"Our capitol in the mall" Washington D.C. by mht_in_la
Washington D.C. Travel Guide: 5,728 reviews and 15,318 photos
Washington DC is the Capitol of the United States, and one of the country's most popular vacation destinations. A few years back I used to visit DC every year for a conference. But I always stayed in the Dupont Circle area, rarely made my way to the tourist attractions. In fact I think I had been inside the Capitol and Washington Monument only once as a student.
This year (2004) I made a trip to DC just to sightsee. And I found the reason this is such a popular vacation spot. First, the United States Capitol is located in a mall called the National Mall. And when you have the mall you have the crowd. Americans just love the mall. Most of attractions concentrate in the mall area, and their names all start with "m". You have the museums, the monuments, and the memorials (but no M&M here).
The second great idea they came up with is to put the Capitol of the United States out of the states. If you visit Washington DC, you are visiting a place that doesn't belong to any state. That makes it sound like an exotic vacation destination. To those who live in Virginia, just drive across the Potomac River and you are "out of the states". How wonderful!
As to D.C.'s attractions, the line is getting longer and security tighter these days. Here's a short list of the "tough-to-see" attractions by the degree of difficulty --
1. White House -- you can no longer just walk up and visit White House anymore. The tour is now only for pre-arranged educational groups.
2. Washington Monument -- it's better if you order tickets ahead of time or your chance as a walk-up is slim. A small number of tickets are reserved for walk-up visitors but usually gone in the first 15 minutes of the day.
3. U.S. Capitol building -- it's better if you arrange your tour with your local senator or congress man/woman. Walk-up is possible but the line is long.
The attached photo to the right is WWII Memorial, the newest addition to the National Mall. It was just opened on the Memorial Day this year, a few weeks before my visit. Since it's in an open area with no security, it's very crowded.
The photo was taken from Constitutional Gardens. From the right angle, Washington Monument looks like a totem pole... more travel advice
The zoo in Washington DC has the title of National Zoo. But it's actually very small. Many years ago I walked here from... more travel advice
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