WASHINGTON, DC

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WASHINGTON MONUMENT

Our nation's capitol has it all... history, government, fine art, a world class zoo, great architecture, natural beauty and plenty of intellectual stimulation. Circumstances allowed us to visit the city one month before and two months after September 11, 2001. In August, we spent part of two days touring the city and visiting the attractions.

The layout of the roadways is bizarre, with streets (many of them one way) going every which-a-way. Even if you have a great navigator, drivers should carefully study a map before entering and exiting the downtown area. Parking can also be difficult. Garages are relatively expensive, but there is some free parking if you are fortunate enough to find a spot. We were lucky to find parking on Maine Ave. and at the Jefferson Memorial viewing area just off Maine Ave.

It would take several days to thoroughly peruse just the main attractions. Don't be deceived by the apparent close proximity of the attractions on a map. The National Mall is over two miles long from east-to-west (from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol). The Washington Monument, the numerous Smithsonian Institution buildings, and many government buildings are in between. The White House is a mile due north of the Washington Monument. So be prepared for a certain amount of walking.

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OLD TOWN TROLLEY

One great way to see a large part of the city in a short time is the Old Town Trolley Tour. Aboard a Victorian trolley replica, a loop of the city (primary tourist attractions of downtown Washington)  takes about two and a half hours. You may depart and reboard as often as you'd like to visit any attraction. The drivers/tour guides are very knowledgeable, fun and informative. Not only does the tour pass by the National Mall attractions, it takes you to other city attractions away from the downtown area (e.g. The National Cathedral, Embassy Row, Georgetown). It's a bit pricy at $24 for adults and $12 for kids under 12, but if it fits within your budget, it's well worth the walking/driving time it saves.

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JEFFERSON MEMORIAL

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                             LINCOLN MEMORIAL

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U.S.CAPITOL

WHITE HOUSE

 

 

 

 

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AIR & SPACE MUSEUM

AMERICAN HISTORY MUSEUM

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AMERICAN HISTORY MUSEUM - WITH GEORGE

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM - HOPE DIAMOND

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Perhaps you have heard that the Smithsonian Institution cannot be fully experienced in just a day or two. It's very much true. There is a great deal to see. A large portion of the buildings on the National Mall are part of the Smithsonian. Although its several miles away, the National Zoo (which we did not visit) is also a part of the Smithsonian. We visited several museums. The Museum of Natural History, the Museum of American History, and the Air and Space Museum are not to be missed. The art museums are also wonderful, but may not be fully appreciated by younger visitors. The architecture on the National Mall is nothing less than spectacular and is particularly impressive when viewed as a whole from the base of the Washington Monument.

SMITHSONIAN CASTLE

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  We enjoyed very pleasant weather during both visits. Although there are plenty of tourists, there are so many attractions on the National Mall, the people are spread out over a large area and the crowds are not overwhelming (after you find a place to park). We visited just two months after the September 11 attacks and even though the security was quite visible, it was only a minimal inconvenience that we were certainly glad to endure in order to enjoy Washington's tremendous history and culture.
   
   

 

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THE PENTAGON - NOVEMBER 18, 2001