It was a swelteringly hot midday in August and Alexis and I headed over to American History for a 12:30 Smithsonian Segway tour. Complimentary for staff, these either 1.5 hour or 3 hour tours are a not-to-be-missed attraction in DC. The interns had a wonderful time on the tour and would recommend it to anyone. We were fortunate to have a fun and engaging guide, Rick, who was easy-going and happily snapped pictures of us outside all the major sites on our tour. It happened to be that we were the only customers on the tour but Rick said that was normal for a mid-week, noon tour. The morning and evening tours are generally much more popular for traveling families. Upon signing up for a tour, you have the option of the 1.5-hour National Mall experience or the 3-hour mall and monuments tour. Since we had both seen the monuments plenty of times and the heat was quite oppressive, we opted for the shorter tour which was by no means a sacrifice for fun! Before embarking on our segways around the mall, we had to sign our lives away in a waiver, watch a short safety video, then learn the basics of maneuvering the segway by riding through a course set up with cones. This part was very fun and it took a little while to get used to the feel of the segway “PT’s” or personal transporters. After we were strapped in with helmets on and earpieces in to hear Rick’s commentary about the sites, we were off and first stopped at the Castle. Being young and chipper Smithsonian interns, we figured we would already know all of the facts about everything Smithsonian-related on the mall but boy were we wrong! Rick had tons of great historical insight about everything from the founder of the Institution to the statues around the mall. He was funny and always encouraged us to ask questions. After the castle we whizzed by the NMNH, the Sculpture Gallery, and the National Gallery of Art Buildings. We continued to learn new tid-bits of information along the way. The tour next climbed up to the Capitol Building and we learned more about the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, as well. On our way back down we coasted by the NMAH, our lovely home base of NASM, and the several galleries going down the mall. The tour ended back at NMAH and overall we had a BLAST riding around on the Segways. It was a nice breezy and educational way to learn a few new things about the Smithsonian.
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