A Visit To Our Nation's Capital
Our nation's capital city is full of places to go and things to do. As your Senator, I can help you make arrangements for your trip for such destinations as the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and many other tours (you may fill out a tour request form here).
When people come to Washington, DC, a few sites are hard to miss--the Washington Monument, Capitol building, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. They tend to be the main attractions and frankly, size alone makes them easily visible upon arrival. After spending considerable time here, I’ve learned about an entirely different Washington, one that includes the very important monuments and memorials to our celebrated political and military history, but one that also caters to specific interests of many different people.
You may know about the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, but did you know that a few years ago, the museum opened an auxiliary arm next to Dulles Airport—a mammoth hangar which contains a space shuttle, an SR-71 Blackbird (one of the fastest airplanes ever built), a Concorde, and the Enola Gay to name a few? Visitors can drive or take a bus from the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall.
For military history buffs, once you've seen the four war memorials on the Mall, it's just a short Metro (subway) ride across the Potomac River to Arlington Cemetery where you can watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Naval Historical Center at the Navy Yard on the Potomac River is also a short Metro ride from downtown. And the newly-opened National Museum of the Marine Corps, located about 40 minutes south of Washington, DC in Triangle, Virginia, celebrates 231 years of United States Marine Corps history. If you feel like venturing away from the city and you have a particular interest in the Civil War, many major battlefields are less than one hour away: Bull Run/Manasses, Antietam and Fredericksburg.
The Washington area has a long growing season. From cherry blossoms in late March to fall foliage in October and November, private and public gardens and the countryside boast a beautiful variety of flowers, shrubs and trees. The U.S. Botanic Garden sits one block west of the Capitol next to the reflecting pool. A little farther out you can visit Hillwood, the home turned museum of the sole heiress to the C.W. Post fortune near the Washington Cathedral and National Zoo. The Zoo has beautiful gardens and the kids will enjoy seeing the newest addition (if they can catch a glimpse) to the Giant Panda family, Tai Shan, along with the other animals. The Zoo is part of the Smithsonian and like the museums on the Mall, admission is free. There is a fee to park, but is easily accessible from the Metro.
History and horticulture meet in the plantation homes of two former Presidents and Founding Fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, is 15 miles south of downtown Washington, and Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, is located south near Charlottesville, Virginia. Both have magnificent gardens and of course, bear the marks of these great men and their extraordinary lives.
For the art lover, Washington has many galleries, the most notable being the National Gallery of Artlocated on the National Mall. Admission is free. The gallery houses over 6,000 objects in its collection, many of them paintings, sculpture and works of art on paper from the late middle ages to the present, from European and the United States. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to recognizing contributions of women to the arts. The Corcoran Gallery, located near the White House, has collections focused primarily on 18 th, 19 th and 20 th century American Art. The Arthur M. Sackler and Freer Galleries of Art, adjacent to one another on the National Mall, house extensive collections of Asian Art.
The National Building Museum explores all aspects of construction, engineering, architecture, design and urban planning. These are just a few of the many art galleries and museums in Washington. The Phillips Collection, located near Dupont Circle was the nation’s first museum of modern art.
For those interested in the performing arts, the Kennedy Center is the premier Washington performance venue hosting live entertainment from theatre to music to dance. The National Theatre has a regular repertoire of live theatre, dance and music as well. If you can wait until the day of the performance, information on half-price tickets for same-day shows can be found at online here.
Washington is home to a number of professional sports teams, including the Redskins (football), Nationals (baseball),Wizards (basketball), Capitals (hockey) and D.C. United (soccer). Depending on the time of year of your visit, you may be able to catch a game.
As many say when they arrive in my Washington DC office breathless after a day of hiking around the Mall—there is too much to see in one, or even a few days! In addition to the information above, I offer tours of the Capitol Building through my office and, with six months notice, I will submit requests for White House tours. Be sure to visit the Tour Information section on this website for details on many other places to visit as well as downloadable maps and information sheets.