Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Washington DC, the middle days
For our first official day of sight-seeing, we met up with Ben and headed to the Mall.
We started at The American History Museum. A major highlight for me was seeing the flag that inspired Frances Scott Key to pen the Star Spangled Banner. There are lots of interesting exhibits for all ages (like Julia Child's kitchen, a massive doll house, and lots of old cars and trains). My kids really enjoyed the Spark Lab, a hands-on area where they could invent and build things.
Our next stop was the Natural History Museum, just next door. Stella loved the gems and minerals exhibit. My boys loved the animal skeletons. Mabel liked being Ben's buddy.
Not pictured: The Sculpture Garden. This was a nice place to sit and rest for a bit.
That night we moved to a hotel near charming Dupont Circle, where Mike's conference was being held. We walked around a bit after his meetings ended and ate dinner at the Shake Shack.
We brought Ben along with us again the next day and took the bus straight to the Spy Museum. One of the best things about Washington DC is that almost all of the museums are free. They Spy Museum is not, but I thought it was worth the ticket price. Mabel and Oliver really liked it. It had a little too much reading for Stella and Elliot (and strollers aren't allowed, so Ben didn't love it). It displays cool old spy equipment, kids can climb through air vents, and it shows the role of spies through history.
About a block away is Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot. Tickets are required (they're free) and can be reserved online a day or two ahead of time. Since we were visiting on the off-season, we were able to get tickets that day and go right in. There is a nice exhibit in the basement, and across the street is the Peterson House, where Lincoln passed away. It has been turned into a museum. Mabel is just learning about the Civil War and Reconstruction, so it was perfect.
That afternoon we toured the National Gallery of Art. There were so many incredible works of art to see! And it felt like a more manageable size than something like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is mostly paintings, with a little sculpture and furniture.
We stopped to watch a few artists copying the originals. They were amazing.
Obviously my boys were fascinated with the Rembrandts. Ha! So this museum was not their favorite, but the girls and I loved it. I wish we'd had more time to see it all. I felt like we were rushing through it, and I regret that.
Not pictured: The National Archives. Again, because we were visiting in the off-season, we were able to walk right into the Archives and see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights without waiting in line. It was incredible.
So, after the art museum, we were pretty tired. It was the end of the day, and we hopped on a bus back to the hotel (or so I thought). After about 20 minutes of standing in the aisle, shifting a very heavy Ben from one hip to another, while Stella and Elliot used my legs to brace themselves against the movement of the bus (it was the most crowded bus I've ever been on, and there were no open seats), a kind passenger recognized that we were completely out of place and asked us which stop we were looking for. Turns out we had gone in the wrong direction. We promptly exited, crossed the street, and waited for the correct bus. Stella and Elliot didn't seem to mind, but the rest of us were sort of finished at that point.
The good news is that we made it back to the hotel just fine.
A note about Washington DC: I was pleasantly surprised by how clean it was. It is a beautiful city! There are lots of trees, gorgeous old buildings, easy and plentiful public transportation, and I always felt safe, even when we were walking at night.
posted by stephanie at 5:37 AM