. . . visited the National Aquarium. No, not that aquarium. The National Aquarium, the downtown D.C. institution with roots that go back to 1873. Housed in the basement of the Commerce building, this is no celebration of seaside views or sunlight on water. It is an underground window on the underwater world. It's also a perfect spot for a quick escape from the Mall. Once run by the government, it is now a nonprofit effort, created after the opening of the Baltimore aquarium. The best time to visit: 2 p.m. Fridays, when the four juvenile alligators are fed their weekly lunch: a rat, or fish, or the occasional chicken.
14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, 202-482-2825, www.nationalaquarium.com
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week; last admission at 4:30 p.m. General admission is $3, 75 cents for children 2 to 10. Children under 2 get in free.
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