We scheduled 10 days in Washington DC and we needed every one of them. The RV park we stayed at was close to the Metro line and we became experts on the routes and transfer stations as we navigated our way around. Our only complaint, and it is a small one, is all the people! We tried to go to the Memorials at night for pictures and couldn’t believe the crowds. There was probably over 100 tour busses and 1000’s of people. From a distance they looked like ants swarming. But we had enough time to figure it out and make it all work.
We never got our evening shots but we did hit the Memorials at 8:00 AM and had them to ourselves for a few minutes anyway. Here are the places we went, besides the Memorials, with a couple thoughts about each one.
Library of Congress– What a beautiful building.
We scheduled a tour months ago and where excited to learn about this facility and what treasures it holds. Luckily we arrived early and heeded the advice of the tour guide to head upstairs and get pictures while the building was fairly empty. We were about half way through the tour when they had a fire drill–what bad timing! By the time we evacuated the building and sat outside for a long while, we had to give up and head on to our next sight.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Arlington Cemetery– We wanted to go back since we couldn’t see anything on Memorial Day-just too crowded.
On this day we were able to take a complete tour including President Kennedy’s grave, the Women in Service Memorial and the Tomb.
Watching the soldiers guard the tomb was an unforgettable experience as is seeing all the white headstones.
Freedom is not free.
Portrait Gallery-This is an awesome Smithsonian! It is full of interesting portraits and paintings-we wandered around for hours. I loved seeing the huge crowd around President Obama’s portrait-very cool. And they even have an inner courtyard which was bright and cool (on a hot, humid day) and very calming.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center/National Air and Space Museum- This museum is located right next to Dulles Airport. This place has the big stuff. It contains all the aircraft that is too big to have in the Mall location. What an exhibit with amazing volunteer tour guides. Ours spent about 1 1/2 hours with us explaining what everything was. It made it all so much more interesting.
We saw a huge super spy plane, the Enola Gay (the plane that carried the first atomic bomb to Japan), and, of course, the Space Shuttle to name just a few.
The National Archives- A necessary trip and another one that had to be scheduled in advance. Of course when you get inside you understand. Altogether in one place you get to see the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. They also have great exhibits which help explain the details of each document and what they do to help preserve it all.
The Newseum-This is not a Smithsonian but it was probably our favorite of all. It took us two days to see everything and I would go back again-it was that good. It is dedicated to the 1st Amendment of the Constitution-specifically Freedom of the Press. So much history and timely information.
They have part of the Berlin Wall, the 9-11 Terror attack, the Vietnam War, an FBI exhibit, and all the Pulitzer Prize winning photos from the 1950’s to today. These pictures made us smile, gasp, and, sometimes, almost cry. While we were in one area a woman came up and started explaining her role in one of the pictures. It was from the Kent State protest during the Vietnam War.
She was a Kent State student and she talked about where she was when the national guard opened fire on the crowd. She also talked about how they continued to protest until one of her professors convinced them to leave immediately. It wasn’t until much later that she learned that the guard had been instructed to continue shooting if the crowd didn’t disperse. We can’t say enough about this place.
The Holocaust Museum- This truly is a meaningful and important museum. Unfortunately it was also very crowded. Each of the exhibits requires time for reading and taking it all in. It was literally wall to wall people. We made the best of it, but I would definitely come back here at a less busy time if possible. It does a great job of explaining what was happening in Germany leading up to Hitler taking over the country. It also does a nice job talking about all the people that did save peoples lives. So many deaths but so many heroes as well. I’m so glad we scheduled 10 days in our Nation’s capital–so worth it!