Visiting the United States? There are 50 states to see in all.

Americans don’t always see eye to eye on politics, but everyone agrees on one thing: Washington, District of Columbia (D.C.), the nation’s capital, is a great place to visit.

Twenty million people annually come to see marble and stone monuments to such revered American leaders as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. and stroll amid the cherry blossoms in springtime.

Visitors tour the White House and the U.S. Capitol and flock to the Smithsonian Institution museums, the National Gallery of Art, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and more.

They shop and relax in upscale Georgetown and pulsating Adams Morgan and dine in neighborhoods offering authentic cuisine from Latin America, China, India, Ethiopia and elsewhere.

U.S. map with Washington, D.C., highlighted (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

Off we go into the wild, blue yonder

People walking through large atrium with airplane suspended from ceiling (© AP Images)
Visitors to the National Air and Space museum are often gazing upward. (© AP Images)

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum puts visitors practically in the cockpit. Here you can see Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, John Glenn’s space capsule, an Apollo lunar module and the ultralight Rutan Voyager, which flew around the world.

All in a row on the National Mall

Girl standing between two columns overlooking reflecting pool and Washington Monument (© AP Images)
A view down the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial (© AP Images)

French architect Pierre L’Enfant designed the wide boulevards and traffic circles. The National Mall, a ribbon of grass, runs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol and accommodates throngs for inaugurations, fireworks and marches.

Pandas and lions and bears

Panda lying on rock (© AP Images)
The National Zoo’s giant panda Mei Xiang (© AP Images)

At the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo, perched above Rock Creek Park, giant pandas are the most famous of 2,000 inhabitants from 400 animal species. For a different experience, visit the Newseum and the International Spy Museum, located downtown.

Time travel along the Potomac

Large white house with red roof standing between trees (Shutterstock)
The home of the first president of the United States, George Washington, overlooks the Potomac River. (Shutterstock)

Visitors sit in rocking chairs on the porch of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, a few miles down the Potomac on the Virginia side. In Georgetown — once a slave-trading center — mule-boat rides rides are offered on the C&O Canal. Not far away, rapids rage at Great Falls National Park, with spectacular views from both the Virginia and Maryland shores.

Not quite the 51st state

Boy holding D.C. flag with "D.C. statehood now!" written on it (Djembayz/Creative Commons)
Flag waver at 2013 inauguration (Djembayz/Creative Commons)

While colloquially called the 51st state, the District of Columbia isn’t. The 650,000 residents vote in presidential elections, but campaigns for statehood have fallen short.

Learn more about Washington, D.C., and all 50 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.