Washington DC Area InformationThere is so much to see and do in Washington, DC that you can't see it all in just one visit. A well-rounded trip should include exploring the National Mall and some other activities too! Here are some tips to help you get around the popular attractions and some suggestions of fun and more relaxing things to do in the region.
Smithsonian Museums - www.si.edu
The Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC are world class museums with a variety of exhibits ranging from art to space exploration. Admission to all of the Smithsonian museums is free. Visitors enjoy examining more than 137 million objects, works of art and specimens as well as participating in guided tours, hands-on-activities and special programs. With 19 museums and galleries, there truly is something for everyone. Start at the Smithsonian Institution Building where you can pick up a map and information on all of the museums. These national treasures cover a wide range of subjects from art to space exploration. Plan to explore those you are most interested in, but don't try to see everything at once. Be sure to save time to see an IMAX movie at the Natural History Museum or the National Air and Space Museum.
Monuments and Memorials - www.thedistrict.com/monuments_and_memorials.cfm
Our national monuments are truly spectacular. The best time to see them is at night when they are illuminated, less crowded and parking is easier. During daytime visits, take a tour bus. Listen to informative park ranger talks and you won't have to negotiate congested city traffic.
Touring the Three Houses of Government
The White House - www.whitehouse.gov/
The White House is the home and office of the President and is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. To arrange a tour you must make a request through one of your members of Congress. Group tours are held Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 a. m. through 11:30 a. m. and are scheduled one month in advance.
Without advance planning, you can visit the White House Visitor Center, located at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets, which is open daily from 7:30 a. m. until 4 p.m. View a short video and learn about the White House architecture, furnishings, and the Presidents and first families. Listen to musical performances featuring the U. S. Air Force Band, the U. S. Army Band, the U. S. Navy Band or other military bands.
The Capitol - www.aoc.gov/cc/visit/
The U. S. Capitol Building, the meeting chambers for the Senate and the House of Representatives, is one of the most recognizable historic buildings in Washington, DC, located at the opposite end of the National Mall from the Washington Monument. It is a prominent landmark and an impressive example of 19th-century neoclassical architecture.
With 540 rooms divided among five levels, the U. S. Capitol is a massive building. The ground floor is allocated to congressional offices. The second floor holds the chambers of the House of Representatives in the south wing and the Senate in the north wing. Under the dome in the center of the Capitol Building is the Rotunda, a circular space that serves as a gallery of paintings and sculpture of American historical figures and events. The third floor is where visitors can watch the proceedings of Congress when in session. Additional offices and machinery rooms occupy the fourth floor and the basement.
Supreme Court the U.S. Capitol - www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/wash/dc78.htm
The U.S. Supreme Court was originally located in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. In 1935, the current U.S. Supreme Court Building was constructed in a Corinthian architectural style to match the nearby congressional buildings. On the front stairway are two statues, the Contemplation of Justice and the Guardian or Authority of Law.
The Chief Justice and 8 associate justices make up the Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the United States. They decide whether actions of Congress, the President, the states and the lower courts follow the principles of the Constitution. Out of approximately 7,000 cases submitted each year to the Supreme Court, only about 100 cases are heard. The U.S. Supreme Court is located on Capitol Hill at First Street and Maryland Avenue in NW, Washington, DC.
The Supreme Court is in session October through April and visitors may view sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Seating is limited and given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Supreme Court Building is open throughout the year from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitors can participate in a variety of educational programs, explore exhibits and see a 25-minute film on the Supreme Court. Lectures in the Courtroom are given every hour on the half-hour, on days that the Court is not in session.
Georgetown - http://dc.about.com/od/neigborhoodprofiles/p/Georgetown.htm
Georgetown, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington, DC, served as a major port and commercial center during colonial times because of its prime location on the Potomac River. Today, Georgetown is a vibrant community with upscale shops, bars and restaurants along its cobblestone streets. Many of the homes along the tree-lined streets are 200 year-old restored row houses with beautiful gardens. Georgetown housing is expensive, so most Georgetown University students live on campus or rent apartments uptown or nearby in Virginia. Georgetown is located in Washington, DC north of the Potomac River just across the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The main thoroughfares are M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. The neighborhood extends from Georgetown University to the west to Rock Creek Parkway to the east to Montrose Park and Oak Hill Cemetery to the north. Georgetown is not accessible by Metrorail. You can get to this historic neighborhood by the Georgetown Metro Connection or by the DC Circulator.
Kennedy Center - www.kennedy-center.org
The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, officially named the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is the city's premier performance venue, providing approximately 3,000 performances per year. The Kennedy Center is the home to the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington Opera, Washington Ballet and American Film Institute. Performances include theatre, musicals, dance, orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, & folk music; youth and family programs and multi-media shows. Free daily performances are held on the Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer.
The Kennedy Center has three main theaters: A Concert Hall, an Opera House and the Eisenhower Theater. Other performance venues include the Terrace Theater, the Theater Lab, and the Millennium Stage. Two restaurants are on site: The Roof Terrace Restaurant and the KC Café. The premier performing arts venue is located right along the Potomac River and the terrace provides a great view of the Potomac, Theodore Roosevelt Island and Georgetown.
The Kennedy Center is located at 2700 F. St. NW, Washington, DC near the Foggy Bottom/George Washington Univ. Metro Station. From there it is a short walk via New Hampshire Ave. OR you may use the FREE Kennedy Center Show Shuttle.
Mount Vernon - www.mountvernon.org/
George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate is located in Mount Vernon, Virginia along the shores of the Potomac River and is the most scenic tourist attraction in the Washington, DC area. Visit the mansion, the outbuildings, the gardens and the new museum and learn about the life of America's first president and his family.
The recent expansion of Mount Vernon transforms the Estate into a year-round destination. You can easily spend most of the day here, visiting the museum and exploring the mansion, the outbuildings and the estate grounds. During the peak season, there can be a line to get into the Mansion. The approximate waiting time will be listed at the Main Gate. To avoid long lines, visit Mount Vernon on a weekday or November March.
Great Falls Park - www.nps.gov/grfa
Great Falls Park, an 800-acre park located along the Potomac River, is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The natural beauty of Great Falls Park and its close proximity to downtown Washington, DC make this park popular with local residents and tourists who are visiting the area.
Great Falls Park offers a variety of activities including hiking, picnicking, kayaking, rock climbing, bicycling, and horseback riding. You can view the falls from several observation areas. The falls cascade into 20 foot waterfalls displaying the steepest fall line rapids of any eastern river. On the Virginia side, Overlook 2 and the Patowmack Canal Trail are wheelchair accessible. Follow the River Trail, beginning just downstream of the falls, and you will see spectacular views of the Mather Gorge. Above the Great Falls Park Visitor Center, you can follow the upper Canal Trail and view the head of the falls and the Aqueduct Dam.
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