This past weekend my husband and I took the boys
on their first trip to Washington, D.C.!
Each summer we like to take the kids on a special trip. Last year, we took them to New York City and managed to pack in an amazing number of activities into one day. You can read about that trip - HERE. This year instead of one day (because that would be kind of difficult), we spent the whole weekend in DC.
We left our house Friday morning for the 4 hour drive and arrived around lunch time. We checked into our hotel, The W - Hotel Washington and headed down the street for lunch.
We arrived at the famous Old Ebbitt Grill
and scored a table just before a whole crowd of people entered.
The food was exceptionally good. They offered a more extensive lunch menu than you would expect from a historic restaurant which could probably draw crowds just from reputation alone. Even though I am sure there were serious business lunches taking place, the bustling atmosphere allowed the establishment to be kid friendly as well. They even provided the kids with activity menus to keep them busy.
After lunch it was time for sightseeing! Just two blocks down the street was the attraction-of-all attractions...the White House!
The boys whipped out their ipods to take pictures. Yeah.... it was no coincidence that they were dressed in red, white and blue on their first day in Washington!
Next we walked through the city, passing the Washington Monument which happened to be undergoing some repairs due to the earthquake a couple years ago.
And across town we headed to our next stop...
This museum is a must-see for a trip with boys!
We explored the museum the entire rest of the afternoon. The boys were captivated by every rocket, every airplane, the interactive exhibits and well...just about everything!
By the time we were all about to collapse from exhaustion, we filed into the IMAX theatre for the showing of "The Dream is Alive" movie which focused on the flight of the space shuttle. It was such a relief to sit down!
A few more exhibits and a trip to the gift shop pushed us over the edge of exhaustion so we grabbed a taxi back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Luckily our reservation was for 7:45 because I needed some time to relax and shower up for an evening out. We had to take a taxi to the restaurant since it was up by Dupont Circle and none of us were in the mood for walking. We arrived at Firefly, a charming neighborhood restaurant just in time to be seated.
I had read that the restaurant was kid friendly
but when I saw a little sign by the door, I wasn't too sure!
Dinner was delicious although my chicken had a bit more garlic than I prefer. I actually woke up with a "garlic hangover" the next morning. I hope I didn't stand too close to anyone in the elevator. I know...yuck!
But overall, Firefly was a great experience. The front windows of the restaurant opened up to the street and the firefly theme was continued throughout the restaurant from the cute candles on the tables to the tree with lanterns hung on it.
The next morning we walked down the block for breakfast at the Corner Bakery Cafe which was very similar to a Panera (popular where we live). The cafe had a wide variety of breakfast options so we ordered some eggs, muffins, etc and sat down to eat while we planned our sightseeing. The Lincoln Memorial was our first stop of the day....
What impressive architecture. I mean, I have been there before but its grand scale still takes my breath away! And the kids were thrilled. They couldn't wait to get up those stairs to the top!
I don't think the kids expected Lincoln to be so huge!
And they were equally excited by the view from the top of the stairs!
We then walked along the reflection pool
and through the World War II War Memorial...
(This picture reminds me of Ferris Bueller in the art museum.)
We continued down the mall
until we reached the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History
where we spent almost the entire day.
Yes, the dinosaurs were awesome!
And the museum is the home of the Hope Diamond!
I know, not a good picture...
I think my kids were disappointed because all they said was,
"Oh that's it?"
They must have expected a rock the size of a basketball or something!
But they did enjoy all the gemstone exhibits for some reason. My older son is fascinated by science so he was quite excited with all the rock formations. And of course the boys loved the wild animal sections and sea life.
But we all really loved the 3D surfing movie, "The Ultimate Wave" which followed surfer, Kelly Slater on a Tahitian adventure. Not a difficult guy to stare at - especially in 3D! It was such a fun movie to watch!
But the day wasn't over yet because the kids wanted to stop at the National Aquarium. This aquarium is not known for being huge or anything too special but we figured it was a nice place to stop on the way back to the hotel. The Baltimore location is supposed to be the real one to see! But the kids were thrilled anyway and it didn't take too long to walk through.
Then it was time to relax a bit so we headed up to the POV lounge at the top of the W for some hors d'oeuvres...
and a refreshing cocktail for me!
But the best part of the lounging time was the view!
Not a bad spot to have a snack!
We walked to Georgia Brown's for dinner that night.
Georgia Brown's is known for their Low Country Cuisine and was a wonderful experience for all of us. The salmon with the mango salsa and fried Brussels sprouts were to die for! We all tried something a little different and I was very impressed with my 9 year old for trying the salmon corn soup and loving it! My 7 year old pretty much stuck to the fried chicken but I think he took a bite or two of the collard greens. The staff was very attentive and we loved our friendly waiter.
The next morning we packed up, grabbed breakfast at the buffet upstairs and headed home. Check out the room where the buffet was...
So - "W". I think they use this room as a night club in the evenings!
But once again, you can't beat the views!
We had a wonderful vacation and it was just the right amount of time to spend for a first trip to DC. But let me tell you, we didn't even make a dent in all the sights you could see! I am making a list for next time!
The boys have been talking non-stop about trip and the little special things they remember...like going downstairs to the gym with daddy. They were thrilled to use the workout equipment and both came upstairs drinking cups of water and wearing white towels wrapped around their necks. Just precious!
Here are a few of my tips for traveling to DC with kids:
Research what they want to see and have a plan before you go. There are so many sights and museums to visit that it can be overwhelming!
The Smithsonian Museums are free but some museums that are not part of the mall charge an admission. The National Aquarium was one of those that charge.
Be ready to walk! There are bus tours available but if you want to see things on your own schedule and really experience the city, we found walking is the best way. But like us, you may need to take a cab back at the end of the day.
Make dinner reservations through opentable.com before you leave for your vacation. I was able to research kid-friendly restaurants easily and even changed reservation times from my iphone when we realized we needed to eat a little later.
Here are a few kid friendly things we want to do next time:
DC Duck Tours - We didn't have time but I would love to take the kids on a water tour of DC!
Smithsonian's Museum of American History - With my kids being huge Wizard of Oz fans, I can't believe we didn't get a chance to go see those ruby slippers! LOL! This is also the place to see all the presidential exhibits and learn all about American History. As far as I am concerned this museum is a must see for a trip to Washington but like I said, you can only do so much!
Washington Monument - Next time we plan to go to the top for a view of the city. We couldn't do it this time due to the repairs being made from the earthquake a couple years ago.
Oh there is just so much to see experience in that wonderful city!
What are your tips for must see attractions in Washington D.C.?