Attractions in Washington DC

Undeniably, the District is on the go. Its metro-area population exceeds 5 million, and thousands of visitors come in each year, so the city constantly regroups, reinvents and reissues its welcome. And whether folks come for political matters or simply to marvel at museums, memorials and gardens, they find plenty to entrance and delight them. The city defines America and puts on a pedestal what makes it tick and what it holds dear. It comes as no surprise, then, that DC has an allure all its own. The city unites politics, cosmopolitan energy and culture with first-class dining, shopping and nightlife, crafting a melting pot of international influence and homegrown practicality that's not only a perfect destination spot but a chunk of the American experience itself.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is probably the best-known address in America. The 32-room residence has been home to every US president except the father of the country, George Washington. It's visited by more than 1.5 million people a year.

The Washington Monument
At 555 feet and 5 inches tall, the Washington Monument is the world's tallest masonry structure. The cornerstone was laid in 1848 with the same trowel that Washington himself used in 1793 to lay the Capitol's cornerstone. Opened to the public in 1888, it was at first only available to men - the 20-minute ride on the steam-operated elevator was considered too dangerous for women. Today, because of vandalism and the frequency of heart attacks, no one is allowed to climb the 898 steps to the top.

The Smithsonian
The Smithsonian - for many, the image of the 19th-century sandstone "Castle" immediately springs to mind. The Institution itself is larger than most realize (14 museums and the National Zoo in DC alone) and granting only one day to "do the Smithsonian" is a mistake. Always-popular stops are the National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of American History (closed until Summer 2008); however, the beautiful National Museum of the American Indian has emerged as a hot attraction, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington-Dulles serves as a fascinating repository of nearly 80% of the Smithsonian's air and space collection.

National Gallery of Art
One of the world's most prominent and admired museums, the National Gallery delights visitors with exhibits spanning the art of the Middle Ages to the art of today. The West Building covers the 13th through 19th centuries, while the sleek East Building (designed by I.M. Pei) is devoted to modern and contemporary works. All told, there are 3000 paintings, 2000 pieces of sculpture and over 100,000 prints, drawings and papers held here, including paintings by da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and Rembrandt. After touring the galleries, be sure to allot time for the stunning Sculpture Garden situated at the corner of 7th and Madison.