Sightseeing in the Nation's Capitol

One of my most memorable and favorite trips was to Washington, D.C.

The Nation's Capitol

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 10, 2005

My most memorable moment of D.C. has to be when my hotel's elevator took me on a joy ride up and down floors when I was trying to mail a postcard. Other than that, I suggest you see the national monuments and Mount Vernon. I recommend The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; walking past the FBI Building and not realizing it on the way to Ford's Theater and the Peterson House, as I did; the White House and seeing if you can get a cherry blossom petal from there; the Capitol building; and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. ${QuickSuggestions} When I arrived in April, it was a week after the Cherry Blossom Festival, and the cherry blossoms near the Thomas Jefferson Monument were blooming. However, it was the week remembering when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Ford's Theater has plays performed on the actual day, and one woman explains events of the assassination. ${BestWay} The way I got around was a large motor coach with uncomfortable seats - you were eager to see the next sight.

Best Western Potomac Mills

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 10, 2005

Woodbridge is a small city outside of Washington, D.C., and possibly the cheapest place to stay in outside D.C. The elevators were known to shut on my friends, making them scream. And, when I tried to mail a postcard at night, the elevator sent me on a Virginian version of Tower of Terror. Other than that, the rooms were a better size than I had expected. There was an A/C that kept the room cold, a window, and a large TV. It even had an ironing board, iron, and continental breakfast 6am. I was just impressed with the iron. Brochures were in the lobby, along with a mailbox to mail those "wish you were here" postcards.
Best Western Potomac Mills
14619 Potomac Mills Road
Woodbridge, 22192
(703) 494-4433

Mount Vernon

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 10, 2005

"Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness." ~ George Washington, First Annual Message, January 8, 1790

After visiting Mount Vernon, I can now see why George Washington called this place home. An enchanting view of the Potomac River can be seen on the back porch or coming down the stairs in the house. Get there early as you can because there'll be lines that are as big as Mount Vernon, and looking at the map, it's the size of a Disney Land MGM or Adventureland. A major greenhouse was surrounded by vibrant, lush gardens. The garden offers a wide variety of flowers, and a few veggie gardens. Stables and slave quarters were behind the greenhouse. The line starts near the house and down a dirt path. When it's raining, the path becomes very muddy. When standing on the mucky path, you'll see a little house called an outhouse, or the loo.

Want to know why the gardens looked great as they did back then? You'll have to go and find out yourself. Toward the end of the house is his office, where a revolving chair sits at a desk. He had a chair before they were even invented! The farm on the right side has horses, too, as well as his burial site. One of the slave quarters is a small gift shop. Don't be fooled, because that is only a small shop compared to what’s in the mall past the horses. Near the mall is a restaurant called the Mount Vernon Inn that offers daily lunch and candlelight dinners.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon, VA, 22121
(703) 780-2000

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break." ~William Shakespeare

To get on the upper levels, you had to call Pro Tix (800/400-9373) to get a timed pass. My classmates and I were shoved into this tiny, cramped elevator after we received small blue booklets with the U.S. seal and "For the dead and the living we must bear witness" printed on top. The booklets contained a person through the Holocaust, and on each floor we saw what happened to the person. A small movie theater on the third floor introduced how Hitler came to power and blamed the Jews for their debts. Through the floors, I saw how the Jews were tortured with the gas chamber, labor camps, the prisons, and cruel medical experiments. I was a little disturbed by some of the images, but they made me remember this actually had happened long ago.

The museum did a wonderful job recapturing what happened. You were intrigued about what was around every corner. What really got to me was a room of shoes. Each shoe represented the hundreds of people who died. Depressing and enjoyable, the museum is a reminder of what hate can do to a country. The end of the floors is walking down a long staircase to the Hall of Witness, where Daniel's Story is. The exhibit was a hands-on exhibition, telling what happened to this boy and his family. I didn't know there was a gift shop, so I stood looking around at this enormous hall with millions of people. This museum has truly remembered what was on the booklet: "For the dead and the living we must bear witness."

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, Sw
Washington, D.C., United States, 20024
(202) 488-0400

The White House

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"Coolidge was known for his terse speech and reticence. A woman bet her friend that she could get Coolidge to speak to her, which was something he was reluctant to do. She went up to him and said: "Hello, Mr. President, I bet my friend that I could get you to say three words to me." "You lose," Coolidge replied dryly, and walked away." ~Author Unknown

You bring just your wallet with your driver's license if over fifteen. I was lucky enough to have Billy Tauzin get my group into the White House. After passing a secret service man and a woman who doesn't check the ID anyway if you are a kid, you walk down this long alley. I was alone, except for a few guys behind me, and had an exciting, anxious feeling bubbling inside of me. In a tent, other Secret Service men check you for metal items or anything.

"It'll be my luck if I set this thing off," I remember saying. I didn't set it off, just like the nice Secret Service man said. The White House was filled with classical decor. The rose garden looked fresh and lively. Portraits of the Oval Office throughout the years hung on the walls near all the Presidents. We moved into this big fall, not far from this white room where President Bush would be making his speech that night. A Secret Service man was standing near a carpet, and one of my classmates asked if she could touch the rug. How could I avoid temptation? I touched it too! There was a room for every color. The Secret Service men don't want you touching the silk material on the walls. I didn't do it, but the woman in front of me did. After seeing three rooms, we were let out into another lonely alley and went past a cherry blossom tree. When was I ever going to get a White House cherry blossom from? Out front, I picked up a petal as my souvenir from my experience.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C., 20500
(202) 456-2121

Ford's Theatre and the Peterson House

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him." ~Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln dreamed that he saw people crying, and when asked why, one man said that the president was dead. In this dream, he predicted his own assassination. I thought Lincoln died in Ford's Theater, but he actually died in a house across the street called the Peterson House. I sat through a presentation by a woman who said it was the day before Lincoln was assassinated, and that tomorrow they would have shows throughout the day.

