The author of the Declaration of Independence is celebrated here with a gleaming Neoclassical temple inspired by the Roman Pantheon (one of Jefferson's favorite pieces of architecture). Vast white marble steps lead up to a soaring rotunda with a statue of the statesman inside; wall inscriptions about man's inherent right to liberty, from Jefferson's prolific writings, still inspire—as does the view, which takes in the White House and the calm waters of the Tidal Basin. This is, unsurprisingly, one of Washington's favorite photo ops.
Tip: In spring, the hundreds of cherry trees planted around the Tidal Basin burst into rapturous blossom; if you're in town when they are, this monument is a must.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.