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. You'll get a first-hand look at the miracles of space flight and then come right down to earth with model-rocket launches. Be sure to peek into the NASA Communications Center, where teams of specialists keep in touch with astronauts high above the earth.
Then touch down at the National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Facility, a vast complex of buildings where historic and unique aircraft are kept and restored before being displayed at the Smithsonian's main building in Washington, D.C.
Just a short drive away, you can explore aviation's beginnings at the College Park Airport, established in 1909 by Wilbur and Orville Wright. Stop by the College Park Aviation Museum, where an animatronic Wilbur Wright greets you at the world's oldest continually operating airport. A 1911 Wright B is one of several historic planes on display, and you can break for lunch while watching planes land amid all this history.
Discover how nature takes flight by watching for birds at the National Wildlife Visitor Center and Patuxent Research Refuge. A tram tour offers a scenic introduction to the 13,000 acres of forest, wetlands and meadow environments that make up the only national wildlife refuge created to study man's impact on nature.
Spend the afternoon at Fort Washington Park, built on the banks of the Potomac River to defend the nation's capital. Admire the views of both George Washington's home in Virginia - Mount Vernon - and Washington, D.C. The fort is filled with explorer-friendly tunnels and passageways.
Begin your morning with a visit to the home of the founder of the American Red Cross. The Clara Barton National Historic Site was not only where she lived; it also served as the first headquarters of the relief organization. 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 now lie within the boundaries of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Stroll along the tree-lined canal and take a mule-drawn barge ride. A more recent - but just as romantic - method of transportation is on display at the nearby National Capital Trolley Museum, featuring historic trolley cars from America and Europe. Climb aboard one of the working cars and take a quick spin!
Finally, 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.