Washington Watch

In summertime, the population of D.C. doubles. Tourists here. Tourists there. Tourists everywhere.

We almost always become tourist guides to folks and friends from out of state or from the Philippines showing off local attractions like the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Jefferson, Lincoln and the war memorials, the Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian museums. There are also other tourist spots on a less beaten path that offer the tourist an equally historical and educational experience, often taken for granted because they are outside of D.C. but they are just a short drive away.

MOUNT VERNON

George Washington\’s Mount Vernon Estate

One such sight is Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, America’s first commander-in-chief and considered to be one of the greatest U.S. presidents. Sitting above the Potomac River, the estate includes a 14-room mansion and a breathtaking view of the Maryland shore.

An avid farmer, Washington planned the landscape of his home. To this day, visitors can see plants known to have been in Mount Vernon in the late 1700s. Forty-five acres of the estate are open to the public. Visitors can tour more than a dozen outbuildings including the slave quarters, kitchen, stables, a four-acre working farm that includes a re-creation of the 16-sided treading barn.

Every July 4th, Mount Vernon salutes George Washington with a spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors over the Potomac River, a wreath-laying ceremony and military re-enactments.

STEVEN F. UDVAR-HAZY CENTER

The B29 Superfortress bomber, Enola Gay

Another sight to visit is the companion facility to the Smithsonian Institute, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport which opened in December 2003. It houses the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world. Most notably, the B29 superfortress bomber Enola Gay that was used in the mission that dropped the atomic bomb destroying Hiroshima, Japan piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets is on display there.

In November 2004, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, which boasts of a total of 113 large space artifacts including two Mercury capsules, an Apollo Command Module, an array of cruise missiles, satellites and space telescopes, was opened.

The centerpiece of the hangar is the space shuttle Enterprise, the first space shuttle orbiter.

WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL

The Washington National Cathedral

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