Best area attractions outside D.C. photo
(Tracy A. Woodward - The Post)

Best area attractions outside D.C.

Mark Berman | Washington Post Staff Writer  |  Updated 06/22/2010

There's so much to see in the nation's capital that it's easy to forget how many landmarks are outside the District. Here's a guide to 10 great sights you can get to without ever setting foot in the city.

 

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, VA

Catch breathtaking vistas of the city's monuments from this spot, which is part beautiful landmark, part somber memorial. See the Tomb of the Unknowns, a house with ties to George Washington and Robert E. Lee, and the final resting places of two U.S. presidents (William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy). Graves of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are found in Section 60.

 

National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

Arlington, VA

Opened on Sept. 11, 2008, the memorial is on the west side of the Pentagon, near where United Flight 77 crashed into the Defense Department headquarters on Sept. 11, 2001. There are 184 steel-and-granite benches, each honoring a person killed that morning. Under each bench is a pool of water and a light that shines upward at night, adding an ethereal glow.

 

Ball's Bluff Regional Park

Leesburg, VA

An early Civil War battle took place here on Oct. 21, 1861, and its deaths "brought the war home to the people in Washington," says park manager George Tabb. The scenic 223-acre park includes hiking trails, plagues describing the battle and a cemetery at the center.

 

Pope-Leighey House

Alexandria, VA

Commissioned in 1939, this Frank Lloyd Wright house was designed to provide affordable family housing, so it's a modest 1,200 square feet. Still, Wright's work is so significant that it's owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Originally located in Falls Church, the house was moved to Alexandria so it wouldn't be destroyed by the construction of Interstate 66.

 

DEA Museum

Arlington, VA

The FBI won't let you stop in for an unannounced visit? The CIA politely explains that you can't just stroll through the place? Well, this government agency museum in Crystal City rolls out the welcome mat for visitors. The 3,000-square-foot, two-story museum opened in 1999 and uses galleries, videos and interactive displays to cover the history of drug use, abuse and policy in the country.

 

Goddard Space Flight Visitor Center

Greenbelt, MD

A half-hour outside the city in Greenbelt, you'll find the closest thing this area has to Cape Canaveral. There are exhibits showing off Hubble Space Telescope images as well as a collection of artifacts from the history of NASA. There's also a video show where you get to see images projected on an oversize globe -- and an honest-to-goodness chunk of the moon.

 

Great Falls Tavern and Visitor Center

Potomac, MD

Here you can find information about hiking trails and new exhibits on the geology and environment of the area. From some spots you can see across to Virginia, while in other you feel like you're in the woods. A mule-drawn reproduction canal boat takes hour-long trips Wednesday through Sunday, while rangers dressed in 19th-century garb talk about that time period.

 

Clara Barton House

Glen Echo, MD

Clara Barton's home for the last 15 years of her life was also the first permanent home for the American Red Cross, which she founded in 1881. Tours give visitors a chance to see elements of Red Cross history and artifacts from the time when Barton lived there. Just across a scenic bridge is Glen Echo Park, a former amusement park that now hosts a children's theater, art galleries and dances.

 

National Colonial Farm

Accokeek, MD

Nestled in Piscataway Park, the farm includes five miles of trails, picnic tables and a fishing pier. Although it's close to the city, "you feel like you are so far away," says Linda Reid, who works in the park's visitors center. Bring your camera, because from the pier you can see Mount Vernon across the river.

 

National Harbor

Fort Washington, MD

This waterfront resort aims for a Washington neighborhood vibe with live jazz and an outdoor market. You can walk the waterfront, grab a bite and shop. And you can get quite a view of that city that you still haven't set foot in, to boot. The complex now boasts "The Awakening," the cast aluminum sculpture that was moved from its longtime home at Hains Point in the District in 2008.

 

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