This was a museum day--a good thing because the weather was cold and sleeting and miserable. We took a wrong turn coming out of the metro station and spent way too long going the wrong direction in the freezing weather.
We hit the merican History Museum and part of the Natural History Museum. The crowds were insane, and we endured the first of what was to be many, many security lines on this trip. We also learned that food prices at this Smithsonians is outrageous ($60 for burgers and shared fries!)
Honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed by the museums that we saw. Maybe it was partly because the American History Museum is being removated and many of the exhibits were closed. But we have visited many good museums before, and these weren't particularly more impressive.
We were so pooped after a long day of walking that I collapsed into bed by 8:00!
Today we toured the Capitol and the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress is without question, the most stunning building I have ever seen. It is gorgeous. I think I could spend the whole day here, just staring at the architecture. We had arranged for a tour through our congressman, and were booked at the very end of the day. Unfortunately, our docent was very chatty and had not left the first floor more than half-way through our tour time. We were concerned about having enough time to view the other parts of the building, so we abandoned the tour and went exploring on our own like naughty children. This was probably the best decision we made all week, because we would not have had time to take in the breathtaking architecture otherwise.
The Caiptol tour was earlier in the day and brought very long security lines outside in the cold. The tourguide was good, but the tour was disappointingly short. However, the parts of the building that we were allowed to see were beautiful.
My representative had sent us gallery passes, but the House was not in session. The Senate was in session but our Senator required us to come by the office for passes. I would have loved to have Senate gallery passes, but we weren't willing to endure the long, cold security lines again, and we would have been very pressed for time with out Library of Congress passes.
Today we hit the Air and Space Museum. It was the most dramatic of the museums we have seen. It had some really cool artifacts, but we went through that museum fairly quickly, because it duplicated a lot of what we have seen on other trips--particularly to NASA and the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola.
Afterward, the kids went back to the Natural History Museum with DH while I went to the Supreme Court. It was fantastic to sit in the courtroom. There was also a short lecture, but it was really 5th -grade level "how the court system works" Which is apparently needed, based upon the conversation of the people in line behind me who explained to their child that the Supreme Court makes the laws and who could not name the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court while we were standing in the Supreme Court! (I have no faith left in our education system--when we were viewing THE Constitution, one lady asked her kid where John Hancock's signature was, and then huffed off when I told her it was on the Declaration of Independence.)
After I met back up with the family, we headed over to the Washington Monument and viewed the White House, before trekking back to the Metro Station and heading up to the National Zoo for Zoolights. The lights were beautiful, but very few of the animal houses were open, and sadly, we have not seen the pandas.
After a very long day, we headed back to the metro and to our hotel. The kids have all now become metro -riding experts.
We thought we were done for the day, but DH really wanted to get some night shots of the Lincoln Memorial--which was only about a mile from our hotel. So we bundled up and headed out again. Unfortunately, public transportation doesn't get you close to the monuments and war memorials. We only saw the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. The rest will have to wait for a spring or summer trip.
We were pooped from yesterday and tired of museums. We had intended to hit the Spy Museum or the Newseum. We ended up visiting the Mansion on O Street. I'm not sure how to describe this place. It's kind of a hidden, out-of the-way place near Dupont Circle. Four townhouses have been joined together to form the Mansion, which is a hotel/event space/thrift store filled with crazy rooms and secret passages with hidden doors. it is filled with junk from top to bottom, and you can buy anything there. You can also go in any room that is not closed off--I can't imagine staying in a hotel with all kinds of strangers wandering the halls. Anyway, the kids claim it was the most fun they had. The loved seeking out all of the secret doors and hidden passageways and were very disappointed when we told them it was time to leave.
We had a late lunch at Dupont Circle before heading to the National Archives. I had reserved our tour ahead of time, so we were able to go through the fairly short security line instead of the really long security line. Here we saw the Magna Carta, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. This is an absolute must see.
After heading back to dinner in our hotel room, we headed up M street for coffee and cupcakes in Georgetown. A pretty good way to end the day.
Overall, it's been a good trip. I think for a winter trip, we could have gone a couple of days shorter. We'd like to come back when it's warmer and we can enjoy more of the outdoor activities. And of course, there are about a million more museums we could hit.