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Washington, D.C.: The Government in Action

The nation's capital city of Washington, D.C., is located on the east coast. Not a part of any state's territory, this federal district was created out of land ceded from the states of Virginia and Maryland. As such, it is located very close to both these states and visitors staying in holiday homes in Washington, D.C. can reach Virginia merely by crossing the Potomac River.

There is little reason to leave D.C., however, when there is probably a year's worth of things to do in the capital. Not to be missed are the great institutions of United States government. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives, located in the U.S. Capitol Building, are open to the public during normal business hours; when Congress is in session, tourists can attend the viewing galleries and watch the mechanisms of government in action.

The Supreme Court Building can also be visited, but when the court is in session, visitors may need a ticket in order to attend since space is limited and students as well as legal scholars descend to watch the court in action. The White House, home of the president, is open for public tours on most days, but a more comprehensive tour is available with tickets from your senator or representative. These can be obtained by writing to their congressional offices at least a month in advance.

The Smithsonian Institution is another popular venue for tourists. It consists of several different museums, most of them located along the Mall, which is a long strip of land stretching from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.

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