Despite its problems and ire it raises in the heartland, Washington is one of our favorite cities. As home to the 20th century's greatest power, Washington has quickly earned a place among the world's leading cities. Not much more than a bog 200 years ago, the District of Columbia now hosts world class museums, green parks, monumental architecture, and the tangle of government that represents the freest, most prosperous nation on the planet.
This is a city that every American should visit. For although Washington isn't the country, it is here that you can find the most concentrated expression of what the country is. From the towering monuments to the past to the buildings where history is being made, the city seems designed to evoke the sense that you are in the midst of something special. If Americans don't feel a twinge of patriotism here, they're probably immune to the feeling.
To most tourists, Washington is the Mall. The District is actually much larger, and home to some 600,000 odd residents. Unfortunately, much of Washington off the beaten path is unworthy to be the capital it is. Many areas are crime ridden, unsafe at any hour. The United States deserve more, citizens should demand that Congress exercise its constitutional power to give us a city that Americans can be proud of.
When planning your trip, don't forget Alexandria, the 18th century just across the Potomac.