The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

See how the memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. evokes his memory -- and honors his messages of justice, hope, love and democracy.

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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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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

  

Cherry blossom trees are in full bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, pictured here with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. 960 1280

Alex Wong/Getty Images  

Tourists admire cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. 960 1280

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images  

A man lifts his baby daughter into the air near the base of the Washington Monument during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. 960 1280

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Embassy of Japan Cherry Blossom Princess, Tomoko Shiojiri, lights a Japanese stone lantern during a ceremony as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. 960 1280

Alex Wong/Getty Images  

Cherry blossom balloons are carried along the parade route on Constitution Avenue. Various cultural groups, marching bands, floats and balloons are featured in the annual event. The festival started in 1935 and today, more than a million people visit Washington, DC, each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and attend events in the 16-day festival.  960 1280

S Pakhrin [Flickr  

People walk a bike at the Tidal Basin under the cherry blossoms, with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in the background. 960 1280

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The Washington Monument can be seen through the branches of cherry trees along the tidal basin. The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo giving 3000 cherry trees to the city of Washington in 1912. 960 1280

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Cultural groups perform in the Sakura Maturo street festival on Pennsylvania Avenue following the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival parade. 960 1280

The Washington Post / Getty Images  

Traditional Japanese dancers prepare backstage before a performance in Washington, DC, as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. 960 1280

Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images  

Batala, the all-woman percussion ensemble performs at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.  960 1280

thisisbossi [Flickr, [CC-NC-SA-2.0   

Rosario Ponte of Alexandria, VA, photographs the cherry blossoms that circle the Tidal Basin as the trees begin to bloom April. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration to commemorate the 1912 gift of 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees from Japan. 960 1280

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  

Tourists walk by the Tidal Basin to get the best view of all the cherry blossoms. 960 1280

Mark Wilson / Hulton Archive / Getty Images  

National WWII Memorial

National WWII Memorial

Between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial is one of DC’s newer landmarks. It opened in 2004 to honor the 16 million people who served in the country’s armed forces during World War II. The fountains, pillars and plaques form a circle that’s particularly impressive when it’s lit up at night. Don’t miss the obvious photo op: you in front of the pillar with your home state’s name engraved on it. 960 1280

Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Newseum

Newseum

Read all about it at this museum, whose new building near the National Mall opened in 2008. It examines both world events through the eyes of the media and the history of journalism itself. Among its 15 galleries are sections of the Berlin Wall, stories about First Amendment rights, multimedia exhibits on the digital revolution, and front pages from American and international newspapers. In the Interactive Newsroom, visitors can test their own reporting skills to create a newspaper story or a TV news broadcast. 960 1280

Winiker/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

This monument for the author of the Declaration of Independence and third president cuts a fine silhouette from across the Tidal Basin. The view is especially beautiful in the spring when the cherry trees around the water’s edge are in bloom. Don’t start the trek around to the memorial unless you’re wearing comfortable shoes — the walk is longer than it looks. But on the way, you can also check the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which opened in 2011, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial off your list. Or get a different perspective in the summer by renting a paddleboat on the Tidal Basin. 960 1280

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images  

National Zoo

National Zoo

Bao Bao may be growing up, but it’s still exciting to see the young panda and her parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The cub, born Aug. 23, 2013, will eventually be sent to China, but in the meantime, visitors are lining up to catch a glimpse of her playing or eating. While Bao Bao is the main attraction, she isn’t the only baby at the free Smithsonian zoo: The big cats exhibit features a pair of Sumatran tiger cubs, also born in August 2013, and 6 African lion cubs, born in 2 litters in early 2014. And of course, you can’t miss the gorillas, orangutans, Asian elephants, American bison and hundreds of other animals. 960 1280

The Washington Post/Getty Images  

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The reflective, black granite wall honors American soldiers who died or went missing in the Vietnam War, and it is inscribed with more than 58,000 names. Even if no one you know is listed there, take a contemplative moment to grasp the enormity of it all. For those who are looking for a specific name, there are alphabetical catalogs at the memorial entrances that give a panel and row number for each person. 960 1280

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images  

Eastern Market

Eastern Market

This is not your typical neighborhood farmers market. While Eastern Market, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, does offer fresh produce and flowers, it also lines up vendors selling everything from furniture and jewelry to cakes and pottery. The indoor section is open every day except Monday, but on the weekends, the market moves outside, too, and becomes a gathering place with live music and local food. Why bother with one of those “I Heart DC” T-shirts when you can shop for a unique, handmade souvenir? 960 1280

