Tidal Basin

Waterfront in National Mall

The 2-mile stroll around this constructed inlet incorporates the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson memorials as well as the Floral Library. It's a lovely way to spend a couple of hours – just watch out for low-hanging tree branches near the FDR memorial. During the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the city’s annual spring rejuvenation, the basin bursts into a pink-and-white floral collage. Rent a paddleboat from the boathouse to get out on the water.

The Tidal Basin also serves a practical purpose: flushing the adjacent Washington Channel. At high tide, river waters fill the basin through gates under the Inlet Bridge. At low tide, gates under the Outlet Bridge open and water streams into the channel.