Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Visiting Washington DC with Kids: Day Two

After our first full day exploring the monuments and memorials around Washington DC, we were ready to see more!

Weeks before our trip, I had researched the museums and planned which ones the boys would enjoy the most: National Museum of American History, National Natural History Museum, and the National Air and Space Museum. Those were at the top of our list.  I had planned we'd make our way around the National Mall and hit most of the museums on this day, including the Spy Museum and National Gallery of Art

I really wanted to see the National Museum of African American History, as well as the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum but both of these needed tickets for entry. Although the tickets are free, I seemed to always miss the window to order the tickets online. There was also a day of, stand-by line option for both of these museums, but I wasn't willing to stand in line for a few hours when there was so much more to see in DC. If you want to visit either of these museums, plan a few months in advance and visit the website for dates and times to request the tickets online. I'll have to plan another visit to DC to visit these museums.

At the start of day two, we knew we wanted to see as many of the Smithsonian Museums as possible. The overachiever in me had hoped we would see more than we did. I totally underestimated the time it would take to really enjoy the museums.

We started at the National Museum of American History at around 11AM. Most museums open at 9:30AM. We slept in a bit due to the time change, as well as the needed rest from the busy day before.

The boys really enjoyed all the exhibits about the presidents. There were also an exhibit that was a timeline of all the wars the United States had been in. The boys had lots of questions. They were able to make connections from exhibits in the museum and the memorials they saw the day before.

After a few hours at the Museum of American History, we had lunch at the Jazz Cafe inside the museum. They had dishes that were inspired by New Orleans. My gumbo definitely hit the spot!

After the Museum of American History, the boys wanted to ride the National Carousel. It was wonderful to see them on the carousel with the view of the Washington Monument in the background. They were cool enough to ride the carousel but not cool enough to ride a horse. They are so silly!

Walking toward the National Air and Space Museum we passed the Smithsonian Castle.

We decided to skip the National Museum of Natural History since the boys really wanted to see the Air and Space Museum. 

There was so much to see at the Air and Space Museum! 

War Planes

Interactive globe that showed weather patterns
Boys first time in an watching a film in a planetarium 

The astronaut food was NOT what he expected

Space capsule

1903 Wright Flyer

First time on a flight simulator
We lost track of time. Sooner than we expected, it was 5PM and it was time for the museums to close. The ambitious itinerary of visiting most of the museums in one day was a fail. Based on our experience, it was more realistic to plan to see two to three museums in one day if you start as soon as the museums open. 

Before heading back to the hotel, we decided to stop by the Catholic University of America and The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception which was about a 20 minute ride on the Metro.

Check out my blog post on GETTING AROUND DC

As the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and North America, and one of the ten largest churches in the world, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has over 70 chapels, each unique in its own way. 

Lighting a candle in the Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel

Exploring CUA's campus

The library at CUA
For dinner, we headed to Bonchon which was a block away from our hotel. The sweet and spicy Korean wings along with my Melona Midori cocktail made my tummy happy!

As the sun set, we headed to the rooftop lounge of our hotel where we could see the Washington Monument to the west and The Capitol to the east. 

  • Washington Monument
  • WWII Memorial
  • Reflecting Pool
  • Lincoln Monument
  • Vietnam War Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Monument
  • Tidal Basin
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  • Thomas Jefferson Monument
  • Pentagon 9/11 Memorial
  • Shake Shack for Dinner 
Day Two:
  • National Museum of American History
  • Walked along the National Mall with a stop at the carousel
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • Catholic University of America
  • Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • Dinner at Bonchon
Be on the look out for day three of our Washington DC trip where we visit The White House!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Washington DC with Kids: Day One

Of all the different Spring Break destinations, why Washington DC?

About a year ago, my eight year old asked if we could go to Washington DC and visit the Library of Congress. I was shocked by his request and was curious to know where he had gotten the idea. He simply said he saw it on TV and it looked like an interesting place to visit. While other kids ask for theme parks and the beach, mine wanted the Library of Congress! Thus, our spring break trip to Washington DC.

Our four day trip to Washington DC was super fun and jam packed with sightseeing! There is so much to share that I've decided to write up each day of our trip each in a separate blog post.


Our first day started with a red eye flight from San Diego to Baltimore, Maryland. Instead of flying straight into DC, we opted for a cheaper flight which was about $100 cheaper for each of us. We then took a Super Shuttle from the Baltimore airport to our hotel in the Navy Yard area of Washington DC. Because it was morning rush hour, the 30 minute ride took about an hour. We all napped a bit so the ride didn't see too long.

We arrived at our hotel at about 9:30AM. Dropped off our luggage and started our first day of sightseeing.

We headed to the DC Metro station which was two blocks away.

