Washington, D.C.

Walking-tour mecca of the USA, Washington D.C. was simply breathtaking! Matthew had been before, so he was a wonderful tour guide (despite his grumpiness about the crowds and traffic – what a country boy), but the boys and I had never been, so we were amazed every single day. Here is a list of what we were able to see. We know we missed heaps, and we definitely plan to visit again one day before our time on the road is finished, but it’ll probably be at least a decade from now before we choose to go back into that kind of traffic.

Memorials and Monuments: (free admission to all)

20150416_134109Washington Monument – You can’t miss this one; it’s basically the tallest thing around, and it’s absolutely breathtaking. We weren’t patient enough to do the tour to the top, but we were pretty happy just to touch the outside and see it from the bottom.


Lincoln Memorial – This was my favorite oIMG_20150416_151329ne of all. Not only is the statue gigantic, but the memorial in itself is tremendous, as are the speeches chiseled into the stone walls. We visited twice and stayed a long time, but honestly it’s the one memorial I can’t stop thinking about. Truly something to see and to feel. 


20150417_123057Arlington National Cemetery –
Who would want to visit a cemetery for fun? Well, we would, and as it happens, thousands of others every single day as well. As sobering as the memorials have been for us, this was the most impacting of all. The fact that you can’t see the end of the number of small white g20150417_125447raves is a reminder of the high price of our freedom, especially since this number doesn’t even begin to touch the actual number of people who have served our country. This is also where we were able to see JFK’s Gravesite, Robert E. Lee’s House, and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Yes, lots of people talk about the Changing of the Guard as something to see, but actually seeing it makes me proud to be an American. There’s just something about the Honor Guard – the discipline, the respect, the focus.


20150421_120211Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial – As proud Georgians we simply could not come to DC and miss this memorial. The huge stone statue is impressive enough, but what really moved me were the quotes etched on the walls. I couldn’t help but thank God for the words of wisdom He sent us through MLK. My little sociologist heart was at home, and I took so many pictures. 



Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial – We happened upon this one quite by accident while walking to the Jefferson, but when I saw the statue of Eleanor20150421_124235 Roosevelt I had to stop. In the 4th grade every student in my class chose their favorite Famous American, dressed like them for one day and wrote a speech about them that we delivered to the entire school. I chose Eleanor Roosevelt, and although I couldn’t have known it at the time, she has been an incredible influence on me over the years. How fun to be able to see a memorial honoring her and FDR and the part they both played in our nation’s progress towards human rights.


20150421_131032Thomas Jefferson Memorial – You have to be pretty committed to get to this one since it’s not really on the Mall, but it’s definitely worth the time. While it’s not quite as impressive as the Lincoln, it holds heaps of wise words that formed our nation. I’m glad we found our way.


IMG_20150416_150941Albert Einstein Memorial – I had a friend mention this one to me as something that is often overlooked but completely worth the effort to find, and we completely agree. This larger-than-life figure of Albert Einstein with his floppy pants and signature sandals is so cute. The kids crawled on it for nearly an hour, which was a nice break for us parents.


USMC 20150417_135018Marines Memorial – This one is located just off of Arlington Cemetery, so it was quite a walk but completely worth it. On the surface it might just be one large monument of a few brave men, but the honor it conveys really makes it worth the time to see. I left thinking that we aren’t nearly thankful enough for our freedom.



The White House – Our little Malachi has been looking forward to seeing the White House for so long, and even though we didn’t get to go inside for a tour, he wanted to know if he needed to wear a coat and tie in case the President came out. What a great reflection of respect for our nation’s leadership. He didn’t wear the coat and tie, mainly because he didn’t have one, and the President didn’t come out, but we were evacuated due to a threat, so at least we got a little close to something exciting, right?


20150420_215829The Capitol Building – We had too much on the agenda this time to schedule a tour, but thanks to our gracious driving tour guide (aka. Daddy/Matthew) we were able to see the Capitol Building at night. I can’t wait until they get finished with the remodel and remove all of the scaffolding!



20150416_143828Korean War Memorial – Matthew’s grandfather served as a Marine in the Korean Conflict and was awarded the bronze star, so this memorial meant a lot to us. It wasn’t a big memorial, but with the statues of the troops in their gear, it was very meaningful.


 20150416_145040Vietnam War Memorial – Here we were able to see a family receive an etching of their relative’s name from the wall. It left me with the impression that far too often we look at the thousands of names on a memorial like this and neglect to realize that each one was one person – one human – one life, and each one left behind a family. Sobering.


IMG_20150416_211400World War II Memorial – Built in 2004, this is one of the newer memorials, and it is truly impressive. It’s amazing how reading about a war and seeing a memorial built in honor of those who fought in it can be so different and can bring such a different revelation of truth to one’s soul. I could even see the new revelation on the faces of our little guys.

