Washington D.C.! What an absolutely amazing city. When my husband learned that he would be travelling there for work and invited the kids and I to come along, we jumped at the chance. I was especially excited because this year we are studying American history as part of our My Father’s World Exploration to 1850 Curriculum. I hoped that what the kids had been learning would really come alive with the opportunity to visit so many amazing American landmarks and places of history.
We were there for a week in April, and we really packed in the sites. Although we visited so many wonderful places, I’ve narrowed it down to our top ten.
The Lincoln Memorial– Grandiose. Humbling. Inspiring. The statue of Lincoln and the carvings of his words are a must see. We also would recommend going downstairs to see the exhibits of memorable events that have taken place here over the years.
Library of Congress– This stunning building, which lies directly south of the Capitol, is a must see not only because of the beautiful architecture and historical significance, but also because of the amazing exhibits. While we were there, we visited a WWI exhibit and a South American Natives People’s Exhibit (think Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas).
The kids especially loved this exhibit of Thomas Jefferson’s book collection. “Mom, are these really Jefferson’s books?”
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport (Udvar-Hazey Center) This collection holds thousands of aviation and space artifacts and is housed in two huge hangars at the Dulles Airport. My boys couldn’t get enough of the war planes and weapons. All of the kids were equally fascinated by the space shuttle and space robots.
The flight simulators were a favorite with my kids, as you can imagine!
The Smithsonian National Postal Museum We stopped at this museum on a whim on our way to the Capitol (they are located on the same Metro Stop- Union Station). We ended up staying for such a long time learning about Benjamin Franklin, and all of the modes of transportation used to throughout America’s history to deliver mail (Pony express, trains, planes, dog sleds, Native American trails). An especially poignant exhibit were the letters of soldiers written to loved ones at home. So moving!
The kids also got to design stamps and chose stamps to bring home to start their own collection.
The National Archives. Located on the upper level of the National Archives museum, is the permanent home of the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights. It’s incredible to see these original documents that have guaranteed our rights and freedom for over 200 years.
United States Capitol– We took a free guided tour of the Capitol, which started with a ten minute video about it’s history. We learned that construction of the Capitol was still ongoing during the Civil War, and President Lincoln felt that it was a symbol that our nation would go on. The kids especially loved the Rotunda, and a favorite portrait there was of the baptism of Pocahontas. They also loved the statues of some of the most famous Americans that were all throughout the building.
Arlington National Cemetery– This place, often called “our nation’s most hallowed ground,” was a very serious reminder to our kids and to us that so many have fought for the freedom that we have. The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was an impactful event for our kids to experience.
The National Museum of American History Museum– This museum of absolutely amazing. The kids couldn’t believe that we got to see George and Martha Washington’s REAL clothes, Abe Lincoln’s top hat, and the inauguration gowns of many of our first ladies. They also really enjoyed delivering a speech while pretending they were the president.
The WWII Memorial– This is a stunningly beautiful memorial complete with fountains and compelling quotes from Presidents and War Generals from the WWII era. While we were there, a group of WWII veterans were being honored for the WWII service. So special!
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History– This place was chocked full of God’s amazing creations. We were awed by gigantic whale jaw bones, dinosaur fossils, the Hope diamond, precious stones and crystals, and so many other creatures big a small. What a fun, fun museum! This is a must see.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recap of our trip. Now tell me, have you been to D.C., and what are some of your favorite places?