Highlights From a Trip to Washington, DC

Three days was barely enough to scratch the surface on a recent trip to Washington, DC with the kids. But we managed to jam in 2-3 things a day, sometimes more. With museums, memorials, government buildings, galleries and other attractions it is easy to be overwhelmed. I know we only got a taste of all that DC has to offer, that is why we will plan another trip. But I feel like we certainly saw plenty and these are some of the things that we loved.

The Air and Space Museum. Visually it is beautiful. There is so much to look at! The planes and rockets are huge and take up most of the wide open spaces. However, the first thing we did when we got there was to the head to the Flight Simulators before the lines got to long.  Although the museum entrance is free, it costs between $6-8 to do this, but as my son said “totally worth it!” I hope so, because it is the closest he is going to get to a 360-degree barrel roll in an F-18.

Family time. Visiting Washington, DC with our kids at this age (12 & 15) gave us a chance to spend quality time with them. At each museum, at each exhibit, we talked. Really talked. They were inquisitive and asked us great questions that led to great conversations that continued over dinner each night. We found ourselves talking about history, politics, and our own beliefs. Every time we travel we grow as individuals and as a family. But this trip opened the door to make connections through education about our nation that we hadn’t had before.

The Newseum. I could have spent all three days here. Fortunately your ticket is good for two days. All of the exhibits are enlightening. In particular, the 9/11 Gallery that documents the day from the journalists point of view, was incredibly moving. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the twisted wreckage of what was once an antenna from one of the towers . There are two movies and an opportunity to read and write your own thoughts about 9/11.

The Capitol. It just so happens that Vermont’s State Senator, Patrick Leahy, is 3rd in line for the Presidency. The President pro tempore office has a nice chunk of real estate over in the Capitol Building. A Corner office, a fireplace (one of only 42 in the building), and spectacular views of the Mall and the Washington Monument. I think this seeing this was a major highlight for us.


National Musuem of American History. Ok, so I am a little obsessed with JFK.  I even took a class in college called the JFK Assassination, and have been studying him ever since. So when it came time to see the The First Ladies dresses, you bet I wanted to see Jackie’s! But the best exhibit we saw here was the Star-Spangled Banner. Next time we sing our National Anthem, it will definitely have an even deeper and more patriotic meaning.

Monuments By Moonlight Tour. When you are only in Washington, DC for 3 days, you’re probably not going to visit all of the monuments.  We opted to see them at night on a tour. We picked up the trolley bus at Union Station around 7:30 just as it was getting dark. Our driver Jamie was excellent. He was knowledgeable and funny telling us historical information as we passed the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and other places around the city.  One of the stops we made was the 7.5 acre FDR Memorial. With waterfalls and pools, it is very much like a park. We are looking forward to going  back to this one in the daytime.

The Lincoln Memorial. I will say that all 19′ feet of him looks even bigger at night when he is all lit up. This is another stop on the Nighttime Tour.  It was worth getting out to look at up close.  No, not to take a selfie of you and President Lincoln, but to read The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address with your children. Also on your way back down, there is a spot on the steps marked where MLK made his famous “I Have Dream” speech.  Pretty cool to stand there and look out at the National Mall from where he stood.

Biking. Wherever we travel we always manage to find hop on bikes. It is a great way to see a lot in a small amount of time. We grabbed these from Capital Bikeshare, but if you are looking to rent kids bikes, tandems or trailers, check out Bike and Roll.

Commenting area

  1. It has been years since I was there! Actually I was a teenager on my last visit.. I’m sure we’ll eventually visit with the littles ones in tow but your pictures have brought back a flood of memories!

  2. I look forward to going to D.C. with the family.

  3. Lucky you for visiting DC. I would love to visit there also with my family, we could probably spend a week at the Smithsonian only…

  4. Oh wow, it seems like you fitted a LOT in three days! Once the kids are bit older, I wouldn’t mind taking them to Washington either.

    • We did pack a lot in. Having the museums centrally located helps and really planning ahead made it easy to make the most of our time there. I’d be happy to share my itinerary 🙂

  5. Great photos. Looks like a fun family trip. I too would have been glued to Jackie’s dresses. She was one fashionable lady!

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