Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Week in Washington DC with Kids Part 3

I respectfully ask that you not pin pictures of my children to Pinterest. Thank you!
The Gutenberg Bible in the Library of Congress
A Week in Washington DC with Kids Part 1 and Part 2

Our last two days were as busy as the first part of the week.
Here's what we did on Thursday and Friday:
We started our day at the Capitol Building. After having to throw away most of our lunch, we got through security and downstairs to get tour tickets. They have timed tour tickets for each day that you can get once you're there. As we got to the tour start area, I kind of scoped it out and picked a line with a tour guide that looked friendly. Best pick ever. He was from Scotland and had the best accent. His tour was really good, funny and informative, but honestly, he could have been reading the phone book and would have been great.
The rotunda is under construction but still open at this point.
Andrew; He looks angry but was just telling his story intensely. :)
From the Capitol, I had planned to go to the Supreme Court but found that there's an underground walking tunnel to the Library of Congress. Since it was cold and drizzly outside, we headed to the Library next.

The architecture is fabulous in there.
Our name is in the mosaic ceiling.

And we got to see Thomas Jefferson's library.
They have tours in the library; we just didn't have time to wait for one, and it was extremely crowded.
Supreme Court was next. There's a short film about the court that's worth watching. We didn't spend a whole lot of time here.
We ate lunch at Pete's Diner on 2nd Street. It wasn't good. The people were super friendly, but the food was only so-so and the tables were sticky. :)
We were able to get the metro from that side of the city and head to the National Gallery of Art.
An installation made of paper in the gift shop
There are so many paintings and sculptures to look at here. You could spend days there and still not absorb it all. Rooms full of Monet, and Picasso, and Singer Sargent. It's almost overwhelming. But very, very cool to see, in person, within touching distance, paintings that we've read about and studied and copied.
We left and headed to the Air and Space Museum.
The kids have done the Air and Space Museum before and I really wanted to spend time in the American History Museum, so we didn't spend too much time in here. We stuck to the exhibits that fit best with what we studied this year: History of Flight, Space Race, etc.
It was hard to tear them away, but I really wanted to get to the Museum of American History. We walked over and then stood in line forever to get in. They had bag checks and metal detectors, but were taking forever to get people through. It was not well done at all.
We did one exhibit (war in history)...
George Washington's uniform
...we came out of the exhibit, started to head to another. A security guard hollered, "You can't go that way.... You can't go that way, sir." Um, okay. We asked why not and he said they were closed.
So what happened was, I had originally planned this day's activities to be on Wednesday but switched it to Thursday because of the weather forecast. The museum was open late on Wednesday, not on Thursday.
If security had been less ridiculous, we could have had a little more time; if I had remembered the hours, we could have had more time. To make it worse, the staff was really rude to all the visitors as they were closing down. Seriously, so rude. I was really disappointed.

We had planned to eat dinner at their cafe since it was recommended online, but went to plan B because they closed 2 hours earlier than we expected. We ended up eating at the Silver Diner in Falls Church (super yummy!)

Notes and Tips for the Capitol Building area:
*You cannot take food or drink into the Capitol Building. Seriously, nothing. They'll make you throw it out. So if you pack your lunch, go later in the day. Or, you can get through security in the Library of Congress building and then take the underground walking tunnel into the Capitol. They didn't do a bag search coming in from that direction. (You can also put food in your pockets if you're desperate. Unless you set off the metal detector you can get a granola bar in. Just sayin'. :) )
*Wear good shoes.
*Get in Andrew's tour at the Capitol building. :D
* Do NOT try to squeeze in 3 Smithsonian museums into one afternoon.
* Eat at the Silver Diner; do not eat at Pete's Diner. :)

My original Thursday itinerary was:
U.S. Capitol and Visitor Center
Supreme Court
Library of Congress
Lunch and the Taft, Grant, and Garfield Memorials
National Gallery of Art
National Air and Space Museum
Dinner and American History Museum

On Friday, we:
did not have to get up super early to catch the hotel shuttle to the closest metro stop! We got up, packed up, checked out, and headed to George Washington's home, Mount Vernon.
Mount Vernon was the other attraction included in our tour bus package deal.
It's really beautiful there. I felt badly that the country pressured George into a second presidential term when he really just wanted to retire.

We did the house tour. They had park rangers stationed in each room. They'd talk and give info on that area of the house and then send you on to the next area. It was a fast tour because it was such a crowded day.
 After the house tour, we explored the grounds, the outbuildings, and the gardens.
View of the Potomac from the back lawn
We took the horse ride (free) down at the "farm", and then took the shuttle back to the Visitors Center for lunch.
 We saw George and Martha's grave site
and spent time with "Lady" Washington.
She was an amazing interpreter. She talked for 3 hours, in character as Martha. No scripts, no speeches. Just answering questions as if she were Martha herself. Someone asked how she met George, and she dimpled and blushed and smiled and told the story. She looked like she was actually in love with the man! She asked where people were from and when someone responded, "Pittsburgh", she replied, "Ah yes, George was in that area where the 3 rivers converge. He'll be glad to know that people are settling near the fort of Pitt." lol I want to be her when I grow up.

We saw all that we could and then headed out, stopping at Georgetown Cupcakes in Bethesda on our way home.
Fastest $13 we've ever eaten! So good!

Notes and Tips for the Mount Vernon:
*Lunch at the food court was very expensive. Pack if you can.
*Wear good shoes. The property is quite large and has rough terrain.
*Do sit and talk with Lady Washington if you can.

And that's it! It was a crazy busy week with a lot crammed in! We have money left on our metro cards so we're planning to go back for a few day trips to catch what we missed this time around.

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