When the opportunity to go to D.C. for an afternoon while visiting Virginia came up I was a little hesitant. With the traffic and parking it seemed like a lot of work for little reward but I haven’t visited since I was 13. Hey, life’s all about adventure, right?
We arrived on Sunday morning and found street parking on Constitution Avenue right away. We were pretty far from the Mall but if we walked towards it we would be able to passively visit the monuments without actually going inside them.
It was about 90 degrees out and we were determined to get to air conditioned museums. Truthfully the walk became much of the adventure. We passed the White House (from a distance), the Washington Monument, the World War II memorial, and was able to see the Capitol Building (is it just me, or is it ALWAYS under construction?) The actual museum structures were a sight to be seen as well. The African American Museum which is still under construction was covered in a metal lace work that was stunning.
Small but elaborate gardens seemed to be everywhere. At first we past right by them but then we realized many of them were filled with modern art sculptures. Some had gloriously refreshing fountains that many tourists sat and cooled their feet in.
The museums opened at 10am and though the line to get in went down the palatial staircase, the bag check was a quick and efficient 5 minute wait. Besides, I can deal with a small wait for a free museum. We felt no pressure to linger for hours in each museum. We strolled through, hitting what interested us most, participating in some of the interactive exhibits with virtually no wait time and left to see the highlights of the neighboring free museum.
We were able to stop by the Air and Space Museum, the American Indian Museum, and the Smithsonian Museum of History with a break for lunch in between.
1) Bring a good picnic lunch to eat on the Mall. If you are a people watcher this is the place to be. From foreign visitors, Segway riding tourists to peaceful protesters and football games, it was an interesting mixed bag. My son actually said it was one of his favorite parts of the trip. So many people from different cultures in a beautiful setting….amazing.
2) Water, water, water! Just consider D.C. The intellect’s version of Disneyland. Lots of places to visit and $3.95 water bottles. LOL!
3) Street parking is available in some areas on the weekend. Go early (9am) and stroll a bit before the museums open.
4) try to visit for 2 days. I’m already planning my next visit and what to hit. The Art Museums, the monuments, more gardens….it could take a few days