When we lived in Melbourne, we spent so much of our time sightseeing around Australia that locals joked with us that we knew their country better than they did. There may have been some truth to those claims. We were certainly motivated to see as much as possible, and it was exciting to explore in a different hemisphere. We have not done nearly so well taking our kids to see stuff in the United States. They have toured the capital cities of both Canada and Australia, but Washington D.C.? No, at least not before last week. I guess it's appropriate that it took the encouragement of our Aussie friends to finally take our kids to the American capital city. Visiting D.C. was in fact not only their idea, but (I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit) we relied on them to serve as our tour guides as well.
We arrived in the rain two days before New Years Day. With a group of ten people, some of them still fighting jet lag, we knew that it was not realistic to plan a jam-packed itinerary. Keeping people fed, well-rested, and on speaking terms was our top priority. So this will not be a post about how to make the most of your time in D.C. We could have done a better job of that. But we did get around to many the major sights, we made some memories, we kept blood-sugar meltdowns to a minimum, and when our time was over, we were still friends. That, dear readers, is a successful sightseeing trip as far as I'm concerned.
First stop: the Capitol Building:
Next: the Lincoln Memorial with its lovely view of the Washington Monument.
The Library of Congress is across the street:
After an interesting lunch at Pete's Diner, we headed for the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Throwing the football between sites helped keep the boys happy.
We attempted one last group shot on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial:
We ended our first full day by walking around the White House, and then eating New Year's Eve dinner in Georgetown.
Our second full day got off to a leisurely start. Our first stop was the National Cathedral, which amazed us with its sheer size and interior beauty. We realized that our kids had never seen anything like it. Hellen Keller and Woodrow Wilson are buried there, among others.
By lunch time on New Years Day, we were either walking or biking around the White House. From there, we walked to Washington Monument where we discovered that all tickets to go to the top had been handed out within minutes of the opening time (8:30am). So we enjoyed it from below. Some of us nearly perished in the cold wind.
Our final destination was the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We gave ourselves an hour (not enough time to see everything of course, but enough to get a taste), and split up. Our teens enjoyed wandering on their own, pursuing their particular interests. Our youngest was interested in finding portraits of famous people he has heard about in the National Portrait Museum.
We will require at least one return trip to feel we have truly appreciated what Washington DC has to offer (the Holocaust Museum, the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, the Air and Space Museum and the International Spy Museum are just a few of the many things recommended to us that we didn't have time for), but at least we can say our kids have seen their nation's capital city. Experiencing it with friends was a bonus we will not soon forget.