Coming to D.C.? Utah finds await
Washington • Every year, thousands of Utahns visit the nation's capital to stare in awe at the marble monuments heralding great leaders and great moments in U.S. history.
Upon closer examination, Utahns could find mentions and objects from their own state scattered throughout the District of Columbia, from statues in the U.S. Capitol to portraits of early Mormon leaders to the state's official tree.
Here's a quick guide for a Utah-centric tour of the nation's capital:
Natural History Museum • Utah touts its heritage as a Jurassic period stomping ground, and hosts an array of fossil sites throughout the state. Some of those bones migrated to Washington as well.
At the National Museum of Natural History, remains of Camarasaurus lentus, a long-necked dinosaur discovered in Utah, are on display with several other massive dino-skeletons, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex that inspired scenes from "Night at the Museum." This very Camarasaurus was once displayed at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago.
The museum also features the "Making of a Monster," an exhibit on a Utah-discovered Diplodocus, which took a year to dig out of rock in Dinosaur National Monument and transport carefully across the country.
How to get there • The museum is located at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, adjacent to the National Museum of American History, and within walking distance of the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian Metro stations.
National Arboretum • The National Arboretum hosts Utah's Blue Spruce, an evergreen that has served as the official state tree since 1933, in its Grove of State Trees. In fact, the tree also serves as the state tree of Colorado, though Utahns claimed it six years before its neighbor to the east.
The 30-acre grove itself is worth a stop, providing a direct look at the trees each state claims as its own. The arboretum also features the picturesque National Capitol Columns that once held up the United States Capitol dome before it was expanded.
How to get there • The Arboretum isn't located near a Metro but can be reached by car at one of two entrances, the first at 3501 New York Ave. NE, and the second at 24th & R Streets NE, just off Bladensburg Road.
National Portrait Gallery • A 1971 portrait of Mormon founder Joseph Smith hangs inside the National Portrait Gallery, just inches from a miniature sketch of the faith's second president and pioneer leader, Brigham Young.
The gallery boasts more than 15,000 works of art and should be a staple in any sightseer's itinerary, regardless of religious interest.
How to get there • The National Portrait Gallery is only steps from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station.
Lincoln Memorial and World War II • "Utah" is inscribed on the higher of two friezes above the Lincoln Memorial's colonnade. The first frieze lists the 36 states in the Union at the time of the 16th president's death, while the second where you'll find Utah lists the 48 states that existed when the monument was dedicated in 1922.
Across the street, The World War II Memorial features 56 granite pillars in semi-circle formation, one representing each state or territory. The Utah pillar stands between Idaho and New Mexico and offers a great picture with the Washington Monument in the background.
How to get there • The memorials are located at the west end of the National Mall. The Smithsonian, Federal Triangle and Foggy Bottom Metro stations are all nearby.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial • Dedicated in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the 58,000 men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. The three-part memorial includes the Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women's Memorial and the best-known memorial wall.
A feature on the memorial's website makes it easy to find the names of those Utahns all 364 of them whose names are etched in the black granite. The site also offers to mail a requested name rubbing free of charge.
How to get there • The memorial is located on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial's website can be found at http://www.vvmf.org.
U.S. Capitol • The U.S. Capitol complex contains scores of statues, including two for every state in the union. A white marble likeness of Utah's Brigham Young was put on display in 1950 while Utah's other statue is that of Philo T. Farnsworth, which went up in 1990.
Young is well-known, of course, while Farnsworth perhaps not so much. But it's likely every Utahn can recognize the Beaver County native's invention: the television.
How to get there • The Capitol and its unmistakable dome are within walking distance from the Union Station and Capitol South Metro stations. Tours are best arranged through your member of Congress.
Jell-O with Mike Lee • Jell-O has been the state's official snack since early 2001, a claim spurred by Utah's status as the No. 1 per capita consumer of the gelatin treat. Bill Cosby, the brand's spokesman, was even dubbed an honorary Utah citizen.
Sen. Mike Lee has embraced the treat in all of its jiggly glory, inviting Utahns to stop by his D.C. office for "Jell-O with the Senator" every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. (when the Senate is in session) in hopes that they'll feel at home.
How to get there • For a taste of Utah, head to the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 316.
Latter-day Saints Temple • Technically located in Kensington, Md., the Washington, D.C., Temple has existed as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's tallest temple since 1968. Its six-spire design was inspired by the church's Salt Lake Temple.
Hallowed ground for Mormon faithful, the temple has become a sort of landmark for Washingtonians as well. Radio announcers often refer to the temple as a landmark in traffic reports and an anonymous spray-paint-wielding prankster likened the building's domineering white and gold structure to that of Oz's Emerald City by plastering the phrase "surrender Dorothy" on a nearby overpass. The graffiti, viewable from I-495, has reappeared after several attempts at removal.
How to get there • A free shuttle from the Forest Glen Metro station can be requested during most weeknight evenings at the simple command of a phone text message. See templeshuttle.org for updated shuttle availability.
Utah Avenue • Tucked into a tony neighborhood in northwest Washington lies a street named for the Beehive State. Every state in the union has a road in Washington, but some of them, like Pennsylvania Avenue, are much more fabled and larger than the rest.
Utah Avenue cuts a line to the Maryland border and looks very much like a neighborhood in Sandy or some other part of Salt Lake County: wide streets, manicured lawns, friendly neighbors and homes large enough for bigger families.
How to get there • Utah Avenue isn't Metro accessible, but can be found about one mile east of the main thoroughfare of Connecticut Avenue.
Utah goodies • Although not part of any monument tour, at least two spots in the nation's capital region offer food any Utahn should recognize. CafÃ© Rio, a fresh Tex-Mex fast-food chain started in St. George, has opened up several spots near Washington, including one in Olney, Md., and one in Falls Church, Va.
Nielsen's Frozen Custard, which launched in Salt Lake City, has now landed in the area, too, opening up in Vienna, Va.