Washington, D.C. – the District of Columbia

One trip that every citizen of the United States should take, if given the opportunity, is one to Washington, D.C. (D.C. stands for the District of Columbia). The History.com website states, “The city of Washington was named for George Washington (who picked the location), while the District of Columbia was named for the explorer Christopher Columbus.” Washington D.C. should not be confused with the state of Washington. The state of Washington is located on the west coast of the United States. The capital of the United States of America (Washington, D.C.) sits on the Potomac River near the east coast. It borders the states of Maryland and Virginia. At the time that the location was chosen, it would have been central to the existing states; the land was on the border of the north and south. At that time there were no states in the west. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the jurisdiction of the Congress only. Therefore the District of Columbia is not a part of any U.S. state.

The capital of the nation is structured for visitors to learn about the rich history of the United States of America and its founders. So that the nation’s capital can be enjoyed no matter what one’s economic status, most of the most popular museums, monuments, and other attractions are free to the public. Some of the most notable free things to see while in Washington D.C. include iconic memorials, monuments, museums, and important buildings.

The Washington.org website describes the Jefferson Memorial by saying, “…the memorial resembles the Pantheon in Rome, an adaptation of Neoclassical architecture favored by Thomas Jefferson himself.” Jefferson’s massive standing statue is awe inspiring. The walls of the memorial are covered with Jefferson’s words, including text from the Declaration of Independence. The Lincoln Memorial is equally as impressive. It is located at the western end of the National Mall, which is also known as “America’s front yard“. The statue of President Lincoln is 19 feet tall, and weighs 175 tons. The words of the Gettysburg Address are etched into the wall. The words of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address are also etched into a wall of the memorial.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial, National World War II Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans War Memorial all pay tribute to those who put their lives on the line to protect the United States of America. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial are adjacent to each other. They are both within the line of sight of the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

The Smithsonian Institution includes 19 museums, galleries, and the National Zoological Park. Most of the Smithsonian attractions are free except for the cost to park. (The Metrorail system is a travel option for those that do not wish to drive in the city.) The National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History are two of the most famous museums. Most of the museums and the zoo are open 364 days a year (closed on December 25th). Museum and zoo hours can be checked by visiting the Smithsonian Institution’s website.

The White House and U.S. Capitol building are also must-see locations while in Washington, D.C. Tours of the White House require advance planning. Tour requests can be made through members of Congress. Requests should be submitted six months in advance, a minimum of 21 days in advance. The White House is protected by Secret Service officers at all times. However the street that the White House faces is closed to traffic to make it easier to visit on foot. Visits to the U.S. Capitol should be planned in advance because availability and hours are subject to change.

The three branches of the federal government are are operated from the Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court – all located in Washington, D.C. All of the buildings are reasonably accessible to visitors. The ability to visit the home of the Commander-in-Chief of the country and the work places of the country’s law makers and law interpreters is a privilege.

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