Below the theater, after the dramatic occurrences, a museum was filled with the conspirators and the drape where John Wilkes Booth's heel was caught. Booth was the major actor, and like all actors, he knew where the back door was to escape out of. Even when he jumped off the balcony, injuring himself, he escaped. Lincoln was carried to a house across the street. A day later, Lincoln died in the house.

Down the street from the house is a Planet Hollywood and the FBI building, where you get haggled by vendors to buy their FBI sweatshirts and hats.

Ford's Theatre
511 10th Street Nw
Washington, D.C., 20004
(202) 347-4833

Lincoln Memorial

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Notes for a Law Lecture" (July 1, 1850?), p. 81.

Climbing the steps of the moment and walking to the columns where Lincoln sat, I looked out at the yard where the George Washington Monument was in the distance. To be in a place where Civil Rights rallies were held was exciting. What I remember the most were the steps--plenty and abundant steps. People crowded around the seat where old Lincoln sat. The monument from the outside had the states on the top, except for Hawaii and Alaska. I posed for a few pictures on the steps. On the left side in front of the Lincoln Monument was the Vietnam Veterans Wall; the right side was where the Korean War Veterans was. Later in the morning, I saw each of them. And, if you stare at old Lincoln long enough, it looks like he's actually staring back at you.

Lincoln Memorial
West Potomac Park
Washington, DC, 20037
(202) 426-6895

FDR Monument

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"The winds that blow through the wide sky in these mounts, the winds that sweep from Canada to Mexico, from the Pacific to the Atlantic - have always blown on free men." ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR, short for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, has his own monument. I went to this wonderful sight at night. I recommend seeing the monument lit up in the moonlight. Bronze statues greet you as you enter the outdoor monument. One is him in his wheelchair; another statue is him talking in a radio for his "fireside chats." Large, oversize building blocks and water with multicolor lights make this an enchanting spectacle. A fountain was also in its mazes, and there were stepping stones to stand on behind a waterfall. You can later walk to the Tidal Basin and see Jefferson's Monument at night and cherry blossoms drenched in shadows.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Ohio Drive SW
Washington, D.C., United States
(202) 376-6704

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"The cement of this union is the heart-blood of every American." ~Thomas Jefferson

Did you know that in the Jefferson Memorial, when you find this elevator in a hidden hall that says "restrooms," there's a gift shop? A gift shop in the Jefferson Memorial? I didn't believe it either, but my mother and I explored into the elevator. There is an elevator that brings you to the top floor if you can't walk up the steps. The gift shop has T-shirts, postcards, and posters of other places around D.C. Jefferson stands in the middle, surrounded by a quote on top of the circular interior dome. I became dizzy after spinning around, reading the quote. Cherry blossoms line the Tidal Basin, where you can see the FDR Monument in the distance. If you ever visit the shop, you can impress people and say you bought a souvenir below Jefferson's feet.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial
14th Street NW/Southbank of Tidal Basin
Washington, D.C., United States
(202) 426-6841

Washington Monument

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"Where liberty dwells, there is my country." ~Benjamin Franklin

If asked what architectural type of monument the Washington Monument is, you'll know the answer. An obelisk can be seen from Arlington National Cemetery, Lincoln Memorial, and on a hill where the Marines' Monument is. I read a book the previous year on cemetery architecture in New Orleans and happened to see a tomb such as this one. The Washington Monument was built by men who were non-Catholics because when the Pope gave money to help finish it, most of the workers quit because they didn't want to build something the Pope supported, which also explains, if you look carefully, why the monument is built in two different sets of stone.

Washington Monument
Near the Center of the National Mall
Washington, D.C., 20024
(202) 426-6841

Arlington National Cemetary

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 11, 2005

"Patriotism is easy to understand in America - it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country." ~Calvin Coolidge

Rows of white tombstones decorate the hillside lawns of this cemetery. During the Civil War, this was a burial ground for Union soldiers. Want to know something amusing? The land belonged to Mary Anna Randolph Custis, inherited from her relatives George and Martha Washington. The name might not sound familiar, but she was the wife of Confederate Major General Robert E. Lee. What better way to insult a Confederate General by burying Union soldiers on his wife's land?

Up the hill is a house, and once you make it up to the house, you can see the eternal flame and more rows of tombstones. When walking to the marble amphitheater, be forewarned that the cemetery is made up of hills and hills of tombstones and different types of architectural tombs. There was a man with a gun pacing a thin strip on the ground near a marble tomb. Twenty-one steps and pauses symbolize the 21-gun salute that is the highest of military honors.

My class and I watched the Changing of the Guard and gave a wreath to put in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The person inside is where a mystery man "rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God," as engraved on the tomb.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
Arlington, Virginia, 22211
(703) 607-8000

Supreme Court of the United States

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Amber Autumn on May 20, 2005

The Supreme Court has a Greek temple facade with Corinthian capitols in front, and is just a brief walk from the Capital Building. On the steps, I saw the female figure, the Contemplation of Justice, and the male was the Guardian or Authority of Law. On top of the building is "Equal Justice Under Law". It's an amazing building with a legacy of making historic decisions that affected our nation. One highlight in the building to see is the staircase. There are many staircases in the world, but none as architecturally interesting as this one. The staircase was this marble spiral one that you had to bend backwards to get a great picture from above. There was a presentation on the third floor, which was hours before you got into it.
U.S. Supreme Court
1 First Street NE
Washington, District of Columbia, 20543
(202) 479-3000

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