Posts Tagged ‘Youth Tours to Washington DC’

Washington DC: A Capitol Time in the District

Friday, July 13th, 2012

by Kara Segedin

Of all the cities I’ve visited in the United States, Washington DC stands out as one the most steeped in a sense of history.

Home to the White House and Congress, DC is full of world famous sights and enough museums and galleries to keep history and culture buffs busy for years!

United States Capitol Building

United States Capitol Building

The main area you’ll want to visit is called the National Mall, an open-air national park in the city’s downtown area running from Capitol Hill to the Lincoln Memorial. This is where crowds rallied for Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and anti-war protests in the 1960s (and where Forrest reunites with Jenny in Forrest Gump).

The Mall is lined with various museums, monuments and memorials; all are free to visit and within a fairly easy walk of each other making DC a budget traveller’s dream.

It’s also the perfect place to try out your photography skills. Leafy green trees line the inner city streets and there are parks everywhere, plus the grand buildings and monuments are ridiculously photogenic.

We started out sightseeing at the United States Capitol. A beautiful and grand building, entrance to the visitors’ centre is free, but there is a cost if you want to take a tour and you must book in advance.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

From Capitol Hill we wandered through the gardens all the way to the Washington Monument past the reflecting pool and onto the Lincoln Memorial.

Along the way we stopped by several of the Smithsonian Institute museums that line the Mall. There are 13 museums in the area covering subjects from Air and Space, National History, Natural History and American Indian Culture - there’s easily a week’s worth of viewing on offer.

Out of the museums I’d recommend the Natural History and National History as the main ones to visit. Both are mazes of exhibits and information and you’d need several hours to make sure you’d seen it all.

The Natural Museum has a huge collection of animals, dinosaurs, early human artefacts and precious stones, including the priceless Hope Diamond.

The National Museum’s prize piece (well, in my opinion anyway) is the original Star Spangled Banner - ridiculously huge - and Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. It offers a fascinating and detailed overview of American history from pre-European to recent event.

Another must-see and moving experience is a trip to Arlington Cemetery, a military cemetery established in 1864 during the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House.

Soldier at the Tomb of the Unknowns

Soldier at the Tomb of the Unknowns

A short subway ride from the Mall, Arlington is the final resting place of JFK and hundreds and thousands of US soldier.

Over 30 funerals are held there every single day and one of the most solemn sights is the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The tomb is dedicated to the military men and women who have died without their remains being identified and has been under constant guard by the US Army since July 2, 1937. You can witness the ceremony for yourself every half hour in summer and every hour in winter.

Back on the Mall we had time for a few sunset shots before our stomachs sent us in search of food. So that’s two big thumbs up for DC. You’ll be pledging allegiance to the flag in no time.


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