Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Washington DC Day 2

Today we are back for Round 3. When this post initially went live, I realized I hadn't written anything. Opps! I guess I was a little discombobulated like this picture with Z and the Washington Monument. I can only begin to tell you the gross things I must have laid on to get this photo. It seemed worth it at the time :)

Day 2 in Washington was a whirlwind. We put in 12 miles of walking this day. Yikes! We were all feeling it too. This was a only full day of sightseeing and we were determined to get it all in. We took the Metro (which is super easy, clean, and well utilized), so don't be nervous about that if you are planning a trip.

The White House was our first stop. Of course, this big day is the day I would forget the camera at the house. So... welcome to the Nation's most iconic sites via iPhone camera. I could just kick myself for that mistake :( But when traveling in large groups, it's a bit inconvenient to turn around and get the camera.
We walked from our Metro stop down to the Washington Monument. It was about 8am and there were no tourists around. I love when you feel like you have the whole place to yourself. 

When you face the White House from the Washington Monument, you will see a parking lot and a circle drive. If you choose to go right, then you will be on your way to The White House Visitor Center and gift shop. If you choose left, then you get to see this elaborate Eisenhower Executive Office Building where most of the White House staff has offices.

We chose left on the circle drive which meant a lot of walking because we were going to the Visitor Center. I'm certain we added another mile onto our day with this mistake.

The White House is very well protected! Lots of barricades. They were adding more cement barricades while we were touring about. We joked Trump was building a model of his wall. This picture was taken on the backside of the White House. I'm not sure if it's the front of back of the White house. Do you know?

After the White House, we made it to the Visitor's Center. It's a small area across the street from the White House. 

We thought it was informative. I would suggest stopping in. It's quite small but definitely jammed pack with good stuff! And it's also free ;) I believe it's the first thing to open--tourist wise--in DC (for the early birds).

Next stop, The Smithsonian museums along the National Mall. The American History Museum was our first stop. I did not have high expectations for this museum but WOW! We spent a couple hours here and could easily spend a couple more hours. It is everything that has made our nation what it is. 
If you are planning to visit, don't skip this one.

I'm sure many would think American History wouldn't be a great fit for youngsters, but I would say YES! There are many interactive exhibits and lots of photo ops. 

The museum takes you on this journey from where we were to where we are. 
It brings your history book to life. 

For sake of time, we left the American History museum and headed next door to the Natural History museum. My kids love Natural History and sciences, so we made this a priority. 

There were some really cool exhibits. My husband and I were loving the rock and gem exhibit.

I was trying to decide which emerald (my birthstone) would make the perfect ring ;)

The Hope Diamond on display.

The Natural History museum was nice. We liked it. The downfall was the crowd. It was so very busy. And the exhibits were laid out in a twisty messy route that didn't flow very well (in my opinion).
We spent about an hour and moved on. 

Here is where we made another mistake. After the Natural History museum, we decided to back track to the Lincoln Memorial which is at one of the furthest ends of the National Mall.
Looking back, we should have started at the Lincoln Memorial in the morning and worked our way up the Mall. Lesson learned.

D really wanted to make it here. The Lincoln Memorial speaks for itself.

And probably one of the best views in Washington DC. I'm one of those people who can just sit and observe for hours. This is a prime spot for people watching.

While at the Lincoln Memorial, it would be smart to see the Vietnam Memorial and the WW2 Memorial. Distance is deceiving in DC. Everything looks a lot closer and smaller than it really is.  You don't have to walk, there are taxis, Lyft, Uber, and rental bikes. Walking just seems like the natural thing to do. At this point, we took a taxi from the Lincoln Memorial to the Holocaust Museum.

I did not take pictures in the Holocaust Museum because it didn't feel right. I will recommend visiting the museum. It was done so well. This museum is also free because EVERYTHING is free. You have to reserve tickets online to the special exhibit which requires a $1 fee. Unless, you are military, then you can walk in and get tickets to the special exhibit without reservations. We lucked out because all the special tickets had been given out for the day but we still got in. I am so thankful for that. 

We had an hour and half before the museum closed. We went through the kids' exhibit first because we didn't know how all of this would affect our 12 year old. He handled the kids part well and he decided he wanted to go to the special exhibit (which is more in depth). We made it through the first part of the four part exhibit in an hour. And my non-reader child, read EVERYTHING. 
Don't skip the Holocaust museum.

The Holocaust museum was our last stop. We were so exhausted! We walked up to the Air and Space museum which was closed for the day. We waited on the steps for our Lyft to take us back to the house. This picture was taken in front of the Smithsonian Castle. We didn't go inside though :) I'm not sure what is in there but it's along the Mall near the U.S Capitol side. 

To end our day, we ordered some of our favorite Japanese dishes for delivery. 
Living in Japan definitely spoiled us for Japanese food and sushi. 
I knew DC wouldn't let us down. It did not disappoint. 
Z and I love Japanese curry, so we were in heaven to be able to enjoy our favorite dish. 

There it is! Our quick trip to Washington DC. If you have any questions, let me know. I would love to help. I know how overwhelming it can be to tour in a new city. I try to research as much as I can. I'm finding blogs/personal experiences offer the best information. I got most of my info from Mix and Match Mama's DC trip posts. In fact, I wouldn't have known about the White House Visitor Center without her blog post. There were a few things we discovered for ourselves as well. I didn't realize the WH Visitor Center was not attached to the White House until we visited for ourselves. And I most definitely didn't know to turn right instead of left at the circle drive...haha. I'm still bitter about that extra mile or two. 
Please don't be shy if you have questions :) I would love to share any info that can help with your trip.

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  1. You certainly made the most of your trip to DC!! I would love to go back in the future.

  2. As I'm sitting here scrolling through all of your pictures I'm thinking maybe we should drive up to DC for a day when we visit my parents (in Richmond) over Christmas. In all the years I lived there (42) we never did a White House tour. We did most everything else, but not that. So much fun stuff...of course I'd prefer to go when it's warmer...BRRR.

  3. It really can be deceiving with the distances in DC, but at least you know that you walk off all the calories you're eating while on vacation right! And the Holocaust Museum in DC really is a great museum. My mom and I really appreciated it when we were there a few years ago.

  4. Absolutely great advice to start at the Lincoln Memorial. Yes- the size of DC is definitely deceptive! The Holocaust Museum's shoe exhibit was so powerful. I'd recommend Daniel's Story to your son to read. I believe it is the book that the children's section of the museum is based on, and a lot of kids don't understand life in the ghettos, which the book goes into. When he gets to 8th grade, a lot of schools read Elie Wiesel's book called Night which is maybe too intense right now but explains so much more of the actual experience of concentration camps than what kids get out of Anne Frank's diary. The museum's website is a great resource, and I think my class videos are from Yad Vashem's website.