Brian and I recently spent an entire week in Washington D.C as mentioned in my previous post, DC Eats & Treats. Our time there was part work, part vacation . . . well for Brian. For me, all vacation and over fifty miles of walking! Thousands of steps later, and I still wasn’t ready to leave!
D.C. has always been a place Brian and I have hoped to experience – him because of his love for history and for me, I wanted to see Lincoln memorial. I am so thankful to have a history loving (I like to call him my personal history “buff”) husband who is patient with me in my lack of knowledge, memory, and/or answering the questions I had throughout our vacation!
I selfishly looked forward to the first few days in D.C. because I knew I’d be able to walk around by myself due to Brian having to work! I used those days to my advantage and visited many places Brian didn’t mind not getting to experience such as the National Zoo, MANY restaurants, the area of Georgetown, and the Holocaust Museum.
It isn’t often you get to visit a FREE zoo that has as many animals as the National Zoo! I always enjoy getting to see new animals, species, and learn new facts about animals I am already familiar with! The National Zoo did have your typical elephants, lions, pandas, foxes, birds, etc. but it also had neat areas and indoor learning centers! I took my time while there and saw just about every animal! I still say the San Diego Zoo will always be my favorite, but this one was just as special in its own way.
My FAVORITE exhibit were the seals. Actually, it was probably my favorite memory and experience at any zoo I have ever been to. I sat and ate my lunch while watching this one particular seal interact and “play” with many children for over 45 minutes. It was a beautiful thing to see a “water” animal literally play with tiny humans! These pictures do not portray the experience we all had in that hour!
The minute I walked into the Georgetown area, I fell in love! I visited the area six of the seven days in Washington D.C. and loved every minute from the calories consumed at the many restaurants we tried, to the local tourist spots, and the adorable buildings!
If you plan on visiting the Holocaust Museum, have tissues on hand. Be sure to “reserve” a time prior to your arrival for their Permanent Exhibition if you plan on visiting March through September! All other exhibits including an interactive exhibition titled “Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story” have free admission at any time.
The museums Permanent Exhibition, which is also free (unless revered online for $1 per ticket) is worth any wait you may have. I highly recommend you take your time and soak in every detail, fact, and story provided for it’s learners. My heart still grieves.
Once Brian was done with work, we spent every hour possible touring the many museums and nationally known buildings!
Despite the Capitol Building being huge, tourists do not get to experience and/or see much of the building . . . at least at this time. Construction is all throughout internally and externally; therefore, many sites are closed for visitors. If you want to see many of their exhibits, be sure to book your reservation prior to arriving in D.C. because most are booked weeks ahead of time! *Update: The Rotunda opens Monday, September 5th finally! Go see it for me pretty please 🙂
The Supreme Court
Though one may not spend much time at the Supreme Court, if you get the chance arrive at the half of the hour of each hour of the day (9:30am to 3:30pm) to attend a Courtroom Lecture in the Court!
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress was by far our favorite building and experience of our entire vacation! Just like all of the other national buildings, it is not only grand on the outside but majestic in appearance! Brian and I both recommend you make sure to plan to have a couple of hours (Brian could have honestly spent days here) to tour the Library of Congress. Upon exiting security (get use to it) you are immediately greeted with the most beautiful colors, designs, and artwork present throughout the center of the building.
Mapping a Growing Nation: From Independence to Statehood
– “Abel Buell’s New and Correct Map of the United States of North America is the first map of the newly Independent United Sates compiled, printed, and published in America by an American. This important early American map is known to exist in only seven copies.”
– “Celebrates the public’s choice of the top 40 books by American authors that had a profound effect on American life.”
– “In the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, two monumental Bibles face each other as if in dialogue: one, the Giant Bible of Mainz, signifies the end of the handwritten book-and the other, the Gutenberg Bible, marks the beginning of the printed book and the explosion of knowledge and creativity it would engender.”
Brian and I awed over the Gutenberg Bible for it’s significance! Amazing!
Exploring the Early Americans
– “Exploring the Early Americans features selections from more than 3,000 rare maps (Brian’s favorite part of our tour!), documents, paintings, prints, and artifacts that make up the Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress. The exhibition includes two extraordinary maps by Martin Waldseemüller created in 1507 and 1516, which depict a world enlarged by the presence of the Western Hemisphere.”
Brian LOVED seeing these historic maps! It’s amazing knowing what they knew about how the world looked based off of communication and words of others!
We had an amazing time at the Library of Congress and wish we would have had more time to explore! Next time 🙂
Viewing our nations Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution is indescribable. Both are located within the archives Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom which house the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The Rotunda is a large dimly lit “room” where tourists view in groups and at your own pace. Brian caught a view of the Declaration of Independence before I could and I swear he had the biggest smile on his face comparable to our wedding day. Though glass and guards separate you from the documents, you can get as close to them as you would your dentist! It’s amazing! We literally stood over the documents and tried our best to read any word visible to the human eye. Sadly, most all of the ink has faded from the documents – especially the Declaration of Independence; therefore, we could only make out John Hancock’s famous signature. I do pray these documents are preserved enough in their current state so that our children can one day view the most important documents to our country! *Due to obvious rules, no pictures were taken of our time within the National Archives.
The White House
The tallest and most unique compared to the other memorial designs, the Washington Monument stands tall in the middle of them all. We did not get the opportunity to tour inside but enjoyed the view from afar and close up! We recommend if you wish for this monument to be on your schedule, book a reservation online many weeks in advance!
World War II Memorial
Words and tears cannot express the emotions and feelings this memorial will bring to anyones heart. I wish my pictures could explain what went through our hearts during our time at the memorial.
As mentioned, I was most excited for this particular moment of our vacation. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. In most cases in life, things seem smaller in person than one usually dreams up in their mind. In this case, it was so much bigger than I expected! AND busier! I love how “simple” (compared to the other memorials and buildings) and “matter of fact” the Lincoln Memorial is.
Arlington National Cemetery
Once we were done walking along the National Mall, we made sure to have enough time and walked the two miles to the Arlington National Cemetery. Despite seeing glimpses of the cemetery via movies, video clips, and pictures, I was not prepared for how grand it is. At 624 acres, the cemetery is home to approximately 400,000 graves; a number one cannot possibly imagine in their mind. Within minutes my heart was broken, my spirit a mix of emotions, and prayers constant.
While we did not have time to visit the President John F. Kennedy gravesite, we made sure to witness the Changing of the Guard which occurs on the hour of every hour until 5pm, when the changing also occurs at the half hour mark of every hour. The robotic like steps and movements of the soldiers are such a beautiful sight to witness. The significance of the guard guarding the tomb of the unknown solider represents more than just protection. I hope you can sense it’s powerfulness in the pictures below.
We also visited three of the Smithsonian museums: National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, and National Air and Space Museum.We had a great time visiting each one with our dear friends who recently moved near the D.C. area! One would need a week or more just to tour the Smithsonian museums!
Overall, we had an amazing time in Washington D.C. and would like to visit again one day! Let me know if you plan on visiting D.C. soon and/or if you have any recommendations from your visit so that we can explore new sites next time!
love always, kylie
Next vacation location: Uganda & Kenya 🙂