Although small in geographic scope, Washington DC has some of the best museums, historical sites, restaurants and places of interest
for travelers as compared to almost any city in the United States. Truly the "heart of our nation", Washington DC was designed by French architect Charles L' Enfant after much debate over what Thomas Jefferson termed "that Indian swamp in the wilderness". L'Enfants vision encompassed 100-foot wide streets and one avenue, a mile long, with vistas sweeping from what was to become the U.S. Capital Building and then eventually the White House. Washington DC is filled with hundreds of monuments, statues, sculptures, gardens, reflecting pools, fountains and grottos designed to illuminate the history and achievements of people from all walks of life. Cleaning and maintenance staff
are on the clock
24 hours to make sure the the sights are well maintained. Due to its rich heritage and enormous range of tourist destinations, Washington DC has become one of the most popular travel spots for Americans and millions of foreign visitors each year.
Washington DC History
The District of Columbia - Washington DC - is to many the heart of our nation. Aside from being the capital of the United States, DC has hundreds of monuments, markers, museums, galleries, government buildings, gardens and other sites which remind us of the rich diversity of our history. In the early days of our nation, DC was a mosquito infested swamp hardly obvious as the site of our nation's power, but the founding fathers wanted a central location within the colonies to house our fledgling government. Thomas Jefferson and others supported a site near Virginia along the Potomac River and George Washington chose the final site for our nations capital.
French-born architect Pierre Charles L' Enfant was chosen to design the layout of the new "Federal City" and he envisioned 100 foot wide streets and one avenue a mile long. The two focal points were to be the Capitol Building and the President's mansion (later renamed the White House). Oddly enough, George Washington never lived in the White House. John Adams was the first President to live there, beginning November 1, 1800. Since that time every U.S. President has lived in the White House - except for a brief period during the War of 1812, when the structure was ransacked by British troops and set ablaze - to be later restored to its present grandeur.
Our nation's history can be viewed at numerous spots along the many streets circling and entering the city including Ford's Theatre where President Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, the DC railway station where President Garfield was shot, the Lincoln Memorial near the reflecting pool where Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech in 1963 and dozens of monuments to these and other great figures. Washington DC was - and is - the heart of our power in our nation and you can feel this power in visiting the remarkable number of museums, sculptures and structures highlighting the rich history of our nation. More Washington DC history...
Washington DC Restaurants
Our nations capital has many wonderful restaurants offering a wide assortment of cuisines. Some of the more interesting restaurants are in the immediate suburbs like Georgetown ("1792") and Arlington, Virginia. My favorite restaurant for an upscale breakfast or lunch near the White House is the Old Ebbitt Grill
. 'Power centers' like The Palm
still draw the elite from Capital Hill and the business community, but there are dozens of lower-middle tier establishments which cater to middle class budgets and tastes. More Washington DC restaurants...
Washington DC Clubs and Music
Georgetown has a vibrant music scene, with Blues Alley
catering to jazz, blues and related genres. Many of the bars in the area also have live entertainment, which tends to focus on the under-35 crowd. The Kennedy Center
has more upscale affairs, with classical, pop and theatrical events on the schedule. Due to the huge number of colleges and universities in the area, young people will find a wide array of musical options in and around the metro area, including the Birchmere
, One Step Down
and the Wharf
, along with RFK Stadium
, the Patriot Center
and the Meriweather Post Pavilion
. More Washington DC clubs and music...
Washington DC Attractions
Construction began on the U.S. Capital Building
in 1790 and the White House
was not completed until 1800, with John Adams being the first President to take up residence there. Both of these buildings conduct tours daily- but visitors must sign up in advance and take their place in long lines due to their popularity. The District of Columbia (DC) is 67 square miles of living history and there are hundreds of interesting spots to visit. The Washington Monument
, the Jefferson Memorial
, the Lincoln Memorial
, the newly built F.D.R. Memorial
, the Vietnam Memorial
, the World War II Memorial
and dozens of others offer a huge array of spots to explore, stroll and relax on ground where Thomas Jefferson once walked, where Lincoln pondered the fate of the Union and where F.D.R. and Harry Truman worked to save our country and the world from the terrors of Nazi world domination.
Perhaps the most famous attraction outside of the monuments is the Smithsonian Institute and its numerous museums along the Mall - all free to the public. These include the Air and Space museum, the Museum of Natural History, the American History Museum and the Smithsonian Castle. Also located along the Mall is the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, Corcoran gallery and National Archives. For a little variation, you can visit the Spy Museum, Fords Theatre, Holocaust Museum, Museum of the American Indian and the Botanical Gardens.
Some of the most interesting places to visit are the hotels, restaurants and office buildings where Presidents, Congressmen, socialites and celebrities have dined, strategized and celebrated. The Willard Hotel is a famous landmark downtown where President Lincoln met with his advisors before taking the oath of office. The recently built Reagan Office Building is an enormous structure, which is slowly being developed into a multi-use site- ironically, its size and cost would likely have shocked "The Gipper", as he fought against excess government spending and waste. The Ellipse and the numerous sculptures and monuments in the area, with the breathtaking cherry blossoms in the Spring are all part of a wonderful conversation between present day visitors and the thousands of fascinating persons who have walked and inhabited the region over the past two centuries.
Perhaps the most breathtaking attraction in the DC area is the Washington Monument. The Monument towers over the land and when lit by spotlights at night, it evokes a somber reflection on our first President, who dedicated his life to government service and helped in the creation of the great Republic which now honors him and all the patriots who made this country free. The Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument form a triumvirate- juxtaposed with numerous sculptures and sites honoring men and women who built this country and fought its wars. We view all of the monuments as a testimony to the great character of the American people. As the author De Tocquevuille wrote "America is great because it is good". More Washington DC attractions...