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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.
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.
From beneath the 90-foot (30-meter) portico, visitors can gaze across an expanse of sloping lawn to the Potomac River as it flows past Mount Vernon. This 17th-century plantation house was once home to the first President of the United States, George Washington. The property was originally owned by Washington's father, Augustine, and George replaced a smaller, more modest home with Mount Vernon when he came into the property, beginning in 1758. Today, costumed guides narrate the history of the elegant mansion and of the surrounding buildings, which have been preserved to reflect the days when the first president resided here. Visitors are invited to walk around the 500-acre (200-hectare) estate, tour the buildings and participate in the "Hands-on History" exhibits that recreate farming techniques and colonial games.
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.
A popular children's institution in DC, Discovery Theater is located in the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall. Live theater performances are presented, including several original works, along with puppetry, dance, storytelling and music. These performances are excellent educational entertainment for children and might spark an interest in the arts. All performances are open to the public, however, advanced reservations are recommended for groups and families.
The paper currency for the US is printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Kids and adults will love visiting this “money factory.” The guided tour lasts around 40 minute and is on a first come first served basis. Summer evening tours require tickets, which are handed out at the Cisitor Center. Visitors can see a display with a million one dollar bills and view dollars at every stage of production. The bureau runs 24 hours a day and prints $450 million daily.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is located just down the street from the National Air and Space Museum. Visitors stroll up a rising, circular incline and view works by Calder, Rodin, and contemporary sculptors. Special exhibits have included works by such artists as Mircea Cantor, Rivane Neuenschwander, and Morris Louis. This unique building is home to many innovative and unusual exhibits and pieces of art. The museum's collection includes 4,000 paintings and 2,000 sculptures. Do not miss the sunken sculpture garden across Jefferson Drive. Auguste Rodin's Burghers of Calais is a must-see.
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.
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.