The political happenings in Washington DC generally make your skin crawl can make you think twice about visiting our nation’s capital, but this city is an absolute must to put on any travel itinerary. A destination spot for all ages. From the natural beauty of this lush, heavily tree-lined historical mecca, to the impeccably clean streets and subway systems – D.C. is a joy to walk around. And the way it is laid out it is easy to do just that.
My husband and I took our kids to DC years ago, when they were 12 & 14-years-old. At this point in their education they had learned about a lot of U.S. history, so it was an intriguing time for them to visit an area so full of U.S. history.
We stayed across the street from the White House, at the Hay Adams Hotel – hoping for a sneak peek at the President. We took turns watching out the window, but all we ever caught a glimpse of was the security personal stationed on top of the roof. We saw lots of black Suburbans come and go through the side gate to the White House, but things were all quiet on the front porch of this magnificent national home of all homes.
It was a hot and humid summer when we visited D.C. After taking the obligatory pictures in front of the big white fence that surrounds the White House, we walked down Pennsylvania Avenue making our way towards the stately U.S. Capitol building, with the Statue of Freedom standing tall upon the dome of the rotunda. Along the way we took detours to walk by the Ford’s Theatre, the offices of the FBI and the International Spy Museum – where, at present, there happens to be a Bond exhibit commemorating 50 years of Bond villains.
Tucked behind the U.S. Capital is the Library of Congress. If anyone has seen National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the interior of the Library of Congress is as architecturally beautiful as the books it showcases. It is a reminder of how revered libraries once were as being a place where deep and important learning took place and hopefully still does. For this avid reader, it is a thing of beauty to see history displayed in row after row of leather-bound narration.
After walking along the front of the U.S. Capital, we worked our way back towards the Smithsonian museums and the other major national monuments. Needing a break from the sweltering temps we ducked into the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. A huge building showcasing several planes from over the generations hanging life-size from the high ceilings. The line into the United States Holocaust Museum, 12 years after it’s dedication, was blocks long – obviously a must see that our itinerary unfortunately was not going to allow us time to visit.
We moved on to the very serene setting of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial that sits looking out over the Tidal Basin – a pond that is fed by the Potomac River which we walked along up to the Lincoln Memorial. Nothing prepares you for the magnificence of the stately President immortalized in his famed relaxed sitting position. The famed Reflective Pool sits at the base of Lincoln Memorial – you do just that as you sit upon the steps feeding into the pool – reflect upon the visions from historical events like the Martin Luther King‘s location for his “I Have a Dream” speech to Forrest and Jenny embracing in the pool in Forrest Gump. Flanking the other end of the Reflecting pool is the National World War II Memorial with each state showcased.
Finishing off this historical walk took us by the awe-inspiring Washington Monument – that stands at 555′, ten times the width of its base. Recently re-opened after repairs made to it after a 2011 earthquake, the Monument was the tallest structure in the world at the time of its dedication in 1885.
If one wants to learn about the history of this wonderful nation of ours and the connection we have with the histories of so many other nations, than this is the place to be. Set aside another day, and hop across the Potomac and experience the pageantry of the service men and women who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; pay homage to the final resting places of JFK and RFK; and so many others that make up the mind-blowing view of never-ending rows of white crosses that make up Arlington National Cemetery. I salute you all and thank you for our freedom. The statue of Iwo Jima at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and the Pentagon sit at either end of the famed cemetery.
Washington D.C. proves that history does not have to be boring, despite the boring politics that often overrides the beauty of this magnificent city.