The first stop on my spring break series is Washington D. C.
This was a really fun spring break trip we took two years ago and the best part about it was that it was unexpected. We really weren’t planning on going on a trip, but things worked out and we pulled this trip together in just a few weeks. We had just gotten a new van and I was 6 months pregnant with out last baby so things were very exciting in our house and we decided that a quick trip was exactly what we all needed.
The nice thing about D.C. for us is that it is relatively close to where we live. We live in Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati so D.C. was only 9 1/2 hours away. With fuel and pit stops, it took us nearly 11 hours (which compared to driving to California is nothing!)
We stayed in Virginia because the hotels were a little cheaper and then we drove into the city. It was nice to be able to control where we went and what we got to see but parking was a nightmare. It took us almost an hour to find a parking space (that didn’t cost our kids college tuition) which we could have spent seeing the sights, but it’s okay. I was pregnant so I wasn’t too keen about walking everywhere, but still. If we go again, I would consider taking a train into the city.
We went to D.C. in early March so it was still a little chilly. Someday I’d like to go back and see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom but we were too early for that.
One of the things I love about D.C. is that most of the sights are free. (I didn’t know that before we went and I was pleasantly surprised). We didn’t have a set plan on what we wanted to see but I figured we would see the main attractions.
Our first stop was the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
I figured of all of the museums my kids would be interested in, the Air and Space Museum would be a hit and I was right. All of the kids loved seeing the rockets and the modules and especially the real space rocks.
My daughter said to me, “Those were really in space?”
It was pretty cool. If you have little kids (or are a little kid at heart) this is a great stop.
Now the Smithsonian is the largest museum in the world, but it’s separated into several different museums (Any Night at the Museum; Battle of the Smithsonian fans out there?)
After the museum, we walked down the National Mall to the National Archives. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to show our kids but I know we couldn’t leave D.C. without seeing the Declaration of Independence. (We’re National Treasure fans too)
Fact: You can NOT take photos in the National Archives. Sadly, I don’t have any photos of my kids with their cute faces mere inches away from the most important documents in our country.
This doorknob is from the building that I was able to take before the very nice (and very large) security guard asked me to put away my camera. It’s the best I could do. At least you can purchase photos at the gift shop 🙂
The Archives was the only building that really had a wait. We had to wait in line to get in. Wait to go though security and then wait to go see the documents. And you can’t just walk up to it either. You wait with a group to see it and you are given a certain amount of time before they usher you out and bring in the next group.
Still, everyone is nice but serious so don’t make jokes. They don’t have a sense of humor!
After the Archives, we found our car again and took a drive and ended our first day in D.C. by finding the LDS Washington D.C. temple.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we like to see the various temples around the country when we travel.
It was a wonderful way to end a great day.
After a good night sleep and a nice breakfast, we headed back into the city and while we were planning on just heading back to the Capitol, we found a detour. As we were driving down the freeway, we saw a sign for the Arlington National Cemetery and we decided to stop. We made it in time for a changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
It was an honor to have had the chance to see this in person and I am so grateful that our kids were able to see it too.
Our daughters were too young to really understand what was happening and at one point, our youngest slipped past the chain and one of the soldiers sternly told her to get back behind the chain.
The boys, however, were able to understand the significance and it caused us to have a really good conversation about service and honor. An unplanned moment I’ll always be grateful for.
We spent the rest of the day in D.C. seeing the sights
Our last day in D.C. we went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Again, kids and large animal bones are a big hit. The kids loved the dinosaurs bones and the stuffed wild animals.
Then, we went to the National Zoo where the kids were able to see real wild animals. Our kids have always loved going to zoos and this one is (again) free so we could not pass it up. Parking was (again) a nightmare, but after being patient, we snagged a great spot.
The hands down favorite attraction was seeing the pandas. They had the baby pandas and they were adorable but it seems everyone else in the city was there too so it was very crowded. Still, it was worth it.
All too soon, it was time to head home. The kids left with a few souvenirs and we left with some wonderful memories. We all had a great time at our nations Capitol and hope to go back soon.