March 17, 2010

TOURING WASHINGTON, D.C.

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

This is the time of year when many plan their summer vacations. Each year, many Idaho families choose to visit our nation's capital, which is full of historic sites and buildings along with museums and other attractions that make it a good place to spend a week or two. But with so many opportunities to learn about our country's past and present, it can be overwhelming to decide how to spend your time and money. That is one reason that I have set up a section on my website dealing with visiting D.C. At that Tour Information section, you will find all of the information you will need to plan and execute a memorable trip to our nation's capital.

Right now, for good reason, there are plenty of people unhappy with the workings of Washington, D.C. But, at the same time, and also for good reason, nearly everyone is awed by the history surrounding our nation's capital. Much of that history remains and is seen today in historic sites and buildings and is kept alive in monuments, museums and memorials. In fact, there is so much to see in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area, that visitors from Idaho, and elsewhere around the country, can find it hard to fit into a single trip.

The White House, Washington Monument, Capitol, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials are, for obvious reasons, the main attractions, but there is so much more to see and do. A brief list of several other worthwhile sights in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area includes George Washington's home, Mount Vernon; Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello; the four war memorials on the Mall; Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; The Naval Historical Center; the National Museum of the Marine Corps; Civil War battlefields; the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; the National Building Museum; the National Gallery of Art; the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Kennedy Center; the National Theatre; the Washington Cathedral; the National Zoo; the U.S. Botanical Gardens; and, of course, the beautiful cherry blossoms in late March and the fall foliage in October and November.

The summer is the busiest tourist season, when families crowd museums and the National Mall. That's why it's important to take a look at what attractions would be the most interesting for your family. On my website, you will also find helpful information about getting around Washington, D.C., using public transportation, tried and true traveling tips from me and my staff and a listing of attractions that focus on children or some historical figure. For many families, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I would like to help make the most of the experience. My office can help schedule some tours (White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing), but there are many places that you can explore on your own.

From viewing the Declaration of Independence to seeing a lunar module at the National Air and Space Museum or standing outside the gates of the White House or watching a giant panda cavort at the National Zoo, there really is something here for everyone to take an interest in and learn from. History surrounds you in Washington, D.C., and I encourage all who are able and wish to see it to go to http://crapo.senate.gov/services/TouristPlanning.cfm for more information, touring tips and to fill out a tour request form.

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