This spring break, my youngest son and I had the pleasure of visiting Washington, D.C. Our Nation’s Capital evokes a wellspring of emotions for many people all over the world; feelings of patriotism, pride, and historical significance. It’s truly a privilege to be able to have such important experiences with my son, so that he understands what makes this country great. We stayed with a friend in Maryland and commuted into the city which also gave us a chance to visit a few other cities. We had a ton of fun and learned so much on our trip that I couldn’t wait to report back to our readers about all the amazing attractions and activities that D.C. has to offer for the family!
Fun D.C Activities
The Lincoln Memorial Truly a feat of architectural and historical magnitude. I’d call it a must-see, but that borders on cliche and a major understatement. To stand on the very steps where Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech and then to stare up at the marble embodiment of our 16th president, it’s difficult not to see every piece of it as sacred ground where greatness lives on even after its heroes have passed.
It is fun to walk next to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool as you head up to the Lincoln Memorial. It is a beautiful sight to see as you look out over the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial and out to the Washington Monument.
Tips for visiting: Like most other popular monuments in Washington, the Lincoln Memorial can get pretty crowded so consider going earlier in the day.
The National Mall – The National Mall encompasses a large number of the famous sites that hundreds of thousands flock to every year, including the Washington Monument and the Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Jefferson and WWII memorials.
The Washington Monument- Built to celebrate our 1st Commander in Chief, George Washington, this strong tower casts a literal and figurative shadow across the city, so vast that all we could really do was stare in awe at it, like much of our trip.
Note: According to the National Park Service site, the Washington Monument is closed until spring 2019 for elevator repairs. This simply means that visitors can’t go inside, but viewing from the National Mall is fine.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial– The wall of black smooth rock lists over 58,000 names of servicemen and women who gave their lives in Vietnam. The memorial includes “The Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial as well.
World War Two Memorial – “The World War II Memorial honors the service of sixteen million members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, the support of countless millions on the home front, and the ultimate sacrifice of 405,399 Americans.”
Ford’s Theatre – Also located by the National Mall, Ford’s Theatre is the infamous stage where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. It features a museum and periodic theatrical performances. The current play they are touting is the Wiz. We did not get a chance to visit but wish we had had the time!
Arlington National Cemetery – This final resting place for so many U.S leaders and servicemen, a beautiful sanctuary of rolling green hills and peaceful stoicism, reminded me of the tenacity and endurance that define our nation. Guided tours lead visitors to the gravesite of notable people of history, such as John F. Kennedy. If you are looking for a specific tombstone, you can download an app for direction. My husband’s grandparents are burined here which made the visit even more special.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was erected originally for the burial of an unidentified World War I American soldier but stands to represent the sacrifice of lost American soldiers throughout the course of our country’s history. Visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watching the changing of the guard was a highlight of our trip.
Note: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier stands under 24/7 guard by qualified military personnel. The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb occurs every 30 minutes, so stick around a bit and don’t miss seeing it.
IMG_2490 (Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). Below is footage as we watched the Changing of the Guard.
The White House- We only had a chance to drive by the White House but the emotions it evokes when you do is amazing! In order to tour the President’s homestead, you need to make reservations months in advance.
Museums- Most of the museums do not charge admission. Some do ask that patrons pick up a timed ticket for entry, meaning that the wait to get in varies depending on the total in attendance. This is not a comprehensive list because the sheer number of museums available to the public in Washington is much too massive to fully cover in this article
*Requires timed ticket
~The sculpture garden outside the Museum of Natural History is neat.
Other fun and educational spots to try that were recommended to us: The Newseum, The International Spy Museum, The National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Mt. Vernon – Visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon, about 16 miles south of Washington, D.C. (Metro service is available.) There, you’ll be able to see his mansion, more than 16 original structures, and gorgeous gardens. Drop by the Hands-On History Room in the Education Center where 3- to 8-year-olds can dress in eighteenth-century clothing, play with a Mount Vernon dollhouse, and explore activity boxes.
Shopping & Dining in Georgetown – History and modernity meet in Georgetown, a quaint Reese Peanut Butter-like blend. The charming Federal architecture pairs well with the exciting shopping & dining. It boasts a healthy nightlife as well.
Penn Quarter – As the newest up and coming D.C neighborhood, Penn Quarter is an arts and entertainment district with lots to offer. The International Spy Museum, Ford’s Theatre and US Navy Memorial are in this area. Wish we had made it here too!
We needed so much more time in the DC area! There is so much to see and do that I highly recommend doing some research in advance and plan on visiting what interests you and your family! The cherry blossoms were not quite in bloom yet but April is the typical time frame to see the cherry blossom trees looking beautiful along the tidal basin. The National Cherry Blossom Festival draws thousands every year for entertainment and family fun!
All opinions are my own. Kelsey Asher is contributing author.