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Washington DC

June 28, 2012

Brian & I think everyone should visit DC at least once.

(If you haven’t been, you NEED to go!)

Nick & Taylor have never been interested in going.  They don’t like “educational” vacations.  (Don’t remind them about all the museums we’ve visited on various vacations the past 16 years).  Anyhoo…a few months ago, Nick mentioned that there was a “History of Video Gaming” exhibit at the Smithsonian he’d like to see.  Hmm….  We talked about the possibility of going and Tay mentioned that some girls at school had talked about how fun DC is.  Hmm…   Everyone seemed ready and willing so the planning began.

We left home on a Sunday and drove to our hotel in Alexandria, VA.  We did not want to drive in DC so I found a hotel that offered a free shuttle to the metro.  This worked out great.

Monday morning the kids experienced their first of many rides on the metro.  What a great way to get into a busy city.  We stopped by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to pick up tickets for an afternoon tour (tours are free but a timed ticket is required).  We then headed off to see the monuments.  We walked to the Washington Monument, The World War 2 Memorial (a favorite of Brian’s – he took his grandpa to see it several years ago), The Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial.  If you’ve ever been to DC you will know that this is a LOT of walking! 

We were hot, tired, and hungry so we decided to find someplace to eat.  We weren’t far from the White House at this point so we decided to walk there first and get some pictures (since we couldn’t get tickets for a tour). 

Here’s a couple of things you may or may not know about DC:  Everything is farther than you think it is and there aren’t a lot of fast food type places to eat.  I made the mistake of not planning where we’d eat so we walked and walked and walked.  We finally found a very crowded food court in the Ronald Reagan building for lunch.  As soon as we sat down to eat I began feeling sick.  I don’t know if it was the heat or my blood sugar or what but I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I was going to try to push through and continue with our day but Brian & Nick decided we should head back to the hotel.  That was smart.   We went back and I slept for a while and felt better. 

Tuesday morning we decided to try the Bureau of Engraving and Printing again so we stopped there and got tickets for an afternoon tour.  We also swung by Ford’s Theater to get tickets for that afternoon as well (again, it’s free to visit but you need a timed ticket).  We then headed to the American Art Museum so we could see the exhibit that had prompted our trip.  It was very cool.  We also enjoyed the “Hall of Presidents”.   We grabbed a quick bite to eat at McDonald’s and then visited Ford’s Theater.  We had some time to kill before our BE&P tour so we looked in a souvenir shop and Tay’s favorite “Forever 21”.  We took the metro back to the BE&P.  Brian & I were much more impressed with the printing of money than the kids were!  Oh, well.  Brian knew there was a mall at the Pentagon City metro stop so we had told Tay we’d go there to look around and eat dinner.  We didn’t time things well and ended up on the metro at rush hour, plus two trains in front of ours broke down so people were packing themselves like sardines onto the train we were on!  Nick was standing near the door to start with and I was sure someone was gonna push him out at one of the stops.  It was absolutely crazy.  We finally got him moved back to where we were and when the man sitting next to me got off the train we made Nick sit down.  Remember to avoid the metro at rush hour (and keep track of your kids!). 

Wednesday morning we had a tour of The Capitol.  I had arranged the tour through our congressman’s office but did not realize until we showed up at his office that it was a private tour for just our family given by two of his interns.  Brian & I had done a tour years ago in a group so this was very cool to have our very own tour guides.  After our tour we stopped by the National Archives (we wanted to see The Declaration of Independence) but the line was LONG and moving at a snail’s pace.  It was past lunch time and we were hungry so we decided not to wait.  Tay had wanted to eat at Hard Rock Cafe so we headed there.  After a yummy (and VERY LOUD) lunch we went to the Air & Space Museum.

Thursday was the day to travel home but first we made a stop at George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon.  It just happened that the hotel I booked was about 10 minutes from Mount Vernon so it worked out perfectly.  I had not done my research so we didn’t realize how much time you could actually spend here.  It was absolutely beautiful and if Brian & I had been by ourselves we would have spent hours roaming around the property (we hope to go back some day and do just that!).

Brian’s been to DC six times, I’ve been twice, and we still haven’t seen everything!  I’d love to visit more of the Smithsonian museums.  We discovered that June is probably not the best time to go.  I didn’t realize so many schools were still in session and there were tons of school groups which made most of the attractions very crowded. 

I know this probably wasn’t the most thrilling trip of my kids’ life (not a roller coaster to be found!) but I hope someday they’ll be thankful they had the chance to go – and possibly take their own kids some day.

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