Best View : The Washington Monument ’s observation deck affords a bird’s-eye view of the city and beyond. On a clear day, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains are visible nearly 60 miles to the west, and to the southeast, the Potomac River meanders through the Maryland and Virginia countryside.
Best Museum : In a city of museums, it’s nearly impossible to pick one, but the National Museum of Natural History  comes close, with the Hope Diamond, dinosaur bones, a live coral reef, and bird-eating spiders.
Best Place for a Protest : Someone’s always mad in Lafayette Square , the park across from the White House. Nuclear disarmament protesters have been rallying here for more than 30 years, often joined by Lyndon LaRouche supporters, gay rights activists, Tea Party factions, and others.
Best Place for a Picnic : The people-watching on the U.S. Capitol Grounds  is among the best in the city. Grab lunch from nearby Union Station or a deli and treat yourself to the parade of senators, lobbyists, lawmakers, and celebrities.
The Sight Most Likely to Leave You Speechless : Technically not in the city proper, the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery , across Memorial Bridge, are a solemn reminder of the price of freedom.
Best Hill : The nearly mile-long walk from the National Zoo ’s D Lot to Connecticut Avenue is steep, but along the way you’ll see gorillas, prairie dogs, elephants, tigers, and orangutans. And when you’re tired, it’s a downhill trek to your car.
Best Gargoyles : The Washington National Cathedral , the second largest in the United States, is loaded with classical Gothic detail — flying buttresses, rose windows, pointed arches, and hundreds of gargoyles and grotesques, including a likeness of Darth Vader.