You learn more through experience than you will ever learn out of a textbook. The best gift we can give our children is to travel. One of the best family vacations we personally have taken is to Washington DC where my kids could experience the history and have it come to life.
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Here are the top 8 things to do when visiting Washington DC:
The home of George Washington. Visit Mount Vernon.org for more information on visiting. This was our first stop on our way to Washington DC and such a great way to start our 3-day adventure. It was surreal to have both feet on the ground of the home and land of our nation’s first president from over 200 years ago.
Washington DC White House Tour
When visiting Washington DC, visit the White House. You will need to submit a request to your Member of Congress first. Self-guided tours are on a first come first served basis, so plan ahead. Visit this website for more information on tours and events and what you need to do.
U.S. Capitol in Washington DC
Visiting the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC is a must. It’s full of history and you can spend hours reading, learning, and taking it all in. I highly recommend planning ahead and getting advanced reservations for a tour. You can find more information on Capitol tours here.
When we first arrived in Washington DC, we parked at the Union Station, grabbed a bite to eat, and off we went to explore. There isn’t much to do here besides grabbing a bite to eat, but it does make getting around easier. There is a parking garage you can pay to park at and then take the rail to where you need to go. Click here for more information on the Union Station. We parked here and then walked to the U.S. Capitol.
Washtington DC Monuments
When you think of Washington DC, the monuments are probably one to the top things you think of after the White House and U.S. Capitol. My boys were still too young when we went to appreciate them and all the walking that went along with this day. Now that they are in high school, they want to go back and regret not understanding the significance.
I do still believe they gained a tremendous amount of history and education even though at the time it didn’t sink in fully. They remember the trip vividly and appreciative it now.
You will get a few miles of walking in as the monuments are spread out and the best way to see them all is by walking. Make sure to take comfortable walking shoes, a snack, and plenty of water. We grabbed food from a vendor and had a picnic.
Arlington Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
This is a somber and quiet part of your Washington DC vacation as you visit the many soldiers that have been laid to rest here. Arlington Cemetery is land that was confiscated from General Robert E. Lee. One of the key things to do here is to visit the Tomb the Unknown Soldier and pay your respects. All soldiers have been identified through the advancements of DNA testing and laid to rest, so the tomb is actually empty now from my understanding. It’s the deep meaning and rich history of what this is all about. Click here for more information visiting Arlington Cemetery.
Take a tour of Ford’s Theater and learn the history and see exactly where Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. The tour ends by walking across the street where President Lincoln was taken to be cared for. Visit Ford’s Theater website for planning your visit.
Washington DC Museums
Museums, museums, and more museums. Washington DC has many of them. Visit this website for a list and start picking and choosing the ones you want to visit on your stay. Museums will be what determines your length of stay in Washington DC.
So much history for you and your children to learn at the museums. They are incredible museums. The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History are probably my top 2 personal favorites. Maybe because those are the two we spent the most time at. Three days was not enough time to allow for museums.
We missed the National Archives Building and Museum. The line was hours to get in. However, now they have a reservation system. Reserve your day and time in advance here.
You will want to plan a minimum of 3 full days in Washington DC just to begin to touch the surface of all it has to offer. Plan on lots of walking. Take it all in and enjoy it!
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