I love visiting Washington. There's a ton to see and it's all free and really close together. In case you haven't been there yet, in the center of Washington is an area called The National Mall, which is not a large shopping center like you might think. It's actually a big, open area that's surrounded by some fancy government buildings as well as a bunch of museums that collectively make up The Smithsonian. At one end is the U.S. Capitol and at the other end is the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument roughly in the middle.
Towards the Capitol-end of the Mall is the National Museum Of The Native American. It's new since my last visit and I haven't yet had the chance to go but I really like the design of the outside:
Here's an artsy photo I took of the Capitol building from under one of the museums on the Mall:
The first museum I went into this time was the Natural History Museum, which is probably best known (now) for the Night At The Museum that was filmed there. I didn't see Ben Stiller but I did see their large exhibit of an undersea world that was made entirely from crocheted yarn:
Oh yeah, they have a bunch of dinosaur bones too:
Actually, the Natural History Museum is one of my favorite museums that I've been to so far in Washington. The others being the Air And Space Museum and the Holocaust Museum. I definitely recommend visiting the Holocaust Museum but it's not, as you can probably guess, very light material. One of the things that struck me during this visit was the room where they have one of the boxcars that they transported people to the camps in. Since my last visit I saw the movie Paper Clips (which is also amazing) and it really helped me to understand the scale of what happened. You'll have to watch the movie but here's the boxcar room in the mean time:
I checked into going on a White House tour but you need to request it way in advance unlike the 24 hours I was hoping for. :-) If you're not attending a tour (or breaking in, I guess), the closest you can get is in the street in front. They've got it all barricaded up and tons of armed guards nearby but you do get to take photos. Actually, there really is a lot of visible security around. If you look closely at the photo below you'll see a security guy on the roof just to the right of the right-most column in the front.
At the other end of the Mall is the Lincoln Memorial, which is very inspiring. There's the big statue of Lincoln in the center and a giant copy of his Gettysburg address to his right. One day I hope to be a good enough writer/speaker to say things like "four score and seven years" rather than just saying "87". Seriously.
I bought a new camera back in July and I have mixed feelings about it. I don't always like the colors of the daytime pictures or its ability to focus accurately on the subject. What I do like about it is its ability to take low-light and night photos. Here's one of the Washington Monument that's pretty good:
...and one of the Capitol building with a reflecting pool in the front and the moon rising behind it that (I think) is really nice:
Other notable sites that I went by this time include the Vietnam Memorial and the National Gallery of Art. On my next visit I definitely want to do the Native American one as well as the Newseum, which I heard was interesting. Oh yeah, if I happen to get elected president, I'll make sure you can make last-minute visits to the White House.