The District of Columbia was set aside and named as a tribute to the Founding Father of the United States of America. It does not belong to any of the 50 states, and stands as a separate location housing the federal governing body for the country. There are many must-see locations for those visiting the area, and we have covered a few in Part 1. This installment is the last one we want to share with some more additions to your itinerary.
The Veterans Memorial
There are many war memorials dedicated to veterans of World War II, Vietnam War and the Korean War. Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a most-visited wall, inscribed with a huge list of names of American men and women, who lost their lives or went missing, in service to the nation during the Vietnam War. A bronze sculpture stands near the wall, of three American servicewomen helping a wounded soldier - this is the Vietnam Women's Memorial. Nineteen steel sculptures of American soldiers depict the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and then there is the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.
Many military bands perform in the summer evenings at different venues throughout the week. The US Navy Band concerts happen on the Capitol Hill steps on Mondays overlooking the National Mall, and at the Navy Memorial on Tuesdays. US Air Force Band performs on Capitol Hill on Tuesdays, and at the Air Force Memorial on Fridays.
The National Mall
There is always a crowd near the Washington Monument, and the greenbelt surrounding is home to many of the war monuments. These monuments line the huge National Mall, and so there is a possibility that you will spend enough time here. The huge park allows for lazy walks, or picnics or even runs, and there are a lot of celebrations and festivals that are hosted inside the Mall.
The most well known celebrations happen on Independence Day, 4th of July, with fireworks filling the sky around the Washington Monument. July sees a lot of performances, cultural programs, craft, storytelling, music and food from different areas of the country showcased inside the mall. This is called the Smithsonian American Folklife Festival. March end or early April celebrates the Smithsonian Kite Festival here.
The Smithsonian National Museums
Air and Space Museum
One of the most popular tourist museums, it is home to the history, science and technology of aviation and spacecraft. You can view the original Wright Bros. Flyer. The first human lunar landing mission in the Apollo 11 command model is represented here as well. Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the first plane that flew across the Atlantic Ocean.
Exhibitions share all details about the evolution and growth of air and space technology, with the use of air power in the World Wars, to the power race of the nations in space. You could actually touch a moon rock, you could figure out how jet engines work, and how the International Space Station stays in orbit.
The Albert Einstein Planetarium is an IMAX theater and observatory, and here you can investigate the solar system and its planets and the lunar craters. Kids and adults alike love the Flight Simulators, you can fly combat missions with full 360-degree barrel rolls or experience naval aviation in an F-18 Super Hornet.
The Museum of Natural History
This is one museum of great interest to all ages, with exhibits about the beginning and changes overtime in the natural world. The Hall of Human origins shows artifacts from over six million years ago, and follows human evolution, moves on to the Neanderthals, to a real mummy, and continues with the changes till the world we share today.
The Dinosaur exhibits are obviously the most favorite for the little ones, as well as the interactive Discovery Room, where they are allowed to touch, explore and play with the many artifacts.
You just cannot afford to miss the world-renowned Hope Diamond in all its glory, and the sparkling and dazzling collection of other gorgeous gems and minerals. Also, Ocean Hall has a 45-foot replica of a North Atlantic Right Whale, one of the most endangered species, and breathtaking underwater photography.
The Museum of American History
Another most popular of the many Smithsonian museums, is this one brushing up on American history for young and old alike. It pursues the cultural, political, scientific and technological history of America starting from the Big Revolution.
There are important and unique pieces displayed in its exhibits, like Thomas Jefferson's desk, the original flag that was the inspiration behind Francis Scott Key's Star Spangled Banner, as well as one of Thomas Edison's light bulbs.
Exhibits depict early American settlers, their daily lives, the vehicles they used, the clothes they wore, how they formed their government. Alongside these, you will also find iconic gowns worn by First Ladies, the ruby red slippers Judy Garland wore in the all-time favorite movie The Wizard of Oz and Julia Child's complete kitchen to the Muppets.
There are many more monuments, memorials, parks, cathedrals and historic districts to visit in Washington DC. Just the Smithsonian Institute has a collection of museums, galleries and zoos that will take at least a week to cover. Washington D.C offers all a glimpse into both the American history and its present. It walks a visitor through the growing pains, and gives a sense of the ups and downs that Americans and their leaders have consistently faced, and yet stayed steady to their purpose and vision of making America great.
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