6.8 out of 10

New Hampshire Ave Northwest, Dupont Circle

38.9130971354269 -77.0402006332339
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"See the Diversity of Upscale Historic Washington DC"

Begin at the corner of First Street and Constitution Avenue. You might be lucky to find parking here on a nearby side street, but if not you can take a ride on the Metro, getting off at Capitol South stop and walking North on First street to Constitution. Here you will see the Supreme Court Buildings.

Walk West on Constitution Avenue toward the large domed building you will recognize as the US Capitol Building. On each side of the domed section are the Senate and House of Representatives. If you want to visit this building you can arrive early and get free tickets. If you want to visit the Senate or Congress while they are in session, you need to visit your representative’s office and obtain free passes. Access to either side of the building will include a line at the security checks. You will be limited on the items allowed inside both chambers.

Follow the street down past Union Station Plaza that is a beautiful park area with lots of flowers, trees and shrubs surrounded by green lawns and sidewalks going every which way. It is easy to get lost in Union Plaza area if you are not careful to follow the walks. I have become frustrated quite a few times trying to get from Union Station to the Capitol Building because I was looking down as I walked. Once you get past this maze of sidewalks you should be facing the West.

You will pass several government buildings and museums as you travel down this street. The National Gallery of Art buildings will be on your left and the National Archives will be on your right. Both of these buildings are worth visiting if you have at least an hour to spend there. I have spent many hours in the Archives building looking at rare historical artifacts. There is an interactive section in this building that offers visitors the chance to look up personal records of US servicemen.

Keep traveling on Constitution Avenue and you will come to the famous Smithsonian Museums of Natural History and American History. The Natural History Museum is a great place to explore wildlife, world cultures, and geology. Look for the famous Hope Diamond, fossils of dinosaurs, and ancient artifacts. Many life-sized reconstructions of animals that lived long ago will make you think of early cultures of the world. One of my favorite discoveries at this museum is one of the famous and strange statues found on Easter Island. Standing next to it gives you an entirely different perspective than seeing it on television or in books. The American History Museum has been closed for remodeling, but is open now for visitors. There are so many different areas of interest in this museum that I would suggest setting aside at least four hours to visit. If you park on the street you will be limited to the amount of time you can park in one spot. I suggest that you park near these museums so you can move your car easily in case you want to extend your visit there. There are places to buy fast food and sit down meals in both museums. You can also find street vendors along the sidewalks nearby. I usually take a sack lunch and sit outside the buildings on sunny days. Watching people from all parts of the world walking up and down the street among the groups of school children from all parts of the USA can make your lunch break interesting.

Beyond this point, you will come to the Ellipse and beyond that the White House to your right and the Washington Monument to your left. Keep going and you will see several government buildings on the right and the famous Mall on your left. Do not expect to go shopping in this Mall. The first time I visited I was told to meet someone in the Mall area and I was actually looking for a shopping mall. I felt silly when I discovered that the Mall is an open area where there are many different events and planned demonstrations throughout the year. Look for the Vietnam War Memorial and the Korean War Memorial at the far end of the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial. All memorials and monuments can be visited free of charge, but you must arrive early in the day to get a pass for the Washington Monument. It is worth visiting as it gives you a bird’s eye view of Washington DC from the cross section view of the White House, Capitol, and Lincoln Memorial.

If you have walked from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and you are feeling too tired to walk back, you can catch a cab for a ride back to your car. If you choose to walk both ways, you will find that Constitution Avenue is patrolled by DC Police and they keep the street as safe as any city street in America. An evening stroll will give you a different view of things in Washington DC, as the monuments and memorials are lit up and the traffic has subsided by the time the sun goes down. There is a quiet calm that settles on the area and the walk can be pleasant in the warmer months.
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