When Your Buddy Moves to Washington DC, You Visit
Nothing is more educational and historical than a trip to Washington D.C. So, when a buddy of mine moved there this winter to start a new job on Capitol Hill, I decided to pay him a visit. Thankfully, by the time I arrived some local DC movers specializing in residential moves had already moved everything into his 3rd story apartment, so no work was needed on my part. When I got to town, I unhitched the Airstream at an RV park on the outskirts of town and spent a week exploring his new neighborhood in Alexandria, with frequent trips into DC to explore the famous landmarks. Here were the highlights of my trip:
1. The White House
If you are a political buff, the White House is a must-see. While everyone can stand outside the fence and look in, there are also free tours available. We scheduled ours a couple months in advance since they operate on a first come first serve basis. If you’re lucky you can even see members of the President’s Cabinet or legislators visiting on important business.
2. The Lincoln Memorial
Built in honor of our 16th and tallest President of the United States, the Lincoln Memorial sits at the west end of the National Mall overlooking the expansive Reflecting Pool. Strong Abe sits proudly in his chair, gazing on the future of our country. There are two urban legends based on the statue: the first of these purports that General Robert E. Lee is carved on the back of Abe’s head, and the second suggests that the statue’s hands sign the words A and L to represent the president’s initials. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!
3. Any of the Smithsonian Museums
Nineteen museums and galleries make up the Smithsonian Museums. You could spend years wandering through these museums and still not see everything there is to see. There is so much to learn at any one of these museums and so many interesting things to see that I spent 3 days exploring their halls. My personal favorites were the Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and the newly unveiled African American History and Culture Museum.
4. International Spy Museum
For a fun afternoon excursion, head down to the International Spy Museum. Learn all about the secret world of espionage, hear about the history, and see the tools of the trade. Perhaps you will even get to go on a top-secret mission yourself!
5. The National Mall
The National Mall refers to the park that lies between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol building. The Washington Monument sits right in the middle, just south of the White House. You don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate and enjoy this park; it’s truly a must see for any Washington DC tourist. If you go during the spring, you may be lucky enough to see the cherry blossoms bloom. Take a tour or simple enjoy a picnic on the grass. No matter what you are doing or when you go, the National Mall is a sight to see.
6. National Zoological Park
Who doesn’t love a zoo? The National Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country and one of the best. Their most famous residents are the giant pandas (see the videocam of BeiBei here), but the zoo is also home to over 300 different species. Plus, admission is free! Whether you are traveling with your family or solo, like me, the National Zoo is fun for everyone.
Exploring DC is an unforgettable experience that every American should strive to do at least once in their lives. From here, I’m headed out for a week of solitude (and work) in the Shenandoah National Park.