A Family Trip to Washington, D.C., Part 16: Day 3 in the City

In case you missed the first few posts in this series, we are chronicling our family trip to Washington D.C.  The first post in the series is here.  You can find the rest under the travel menu on our main page.   Last week I reviewed what we saw and did on our second day in D.C..  This week I will continue on with the events of our third day in the city.

Like last week, I am going to start this post reviewing smartphone apps that may be useful to you for the sights covered in today’s post. This week there is only one new app. Arlington National Cemetery has a helpful app available that allows you to search and find any gravesite on the premises. That may sound morbid, but the sheer size of the cemetery is daunting to even think of finding a specific headstone without the app. We did not have anyone in particular we were looking for, but the little I used the app I found it to be easy to navigate and understand. The only other app we used on this day’s adventures was the National Mall app I covered in our last post.

As you can tell, we visited Arlington National Cemetery on day three, but what else did we see? We stayed away from the traditional museums on this day after spending the previous one almost exclusively at “grown up” venues. We spent most of our day outside exploring many of the monuments on the mall. The closest thing to a museum that we went to was the International Spy Museum. It is not the traditional museum and the kids were excited. Very excited.

washington dc day 3 with kids

The International Spy Museum:

The kids (and adults) enjoyed this stop. There were a ton of interactive things for the kids to get their hands on. Since the museum is geared towards kids, and kids at heart, the entire visit was a multisensory experience. There was a portion of ductwork you could crawl though and try your hand at listening in on conversations. There were several communication devices to touch and use. Scale models of cities with spy tunnels and checkpoints were on display.

A large portion of the items on display were from the Cold War, which should be no surprise. It was, after all, the time period where spying became fashionable. Even with age, you could tell the items on exhibit were cutting edge for the time. Cameras and weapons hidden in umbrellas and pens. Fake logs and dog droppings used to transfer hidden objects from one spy to another. We even learned about the art of marking mailboxes. We learned several new things during our time there. Things very useful to our everyday lives.

There was a “family mission” we downloaded and played while we were there as well. The kids had fun with it. It also gave a reason for them to read some of the displays a little more carefully. The museum also features rotating special exhibits from time to time. The special display when we were there was villians from the Bond movies. While the kids thought it was fun, they were not familiar with who any of the people were. Our six-year old’s favorite part of the display was the large touchscreen that when touched would make sharks charge the screen and appear to attack you. She thought it was a hoot to scare everyone who walked by.

dc spy museum with kids
Click on the picture to access the family mission guide

Washington Mall Memorials:

The Washington Mall app was able to provide a good deal of information about the variety of memorials we visited on day three. There is also a tremendous amount of information and pictures available on the monuments available on the internet, so I won’t spend too much time on them. I will only give brief summaries.

The war memorials were great. The list of names on the Vietnam wall was humbling. So many people paid the ultimate price. The Korean War and World War II memorials were beautifully crafted and paid tribute to all the countries and states that fought as allies for freedom. The three combined in an afternoon were a reminder of why our country is so wonderful.

We were familiar with the Lincoln memorial from television and books. It was what we expected and then some. The Lincoln statue was even bigger than we were prepared for. It dwarfed our kids as they stood in front of it. The reflecting pond was drained while we were there, so that changed the look a little. Otherwise it was everything we hoped it would be.

The Washington monument was also larger than expected. When standing at the base on the monument and looking up, it appears the monument goes on forever. One note of caution for people who wish to go up inside the monument: plan in advance. You can reserve tour times online several months before your visit. They only open a certain number of spots each day for reservation, so you may have to work at it a bit. If you have no success in reserving a spot in advance, you can show up right away in the morning any day and try and get one of the other spots that way. This line is first come, first serve, so there is no guarantee you will get a spot. We were not able to get a spot, but have heard it is fun to go inside.

orean ware memorial

Arlington National Cemetery:

What an emotional experience. The place is enormous, and eerily quiet. Walking through the cemetery after looking at the war memorials only doubled its impact. Even the kids were slightly overwhelmed by the experience. While we were there, we were able to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We arrived at Arlington late enough in the day that we were not able to tour the entire facility. It would have been fun to see General Lee’s cabin along with many other things in the cemetery. We will have to see that on our next trip. While we could not see everything, we did walk through as much of it as we could. Most of the headstones are the white ones you see in pictures, but there are also a large number of elaborate monuments and memorials. I would encourage anyone visiting Washington D.C. to spend some time at Arlington. It puts into perspective the rights and freedoms we have.

arligton cemetery dc kids

Overall, this day was exhausting. Both emotionally and physically. We spent a considerable amount of time at the various war memorials and Arlington. We also walked over 13 miles. This combination led to a quiet train ride home, and an arduous 3 block walk to the house. After a good meal, a little relaxing, and double checking our plans for tomorrow, it was time for a good night’s rest.

God bless all those who have served our country and protected our freedoms! We at Team Made Family give a heart-felt thank you.