Check out my blog post on GETTING AROUND DC

Two stops later, at the Smithsonian stop on the DC Metro, we were right in the middle of the National Mall with the Washington Monument in plain sight! It was awesome! The morning was a bit overcast and cloudy so the top of the Washington Monument was hidden, but we'd get great views later in the day.

We spent the day walking along the National Mall and the Tidal Basin. This was the day we did most of our walking but there was no better way to see the sights than on foot.


Although the Washington Monument is closed indefinitely for elevator repairs, the sights from the outside are stunning!


This was our first sight of the cherry blossom trees during out visit. The trees adorn the National Mall and Tidal Basin. We were so lucky to have planned our trip just in time for the trees to be in full bloom. They are so beautiful!

It is the first national memorial dedicated to all who served during World War II and acknowledging the commitment and achievement of the entire nation. 


The reflecting pool stretches from the WWII Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial. I was overcome with emotion as we were walking along the pool with the Lincoln Memorial in sight. Being able to experience the symbols of our nation with my kids was one of the most memorable moments I've had. What we were seeing with our own eyes and setting foot on our own feet were places so many only see in images in books or in the media. As hubby and I shared the stories behind the sights we were seeing, I had a renewed appreciation for our country and the sacrifices of so many to preserve our freedoms.

My boys made sure they saved their $5 for this picture! Once inside the memorial, my boys were in awe of the size of the memorial. It was a much larger than they had expected. As we walked along the inside, we read the inscriptions of The Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's 2nd inaugural address. The words from our history books came to life.  


Seeing all of the war memorials gave hubby and I the chance to remind our boys of the sacrifices of our armed forces. It was also a great time to talk about their grandfathers who both served in the US Armed Forces which allowed them to build a family in the United States.


All of the Smithsonian Museums have cafes but not to many spots to eat near the monuments. There are two small gift shops with a small selection of quick eats on each side of the Lincoln Memorial. There was lots of table seating. If the grass wasn't wet, we would've enjoyed a picnic on the grass. Here we are grabbing a quick bite to eat in between sight seeing. We had a wonderful views of the Lincoln Monument and the Vietnam War Memorial.

Anyone traveling with kids knows that planned restroom breaks are a must. All of the monuments had restrooms which made for worry-free walking to and from all of the sights.

Too bad our boys don't know how to ride bikes. It would have been great to explore the National Mall on bikes!

Walking along this memorial made me feel like we were trekking the rugged terrain of Korea along with the soldiers. The 19 stainless-steel solders were larger than life, each at least 7 feet tall. 

The views from the MLK Jr. Monument are amazing. There were dozens of cherry blossom trees lining the walkway where the walls had famous quotes from MLK Jr. The monument itself is grand. MLK's stare and stance gives a presence of power, perseverance, and determination. MLK Jr.'s gaze is directed toward the Tidal Basin where directly across the way you can see the Thomas Jefferson Monument. This was my favorite!

These pictures do not express the beauty of the cherry blossom trees. The trees were delightful! As a breeze swept though the trees, a gently shower of petals would fall. It was just beautiful!


This monument was like walking through the timeline of FDR's presidency. You start on one end, walk though quotes and statues telling the story of the time, all with the sounds of the water fountains that flow throughout the monument.


A gift from Japan to the USA in the 1950's, this pagoda is a reminder of the beautiful gift of the cherry blossom trees in the early 1900's.


By this time, we had done lots of walking. A few hours had passed from the start of our sightseeing and a few miles on foot. The red eye flight and the time change was starting to get the best of us. We were getting a bit tired but the awesomeness of everything we were seeing was keeping us going.


We got back on the Metro and headed to the Pentagon for our last stop for the day. Once we got off the Pentagon stop on the Metro, we followed the signs and walked along the outside of the huge Pentagon to get to the 9/11 Memorial. It was about a 10 minute walk.

As you enter the memorial, there is signage about an audio tour our can listen to from your phone. I highly recommend doing so. If you don't listen to the audio, it's hard to understand all the symbolism in the memorial unless you've head up on it ahead of time.

After a long day of enjoying the the symbols of our nation, we ended our day here. The four of us sat in silence for a bit, reflecting on our day, reflecting on what happened at that very place, and saying a little prayer for our nation.

Jumped on the Metro and headed back to our hotel. We finished off our day having dinner at the famous Shake Shack that was right next door to our hotel! YES! I was so hungry and tired, I didn't snap a picture of my super delicious portabello mushroom, cheddar burger. Yum, yum, yum!

And that my friends was day one! Phew...

Recap of day one:

  • Washington Monument
  • WWII Memorial
  • Reflecting Pool
  • Lincoln Monument
  • Vietnam War Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Monument
  • Tidal Basin
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  • Thomas Jefferson Monument
  • Pentagon 9/11 Memorial
  • Shake Shack for Dinner 

Stay tuned for day two where we explored the Smithsonian museums!

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