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    Fort Belvoir, VA Museums

    Being close to the nation's capital, the Fairfax area is saturated with fascinating museums and historic sites, all within a short distance of the base.

    Mount Vernon was George Washington's home and plantation for over 40 years, including while he served as President. The mansion's white exterior and red roof are visually striking when contrasted against the landscape and gardens in which Washington himself took much pride. Situated on the banks of the Potomac River, there are also a dozen outbuildings and Washington's tomb on the premises.

    Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim- Blenheim is a brick farmhouse built in 1859 that served as a reserve hospital for soldiers during the Civil War. One of the most notable aspects of this house are the names and carvings soldiers wrote into the walls which is now some of the best preserved "Civil War graffiti" in the country.

    The National Firearms Museum has one of the world's best collections of over 2,700 rare, distinctive, and "famous" guns from throughout history. Notable guns include Annie Oakley's Hibbard shotgun, a Medieval hand cannon from the year 1350, and King James' II of England Flintlock Fowler.

    Ox Hill Battlefield Park marks the site of the only major battle of the Civil War fought in Fairfax County. The battle at Ox Hill took place on September 1, 1862, and the results forced the Confederates to cross the Potomac River and start what would end up being the Maryland Campaign. There are reenactments held at the park several times a year.

    The International Spy Museum houses the largest espionage artifact collection in the world. Over 750 artifacts from the ancient Greeks and Romans, British Empire, American Revolution and through recent American wars are on display.

    Arlington National Cemetery is one of the country's oldest national cemeteries and is the final resting place for over 14,000 veterans of American wars dating back to the Civil War. There are dozens of monuments and memorials within the cemetery, including the gravesite and Eternal Flame for President John F. Kennedy, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and daily Changing of the Guard.

    National Air and Space Museum is the largest of all 19 Smithsonian museums with over 60,000 artifacts relating to flight history, science and technology. There are 21 galleries for objects like astronaut equipment, jetliners, and Saturn V rockets, and one of the largest image collections of space and aviation with over 1.75 million photographs. It is the most visited museum in the U.S.

    River Farm is the former 1,800 acre plantation built for Captain Giles Brent, who had landed at Jamestown around 1653, and was eventually bought out by the neighboring plantation, Mount Vernon, owned by George Washington. The brick house built on the farm circa 1757 is now the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society.

    Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum is a historic shop in Old Town Alexandria displaying a well-preserved array of medicines, prescription ledgers, and documents as they were when the shop was open from 1792 through the 1800s. Famous customers are said to have included Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee.

    Gadsby's Tavern and Museum used to be one of Alexandria's political and social centers, with the tavern dating back to 1785 and a former hotel circa 1792. Some of the Founding Fathers were frequent patrons, including George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The building is still kept in the 18th century style and the tavern even serves some period food on its menu.

    The Old Town Alexandria area is the historic district along the Potomac River, well-preserved down to its cobblestone streets, which today is the city's hotspot for shopping, world-class dining, theatres and entertainment.

    Washington D.C.

    Just thirty minutes away, the nation's capital offers countless other attractions; from the world renowned Smithsonian Museums, to the nation's Capitol building.

    The Newseum is a museum dedicated to news and journalism by showing visitors how and why news is made and dozens of galleries, theatres, and exhibits on the history of news around the world. Galleries include the daily displays of over 80 international newspapers' front pages and the Berlin Wall Gallery which has the largest display of Berlin Wall sections in the U.S. Permanent exhibits include Pulitzer Prize winning photographs and their photographers, a 9/11 gallery, and a Journalists Memorial for those who died in pursuit of the news.

    The World War II Memorial is located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. It was commissioned in 1993 by President Clinton and formally dedicated in 2004 by President Bush to honor all 16 million servicemen and the 400,000 who died during WWII. A large circle made entirely of granite has two sides of 56 granite pillars, representing each state and territory, 2 43-foot "victory arches", 4,000 gold stars on the Freedom Wall for the soldiers who never made it home, and 24 sculpture panels with historic scenes based on photos from the war. 4.4 million visitors come to this extraordinary monument each year.

    The Capitol Building is the home of the United States Congress, built in 1793. This impressive domed structure also houses a collection of American art, an open tomb and crypt meant for George Washington, and, more recently, a Visitors Center has been added.

    The White House was built in 1792 and has been the home of every U.S. President except the first, George Washington. It has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels, including the East Wing and West Wing, which is the location of the President's personal office, the well-known Oval Office. Interior tours are limited, but the iconic white, columned exterior can always be seen from beyond its gate on Pennsylvania Ave in downtown Washington D.C.

    The Lincoln Memorial, located on the National Mall, is a Greek-style marble temple ringed with 36 columns and houses a 19-foot seated sculpture of 16th President Abraham Lincoln. This memorial is not only impressive architecturally, but is a favorite among visitors and draws about 6 million people each year.

    The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is a 30-foot block of granite with King's figure carved out and many of his quotes etched into the sides of the block, including his famous speech that took place nearby, also on the National Mall. He is the first African American and one of the first non-presidents to be honored at the National Mall.

    The Jefferson Memorial is a tribute to Thomas Jefferson with a domed marble building and portico, with loose architectural references to the Pantheon. Inside is a 19-foot bronze statue of the man himself and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. The exterior is surrounded by Japanese cherry trees on the shore of the Potomac River Tidal Basin.