We asked our faculty and authors to share with us some of their favorite things about living in our nation’s capital. Their responses are posted in “Faculty Favorites”
Deanna Gelak (bio), faculty for “How to Work the Hill Like a Pro Audio Course on CD,” shares her favorites.
Five Most Interesting Places to Visit
- Get a Different (Aerial) Perspective
- Go to the top of the Washington Monument to get a spectacular view of the city at least once in your life. web site, Constitution Ave & 15th St NW, Washington, DC, 202-426-6841, September through March daily 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- You can also get a nice view from the Old Post Office Bell Tower home to the Bells of Congress, which were a present from England on our Nation’s Bicentennial. web site, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 202-606-8694
- A trip to the National Cathedral’s Observation Tower also offers a nice view from the top of the city. The National Cathedral is often overlooked on public tours because it is off the beaten path, but the Cathedral is as long as the Washington Monument is high and contains beautiful architecture and much history. Many President’s funerals have been held there, Woodrow Wilson is buried there and Helen Keller’s ashes are in the lower level. web site, 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC, 202-537-6200
- Make it Official by taking “official” tours of the US Capitol and Washington, DC. Information on US Capitol outside walking tours, visiting inside the Capitol and sitting in on a Congressional session are available at the US Capitol Historical Society.
- Congressional Floor Tours: When the House is out of session, a staff member can escort family and friends onto the House floor. One interesting view is the bullet holes in the desk from the 1954 attack by Puerto Rican nationalists.
- A tourmobile such as the Old Town Trolley (202-832-9800) is an efficient way to hit most DC highlights. The Tourmobile stops by the various attractions periodically so that you can depart from various locations when you are ready, according to their schedule. Kids especially like the DC Ducks Tour which takes you on a land and sea tour from the same vehicle (202-966-DUCK).
- Before Coming to Washington, take a VIRTUAL tour to familiarize yourself with the US Capitol and White House
- Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian Institute on the Mall): See the Wright Brothers’ airplane and touch some moon rock. See the classic movie, To Fly (I remember it from when I was a kid and recently took my kids) and take a flight simulator ride (best to buy tickets online in advance to avoid very long lines). web site, Independence Avenue SW at 6th Street SW, Washington, DC, 202-633-2563
- Senate Summer House: Walk by the Summer House (open-air brick building near the Senate entrance just north of the capitol). The original fountain provided a place for visitors and their horses to drink. web site
- Stay at the Carriage House on Capitol Hill: Beautiful Bed and Breakfast – amidst century old rowhomes on Capitol Hill. A perfect place to retreat after a full day of meetings or touring the city. The Carriage House is a quick walk away from the Capitol, House of Representative’s buildings, Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. It is a blend of new and old construction and is apointed with treasures from around the world. Guests feel at ease and cared for and small private events can be arranged. web site, 3rd St SE & South Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC
Five Favorite Fun Things to Do
- Tour the Monuments by Moonlight: Arranging your own limo with a driver is a fantastic way to see Washington in a different light, but the “Monuments by Moonlight Tour” by Old Town Trolley is also good. Reservation information is available at (202) 832-9800.
- Go dancing over Washington in the revolving Skydome rooftop lounge, with excellent views of the Capital and the Potomac, as well as happy hour buffets and dancing. The Skydome Lounge is located at the top of the Doubletree Hotel in Crystal City, near national airport. web site, 300 Army Navy Dr, Arlington, VA, 703-416-4100
- Have a bowl of Senate bean soup at one of the Congressional cafeterias. Visitors can have official Senate bean soup that has been on the menu in the Senate for more than 100 years.
- Hear a friend’s voice echo in the House and stand in the spot in the Capitol that is regarded as the very center of the city (but is it really still?). web site, map
- Take some fun photos
- Touching the moon rock just inside entrance to the Air and Space Museum. web site, Independence Avenue SW at 6th Street SW, Washington, DC, 202-633-2563
- If you position yourself correctly, you can have someone take your photo while you are positioned behind the Hope Diamond, so that it appears that you are actually wearing the necklace. Best to attempt this in non-peak periods to avoid impatient glances from other tourists waiting to get their own photos of the diamond. Museum of Natural History web site, 950 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC, 202-633-1000
- If you can get clearance from a Congressional office or security guard, get a photo outside of the House floor with the Will Rogers statue. Place your forearm on his boot to follow the tradition by members of Congress of brushing their forearm on the famous orator statue’s boot for good luck before entering the House floor to speak.
- The National Museum of Natural History has a vendor set up on the lower level to take your photo superimposed in various museum scenes such as the Hairy Mammoth, etc. Museum of Natural History web site, 950 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC, 202-633-1000
- 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, web site, 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 202-393-0701 [WaPo | Yelp]
- Sky Terrace Restaurant, the roof top of Hotel Washington near the White House. Fantastic open view overlooking the Washington Monument and White House. This is the location where a scene from the movie No Way Out was filmed.. Closed from October until April. web site, 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 202-638-5900 [WaPo | Yelp]
- The Chart House. A great way to top off an evening walking the antique shops and Torpedo Factory in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. web site, One Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA, 703-684-5080 [openlist | Yelp]
- The Monocle on Capitol Hill (Senate side), web site, 107 D St NE, Washington, DC, 202-546-4488 [WaPo | Yelp]
- Les Halles De Paris, web site, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 202-347-6848 [WaPo | Yelp]
For more, also see our Visiting Washington DC pages
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