Beyond the Smithsonian: Little-Known Attractions in Washington D.C.

Everyone including Alex Perdikis, knows that Washington D.C. is the nation’s capital. Tourists from around the world come to see the White House, Smithsonian, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. Washington D.C. has some lesser-known attractions that few people know about. Next time you’re near the capital, check out some of these attractions.

President Lincoln’s Cottage

After visiting the Lincoln Memorial, check out President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home for a more personal glimpse into the life of the 16th President of the United States . President Lincoln first stayed at the gothic revival cottage three days after his inauguration. Lincoln and his family lived in the Cottage off-and-on for 13 months during the Civil War and Lincoln commuted to the White House. It was here that Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation and made important decisions about military strategy as well as domestic policy. It was also here that he and Mary Todd Lincoln mourned the loss of their son, Willie, due to typhoid. President Lincoln’s Cottage offers rotating exhibits as well as photographs, books, period furnishings, architectural fragments, archeological artifacts and prints that reflect life during the time period.

The cottage underwent a seven-year restoration project and opened to the public in February 2008. Tours are available and reservations recommended. The entrance  is at Eagle Gate, located at the intersection of Rock Creek Church Road and Upshur Street  NW, Washington D.C.

The Washington National Cathedral

If a trip to a cathedral seems a little tame, you haven’t been to the Washington National Cathedral. Moon rocks and Darth Vader gargoyles set the stage for what is far from the typical sanctuary. A place of deep historical significance, the gothic cathedral is where presidents attend services after inaugurations and Martin Luther King Jr. gave his final Sunday sermon. The cathedral is open to all faiths and is run by the Episcopal diocese. Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller are buried in the crypt and chapels honor Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Tours are available.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

If getting out of the city and stepping into nature sounds good, then Theodore Roosevelt Island is the place to go. The wilderness preserve is named after the 26th president who was a conservationist and created the national park system. The island is only accessible over a foot bridge. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited. The preserve is home to a host of small animals and birds.

The United States Botanical Garden

Yes, it’s full of beautiful roses, exotic orchids and lovely ferns, but the garden’s real claim to fame is not nearly as sweet. Nestled within the National Mall, the United States Botanical Garden is also home to what is known as the corpse flower. Why the name? Because the corpse flower smells like rotting flesh. The corpse flower only blooms every three to five years, so most of the time you have to make do with the butterfly, rose and water gardens.


Alex Perdikis Admires These Five Traits of Great Leadership

Since Alex Perdikis took over as general manager at Koons of Silver Spring, the dealership has become one of the fastest growing in the Greater Washington D.C. area. You don’t spark growth like that without great leadership skills. The most effective leaders, whether in business or the world stage, share some of the same traits and qualities that make them successful. What is it that makes for a great leader? Here are five traits all great leaders share.


At the top of the list, honesty is the single most important leadership characteristic. An organization takes its cue from the top. If team members have the utmost faith in the leader’s honesty and integrity, the organization’s foundation becomes strong. The most effective leaders have a list of core values that are openly available, taught and expected from everyone in the organization.


The best leaders know how to focus. They think outside the box to come up with solutions that target success. A focused leader thinks through each scenario, contemplates the possible impact and forms strategic plans with one goal in mind – to succeed. Because no plan is completely secure, contingency plans are not left to chance. A focused leader is a prepared leader.


Efficient leaders are masters at the art of communication. From simple requests to full-blown strategies, communication with team members is vital. Every member must understand the goals leadership espouses, but if the goals are not communicated clearly and understandably, goals mean nothing. From training new team members to developing an open work environment, superb communication skills are key.

Effective leaders not only communicate what they want, but they solicit suggestions, opinions and information from team members. They realize that communication is a two-way street. Team members who work the trenches often understand what’s going on more fully than leaders. The best leaders listen.


Confidence is one of the most difficult attributes to maintain. It’s easy to be confident when everything goes right, but setbacks happen. It’s the leader’s job to keep setbacks in perspective and motivate the team. The best leaders know how to make sure everyone stays focused on the larger goal and not become discouraged because of a  temporary stumbling block. If an organization’s leader exudes positive energy, the rest of the team will as well.


The greatest leaders take responsibility for the organization’s performance. They take charge when there are problems, monitor performance, step in immediately and take decisive action to avert complications. If something goes wrong, strong leaders take responsibility, avoid spin, refuse to blame others or outside influences and constructively examine the situation.  

Alex Perdikis worked his way up through management and attributes much of his management style success to the years of working in every level of the automotive business. Alex developed a team at Koons of Silver Spring Automotive that is a cohesive unit, each individual working toward the same goal. Clearly, it’s a recipe for success.