Those who have read "The Da Vinci Code" or "Angels and Demons" (in other words, about 85% of us) will know that Dan Brown's third book in the Robert Langdon series, "The Lost Symbol", is set in and around Washington. (Don't worry, there are no spoilers in this guide!)
A key element of the novel's plot revolves around Freemasonry, the fraternal organization that, for many, seems shrouded in secrecy. Brown takes advantage of the Order's rather mysterious reputation to create a page-turning thriller. And those who know a bit about Freemasonry know that DC is chock-full of Masonic symbols, which makes sense considering that the city's namesake, George Washington, was perhaps the most famous Mason of all.
You'll need about two days to see all of the sites that Brown name-checks without tiring yourself out too much. In addition to many notable DC monuments and tourist destinations, Brown also references the wealthy neighborhood of Kalorama Heights, which borders both Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle. Set up camp at the Kalorama Guesthouse before taking off on your adventure through the city.
On the first day, start with the Capitol Building and work your way over to the Library of Congress and finally to the Washington Monument. Stop off in Dupont for dinner at Raku before calling it a night.
The George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria represents, for many, the most striking representation of the Freemasonry Order. So it should come as no surprise that this landmark plays an important part in "The Lost Symbol". You should plan to spend a large chunk of your second day wandering around here, learning about the Memorial's history and all of the things it has to offer (including tours, a gift shop, and a library). Admission is free and the views of the city are beautiful.
You're not too far from the Old Town section of Alexandria here, so wander its cobbled streets and window-shop before hopping back on the Metro and heading back into DC.
Washington National Cathedral, another important landmark in Brown's novel, isn't readily accessible by Metro, but there are several buses that run there from both Tenleytown and Dupont Circle stations, and it's not a long journey. After dinner at popular 2 Amys Pizzeria near the Cathedral, head back to the hotel to contemplate, Langdon-style, the significance of the spots you've visited.
Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues, NW
Massachusetts and Wisconsin aves. NW (entrance on Wisconsin Ave.)
Washington, DC 20016
tel: +1 202 537 6200
3715 Macomb St NW
Washington, DC 20016
tel: (202) 885-5700
1900 Q St NW
Washington, DC 20009
tel: 1 202 265 7258
Washington, DC 20576
101 Independence Ave. SE
At 1st St. SE
Washington, DC 20541
tel: +1 202 633 4674
2700 Cathedral Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008-4120
2340 South Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20008
tel: +1 202 387 4062
3450 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20392
tel: +1 202 762 1467 / +1 202 762 1438
fax: +1 202 762 1489
Washington, DC 20036
tel: +1 202 789 7000 (Tourist Information)
fax: +1 202 789 7037 (Tourist Information)