We recently returned home from a short trip to Washington, D.C. Out of the five of us I am the only one has been to Washington, D.C. Some of the things that we all enjoyed the most were not surprising, but it was interesting to see that we each favored some monuments over others. From our quick 3 days of walking the city, here is a list of our favorite sites, and maybe a little insight into why they were a favorite! 😉
1. The U.S. Botanical Garden
My husband was the most pleased with the Botanical Garden. He seemed surprised that he enjoyed it so much. One of the things that made this place so enjoyable was the tropical feel of the gardens. We all had fun using the Family Field Journal they gave us to explore each of the unique sections of the garden. We only had time to do a few, and wished we could have spent more time to explore the rest.
The Sensitive Plant we found in the Plant Adaptations section may just have been the highlight of the whole trip! When you touch it’s leaves they shrink down to keep predators from easily being able to bite them.
2. The Old Post Office
We did not even have The Old Post Office on our list of places to see but we had heard someone mention it from their recent trip and we ended up getting off at the Metro stop right across the street from it. This site was a surprise gem. It is the 3rd tallest building in the city making it’s overlook a must see. Up inside the tower you can see out all 4 sides. Each wall has a photo map of all the buildings so that you can look out and find each of the prominent buildings.
On a slightly lower floor you will find the Congress Bells. They were put in the Old Post Office because they were too heavy to be held in the Congress building. Here you find information not only about the bells, but about the Washington Ringing Society as well.
3. The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building
This was the most ornately done building we entered on our trip. The detailing of the pillars, walls, ceilings, etc. were just amazing. We were on awe at the extensive collection of books that Thomas Jefferson had, and donated to the library.
4. Arlington National Cemetery
At 600 acres, the sheer size of the cemetery is overwhelming. We were all overcome by how many graves rolled over the endless expanse of hills. We only spent a couple of hours here. Just long enough to view John F Kennedy’s grave and eternal flame (which was not burning…very odd), and to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was difficult for Jayden and Ava (ages 10 & 6) to be still and quiet at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so Joey stood farther back with them, while Chloe and I were able to scoot up close for the changing of the guard.
5. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial
This was Chloe’s favorite site, although I am not sure even she knows why. This year she watched a document on MLK and wrote a paper about him. I am wondering if that made her more aware of who he was and what he stood for, thus making his memorial more meaningful to her.
6. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
The FDR Memorial was like a park oasis, with waterfalls and beautiful stone work. I was entranced by the setting and his words quoted on the walls. This was my favorite memorial of all the ones we visited.
7. Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The size of the Thomas Jefferson statue is overwhelming. We stood to the side of the building looking in at it before we went around to go inside. This was on top of Joey’s favorite monument list. In this photo the kids and I are leaning against one of the pillars but you can barely see us because the monument is so big.
8. Air & Space Museum
Joey has always loved flying and planes. Were it not for the entrance of me in his life he might have become a pilot. Thus you can imagine that the Air & Space Museum was up there on his list of favorites. I greatly enjoyed seeing Amelia Earhart’s plane and learning about how the Wright Brother’s used a kite to test the design of their airplane wings.
9. The National Museum of Natural History
Given that Ava was dinosaur obsessed for so long we knew she would love all the bones at the National Museum of Natural History. We did not realize what an extensive collection of not just dinosaur, but all animal bones that they have. Each section of bones tells a story about that time in history. I love the Diving bird and Jayden was surprisingly taken with the snake skeletons.
10. The Lincoln Memorial
As with the Jefferson Memorial, it is hard to ignore the sheer size of this monument. The words etched into the walls and the statue itself standing at 19 feet tall tower over you as you stand inside the building.
Tips & Tricks for Touring Washington, D.C.
Click the image below for all my best tips and tricks we learned from our own trip!
How to Plan a Learning Vacation
One of things each of our kids has to do at the end of their Washington Trip is create a scrapbook of their memories using photos, pamphlets, memorabilia, etc. from our trip.
See how we Plan a Learning Vacation and get a glimpse into my daughter’s scrapbook here.