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.
THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT
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.
STOPPED FOR LUNCH
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!
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT MONUMENT
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.
THOMAS JEFFERSON MEMORIAL
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.
PENTAGON 9/11 MEMORIAL
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!