy the rooftop Enid A. Haupt Garden (open from dawn to dusk). Relax in the beautifully designed Courtyard Garden or check out the Orchid Collection, indoor plants, and tropical plants at the Greenhouse Nursery. You can also visit the Heirloom Garden, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden, the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, the Victory Garden at National Museum of American History and many more.
The Washington National Opera, founded in 1956, is currently housed in the Kennedy Center Opera House. General Director Plácido Domingo leads, what the Congress of the United States of America calls “The National Opera.” The Washington National Opera received this title due to its support of lesser-known works and its discovering of new talent. It is recognized for collaborating with leading foreign opera companies and its commitment to supporting new American opera.
Located near the Constitution Gardens is the Reflecting Pool. The Reflecting Pool, as the name suggests, lets you see the mirror images of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. It has great historical significance and has witnessed major political events. U.S citizens gathered here to listen to the speech delivered by Martin Luther King at the March on Washington. Every year thousands of tourists frequent the place and the calm and deep waters of the pool act as a perfect backdrop for photographs.