Wednesday, August 31, 2022

1 Day In DC


Three years ago, we spent a few days in DC hitting all of the spots. When we left, we made a list of what we wanted to do in the area as the kids aged. One of our top places for our next visit was the African American History Museum. Well, we didn't go there. All museums in DC are currently timed tickets only (a Covid era thing) and we couldn't get advanced tickets to that museum. I didn't want to chance it and wait for the day-of tickets to go on sale because then we could have been stuck in DC with zero museums to visit. 

Instead, we booked tickets for the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the International Spy Museum. We were staying an hour north of the city in Frederick, so we had an early wake up call to drive into DC. I was unsure about morning traffic, but the drive took less than an hour. I found an all day parking spot for $23 via SpotHero. This actually made it cheaper to drive into the city than to take public transportation. We still walked over 8 miles that day, as once we were by the National Mall, we couldn't pass up the chance to walk around.

I feel wrong saying we enjoyed the Holocaust Museum, but we did. Yes, we cried. Yes, it was very heavy. Yes, I almost threw up at a couple of points as I drew correlations between today's political climate in America and the same climate leading up WW2 and the Holocaust. I also learned. There were things I never knew happened and things that made me sick. We were worried our kids wouldn't be old enough for this Museum, but they proved us wrong. The boys, ages fourteen and twelve, actually spent the most time at each exhibit. The twelve year old did an in-depth WW2 study his fifth grade year homeschooling, so there wasn't a lot of new information for him, but he was able to put together things he had learned with what the exhibits were teaching us. Even the ten year old got into certain parts of the museum and the gravity of the Holocaust wasn't lost on her. That said, some visitors had younger kids that used the museum as a playground. I don't recommend this museum for younger kids.

Top: Each visitor was given a booklet that had information about a person that lived during the Holocaust. Bottom: Look up The Night of Broken Glass. Pictured are the stolen Tanakh from synagogues on this night.

As we learned last time, there's no great food options on the National Mall. You have to walk a bit to get to the good restaurants. We love the Adams Morgan neighborhood for good food, but that's not an easy walk from the Mall. Instead, we chose to walk to The Wharf and have a late lunch along the river. Shake Shack won out for the meal. I didn't love it, but the rest of the family loved the food. The Wharf wasn't busy on a Monday during lunchtime, which was surprising, but I appreciated the calmness of the area. 

After lunch, we had tickets to the International Spy Museum. This one has been on my list for eighteen years, so I was beyond excited to try it out. While the exhibits are neat, the coolest thing about this Museum is how interactive it is. At the beginning, you receive a badge and a secret identity. Throughout the Museum, there are places to do activities, go through real missions used by spies (the most interesting being the mission that killed Osama bin Laden), and use "spy accessories." The minis thoroughly enjoyed themselves, learned about the spy world, and asked to return as soon as we were done (mostly so that they can get new spy identities and missions to go through). The Spy Museum is not a free museum, as many are in DC, but it was worth every penny.

To end our night, we got bubble teas and ice cream from an ice cream truck (they were surprisingly good) and walked around the National Mall and Potomac Park. The two things we didn't get to do on our last visit was go to the U.S. Capitol and see the MLK Memorial. Sitting on the Capitol steps felt a little bit sweeter and the MLK memorial hit differently after our Civil Rights Trail trip (read about that here). 

I went to take a picture of us all walking down the sidewalk and that's when I discovered that zero family members were following me due to issues with ice cream spilling all over hands (which I anticipated would happen). At least I had my banana bubble tea to keep me calm.

Hubs and I had to figure out the parking meter situation at Potomac Park, so we sent the minis over to a food truck to get bottles of water. They're making good money when they charge $3 per water bottle! The middle mini and I love willow trees. We took a minute to walk under the willows along the Potomac River before we realized they were filled with bats. I booked it away from the trees for fear of a bat getting caught in my curls!

It wasn't lost on us how a day as the one we had wouldn't have been possible even two years ago. Not because of Covid, but simply because of the kids aging and maturing. Sometimes I miss those little voices, but this big kid phase we're in is pretty awesome. Traveling has gotten so much easier and much more enjoyable. Sometimes it takes us enjoying every minute of a long, fourteen hour day in DC to realize it.