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A Star-Spangled, Capital Experience

The nation's capital keeps visitors on their toes with its many monuments and museums. Still, DC is also having a new moment in the sun — recognized for an electric nightlife and top-notch restaurants. Spend your days touring Capitol Hill and after dark, hit up the city's hottest bars in trendy Logan Circle.
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Blink and you may miss this desk-size memorial to America’s 32nd president. When asked how he’d like to be remembered, FDR said a simple stone in front of the National Archives would do. For 30 years, he got his wish -- until a 7.5-acre memorial was dedicated to him by the Tidal Basin. Get more info about The Capital City. Check out our Travel Guide to Washington, D.C. 960 1280

M.V. Jantzen, flickr  

Sure, they’re a traffic nuisance. But the circles that cut through D.C.’s avenues are also loaded with history. Many of the circles (34, in all) are named after American Civil War generals, like Thomas Circle. Here, a statue honors General George Henry Thomas, a Southerner who stayed loyal to the Union at great personal cost. 960 1280

Elvert Barnes, flickr  

When civil engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant envisioned a future U.S. capital, he thought it should include a memorial “to celebrate the first rise of the Navy and consecrate its progress and achievements.” But it wasn’t until 1987 that the U.S. Navy Memorial was dedicated on Pennsylvania Avenue, America’s Main Street. 960 1280

Kate Mere and Sinha, flickr  

“What are those arches over there?” Anyone driving along 1-95 has had this thought when catching a glimpse of the U.S. Air Force Memorial from afar. Dedicated in 2006, its three stainless steel spires evoke the image of Air Force Thunderbirds in a precision bomb-burst maneuver. 960 1280

Rob & Lisa Meehan, flickr   

Go ahead, sit on Uncle Albert’s lap. This personable memorial honors physics’ great genius. Tucked behind a grove of trees, beside the National Academy of Sciences, the memorial was dedicated in 1979 -- the centennial of Einstein’s birth. 960 1280

Zack Lee, flickr   

At DC’s Southwest Waterfront, you’ll find this haunting tribute to the Titanic’s men, who gave up their lives so that women and children could be saved. Erected by the “women of America” in 1931, the 13-foot granite figure was designed by American sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. 960 1280

Josh, flickr   

The Civil War saw African Americans granted the right to fight in defense of their country. The African American Civil War Memorial, at the corner of Vermont Avenue, honors the 209,145 such men who fought for the Union. 960 1280


“Here we admit a wrong.” With these words, the Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II commemorates the 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent forcibly placed in internment camps. It also honors the 30,000 who volunteered for the U.S. Armed Forces -- 800 of whom perished. 960 1280

M.V. Jantzen, flickr   

265,000 women served in the Vietnam War. All were volunteers. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial honors their role, often as nurses on the frontlines. 960 1280

Gorik Francois, flickr   

As in life, George Mason sits in the shadow of Thomas Jefferson, whose own memorial is a short walk away. Mason was the only Founding Father not to sign the U.S. Constitution, fearing it did not go far enough in protecting individual rights. What followed was the Bill of Rights. 960 1280

Cliff, flickr   

In the 1880s, one man made it his personal mission to discourage people nationwide from drinking alcohol. So he funded “Temperance Fountains” across the U.S. Here’s one, on Pennsylvania Avenue. Pay your respects at this four-columned sculpture, before grabbing a beer at the tavern across the street. 960 1280

Cliff, flickr   

D.C. is home to many war memorials, but none yet honor the 116,708 Americans killed in WWI. The closest that the nation’s capital comes is the District of Columbia War Memorial -- an understated marble structure that enshrines the names of nearly 500 Washingtonians killed in “the war to end all wars.” 960 1280

Cliff, flickr   

Born to former slaves in South Carolina, Mary McLeod Bethune rose to become an American education and civil rights leader. This statue of her in D.C.’s Lincoln Park is inscribed with her last will and testament: “I leave you love. I love you hope...” 960 1280

Daniel Lobo, flickr  

Overlooking the city he helped lay out, the Benjamin Banneker Park and Memorial in southwest D.C. honors the self-taught African-American astronomer and surveyor who helped survey the future US capital in 1791. 960 1280

FinsUp0531, flickr   

The president who ensured that future generations would have national parks to enjoy is, fittingly, honored in a bucolic setting of his own: the Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial, on an 88.5-acre island beside the Potomac River. 960 1280

dctourism, flickr   

Every May, during National Police Week, thousands of officers and survivors visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial; it honors the 19,000 individuals who have died in the line of duty. 960 1280

Elvert Barnes, flickr   

The Victims of Communism Memorial honors its victims, both known and unknown. It was dedicated on June 12, 2007, the 20th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s “tear down this wall” speech in front of the Berlin Wall. 960 1280

Prince Roy, flickr  

The Civil War was fought in D.C., too. The Battle of Fort Stevens occurred in the district’s northwest quadrant on July 11-12, 1864. Years later, this memorial was dedicated to honor the men of the 25th NY Volunteer Cavalry, who died in battle. Get more info about The Capital City. Check out our Travel Guide to Washington, D.C. 960 1280

Joshua Kranzberg  

A Washington, DC, landmark, Ben's Chili Bowl has been serving locals half-smokes and chili fries since 1958, when it was a hub for luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., and more. 960 1280


True Reformer Building, built in 1902 by John Anderson Lankford, DC's first registered black architect. The building now sports a mural of Duke Ellington, and was the former location of the African American Civil War Museum. 960 1280


In the 1950s, "Black Broadway" included Lincoln Theatre, which today hosts theatre, dance and comedy shows. 960 1280


Washington, DC's "U Street" neighborhood has been revitalized in recent years, and continues to be a center of African-American history and culture. 960 1280


Established in 2005, Busboys and Poets was named for poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the nearby Wardman Park Hotel. Busboys strives to be not just a restaurant/bar, but also "a community gathering place for artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers." 960 1280


The U Street district is a neighborhood of diverse cultures, with a mix of new businesses and restaurants operating amid the historic sites and flavors of the area's past. 960 1280


"Black Broadway" was marked by the day's big jazz luminaries: Duke Ellington (who was born in DC's west end), Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Pearl Bailey all played its clubs. 960 1280


The African American Civil War Memorial, the only national memorial commemorating African-American troops in the Civil War, bears these words by Frederick Douglass: "Better even to die free than to live slaves." 960 1280


Spontaneous celebrations erupted all over Washington, DC, when President Barack Obama was declared the winner of the 2008 presidential election. U Street was the center of it with crowds dancing in the streets, at bus stops and even on top of cars. 960 1280


"The Alchemy of Ben Ali" mural, located on the side of Ben's Next Door, shows a portrait of the Alis (founders of the landmark, Ben's Chili Bowl) alongside images of a protest and a butterfly, which depicts the transformation of the area through the years. 960 1280


Bohemian Cavern, a restaurant and jazz club dating back to 1926 where John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis played, continues to be the spot for jazz in DC. 960 1280


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