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Washington DC - the CliffNotes Version!

Updated: Apr 13

We arrived back from our Spring Break trip to Washington DC last weekend. In contrast to prior trips, I decided to create one larger blog upon returning home, rather than daily posts while away (which, as you can imagine are challenging while traveling with four children). However, this is an experiment, so we'll see how it goes.

Our trip was non-stop. All of our trips are nonstop, but this one was especially dense, given the vast number of experiences Washington DC has to offer. There are endless opportunities to visit world-renowned museums of every type, iconic government buildings, botanical gardens, and so much more. A week was not nearly enough time, but we did our best to cover as much ground as our tired feet and sometimes weary minds would take us.

Below is our itinerary. Please feel free to use it for your next trip to Washington DC, although Garin thinks I should start charging for my itineraries since I put so much work into them. So If you feel similarly to him, you are welcome to Venmo me or send me an exquisite piece of jewelry as a token of your gratitude. FYI, I prefer jewelry to cash!

Day One: Wake up at 3:30 AM to make our early morning flight to Washington DC. Visit the Kennedy Center and Watergate complex upon arrival, both of which were within walking distance from our hotel and open late.

Day Two: Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Smithsonian), followed by the (entire) National Mall (Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, MLK Memorial, WWII Memorial, and Korean War Memorial, while gazing upon hundreds of stunning cherry blossom trees surrounding the tidal basin).

Day Three: Visit the Smithsonian Gardens; the National Archives where the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are all housed; the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and Ford's Theatre where President Lincoln was assassinated.

Day Four: Take the FBI Tour followed by visiting the Air and Space Museum and National Portrait Gallery, both Smithsonian museums.

Day Five: the Bureau of Printing and Engraving (more on this below), the National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as the National Museum of American History, both Smithsonian museums.

Day Six: Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Day Seven: Tours of the Capitol building, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress, followed by the United States Botanical Garden.

Day Eight: Tour of the White House, a quick stop at the National Museum of Natural History (again), and an early evening flight home.

High points

Sitting in the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court for an intimate lecture about the highest court in our land.

Touring the exquisite White House.

The Kennedy Center with its stunning panoramic views of Washington DC and a wonderful visitors center featuring all things Kennedy.

The breathtaking array of colorful tulips and daffodils throughout the city and magnificent cherry blossom trees in every imaginable shade of pink.

The quaint Postal Museum, which turned out to be the hidden gem of our trip.

Having dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl, an iconic DC eatery, with my longest friend, Alison, whom I've known since birth, and her lovely children, Jonathon and Madeline.

Having both a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods within a five-minute walk of our hotel.

Having a metro stop that took us everywhere within a five-minute walk of our hotel.

Low points

Arriving at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving (where all our money is printed in the United States) at 8:18 in the morning, in the torrential rain, only to be turned away by the most infuriating employees, for arriving three minutes late for our reservation that had been so kindly made three months in advance through our congressman's office.

Arriving at not one, nor two, nor even three, but rather four different places (FBI, the Capitol building, the Supreme Court, and the White House) on three separate days, with non-conforming purses, snacks, and backpacks in tow, and being told that we couldn't enter with them. Our desperate solution was to find a bush or planter nearby to hide them. Wouldn't that be the first thing that would occur to you? The only problem is hiding your bags and snacks can prove to be a bit tricky when it's a large, tightly guarded government building with cameras monitoring your every move. Generally, it's frowned upon to be seen on a security camera trying to hide backpacks and the like, in the bushes outside anywhere, much less on the premises of such places as the US Capitol and the FBI. In hindsight, a better solution might have been to read the fine print (and in some cases bolded. large print) on the tickets, warning visitors not to bring said purses, backpacks, and snacks. There's always next time to comply with the rules, right? They don't say "live and learn" for no reason!

The understandable, but intense security procedures and resulting long lines everywhere (even with pre-booked and timed entry tickets) and the necessity for pre-booked and timed entry tickets almost everywhere.

Forever Memories

The moving yet absolutely devastating story and images laid out at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The natural beauty but haunting sadness of Arlington National Cemetary with more than 400,000 graves of fallen soldiers and American heroes, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, guarded 24 hours a day by the marching somber sentinel guards.

The stirring and shameful experience of reliving one of the darkest chapters in US history, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Please enjoy some photos of our trip below (in no particular order).

We hope to visit Washington DC again someday, as there is still so much to see and do. We hope our stories (at least the good ones) and photos will inspire you to visit as well!

In closing, I would like to say a huge thank you to Catherine for taking on the lion's share of photographing this trip. She is a tireless, talented, and intrepid photographer, not to mention a joy to travel with (as are all my children)!

And as always, our deepest gratitude to the Wisner family for the exquisite care they take of Fity while we travel.

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