I want to know about Washington DC

Three city tours and a view of the surrounding area

Tour 1: The White House and Surroundings
Anyone coming to the US capital for the first time should start with the White House. The building in which the President lives is a world-famous backdrop and is used in many television and cinema films as a background or as a location for events (as in the TV series “House of Cards”). Visits for tourists to the White House are strictly limited, but there are good photo opportunities around the building - for example from the south side. In the White House Visitor Center, located within the Department of Commerce on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Street, guests can watch a 30-minute film with a good overview of the history and current use of the seat of government. Foreign guests wishing to visit the White House must first contact their home country embassy in Washington, DC for permission.

Surrounded by smaller art shops and dominated by the Philips Collection is Dupont Circle. Further east on New York Avenue is the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which features works by famous women artists, including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, and Georgia O’Keeffe. If you go further you will come to the Ford Theater on 10th Street, where President Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. The nearby Penn District is full of trendy hotels and restaurants. Not far away are the International Spy Museum, which goes into the history of worldwide espionage with exhibits, as well as the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the MCI Center, which is home to several sports teams, the National Building Museum and the Marian Koshland Science Museum.

Tour 2: Parklands, the Potomac River and Presidential Monuments
If you stroll across the Ellipse, the meadow south of the White House, and cross Constitution Avenue, you will come to the gleaming white Washington Monument, dedicated to the first President of America. Surrounding the extensive Constitution Gardens and West Potomac Park are other memorials to famous American presidents and important historical events. The thoughtful figure of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln sits in a neoclassical temple. He fought for the unity of America and the liberation of slaves. With a view of the neighboring Tidal Basin - livened up by paddle boats and surrounded by cherry trees in bloom in spring - there are two other very different presidential monuments. Under the dome of the column-adorned structure stands a majestic six-meter-high statue of the third US President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. On the other side of the Tidal Basin is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in an extensive park, which commemorates, among other things, the Great Depression and the Second World War. On the other side of Constitution Avenue is the statue of Albert Einstein. Also found here: The simple black wall of the Vietnam Veterans ’Memorial, the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial and the National World War II Memorial.

The Potomac River and the Arlington Memorial Bridge lead to Arlington National Cemetery. Here are the graves of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the grave of the Unknown Soldier. On the hill is the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Upstream is the Iwo Jima Memorial, also dedicated to the victims of World War II. A bridge over the Potomac leads to Roosevelt Island and again to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial. Back on the DC side of the river by the Watergate building, grab a drink or snack before spending the evening at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Tour 3: Union Station, Capitol Hill and the Mall
The best way to start the tour is at the Art Nouveau Union Station - now also a metro station and hub for America's Amtrak rail network. The main attraction of the station is the many shops and restaurants. Occasionally there is also live music here. Already in the vicinity, you can also visit the National Postal Museum and then via Delaware Avenue to reach the neoclassical US Capitol, where you should join in a guided tour. Fixed admission times are given for Monday to Saturday. The tours start at nine o'clock. Not far from the Capitol are the US Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the quiet United States Botanic Gardens.

If you follow Independence Avenue, which runs parallel for almost two and a half miles along the National Mall, you will come to the largest collection of museums in America. The first is the National Museum of the American Indians, whose stone facade is said to be reminiscent of the cliffs of the Southwestern landscapes of America. This is followed by the National Air and Space Museum, which shows everything from old airplanes to space capsules that has to do with aerospace. The cylindrical building not far away houses the Hirschhorn Museum with its large collection of modern American paintings and sculptures. Those who want to know more about these museums and the Smithsonian Institution should visit the Smithsonian Castle. The “castle”, built in Victorian style, houses the administration of the foundation. It is flanked by the Arts & Industry Building, the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Asian Art) and the Freer Gallery of Art, which contains works of art from the USA and Asia. To the west of it is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

On the other side of the mall are three other notable museums: the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, with exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to the spectacular 45.52-carat Hope diamonds, and the National Gallery of Art with Europeans Masterpieces such as Rapahel's 'Alba Madonna', Leonardo da Vinci's 'Ginevra de Benci' and Claude Monet's 'Woman with a Parasol' combined with American works of art by John Singer Sargent and Alexander Calder. A sculpture garden adds ambience to this part of the museum landscape.

Opposite is the National Archives Building, where the three most important testimonies of American history are exhibited: the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Charter of Civil Rights and also a copy of the Magna Carta.

Excursions in the area from Washington DC
Some places of tourist interest are very easy to reach by metro, bus, ship or car:

In the 18th century Founded as a port, it is a delightful town with cobbled sidewalks and pretty old town houses. Located across the Potomac River, across the street from Washington DC, it has plenty of great restaurants, art galleries, and shops, as well as historic spots in memory of George Washington and Confederate hero Robert E. Lee. www.visitalexandriava.com

Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
George Washington and his wife Martha's magnificent Virginia plantation can be reached by land or by boat on the Potomac. Nearby is Gunston Hall, the former property of George Washington's fellow colonel leader and friend, George Mason.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121; www.mountvernon.org

Fredericksburg located 52 miles south on 1-96. In the colonial city, numerous memorials testify to the presence of former Presidents George Washington and James Monroe. Fredericksburg is also the gateway to the four major battlefields of the Civil War, including Chancellorsville and Wilderness to the west. Head east to the birthplaces of Washington and Robert E. Lee. www.fredericksburgva.gov