Many of you have asked: What should we be sure to see while we’re in D.C.? In addition to the Capitol and the White House, here are a few of my favorite Washington landmarks.
Bring your Camera! – Bill
1. Lincoln Memorial
Still breathtaking, no matter how many times I’ve been there. Climb the steps. Spend a few quiet moments with our greatest president. Enjoy the view up the Mall, all the way to the Capitol. I recommend visiting all the monuments at night, by the way. Even more magic and majestic. For more Lincoln, visit Ford’s Theatre on 10th. St., NW. and the house across the street where Lincoln died.
2. Vietnam Memorial
On the Mall, just to the left of the Lincoln Memorial. Overwhelming power in its simplicity. Every name is a story, a brave American, a grieving family. Take your time, be prepared to weep at the loss of so many in such a disastrous war.
3. Einstein Memorial
One of the best-kept secrets in Washington, and my favorite sculpture. Just across Constitution Avenue from the Vietnam Memorial, on the corner of the National Academy of Sciences. Magnificent over life-size sculpture of Einstein by Robert Berks, who also did the famous bust of John F. Kennedy in the Kennedy Center. Einstein invites you to sit on his lap, kids to climb on his shoulders. A family-friendly site. Note the Birkenstocks!
4. Franklin Roosevelt Memorial
After the Lincoln Memorial, the most impressive of all the monuments. Closest Metro is: Smithsonian. Stretched out along the western edge of the Tidal Basin. Very powerful artwork and play of fountains. Magnificent words of FDR etched into the granite walls. If you’re not a liberal when you enter the FDR Memorial, you will be when you walk out.
5. Library of Congress
Across First St. from the Capitol Building and Visitors Center. I believe this is the most beautiful building in Washington. It’s been recently restored. The wall and ceiling murals are magnificent. Public tours are available every day. Take a peek down into the main reading room. And be sure to check out whatever offerings from the Smithsonian’s permanent collection are on display. You’ll be proud to own a piece of this great institution.
6. Botanical Garden
Right in front of the Capitol, the very first building on the Mall. Closest Metro: Capitol South. Recently renovated, it contains a spectacular collection of plants and flowers from all over the world. The orchids are incredible. Smells good, feels good, looks great.
7. American History Museum
Last building on the Mall before the Washington Monument. Closest Metro: Smithsonian. Also recently renovated. As a student of American history, I like this best of all the Smithsonians. Among many other exhibits, be sure to see the flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner, the lunch counter that sparked the civil rights movement, and the collection of First Lady gowns. But my favorite part of the entire museum is Julia Childs’s kitchen!
8. Phillips Gallery
My favorite of all Washington’s art galleries. 1600 21st. St., N.W. Closest Metro: Dupont Circle, north. Former private mansion, with new addition. They often have great shows, but their permanent collection is well worth the visit. Look for Degas, several great paintings by Rouault, and Renoir’s magnificent “Boating Party.”
9. Union Station
It’s the biggest and most beautiful train station in the nation, still in use and still packed with local and long-distance travelers. Departures and arrivals for Amtrak, commuter trains, and Metro: Union Station. Filled with shops, restaurants, and boutiques. The entire downstairs is a huge food court, with a great variety of fast-food offerings. Fun place to hang out and walk around.
10. National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum
These two Smithsonian museums share one historic building between 8th. & 9th. Sts., N.W. Metro: Gallery Place. Each have great collections. Portrait Gallery now features life mask of Lincoln and new Shephard Fairey portrait of Barack Obama. Located in one of the liveliest areas of town called Penn Quarter. Also check out the near-by Spy Museum, Verizon Center, Chinatown, and Cowgirl Creamery.
11. Capitol Visitor Center
Brand new addition to Washington and a real winner. You enter this underground Visitor Center from First Street, behind the Capitol Building. It’s full of great exhibits and statuary, offers its own cafeteria. This is also where you sign up and line up for tours of the Capitol. Main attraction is the full-size plaster copy of the statue of Freedom which sits on top the Capitol Dome. Don’t miss it. And, while you’re at it, visit the Library of Congress, directly across the street. For my taste, it’s the most spectacularly-beautiful building in Washington.