A Family Trip to Washington, D.C., Part 18: Day 5 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 fourth day in D.C..  This week I will continue with the events of our fifth day in the city, a Sunday.

Since this day was a Sunday, there were a few things not open. We also knew the crowds would probably be larger at many of the more popular venues. Our trip had already consisted of a few long days of walking and battling crowds, too. Knowing these things, we chose our locations carefully. We wanted to be able to spend a majority of the day in one location to minimize the walking. It would also give us the freedom to take a meal break when we needed a reprieve from the crowds.

So, what did our only Sunday in D.C. look like?

dc day 5 with kids budget

As we said in an earlier post in this series, attending church while on vacation is something we make a point of doing. Church is an important part of our life when we are at home, and we do not like to “vacate” it when we are away. Not only does it satisfy our spiritual needs, it gives us a chance to meet people. Real people, not people paid to interact with tourists.

Our church visit was like everything else on this trip. Planned. We researched the churches in our synod around Washington D.C.. We eliminated some due to size and service style. Others were eliminated due to service times. We wanted a service that was close to what we are used to. Once we had it narrowed down to a couple choices we spent some time on their websites to see which one would work the best. We selected the one that seemed to fit us the best and finalized out plans.

The service was pretty much what we expected it to be. The people, however, were even friendlier than we expected. Several people wanted to know where we were from, and why we were there. We met some people who were familiar with our area. One had lived a few hours away for several years. Another had a sibling that lived not too far away. They had almost as many questions for us about our home as we had for them about D.C..

The National Museum of American History:
This place was like heaven on earth for Melissa. She looked like a kid in a candy store the entire time we were there. The entire half-day. The museum is so massive, it is hard figure out where to start. In order to engage the children from the start we downloaded the “American Girl” guide through the museum from the museum’s website. It allowed us to place the variety of American Girl dolls in their historical surroundings around the museum. It was an interesting way to tour the facility. Another fun download we found is “The 39 Clues”. It is geared towards kids, but was fun for Melissa and me as well.

Since I live in a house full of girls, we needed to take a stroll through the Hall of First Ladies (and their gowns). They seemed to enjoy that a lot. They also enjoyed the area that contained many of the television related items, like the Count from Sesame Street, and a pair of ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz. It was the second pair of slippers we have seen. We also saw a pair on display at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN a few years ago.

There were too many presidential items to count, but I was surprised by the sizes (big and small) of many of the articles of clothing. Along with the immense collection of presidential items was an even larger array of historical military items. The strangest: General Sheridan’s horse Winchester. Yes, the entire horse from over 100 years ago. Taxidermied. The kids thought it was gross. The “Price of Freedom” area was a fascinating, and less gross, walk through the military history of the U.S.. It was a somber reminder that our freedoms have not come without a price. The other item in the museum that really struck me was the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the Star Spangled Banner.

What areas of the museum did I like that the rest of my family could have passed on? I found the “Americans on the Move” exhibit very interesting. Boats, trucks, buses, cars, and the like throughout history. That’s my kind of stuff. The “Powered Machinery” room was filled with engines, motors, turbines, and may other means of locomotion. I also could have spent way more time there than the rest of my family.

We spent over half a day walking through this building, and I think we could have spent another half. There was so much to see and take in. Since we had the kids with, Melissa and I cut short some of the exhibits so they would net get too bored. Overall, I think there is a display for almost everything in the museum. In fact, the catalog of items is so long they even have a display devoted to different varieties of toasters!


Ford’s Theater:
The Ford’s Theater tour is something Melissa and I wanted to do. However, while doing our research we found that it is not suitable for children under the age of 8 or so. While the tour would have been interesting, we did not feel it was worth the possible ramifications. There are concessions you can make if bringing smaller children on the tour, but at the cost it did not seem worth it.

With that said, we did walk from the national mall to Ford’s Theater. The walk brought us past many wonderful and historic buildings. It also brought us through an area familiar to the transient crowd of Washington D.C.. It was a learning experience for the kids. Thankfully it was the middle of the afternoon, so their education was well lit.

Once we found the theater, which was relatively easy using the National Mall app, we wandered around the area and the gift shop. We were able to see the theater and the Petersen house, which is where Lincoln actually died. We had studied the theater’s fateful events for school, so it was nice to put the actual buildings and layout into our mental pictures. While we did not take the tour, it was definitely worth the walk for us to see the theater and the surrounding buildings. For those, like us, that do not take the tour, the Ford’s Theater website has some good information about the theater. There is even a virtual tour. Click on the picture below to go to the website and learn all about the historic building.

virtual tour

Have you traveled to Washington D.C. with your family? What were their favorite things to do?