Library of Congress
You also might want to consider a visit to the Library of Congress. The tour offers an hour-long docent-led tour of the historic building. The Library was founded in 1800 and is the oldest federal-cultural institution inthe nation.
On Aug. 24, 1814, British troops burned the Capitol building, where the Library was housed, and destroyed the Library's core collection of 3,000 volumes. Responding to an offer to help restore this resource, Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books for $23,950 in January 1815.
During your tour, you’ll learn about the building’s symbolic art and architecture, and view the grandeur of the Main Reading Room. Professionally trained docents discuss the Library’s history, collections (including the Gutenberg Bible), and the services provided to Congress and the nation. The Jefferson Building West and the Library of Congress Experience are open Monday through Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit www.loc.gov for information.
Smithsonian Institute and Holocaust Memorial
No trip to the Washington, D.C., area is complete without visiting the Smithsonian Institute, the world’s largest museum complex that comprises 19 museums and nine research centers. While it’s impossible to see all the Smithsonian has to offer in a single day, try to visit at least a portion of this vast establishment.
The Smithsonian houses fascinating exhibits such as the African Art Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery, the American History Museum, the American Indian Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Natural History Museum and Portrait Gallery. The Smithsonian also operates the National Zoological Park. Visiting hours vary, so check the website: www.si.edu.
Another museum to consider visiting is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which houses photographs, artifacts, film, letters and a survivor registry. You’ll find information at www.ushmm.org.
Places Honoring Fallen Soldiers
More than 4 million people visit the Arlington National Cemeteryevery year, and there are nearly 100 graveside services conducted each week. The Visitors Center, located by the entrance, offers maps, guidebooks, exhibits, information services (including grave locations), a bookstore and restrooms. The cemetery does not provide wheelchairs or strollers. It’s open every day at 8 a.m. Visit www.arlingtoncemetery.org for details.
If you’ve never experienced the power and honor of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, plan a side trip to these hallowed grounds that honor the 58,248 men and eight women killed or missing in action in Vietnam. The Memorial consists of three parts: the Three Soldier’s Statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, with the names of fallen or missing soldiers etched into two, black granite walls. Find information at www.nps.gov/vive.