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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.
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.
Whether you visit Queen Anne Farm in the summer or fall, you are sure to find some lovingly grown produce to take home with you. In the summer, this family-run farm sells fresh, pesticide-free produce like tomatoes, sweet corn, and watermelons. The fall turns this adorable farm into a pumpkin-lovers paradise, where you can purchase seven kinds of pumpkins, along with butternut squash, Georgia candy roaster squash, and little red potatoes. Make sure to bring the kids so that they can pick out pumpkins for carving at the pumpkin patch, explore the corn maze, and pet farm animals at the petting zoo.
Visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to take a look at Blackbird, the fastest jet-plane in the world; or the famous space vehicle Discovery that has completed 39 space missions to date. The center is an extension of the National Air And Space Museum and displays aeronautical equipment and aircrafts to the public. There are two hangars and an Observation Tower that provides a panoramic view of the adjacent Washington Dulles International Airport. Also, it is here that the Airbus IMAX Theater is located. The center also lets visitors take a look at various restoration projects. A visit to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is informative and insightful for children and adults alike.
Dedicated to free press and free speech, the Newseum showcases the history of news gathering. The displays include a video wall of live news broadcasts from around the world. Here visitors have the opportunity to anchor a news program, an exhibit especially popular with children. For a fee, children can also put their faces on the covers of famous magazines, including Life and Sports Illustrated. Interactive displays are the rule here, but there is much to see in a variety of dynamic formats. Washington visitors can also view an outdoor version of the Newseum's popular “Today's Front Pages” now on display. The museum also features the largest exhibit of Berlin Wall sections and a gallery devoted to the events of September 11th.
The National Air and Space Museum is home to quite a few aircrafts that narrate fascinating stories. Everything from the iconic Wright Brothers' Flyer and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis to World War II planes and Apollo 11 are up on display here, thus beckoning history aficionados, science buffs and aviation fans alike. Along with exhibits, visitors are also provided audio-visual aid to help them understand the significance of aeronautics better. At the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater of the National Air and Space Museum, visitors can view one of the ever-changing films on the five-story screen. After the film, you can touch a moon rock or visit the original Star Trek model of the Enterprise. Educational exhibits introduce the ideas of aerodynamics to children and track the influence of flight technology on culture.
Along the city's waterfront is the wonderful Yards Park that opened in September 2010. A stunning example of how urban planning can play such a vital role in ensuring that city-dwellers enjoy their time in the city, this park comes replete with fountains, a pool, jogging tracks, biking trails, waterside lawns, shopping spots, cafes, bars and more. A special platform has been constructed to host outdoor events like concerts, community get-togethers, dog shows and festivals.
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.
Hemlock Overlook Regional Park has something exciting for everyone. The park serves as an outdoor education center that teaches visitors about the natural world - and how to survive in it. Other activities that can be reserved include ropes courses, rock climbing and kayaking. It is important to note that members of the public must make a reservation to join these activities. However, you do not need a reservation to use the park's beautiful hiking and horseback riding trails.
Take a trip back in time and explore the much celebrated American history at the National Museum of American History. Rich in displays that depict the American journey through the ages; it resides inside a gallery that portrays the emergence of the American national anthem along with other innovative and cherished artifacts. Housed within this multi-floor building are exhibition halls and rooms that illustrate the glorious and doom days of America.
The dinosaur skeletons on the ground floor of the National Museum of Natural History are sure to please the kids. But there is something here for everyone. The famous Hope Diamond is on display as well as a live coral reef, a walk-through mine and an insect zoo with thousands of live specimens. The Discovery Room encourages kids to touch, smell and taste the exhibits. If your feet need some rest, sit back and enjoy a film in the museum's Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater in the National Museum of Natural History.
Banneker Pool is one of the most popular public pools in the Washington DC area. Lovers of swimming flock to the pool to beat the summer heat, enroll their kids in swimming classes, and swim laps. If you happen to be in the DC area and fancy a dip, this pool is the place to do it. Not the greatest swimmer in the world? No worries - the large outdoor pool can accommodate all abilities and all ages so you can have a safe, fun time no matter what.