After leaving Antietam, our next stop was Washington, D.C. We wanted to catch a glimpse of the White House before someone decided to have it gold-plated. Seriously though, my motives for visiting Washington, D.C. were purely tourist in nature. I had never been there and just wanted to see what the place was all about.
Should you drive or take public transportation?
We stayed at a hotel about 15 minutes outside of D.C. in Chevy Chase, MD. We pondered whether it would be better to take public transportation into the city, or drive. Many websites recommended taking public transportation, as parking was said to be very difficult. But, we’re from Chicago, and decided to take our chances that there would be parking garages aplenty, just like in Chi-Town. Well, we were happy to find that there were parking garages, though we did have to pay a premium to park.
We were happy to find that there were parking garages, though we did have to pay a premium to park.
We only had one day in D.C., so our plan was just to see the sights and move on. Our plan was: White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and whatever else would be convenient, keeping in mind that we were walking from site to site with little ones.
Where’s the White House?
Our first stop was to be the White House, so we walked in the general direction of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and came upon a whitish house with an American flag on top and a sorry-looking rose garden out front. I thought it was the White House, but was too embarrassed to ask anyone. Turns out, it was the Treasury Building. The White House was on the next block.
Anyway, while pondering whether the Treasury was, in fact, the White House, we noticed a small crowd gathering just across the way. There were black Suburbans and people with sunglasses guarding someone important looking. We thought we were going to see some Washington insider so we joined the crowd. It turned out to be Robert Redford. Weird. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you never know who you’re going to see on a road trip.
After our sighting of Mr. Sundance himself, we kept walking down Pennsylvania Avenue until we ran into some park rangers (yes, the National Mall is part of the National Park Service). We first asked where we could get our activity books to earn our Junior Ranger badges. Then asked if we were walking in the right direction to find the White House.
The National Mall is part of the National Park service.
We were indeed headed in the right direction. Next, we would be heading to the small museum at President’s Park to earn our badges.
Feeding Hungry Bellies
My husband was excited because, for some reason, he thought there would be food trucks at the National Mall. He was very disappointed to see that though there were a few food trucks, they were only serving pretzels, hot dogs, pizza, and ice cream.
There are no food trucks on the National Mall, much to my husband’s dismay.
The kids (not to mention the parents) had, by that time, worked up quite an appetite. And we were all disappointed that there were no food trucks to be found on the Mall. But we didn’t want to waste time looking for a restaurant and sitting down for food. So we settled for chicken hot dogs and pretzels to feed our bellies before moving to the next site.
The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument was the next site to see. And we got a nice view of the Capitol Building as well. I particularly enjoyed watching my children frolic on the lawn in front of the Washington Monument–kind of a “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” moment–as we headed off toward the Lincoln Memorial.
WWII Veteran’s Memorial
We first came upon the WWII veteran’s memorial. The kids were very excited because they had just learned about this memorial on Veteran’s Day in their school.
The Lincoln Memorial
Abe Lincoln is our favorite president, so we HAD to visit the Lincoln Memorial. As we walked toward it, reflecting in the beautiful reflecting pool, we saw the slightest outline of Abe becoming clearer and clearer. And, as we ascended the steps, the kids grew more excited.
“I Have a Dream”
At the top of one flight of steps there is an engraved stone that marks where Martin Luther King, Jr. stood to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. Standing at that spot and looking out at the reflecting pool with the Washington Monument in the distance, I tried to imagine all the people gathered for that speech. Just amazing. Enough to give me chills and leave me speechless.
After visiting Abe Lincoln, our legs were all getting very tired, so we decided to make our way back to the car. The sites are quite far apart and we really didn’t realize how much walking we would be doing.
Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial
On our way back, we stopped by the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. My son was astounded by all the names and did not believe that all the people listed were casualties of that war.
We stopped for a quick cup of coffee and some smoothies on Pennsylvania Avenue on the way to the car. And returned to the hotel exhausted. But not too exhausted to do a little ballet before turning in for the night.