I like to take pictures and make videos of our family vacations and share them.
Our first trip to Washington DC was a road trip, so we had a limited amount of time before we had to drive to our next destination. We did see a lot, but not only was there too much to see on our short trip, there was still too much to see on this one.
I really wanted to go to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The official National Cherry Blossom Festival's website gives you the dates that they expect the trees to bloom, so we booked our room within the dates that they provided.
The only one of my children that came along this time was my youngest. She apparently loved DC when we went the first time, the other two, not so much. This time around it was early spring and still cold, last time it was summer and very hot.
We revisited some places from our last trip, but for the most part we tried to squeeze in places that we had missed out on in 2008. We did a second tour of the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and revisited the National Museum of Natural History. Some of the other sites we checked out were:
- The Library of Congress
- The United Sates Supreme Court
- The Jefferson Memorial
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
- Ford's Theatre
- The House Where Lincoln Died
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
- The United States Botanic Garden
- The National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden
Walking Through the City
The majesty of the architecture and the history around every corner, in every nook and cranny of the city, is not all DC has to offer. There are frequent rotating public art exhibits and many galleries and museums. Best of all most of the attractions in DC offer free admission to the public.
Just like any other metropolitan city, there are a lot of people scurrying about, some tourists, some going to work, rushing up or down the escalators to get to the Metro. There is also a lot of homelessness and panhandling. Many of these people are highly talented and perform in the streets of the city for spare change. And obviously there are protests on any given day. In fact there were people protesting circumcision on our visit in 2013.
Our visit was right after the inauguration, so there was inaugural merchandise lining the streets. We brought a lot of inaugural souvenirs home including the Metro cards used to travel the city. I want to add a photo of the card, however, I am having trouble locating it because I have so much stuff from DC. When I find it I will add it.
I made multiple videos from the trip to break it up a bit. The video below is mostly the city, shops and things you will see walking the streets in Washington DC. I go into further detail about some of the things after the video.
Some Random Things
Before I get into all of the famous and historical sites in DC, I want to talk a little bit about some of the things that you will or might see, while walking through the city.
Along with the architecture of the federal buildings and the beautiful landscape, there are also sculptures sprinkled throughout the city. There is lot of public art in general.
There are some other things that I found interesting and surprising. For instance, in the photo below. I was surprised to see the size of the firearm the police officer had strapped to his side. I don't know what kind it is, but it certainly got my attention. I think he is a Capitol Police officer. I cant really make out his badge, but I think this was near the Capitol complex. I took the photo from a distance and cropped it.
The photos below are actually from our 2008 trip. We were walking toward Independence Avenue and suddenly we started hearing sirens. A police car pulled up, blocked the road. The officer got out of his car and stood in the middle of the intersection. It was then that we noticed a motorcade coming down the street. The second photo shows the cars that were in the motorcade. There is a limo all the way on the right in the second photo. I didn't see any government seal on the side of it, so I am not sure who it was, but it was interesting to see.
Lafayette Square - Concepcion Picciotto
Concepcion Picciotto lived in front of the White House for 35 years. She began her protest of nuclear arms on the sidewalk near the White House fence on August 1, 1981. In 1985 National Park Service placed restrictions on the White House sidewalk, so she had to move across the street to Lafayette Square and remained there until her death - January 25, 2016. Picciotto was featured in a number of movies, one of which was Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.
In the aerial view below, you can see her tent set up in Lafayette Square. The first is the original aerial photo and the second is a closer view.
- Longtime White House Protester Dies, After Vigil That Started In 1981 : The Two-Way : NPR
Persisting through cold and rough weather, Concepcion Picciotto was a fixture outside the White House, where she was often called the president's closest neighbor.
On our 2013 visit she was passing out a printed version of a 1988 article about her protest. I took one and added it to my DC scrapbook. She was probably passing out copies in 2008 too, but I must have missed it.
We visited the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden. There were some pretty unique pieces. It is located outside and has large sculptures from various artists on display. I am not exactly sure how we missed it on our first trip because we did go to the National Gallery of Art. A few of the sculptures shown below.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
We swung by Madame Tussauds Wax Museum but we didn't go in. We took some photos of the sculptures that were out on display. As I mentioned before, most of the museums in DC are free but this is not one of them. My daughter posed with Samuel L. Jackson and I also took a picture of Tricky Dick Nixon. They are very impressive, I have been to Potter's Wax Museum in St. Augustine and some of their sculptures are just, meh.
In-between activities we just strolled around, looking at the buildings taking pictures. I have no idea how many pictures I took but the number is high. You cant help it everywhere you turn is deserving of a photograph.
There are plaques throughout the city marking historic places, signs outside all of the federal agencies and lots of statues.