Maddie Meyer  

Georgetown

Georgetown

There’s plenty to explore in one of DC’s oldest and most famous neighborhoods. Stroll along cobblestone sidewalks and imagine all the history that has been viewed through the windows of those row houses. Go on a shopping spree on M Street, where you’ll find both big-name retailers and intimate boutiques. But don’t spend all your money: You’ll need to have some left so you can indulge in the amazing dining and nightlife options in the area. Start with appetizers and cocktails on the waterfront while enjoying a beautiful view of the Potomac. 960 1280

Hisham Ibrahim  

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

The 555-foot obelisk dedicated to George Washington towers over the city and can be spotted even from Virginia. It was closed for repairs after being damaged in a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011, but the landmark finally reopened in May 2014. Free tickets to go inside and ride to the top are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Or you can simply bask in its glory with a picnic or a game of catch on the surrounding lawn. 960 1280

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images  

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum

Examine all the evidence as you make your way through the largest collection of international spy-related artifacts on public display. Visitors will learn about the role espionage has played throughout history, from Moses to Stalin, and see the tools of the trade, including tiny cameras, hidden messages, concealed weapons and more. Wannabe agents can sign up for Operation Spy, an interactive experience that challenges participants to find the clues and crack the case. 960 1280

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images  

East Potomac Golf Course

East Potomac Golf Course

Even if you can’t hit the fairway to save your life, at least you’ll get a great view of the monuments when you tee it up at East Potomac. Its 36 holes, split among the appropriately named Red, White and Blue courses, crisscross an island right next to the Tidal Basin. The site is also a great place to work on your swing on the heated driving range in the winter, see the cheerful cherry blossoms in the spring, or bring the family for a round of mini-golf in the summer. 960 1280

Bloomberg/Getty Images  

Museums on the National Mall

Museums on the National Mall

The great thing about the National Mall is that you can roam in and out of the 10-plus museums as you please — entry to them is free. Check out an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art (pictured); pop into the Air and Space Museum to see the Wright brothers’ plane; and swing by the Museum of American History to examine the flag that inspired the national anthem, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and Michelle Obama’s 2009 inauguration dress. Spend as much or as little time as you want in each spot without wasting the cost of admission. And in between, find a grassy spot to sit and people-watch under the imposing shadow of the Capitol. 960 1280

Luke1138/iStock/Getty Images  

Old Ebbitt Grill

Old Ebbitt Grill

When you’re ready to refuel for more DC adventures, stop for a meal or a drink at the city’s oldest saloon. The Old Ebbitt Grill was established in 1856 on the edge of Chinatown. The current location on 15th Street is just a block from the White House. It’s a popular spot for politicos, and even presidents including Ulysses S. Grant and Teddy Roosevelt are said to have frequented the bar. The restaurant is known for its oysters, but it also serves breakfast and a wide selection of entrees and sandwiches. 960 1280

Jason Colston/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center

Long day of sightseeing? Sit back and soak up some culture at one of several venues inside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra, free shows on the Millennium Stage, blockbuster Broadway tours such as Wicked and The Book of Mormon — the schedule has something for everyone. After the last curtain call, make sure to venture up to the roof deck, where you can get a panoramic view of the city all lit up.  960 1280

Hisham Ibrahim/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

US National Arboretum

US National Arboretum

This 446-acre site features a number of gardens and collections that can be traversed via car, bike, bus tour, tram or foot. Escape the city life among the dogwoods, azaleas, ferns and magnolias — you’re even allowed to bring your dog. Don’t miss the bonsai museum or the Capitol columns, 22 pillars that became part of the Capitol building in 1828. They were removed 30 years later because they couldn’t sufficiently support the dome, which was built bigger than planned. The columns didn’t make their way to the arboretum until the 1980s, but they have become the site’s most photographed feature.  960 1280

Bob Balestri/iStock/Getty Images  

Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre

Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. Visit the on-site museum, which details his presidency and assassination, and the Petersen House across the street, where he was taken for treatment and ultimately died a few hours later. Ford’s Theatre is also still a working performance venue, so if you like a little entertainment with your history lesson, get tickets for a show. 960 1280

Paul Whitfield/Doorling Kindersley/Getty Images  

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

For visitors who are interested in the law and the actual procedures of the federal government, a stop at the US Supreme Court is a must. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there on a day of oral arguments, which are open to the public. Regardless, though, visitors can tour the building, view the current exhibitions and, when the court is not in session, check the schedule of courtroom lectures. Just note that the building is closed on Saturdays and Sundays, so leave it off your weekend itinerary. 960 1280

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images  

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Venture across the river into Virginia to explore this moving site, whose 624 acres honor those who served the United States. The peaceful, beautiful landscape is dotted with more than 400,000 graves, including those of prominent figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who designed the layout of Washington, DC. You’ll also want to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame burning at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy, one of only 2 presidents buried in Arlington National Cemetery (the other is William Taft).  960 1280

Peter Gridley/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images  

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