KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson.. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.
It is impossible to see everything that Washington DC has to offer in one, two or even three trips. The number of museums and historical monuments is simply overwhelming. Our family recently took a trip to DC and here are a few of our tips and highlights to maximize your time.
The best way to get around DC is by metro or bus. The first thing you will want to do is buy a SmarTrip card which you can load up for rides on the Metro or bus. A great way to get around the national mall is by city bus known as the DC circulator. For one dollar, the bus will take you to most of the major sites including the Smithsonian museums and monuments.
For a more in-depth visit to the city, our family would recommend taking the BigBus Washington DC It is a hop-on hop-off bus service that has three routes. We took all three routes and felt we had a much better appreciation of the city. The bus routes are enhanced by audio guides that give an explanation of the sites.
Most people visit DC for all the great museums. All of the Smithsonian museums are free and most do not need any advance reservations. We made it to the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. Both museums could warrant an entire day on their own.
We decided to also visit two museums that had an admission fee since they looked so interesting. We started at the Spy Museum which aptly covers all things about spies. The museum presented the material in a fun and hands-on manner making it accessible for all ages. By the end of the visit, I didn’t know who might be watching me!
The second museum we checked out was the Newseum. As you might imagine, the Newseum is all about all things news and how the news is reported. Outside the museum, a visitor is greeted by cover stories from newspapers around the United States and the world. We started our visit by checking out the Berlin Wall display. The exhibit has the largest unaltered portion of the wall outside of Germany. It was a great introduction for our son, David, to history before he was born.
We then moved on to the terrace that gave a stunning view of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Capital building. The day we visited, there was a vibrant bbq festival taking place on the Avenue reminding us that DC is a city outside of just museums and politics.
Other highlights of the Newseum included the Pulitizer Prize Photographs Gallery and the News Corporation News History gallery that gave a chronological overview of how we have collected and shared the news through the centuries.
I would recommend the museum for adults and older children who are interested in current events. David is interested in history and politics thus the Newseum was a perfect fit.
One last tip I will share is eating in the U.S. capital. Near the national mall and the Smithsonian museums, it can be difficult to find an abundance of restaurants. Most museums do have food options but we did not try any. We really liked going to Union Station which is a completely remodelled train station. It has many food and shopping choices plus, it has the splendour of a turn-of-the-century train station.
A great place to start any trip-planning for Washington DC is at Destination DC: www.washington.org
David received assistance from Destination DC for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.