I cant remember exactly where this was, I think it was somewhere near the National Archives. We were walking through some buildings and I had to take a second look at one particular building.
At first glance, it looked like an ordinary building. Then I realized it wasn't. The entire side of the building minus the 2 doors, was trompe l'oeil and incredibly well done. The perspective, the perfect angle of the lines in the bricks all the way down to the shadows and reflections in the windows.
United States Botanic Garden
On our visit in 2008 we didn't go inside, when we returned in 2013 we checked out the entire garden. The garden is beautiful and a great place for photographs of flowers, cacti, trees and other plant life. Admission to the garden is free.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
This was our 2nd visit to this particular museum. My daughter liked it so much the first time, she wanted to go back. Admission is free here as well.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has everything from the hot air balloon to the lunar space module. It also includes missiles and other types of aircraft. Once again, admission is free.
It isn't every day you see traffic barrels marked with the letters FBI or broken down FBI vehicles. When we visited in 2008 it was also the FBI's 100th anniversary. There was sign hanging on the J. Edgar Hoover Building also known as the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Ford's Theatre was skipped the first time, due to time constraints, but we didn't miss it this time. The area where Ford's Theatre is reminds me of historic Philadelphia, which is another great place to visit.
Lincoln is all over DC so I put a slideshow together just featuring Abraham Lincoln and things pertaining to him such as: the House Where Lincoln Died, a super cool portrait of Lincoln made of pennies and a giant tower of books written about the 16th President of the United States. You can view the slideshow below.
Major General Meade Memorial
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum was very sobering. I didn't take any pictures from our visit it just didn't feel right.
When you start the tour they give you an identification card with the name, photo and story of a real person who lived during the Holocaust. Some of whom survived others who did not.
Even though 2 cards are shown below, we actually received three. The front of them were the same, except for the colors. They were blue or white. I am not sure if that was intended to represent something as well?
Below you can read the stories of: Robert Kulka, Jakob Frenkiel and Ezra Zelig Szabasson.
One of the exhibits at the museum is nothing but shoes, thousands of them. Each belonged to a victim of the Holocaust. As I mentioned, I didn't take any photos inside, the photo shown below is from the inside cover of an educational booklet that the museum provided on our tour.
The main exhibit is an interactive tour. A boy named Daniel tells the story of his normal life before the Nazis began to terrorize his family and the events that followed. Starting with antisemitism and the destruction of his family's business, then forced to live and work in the ghetto and ultimately a concentration camp where he was separated from his family, later to find out they were killed by the Nazis.
The Jefferson Memorial - 2013
The Cherry Blossom Festival - 2013
We specifically picked the dates for our trip for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. I always see them on TV and really wanted to see them in person. The trees were supposed to bloom during the dates that we were there, unfortunately, there was a cold snap and the blossoms didn't open. They didn't bloom until the 9th. We left on the 1st. It was such a bummer.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
When we visited in 2008 the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was yet to be built. It is a pretty impressive size. I added a photo of my husband and daughter to offer some perspective.
We also visited other places that we missed in 2008. These sites were: The United States Library of Congress, the Jefferson Memorial and the United States Supreme Court. I will get to the Supreme Court later on.
The Library of Congress
The United States Library of Congress is directly across from the Capitol building. The Library of congress houses recordings, photographs, legislation, newspapers, manuscripts and more. It is also where one can register an original work for copyright. It is what it is, a library and a very fancy one at that.
This building is just an astonishing structure. The massive space is filled with beautiful marble columns and railings, adorned with intricate relief sculpture. It has multiple large arches and layers of exquisitely painted ceilings.
The United States Capitol Building
In 2013 they had completed the visitor center also called Emancipation Hall. This is where you are assigned a tour guide. They also have a number of notable statues on exhibit. It was tough to get photos because the place was pretty packed. I did get one photo of 2 statues. I cropped the people out of the bottom, so you can not see the entirety of the statues, but it is something. The photograph shows the Montana State Statue of Jeannette Rankin and the plaster model of the Statue of Freedom. The bronze version of the Statue of Freedom sits on the top of the capitol dome.
Visitors wear a headset on the tour because there are a lot of people and multiple tours going on at once. The large halls have a loud echo, so it is difficult to hear the tour guide without the headset.
My daughter wearing her headset in the photographs above. The left photo is during our tour in 2008 and the right is from 2013. As you can see the headset fits much better in 2013.
During the tour the tour guide teaches you all about the building from its construction to events thought out the building's long history. The tour goes through 3 main areas: The Rotunda, Statuary Hall and The Crypt. Once again, I created a video of our tour. I go into more detail about it following the video.