The mention of a trip to Washington D.C. may seem like the beginning of a dull monologue filled with visits to dusty museums and over-sized monuments. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I recently vacationed in our nation’s capital with my family and discovered that the city is not only filled with interesting historical experiences, but is also brimming with activities to satisfy the entire family.
As my family and I stepped out from the metro underworld onto the sidewalk and blinked at the disorienting sunlight, I waited for my first glimpse of the Capital. Finally my eyes adjusted. I gazed around like a giddy child who had been shown a spectacular surprise.
Historical buildings surrounded me and framed by a stone archway was the Washington Memorial towering in the distance. I stood amazed at the beautiful splendor. Once this moment faded, the endless walking that would become routine began.
My favorite experience was the Library of Congress. Although the Library of Congress might not be on everyone’s “must see” list, it is definitely worth visiting. This library was established for Congress in 1800, and houses more than 144 million cataloged items. The library is almost like a museum, with permanent and non-permanent exhibits displayed for the public. One of the library’s prized possessions is a 1507 map of the known world, which is the first map to label the new world “America.” Despite the library’s prestigious collections, the true gem of the Library of Congress is the building itself.
The main building showcases American artistic ability through the elaborate marble, stain glass, paint, and mosaic masterpieces which clothe the edifice. The building underwent extensive restoration in the 1980’s and 90’s to uncover its original splendor which was obscured by pollution.
A largely unknown option for those planning to explore the library with children is a family tour that is offered separate from the regular tour. This group is geared to engage young minds. My family chose this option and had an absolute blast with our tour guide. To ensure your family doesn’t miss this interactive experience, visit the information desk upon arrival for tour times or visit their website. Entrance and tours of the library are free.
One thing we learned from our trip was to bring a backpack with us on our day trips. Immediate access to sunscreen, maps, helpful information you printed in advance, snacks, and water are extremely helpful. This will also save you money because anywhere that sells food or drink inflates the price because of the location.
Thankfully my mother planned in advance which part of the city our family would visit each day, so our walking was limited to certain areas each day. The word “limited” should be put into context, however, since on average our family walked about four to six miles every day. This includes walks to and from the metro stations along with trekking around to see the memorials and museums. At the end of each day, my mother and I would plop down in seats and joke on the metro ride back to our lodging, when our feet would finally get a rest, “At least we aren’t going to gain any weight from this vacation!”
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