What would you do if you had just one day to spend exploring our nation’s capital?
Would you visit all of the amazing free museums, or step inside one of the federal buildings to watch history in the making?
My family recently had the pleasure of visiting Washington, D.C. If you are interested in checking out some of the best known memorials and one museum of your choice, then this sample itinerary from our trip just might work for you. Here’s how we spent a day in Washington, D.C.:
First things first – you have to find the best transportation to suit your needs.
We parked outside of the city and took the Metro. The day pass was completely affordable, and we were able to explore the city without worrying about parking prices or finding our own way around town. Parking is VERY expensive in D.C. and the Metro is very straightforward, so I believe we made the right decision.
We stopped at Union Station for lunch and to check out a bit of the architecture before hopping onto another line to get to the National Mall.
Our next stop was the Washington Monument. We took a few pictures in front of the majestic monument, and then started on the long walk to the Lincoln Memorial.
FYI – it IS possible to get a picture of the entire monument. You just have to walk around and find the right angle – and don’t be afraid to lay down on the ground if you have to! Some of our best pics were the result of getting down and dirty!
On the way to the Lincoln Memorial, we got a bit sidetracked. We were very hot and needed shade and something cool to drink. We purchased popsicles, bottled water, and gatorade from a street vendor and headed over to the World War II Memorial to sit and reflect for a while.
The World War II Memorial was so beautiful, and it was an amazing thing to see. Of course, the sound of running water reminded my toddler that she needed to find a potty right away.
TIP: There are public restrooms near the World War II Memorial. Just keep walking down the trail toward the Lincoln Memorial, and they will be on the right.
We finally made it to the Lincoln Memorial, which appears to be a hangout destination. There were families enjoying a picnic on the steps, groups touring the memorial in color-coordinated tee shirts, and people just needing to rest their tired legs after such a long walk.
After posing for a quick picture outside, we headed in to see Lincoln’s statue and inspiring words carved into stone. The Lincoln Memorial was simply stunning! It was such a wonderful thing to experience. You wouldn’t know it from my pictures, but it was super crowded that day, too.
Danger chose to dance and spin in front of Lincoln, while the grown-ups found a ledge to sit and rest on. Before we left, we visited the bookstore to buy a keepsake book for Danger. While cramped for space, the bookstore offers a great selection of inexpensive trinkets and books, and most importantly — AIR CONDITIONING!!!
We started our long walk back to the National Mall, but this time we chose the shaded route. We walked by the Vietnam Veterans Wall, which was incredibly moving. We also stopped for a rest at the Constitution Gardens, where we fed some ducks.
This route also led us by the White House. While we did not walk up to the building, it was still nice to see it from a distance. We took a moment to reflect on the wonderful presidents that used to live there, and then we moved on to the National Museum of American History.
The museum is free and offered up something for everyone: automobiles, guns, the star-spangled banner, the ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz – but my very favorite thing to see was the hat that Lincoln was wearing the night that he was shot. It wasn’t as big as you’d think! That’s what she said…
The museum’s cafe was closed, so we stopped off at another street vendor for a cookie and some soda before getting on the Metro and heading home. It was a great day, but not something that I would like to do again in the near future. We did a LOT of walking, and it was the middle of July – not a good combination.
Make sure to check out this detailed post for more Tips For Traveling To Washington, D.C. With A Toddler.
Have you visited Washington, D.C.? What was your favorite thing to do/see/experience? What didn’t you like about the city?