Always a great starting point is the Smithsonian Castle. It is in the middle of the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument....and just steps from the Metro Station (Smithsonian stop). Get info and get your bearings...then you are off and running.
Fondest memory: Washington has a grandness that is larger than life. The boulevards are wide...the Smithsonian enormous...the mall is vast...the gardens and plantings are sensational. When I think spring is in the air, I long for the cherry blossoms. Just so much to rave about. . . so many things to see and do...and so much of it is free!!
Favorite thing: We have a tendancy to throw off our shoes and paddle our feet whenever we see some water! The Smithsonian Castle was no exception. Our Joe couldnt resist running through this small fountain while I paddled my feet under the water flowing from the bird baths situated in the grounds. The birds loved it and so did I :-)
The old "Castle" is now a visitors center. Stop here fist to find out about all the museums and what they have to offer.
This is the original Smithsonian Building, completed in 1855. It was designed by James Renwick.
The information center is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. It features two orientation theaters as well as interactive information components.
When you visit the Smithsonian Castle, take a few minutes to stroll in the lovely gardens that surround it.
The front garden is quite nice, but I was surprised to see such charming little lanes located to the side of the castle. It was a pleasant moment of relaxation after we'd spent a long time looking at architecture and museum exhibits. Washington D.C. has it all, somebody really thought smart when designing this area! :-)
I have many favorite sites in the city.
I would recommend you go through the entire Mall. There you will find a lot of history of our country.
I would also recommend visiting the museums.
The Smithsonian Museum is a good one and so is the National Air And Space Museum.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Washington would be the time I went with friends to the Independence Day Celebration at the Washington Monument on the Mall.
The fireworks were spectacular and over 600,000 people in attendance.
I have many fond memories there. I used to live in northern Virginia and spent a lot of time with my friends in the city.
visit the Nation's showcase
- the magnificent SMITHSONIAN MUSUEMS!
This sprawling institution comprises of 9 huge Smithsonian buildings strategically located between the Washington Monument and The Capitol here at The Mall.
Wow, is this impressive or what?!
The Smithsonian Institution was started with a US$500,000 donation from James Smithson, an English scientist who had ironically never visited the United States before; he was also the illegitimate son of the Duke of Northumberland back in the UK. On his deathbed, he apparently willed his entire fortune to an institution such as Smithsonian!
The red sandstone building in the photo below is the Smithsonian Institution Building. The Smithsonian Museums Information Center is located inside.
Fondest memory: In my opinion, you'd need at least one week to walk through the entire Smithsonian group of museums... Admission is FREE for all the museums.
However, if you (like me) don't have the time to spare, you have to start choosing your museums wisely!
Favorite thing: Smithsonian Castle. James Smithson, an Englishman, bequeathed a large amount of his fortune to the United States for the development of a National museum. This is the first building constructed with that funding. The Smithsonian Institution took over the system and has developed the city center with thirteen wondeful buildings, housing the Air and Space Museum, Museum of African Art, Natinal History Museums and several others, all of which take about two weeks each to fully view. Plus, the art exhibits change regularly, so we who live here are constantly re-visiting to see the new exhibits.
Favorite thing: The Smithsonian Institutions encompass many fields of interest from history to art to the world of nature and technology.