 Navy Memorial – With numerous stone sculptures set in picture form, this one was really more like a work of art than a memorial. Simply beautiful. 

Presidential Park – Unfortunately, renovations are under way in Presidential Park, so it wasn’t much to see this week. We’ll have to go back next time. 

National Art Garden – This wasn’t really on our list of attractions to visit, but we happened upon it and found it completely charming. The extra large works of art were pretty impressive, and we especially liked the optical illusion house that moved with you – so creepy!


Museums: (free admission to all)

IMG_20150417_165456Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – Our little guys absolutely loved this museum. The space shuttles, astronaut suits, airplanes, and missiles were so large and numerous that it was like our eyes weren’t big enough to take it all in. There was even an entire room devoted to the Wright Brothers plane! And they had a paper airplane-flying contest for the kids! I had heard that the Smithsonian museums were really more than you could do in a day, and after visiting this one as our first, I have to agree. There is just so much to read and see and do that our brains went into overload pretty quickly and we just started walking around silently in amazement.



20150419_124503Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – This was my favorite Smithsonian, mainly because of the giant ocean exhibits and the animals (stuffed, of course). Unfortunately, though, we ventured to this one on a Sunday, thinking it would mean smaller crowds, but actually the crowds were the worst we saw all week! We didn’t even come close to seeing everything, so we’ll have to come back for sure.


20150417_144151Smithsonian National Museum of American History – Here we saw the original flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, Julia Child’s kitchen, a piece of Plymouth Rock, and Benjamin Franklin’s walking stick, among heaps of other treasures from America’s history. We also saw one of the first campers (called trailers back then) and read about those crazy “trailerites” who bucked social norms by traveling around the country in their trailers, picking up stakes whenever they wanted. Made me wonder what the plaque will say when they put one of our Airstreams in a museum one day!



National Holocaust Memorial Museum – Knowing our little guys weren’t quite ready for this one, I went alone, and although I have read a good bit about the Holocaust over the years, I learned things I didn’t know and I was deeply moved by what I saw. In the end I left the museum with two questions on my heart: What will I do to stop this from happening again? and Why do I ever complain about anything when others have suffered so greatly? When others are still suffering so greatly? My life will be lived more intentionally because of this experience, and I pray I never forget it.


Lodging:  Greenbelt National Park CampgroundCall us cheap, but this park was only $16/night, which was the absolute best deal we could find. There weren’t any hookups at all on the campsites, but with our solar panels and the newly acquired skill of speed-showering, we were pretty comfortable.


Parking and Transportation:  We simply can’t forget to mention that we tried every way possible, with the exception of hitch-hiking, to get into downtown D.C. for the least money possible. Our best solution was to drive down to one of the cheaper parking lots on the fringe and then use an Uber driver to get us downtown. Here’s just an idea of how much we saved this way: The first day there was a parade in town, which we didn’t realize would be so cumbersome until we drove downtown, so we spent 2 hours driving around in traffic searching for parking. Then we drove back to our campground and took the Metro, which for all 4 of us roundtrip (off-peak) was $33. The second day we drove to Arlington and parked in their deck for $12, and paid 2 Uber drivers around $5 each (with coupon) to take us in and out of downtown, making the total for Day 2 around $22 (a savings of $11 from Day 1). On Day 3 we all woke up exhausted, so we stayed at the campground and paid $0 for transport. On Day 4, we tried to park in a public deck downtown but were turned away because we had a grill in our covered truck bed (weird). So we parked at the deck at Arlington again (just $7 because our time was short due to a little one’s headache) and took another Uber to and from the museum downtown (just $2 for both with discount) for a total of $9 for the day. On Day 5, little Malachi was fighting a fever, so we stayed at the campground, and on Day 6, we went straight to Arlington and paid $12 to park, walked to the memorials and got just one Uber driver back to our truck ($0 with discount) for a total of $12 for the day.

Overall, I’m so glad we were Washington, D.C. tourists for a week, but I have to say that I definitely won’t miss the traffic and huge crowds. Now it’s time to get back to the great outdoors!






  1. Betsy Greene

    Looks like you did great.
    Next time the National Zoo and the Marine Corps Museum at Quantico on your way 95 south out of town. Manassas Battlefield is great with a self driving tour. Traffic out that way not bad mid day.
    Small camp ground called not to far south of MT Vernon (Washingtons home) on Rt 1 called Pohick bay. Nice little place. We have camped there.
    We lived there 15 yrs and didn’t get to do it all. So full of history! Now drop down and do Colonial Williamsburg 3 hours south. my kids keep asking to go back there!
    Blessings and safety!

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