Let your imagination take flight through the absorbing sites of Maryland's Capitol Region.
Spend the day with your head in the clouds at the NASA/Goddard Visitor Center and Museum. Here, you can learn more about the miracles of space flight by browsing eye-catching exhibits, climbing inside a Gemini capsule model, or participating in a model-rocket launch. Be sure to peek into the NASA Communications Center, where teams of specialists keep in touch with astronauts high above the earth.
Just a short drive away, the College Park Airport and Aviation Museum offer a first-hand look at aviation's beginnings. Established in 1909 by Wilbur and Orville Wright, this remains the world's oldest continually operating airport and features an animatronic Wilbur and a number of historic planes on display, including a 1910 Wright B. On your lunch break, you can watch modern aircraft take off and land amid all this history.
Discover how nature takes flight with a trip to the National Wildlife Visitor Center and Patuxent Research Refuge. A tram tour gives visitors a scenic introduction to the 13,000 acres of forest, wetlands and meadows that make up the only national wildlife refuge created specifically to study man's impact on nature.
Built on the banks of the Potomac River to defend the nation's capitol, Fort Washington Park provides unbeatable views of the two places George Washington called home: Washington, D.C., and Mount Vernon. Explorers young and old can easily while away an afternoon in the fort's tunnels and passageways.
Start your morning with a visit to the Clara Barton National Historic Site, which served as the first headquarters of the relief organization and home to its founder. Just a ring toss away is Glen Echo Park, a turn-of-the-century amusement park that's been restored and features a marvelous 1921 Dentzel Carousel.
The Potomac River turns rapid around Great Falls, a series of rocky cliffs and outcroppings that lie within the boundaries of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Stroll along the tree-lined canal or take a mule-drawn barge ride. You'll find historic European and American examples of a more recent (but just as romantic) mode of transportation on display nearby at the National Capital Trolley Museum. Climb aboard one of the working cars and take a quick spin!
To close your three-day D.C. Beltway adventure, tour one of the nation's premier scientific agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where you'll discover things you never knew about air and water.