|Northern Virginia |
• Pentagon. Just across the Potomac River from downtown DC. While lingering is not recommended for security reasons, you should know it was once the largest government office building in the world, and covers 4 zip codes (Army, Navy, Air Force and Department of Defense). Group tours are still available by advance arrangement, but the military no longer hosts other tours. It is considered the height of bad taste in Washington to stop your car on the road near the 9/11 attack site and take pictures (not to mention that you'll attract security attention and endanger yourself as traffic whizzes by).
• Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. Just across the Potomac River, adjacent to the Pentagon. Closes at dusk. This national military cemetery includes John F. Kennedy's tomb and the house of General Robert E. Lee. Visitors can watch the changing of the guard ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If you really want to experience the cemetery, which is enormous and hilly, spring a few bucks for a Tour mobile tour. There is also a large parking garage here that is a good place to dump your car and then catch the subway or Tour mobile into D.C.
• Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center - National Air and Space Museum. 14390 Air & Space Museum Pkwy. Chantilly, VA 20151 (202) 357-2200 Located near Dulles International Airport, this museum houses many air/spacecraft, including the SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane, the Concorde supersonic jet and the space shuttle "Enterprise". Parking is available for $12/vehicle. Additionally, a shuttle is available from the Air and Space Museum downtown. Prices range from $5 to $7 depending on number of tickets bought.
• Mount Vernon, Virginia. George Washington lived in this mansion which overlooks the Potomac River.
• Great Falls Park, Virginia. Gorgeous national park with waterfalls and hiking trails, minutes from the beltway. Kayaking and rock climbing. http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/grfa/
• Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. A few miles from D.C. on the Potomac River, Old Town has some buildings dating back to the 1600s and is filled with shops and good restaurants. Some tourists use Old Town (or other parts of Alexandria) as a "home base" for D.C. trips and it's a popular weekend destination. Tour boats that go north to D.C. and south to Mount Vernon leave from Old Town. Many hotels in the area run free shuttle buses to the King Street Metro. http://www.funside.com/
• Bethesda nearby suburb with shopping, restaurants and cultural landmarks.
• Mormon Temple. Kensington. Must see the amazing annual Christmas light display. A funny bit of inside-Washington lore: Graffiti artists often paint "SURRENDER, DOROTHY" on a highway overpass near the temple, which from a distance looks like Emerald City in "The Wizard of Oz."