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One Day Self Guided Tour

8:00 am - Arlington National Cemetery
10:00 am - Smithsonian Museums on the Mall
3:00pm - Washington Monument
4:00 pm - Jefferson Memorial
5:00pm - FDR Memorial
6:00pm - Lincoln Memorial
6:30 pm - Vietnam Veterans Memorial
7:00pm - Korean War Memorial
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

Estimated amount of walking on this tour - 7 miles

There is so much to see and do in this city, it would take weeks to absorb everything at the Smithsonian Museums let alone all the attractions. Since you don't have time to see everything, let eTravelDC guide you to some of the best the city has to offer in a day!     Driving in the city can be a hassle so if you've got a car, park it and take the Metro to get around. The fares are based on distance but an all day pass gives the user unlimited travel after 9:30 a.m. during the week and anytime on the weekends.

Arlington Cemetary:
Since Arlington Cemetery opens at 8 a.m., we'll start the day from there. The Arlington Cemetery metro station is where you'll get off and only a short distance from the cemetery. Be sure to grab a map at the visitor's center. 

First, check out JFK's grave and the "Eternal Flame."  Turn around for a good view of the city. The better view is from the Arlington House which is at the top of the hill.
 Keep an eye on the clock because you'll want to make your way to the "Tomb of the Unknowns" before the top of the hour. The solemn ritual of the "Changing of the Guard" takes place every half hour during the peak season.
You should try to leave around 9:30 a.m. to take the Metro towards the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Museums on the Mall:
The Smithsonian Museums on The National Mall are always open from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.  I suggest the following order (or the reverse):

National Air and Space - You'll find everything regarding flight at the Air and Space, except for a photo of Michael Jordan.  The museum has chosen to use Shawn Kemp, also a decent NBA player but no real flyer, in one of their exhibits.
Hirshhorn -The Hirshhorn has comfortable chairs to view the works of Calder and de Kooning.  It's an easy place to tour; start at the top and work your way down level by level.
Arts and Industries - Ever wonder how things work?  Check out this place to find the answer to that question and more.
African Art
Sackler - Both the Sackler and the Freer offer unusual Asian artwork.
The Smithsonian Castle - The Castle offers a nice history and overview of the Smithsonian Museums.
American History  - The Museum of American History will make anyone proud to be an American - you can see everything from Archie Bunker's chair to life in Colonial times.
Natural History. Natural History has the dinosaurs and gems. 
American Indian Museum - This is the newest Smithsonian museum and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 800,000 objects.
The Smithsonian metro station puts you right in the middle of the National Mall and numerous signs point out which building is which.
The view may be overwhelming so if you don't care to see them all, We personally recommend the Air and Space, Hirshhorn, American History, and Natural History.  
Remember, The National Gallery of Art is also on the Mall but not managed by the Smithsonian.  For the purist, the National Gallery of Art offers 2 buildings of collections in a calm and relaxing environment.
Hungry?  The National Air and Space and American History Museums have cafeterias.  You can also settle for the ubiquitous street vendor who offers hot dogs, chips, pretzels and beverages for a quick and cheap fix.

Washington, D.C. Memorials:
After the Mall, prepare to see the Memorials.

The Washington Monument is open but tickets are needed to enter.  They are free and available at the kiosk on 15th street. Park Rangers start giving out the FREE tickets at 8:30 am.  Get there early enough and you'll be able to pick your tour, which is anytime from 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m.  The kiosk closes at 4:30 p.m. and any remaining tickets are brought to the Rangers at the monument.

To get to the Jefferson Memorial, turn left on 14th street and head for the domed building near the water.  Don't worry, National Park Rangers staff the Memorials from 8 a.m. through 12 midnight so you won't be alone. From the steps of the Jefferson, you can see the south portico of the White House.  It's a beautiful spot at dusk when the sun goes down. Tourists and locals hang out on the steps or along the Tidal Basin to enjoy a pretty sunset in nice weather.

Take the path along the Tidal Basin 100 yards to the left for the FDR Memorial.  That entrance is actually the last chamber of the memorial, the main entrance is on the other end by the bookstore.  This memorial is huge and covers over 7 acres.  The waterfalls are a tempting sight in the summer but the Park Rangers might catch you if you try to take a dip!  Be a good tourist and just toss a coin or two into the pools.

The Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, World War II and the Korean War Memorial are all in one area.  You can make out the top of the Lincoln Memorial from the FDR Memorial.  Take a right on Ohio Drive, the only street in front of the FDR Memorial, and cross the stoplight until you see the Lincoln Memorial.  It's a busy street, so use the crosswalk.  From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial is to the right of the reflecting pool; the Vietnam Veterans, to the left.  The powerful figure of Lincoln would stand 28 feet tall if he jumped to his feet.  There's a lot of symbolism within the memorial, and the view from the steps is spectacular (just like in the movie "Forrest Gump"!)

The walls of both the Vietnam Veterans and the Korean War Memorials are eerie at night. You will most likely run across a veteran who has come here to pay respects to a fallen buddy.  The story of the etched names begins and ends at the apex where you will find the dates, 1959 and 1975. A multitude of faces can be found on the wall of the Korean War Memorial courtesy of computer enhancement.  Across from the wall, the figures on patrol will have you pondering from whence they came and whither they will go.

If you need a rest room break, there's one in the lower lobby of the Lincoln Memorial. You have now seen the biggest attractions in Washington DC and can go home happy!

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

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