Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Week in Washington DC with Kids Part 1

I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!
Every year we try to take a big field trip to a place that fits in with the history that we've studied during the school year. Last year we spent a week visiting Philadelphia and Boston. After learning about U.S. and world history from 1850 through today, we decided to go to Washington D.C.

We've also studied all the U.S. states and presidents over the past 2 years. There was a lot in D.C. that tied in to that too.

Here's what we did:
We left in the morning and drove down to Arlington. We couldn't find the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial with our GPS so gave up and went to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.
If you're driving, there is zero parking at the Pentagon. Bass had to circle the parking lot while we walked to the Memorial, which is on the far side of the Pentagon building. You can park at the Fashion Centre Mall and walk or take a bus over, I believe.
Since Bass had to circle, we didn't stay long at the memorial but headed to the metro station at the Pentagon to buy our SmarTrip cards.
Um, helpful tip here... the metro sales office is on the other side of the building, ground level, by the bus stops. It's not up either set of the big stone steps where there are key-code-entry-only revolving doors and a multitude of security personnel who don't like lost tourists. Just an FYI. :)
We bought our cards (one per person) and added money to them immediately. You can buy fares at the metro stations but it's easier to just get a card and preload it.

After our security debacle, we left the Pentagon and went to lunch at the mall. There's a big food court in the lower level with lots of options. From there we went to the Air Force Memorial.
We don't have any family or friends that have served in the air force but it was still moving to see the tribute to those who have served. The spires are immense!
Our last stop for the day was Arlington Cemetery and Arlington House.
Robert E Lee was quite the gentleman. :)
So much loss and sacrifice. It's almost overwhelming.

And the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I didn't know there were unknown soldiers from each major conflict buried here.

We saw JFK's gravesite and the eternal flame, the Memorial Amphitheater, and the mast of the Maine. I wanted to see the Nurse's Memorial but we were getting tired and wanted to get into the next available tour of Arlington House.
The mast of the Maine.
Arlington House has a great history connected to it. We got to tour through the house from the basement to a sneak peek into the attic where Union soldiers had written their names on the roof beams. I was tickled to find out they had a school room in the house. lol The slave quarters are interesting too. It's definitely worth visiting.
I liked their taste in literature. :)
Part of Arlington includes the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. We didn't have a lot of time there since they were closing, but we did find my grandmother listed in the registry. She served as a WAAC for 10 years.
We wanted to visit the Iwo Jima/Marines Memorial but it started to rain and Arlington was closing, so we called it a day and headed to our hotel in Falls Church, VA.

Notes and Tips for Arlington and the Pentagon:
*Other than a small fee for parking at Arlington, everything today was free (except lunch and the metro cards. lol)
*Wear good shoes. Arlington is huge and the "big" monuments and memorials are a distance from each other. Give yourself enough time to see everything too. You could spend an entire 8 hour day here and still not see everything.
*Do NOT walk up the stone steps at the Pentagon. Especially the week after there's a shooting at the Capitol. :)

My original itinerary (in case you're planning and want to do things in a way that makes sense geographically) was:
Teddy Roosevelt Memorial
Iwo Jima Memorial
Air Force Memorial
Arlington House
Arlington Cemetary
Pentagon Memorial
LBJ Memorial Garden
Dinner at Fashion Centre Mall

A Week in Washington DC with Kids Part 2 and Part 3

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