First up is the Mall. No, it's not a shopping center. The Mall in D.C. is an open area park, extending from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol building. Not only will you find many of the monuments in this area, but the Smithsonian museums line the grassy area by the Capitol building.
|Map of the original plans|
What's great about the Mall is how it's utilized by the city. Every year, the 4th of July celebrations take place here, with fireworks being set off behind the Washington Monument. The National Book Festival takes over in the fall, and many rallies and protests alike congregate on the Mall. And let's not forget the Presidential Inauguration. Overall, the Mall is really the heart of the city, and you shouldn't miss it.
Next up is the Metro. D.C. has an extensive public transportation system, including a great subway system that gets you pretty much anywhere you need to go in D.C. and the surrounding cities. Given the price of parking, and the difficulty in finding a space, my recommendation is to use Metro to explore the city.
|Metro rail map|