Washington, D.C. is not quite a state, but is nontheless home to several of the best universities and museums in the country, as well as some of the most recognizable American architecture.

From its iconic monuments and buildings to its historic neighborhoods and free museums, the capital of the United States offers so many interesting attractions, it's hard to know where to begin. Consider a tour of the White House Visitor's Center, a wealth of information about one of the most powerful symbols of American history and politics. From there you can make your way to a number of moving tributes, including the Vietnam War Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

Like many east-coast cities, much of Washington's civic and residential architecture comes from the mid-to-late 1800s -- neoclassical and Victorian architecture predominate, though some significant new architecture is providing diversity throughout the city.  Downtown neighborhoods tend towards apartment buildings and townhouses, and the sidewalks and trees make much of DC a very friendly walking town.

D.C. is especially known for its museums. From the Holocaust to the history of space exploration and from dinosaurs to international spies, there is a museum for almost every area of interest, with many offering free admission. Great shopping, restaurants and Colonial architecture can be found in Georgetown. And The Mall, a slice of greenery in the center of town surrounded by the buildings of the Smithsonian, is the perfect place to grab a hot dog, relax and take in the sights and sounds of this lively and influential city.

Don't forget the National Zoo, or the Capitol itself! The Library of Congress is situated not far from the Supreme Court of the United States, and both are open for tours. A great public transportation system (the Metro) ties it all together, and DC is home to some excellent restaurants and festivals, from Ethiopian food to the cherry blossoms.