We just returned from our schools spring break in DC. Glorious weather, perfect for walking miles and seeing all the sights. What a beautiful city, and it is BIG!
Suggestion #1: Wear comfy shoes at all times. Everything is further away than you think. Everyone should have a water bottle and jacket, too. Washington monument was was extremely windy, when everywhere else was calm. A map, sunglasses, sunscreen and umbrella are also useful.
We were a family of 5, Boy15, Girl13, Boy9 (a.k.a. B15, G13, B9) all with different energy levels and interests. Heading out each day after a big Embassy Suites free breakfast, (best place for families without a doubt), Suggestion #2 is get as many advance tickets as possible on line before going. We had monument tickets, (free, $8 mailing fee, Spy museum tickets, capital tour thru our senator...all recommended since we avoided huge lines. Sort of like the Disney World fast pass, when you get right on ) Monument was great. Very enclosed but like looking at a map of washington. All the "must-sees" are right in front of
you and look so impressive. We went there first, then decided which direction to walk. White house had beautiful gardens to see, but tough to walk around. (Didn't have tickets) WWII memorial is very moving, with fountains and all the states around it. Kids liked it, even though they weren't reading all the quotes. Vietnam was also very moving, someone was actually changing a name from "MIA" to "dead" with the engraver, and B15 and B9 were asking questions and glad they witnessed it. The walk up to Lincoln is just so majestic...all kids know Lincoln and were interested in reading and seeing the huge monument. A highlight.
B15 is always hungry, and it is true there is not much close to these memorials. We walked up to GWU area to Bertucci - being from New England, we love Bertucci's, great Italian lunch and dinner, and now close to hotel for crashing.
Capital and union Station were next morning, and our tour by our senator's guide was great. So much history and info, and with the senator's passes everyone has access to all these great rooms and tours. B9 loved the train ride underground, and room of the magic whispers. G13 loved the statue room, rotunda is amazing. Some tours were huge, ours was just us, depends on your state, I guess. B15 hungry again, up at union Station we went to Cafe America, having a dish from each state kids loved reading them all. (Very good chicken salad from Iowa!)
Went to Natural History and American History after lunch...Suggestion #3 is to hit those in mid-late afternoon, as school buses were leaving and place seemed emptier. We watched as hundreds of kids marched on to buses, and all exhibits we could see up close. We could never agree on what to see as a family, so we did divide up a little and pick only thoses where there was interest. I know not all families can do that, but on our short visit, we decided to see more places quickly, than one place in depth. G13 LOVED all the gems, diamonds at MNH, B9 loved the live insects that crawled up his arm, and the dinosaurs. B15 loved the music and jazz at AH.
Also did Air and Space next day in late afternoon again. Planets display was neat. Ride simulators were the big hit, for $7.50, kids got to drive or ride in little capsules flipping all around. Husband liked WW1 exhibit.
Spy Musuem, (different day) was not well recieved by any of my kids, husband loved it though. Lots of reading and info, and very cool lay-out, but didn't hold anyone's interest too long. They liked the store. It is good for older kids or adults. Not alot for kids. Pretty near Ford's theatre, which is closed, but small museum in basement. Husband and I liked that, then walked thru House across Street. B15 sees Hard Rock Cafe on corner, and that was pretty good.
Favorite area by all, especially G13 with all the shopping, was Georgetown. Excellent dinner at Papa-razzi. (Tried to go to Milano, but secret service and police were all out...expecting Cheney...so we went elsewhere.)
Excellent restaurant in Dupont circle was the Front Page. Very casual, but good food, lots of different things on menu and reasonable. Fiulled up even B15!
We woulnd up walking or using cabs...5 of us fit in...and it wasn't too bad. The only problem was we never got out to Jefferson, it is too far to walk, and unless your on a tour it is hard to get to. Suggestion #5 give yourself and kids downtime. There is SO musch to take in and see, that each day, my kids would just hit their max, and we'd have to go back and crash. The whole city has so much history and beauty, that just walking down the streets was interesting. B15 loved the grid map with the states.
We had a great time, but were exhausted. Now when they see a reporter on TV, they yell.."Hey look, we were there!" That's the experience I was hoping for.