Don't miss Washington’s most beautiful phenomenon, the annual blossoming of the Japanese cherry trees that were given to the city by Japan. Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC is the capital’s only hotel with views of the Tidal Basin, where the trees explode like clouds of cotton candy in the spring.
Extending from the Washington Monument to the US Capitol, the National Mall is DC’s rectangular town square. The Smithsonian Institution’s museums that line the mall include the National Museum of the American Indian (lunch alert: best museum food), the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, as well as the Freer Gallery of Art, the Arthur M Sackler Gallery, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The Smithsonian’s 137 million or so objects range from chef Julia Child’s kitchen to First Ladies’ dresses.
On or near the mall are the major monuments and memorials. The newest, alongside an additional 180 cherry trees, is the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial on the Tidal Basin. For information about all the memorials, monuments and parks in the city, seek out the knowledgeable park rangers.