Hey y’all! I can’t wait to share our DC highlights with you. So, my boys became obsessed with all things Presidents last school year. We’ve had so much fun visiting different Presidential sites and monuments, like the Lincoln Homestead and Mount Rushmore. We knew we HAD to take the boys to DC to get the full experience and continue on with our love of learning about our country’s history. We went back and forth trying to figure out a time to take off and head to our country’s capital and finally settled on Thanksgiving break. That way we’d have enough time to do all the things on our list of must-do’s. And even with a week, we still didn’t have enough time to see and do it all! My biggest worry was the weather, but it turned out to be beautiful while we were there. I am not sure if we got lucky or if it’s typically that mild at the end of November, but regardless I am so thankful. The best part about traveling to DC during Thanksgiving break, is that everyone that is in the city for business leaves for the holiday! We didn’t have to wait for tables at restaurants or stand in long lines. And, of course, most of the historical sites around DC are free so you can’t beat that! We did sooo much, so I am only going to list our top favorites.
First, we stayed at the wonderful Washington Circle Hotel. Not only did the area have a big George Washington statue in the middle of the circle, this hotel used to be an apartment building so we had really roomy accommodations. Our flight left at 6:57 am and we arrived to our hotel by 10 am. I was worried that our room wouldn’t be ready, since check-in isn’t until 4 pm, but it was! The room had a bedroom, 2 bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining room, and balcony. This made our stay very comfortable and it was nice having a kitchen for the kids, even though we only cooked one meal that week! I cannot fail to mention that the hotel is at such a great location, we could actually see the side of the Lincoln Memorial from our balcony. So, it was only about a 20 minute walk with our littles, but a straight shot to the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall on one street. The other street was a straight shot to the White House! The hotel had an excellent restaurant, called Circle Bistro, and we ate breakfast there each morning. There were also plenty of places for us to grab food scattered around the hotel and there were also several grocery stores in the area, too. Saturday night it got a bit noisy, but the rest of the week was very quiet for the city!
President Trump Sightings – My biggest highlight of the trip was spotting our President two different times. I know that not everyone supports Trump, but seeing the President, regardless of who he is, is a really big deal! We were hanging out at the National Mall, the boys were tossing the football around, and I started noticing a heavy police and sniper presence in the area. I immediately got nervous, then about a hundred sirens sounded and we watched the President’s motorcade leave the White House! It. Was. Awesome! Then, later on we were walking back to our hotel and wanted to walk past the White House, when we again noticed snipers on buildings and the block around the WH was closed. We had binoculars, so we stood around and watched with a crowd as the President pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving and then left on Air Force One. It was an unforgettable experience!
Here are all the other things we packed into our week in DC!
Monuments/Memorials – Be sure to check out the memorials and monuments both during the day and at night. The boys favorites are the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Memorial. You can even do bike tours and kids can ride along, too! Be sure to check out FDR’s & MLK’s memorials, they are some of my favorites!
The Washington Monument – You can now go inside of the Washington Monument and tickets are free! But, you have to get in line early to get them and they’re only available for that day. Jett wanted to go inside and up to the top so bad, so him and I woke up at 6:30 am and were in line by 7:30 am. The ticket window opens at 8:30 am. There were probably about 50 people ahead of us and a hundred behind us, but we were able to get tickets for that afternoon. Everyone in my family says it was worth it! The views from the top are excellent and the ride down the elevator has some surprises!
The White House – Unfortunately the White House is closed during the week of Thanksgiving for holiday decorating. We did apply for the self-guided tour through our state representative, but they reached out to me a few months in advance to let me know that there wouldn’t be any tours during the week we were there. We were totally bummed, but hope to visit one day in the future. The boys still enjoyed seeing it from the streets, though! It’s hard to believe how small it is in real life!
Smithsonian Museums – We only had enough time to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History. My boys loved everything in the science museum, but only wanted to see a few specific items in the history museum, like the first American flag (which cannot be photographed) and the hat Abe Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated (there’s still blood on it). I have been to the Air and Space Museum and it’s really great! We just didn’t have the time to squeeze it in on this trip.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon – We ubered out to George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon. We ended up spending the entire day at this estate. We toured the home, walked the grounds, saw George Washington and Martha’s tombs, hiked in the gorgeous forests around the property, visited the museum on site, and viewed the slave cabins. It was a very memorable experience! It was decorated for Christmas, so that was an added bonus! The house is stunning and we loved seeing the inside, it was so colorful and fancy. The view on the back porch was truly breathtaking and I just kept thinking to myself, and out loud, “George Washington sat out here and looked at this same view!” And guess what?! We even got to see the actual teeth he wore in the museum! I highly recommend touring this historical site if you’re in the DC area, it’s only about a 20 minute scenic drive from the city.
Ford’s Theatre & Petersen House – Ford’s Theater was on our must-do list, especially after visiting Lincoln’s Homestead over the summer. This is the only tour that I bought tickets for prior to the trip. If you check out the website, you’ll be able to choose your tickets and the suggested time to get in line for the tour. When you get inside the theatre, your’re taken downstairs to a mini museum full of information. Most of this was not interesting to the boys, but there’s a part of the museum that has the actual gun that was used and a replica of the bullet. You’re given some time to walk around the museum on your own and then your taken upstairs to the theatre. We really weren’t sure what to do after we viewed the seats that the Lincoln’s were in when the assassination took place. But we noticed others were sitting in the theatre seats, so we copied them and eventually a park ranger came onto the stage and retold the story of Lincoln’s day leading up to the assassination and John Wilkes Booth’s background and his day leading up to the assassination. We were enthralled with this talk. I just felt like I learned so much information that I didn’t know beforehand. And even our 5-year-old was engaged the whole time! Make sure to grab tickets that include a tour of the Petersen House across the street. This house is where Lincoln was taken after the shooting and where he sadly passed away the next morning. The theatre is also still showing plays and you can buy tickets to see Charles Dickson’s A Christmas Carol during this week! We had an amazing brunch next door to the Petersen House! Stop for lunch or breakfast at Lincoln’s Waffle Shop when your tour is over. You’ll thank me later!
National Archives Building – Our oldest son’s favorite president is Thomas Jefferson, so he has spent a lot of time researching him and his contributions. He was so interested in the fact that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, so of course we had to see this document in real life. If you want to see America’s Founding Documents, visit the National Archives. These documents are located in the Rotunda and there are signs to lead you there all throughout the building. It’s a really neat place! There was NOT a line here, which was amazing. However, you won’t be able to take any photos and there are guards everywhere monitoring.
Outdoor Ice Skating – We happened to stumble upon an outdoor ice skating rink after we visited the National Archives Building. It was a fun stop for Jett, Jake however hated it after he fell one time! The Ice Rink is located in the National Gallery of Art, Sculpture Garden.
Our two favorite places to eat were the Old Ebbitt Grill, located close to the White House and Founding Farmers. I didn’t take any food pics, but we all loved the items we got at both places. The boys really liked the hot chocolate at Old Ebbitt Grill and my steak was to die for!
I hope you enjoyed reading about our DC adventures! We walked about 35 miles total during our week there, and the boys were troopers and kept up with us the whole time! DC is such a beautiful city full of history, and I hope you get the chance to visit! As always, if you have any questions or need any ideas, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to help you with your planning!
Happy Adventures, Jasha
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