D.C. in 4 Hours: Walking the National Mall

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We only had about four hours to spend exploring Washington D.C. and we were traveling by foot the entire time. According to my pedometer, we put in over 10,000 steps in D.C. mostly just walking the National Mall. We fully intend to come back to D.C. and stay for a weekend at least so that we can do it right because there is so much we didn’t get to see. That said, we had a great time.

Map it: If you are planning a trip to D.C. I recommend looking over a map of the area, especially the National Mall, and figure out what you and your family want to see most. We walked the mall and saw the Washington Monument, The World War II Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and everything in between.

We also briefly visited the Smithsonian Castle and even more briefly walked through The Natural History Museum (sadly just as a way to cut across the street and be in air conditioning for a few minutes). If we’d had more time, I would have spent the whole day exploring all the different Smithsonian Museums which are all FREE!

Pro tip: If you don’t have all day, I recommend hitting the Smithsonian Castle which has lots of mini exhibits from all the other museums, giving you a taste of all the museums in a fraction of the time.

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1 – sitting in front of the Lincoln Memorial 2 – Standing in front of the Washington Monument 3 – Reading names on the Vietnam War Memorial 4 – Admiring the Washington Monument from afar 5 – The infamous Lincoln Memorial statue!

The kids were such troopers that day, keeping up with us as we eagerly walked the mall to see all the different memorials. Dan and MM were really impressed with the Washington Monument – Dan was marveling at how the bricks on the monument are actually a slightly different color almost halfway up as they ran out of money building it and had to regroup. My favorite thing was definitely the Lincoln Memorial which I’d looked forward to finally seeing after the first day of our trip. I think BB most liked the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, not that she understood the importance of it. She honestly just liked the pretty reflections.

The in between moments:

Aside from all the big exciting things we saw, here were some of our smaller moments and memories of Washington DC.

1. We parked outside of the city and took a train into D.C. The hardest part of this process was trying to find the ideal train station to park at. Most of the cities around D.C. are quite urban and the first one we went to was both difficult to navigate and kindaaa sketchy. Another reason to just get a hotel in D.C. proper next time?

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2. By the time we walked the length of the National Mall and got to the Lincoln Memorial, BB was absolutely exhausted and not happy about the crowds either. She needed a time out before we continued walking and I was worried that we’d pressed our luck walking the whole way. Luckily she perked up and we all made it back to the train station in one piece! Bring water bottles and stay hydrated or consider getting tickets for one of those tour buses.

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3. There was a random piece of fencing in the reflecting pool and ducks were hanging out around it. While I marveled at how absolutely normal the city was with all the same amounts of construction, disarray and litter that you’d find in any major city, BB simply thought it was a bridge that she should walk on so she could go say hi to the ducks. She was very disappointed when I refused!

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4. After leaving the Vietnam Memorial, we kept walking to see the White House. We were coming from behind but had been hopeful for a good view. This was about as good as the view got. If we’d had any semblance of energy at all, we might have tried to walk around and see the front but we were low on energy and time and had to settle for this view and keep walking for the train station.

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5. Most of our pictures on this trip obviously were of the kids but MM did offer to take this picture of Dan and I so that we could be in a picture, too. I think it came out really good!

It was a long day with a lot of walking and a few moments of disappointment – mostly when we realized how little we’d actually have time to see, but we enjoyed our afternoon in D.C. and can’t wait to go back and see everything else!

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Top 5 Tuesday: Places I’ve Got To Check Out, Before I Check Out…

This week’s theme is places you want to see before you die, or as John Mayer and I would so eloquently put it, “these are the last things I’ve got to check out, before I check out…” or something like that anyway. So you know my wanderlust knows no limits and I’m sure I won’t do this list justice, but regardless, here they are folks – the top five locations on my To Be Seen list in likely no particular order:

  1. Canada – let’s start small, right? I think it’s absurd that I’ve moved over ten times in my life and have gone as far as Germany, but I’ve never been to Canada. I’m a New Englander for Pete’s Sake! I’m hoping to remedy that next summer with a camping trip to Jellystone Park.
  2. Paris – I want to travel throughout as much of Europe as possible but Paris seems like the most logical place for me to consider a Must See in Europe – after all, I’ve taken ten years of French lessons and though I wouldn’t claim to speak the language, I think I’d fare better there than anywhere. And it’s the city of love! And desserts!
  3. Washington State – My mother lives there. I’d like to meet her before I die (the last time I saw her I was too young to remember it, so I’m thinking it doesn’t count). It just doesn’t seem right that I can’t claim to have met my own mother while she is living and breathing and I know where she is. If it weren’t for the cost of gas / air fare / time, I’d be remedying this pronto. And I hope to do it sooner than later.
  4. A Cruise Ship – I really don’t care which one, except I’d like for the cost to be reasonable, the amenities to be nice and also reasonably priced and for it to be fun with plenty of layovers and sight seeing. I’d love to go on a European River Cruise or this other fun one that goes from Maine to somewhere in Canada and looks all quaint and actually interests my husband. DH says we have to test the extent of my sea sickness before he’ll pay for a real cruise. I guess that makes sense.
  5. Washington DC – Why not round it out there? I want to see the White House and all those other important places where important decisions are made. I can’t help it, I’m a nerd.

I know this list doesn’t look terribly exciting. I mean, I also want to see Japan, India, New Zealand, Chile, Brazil, Nigeria, whatever. But those are all, “Wouldn’t it be funs?” as opposed to my top 5 which are more, “Really, if I can’t even accomplish these things, what can I really say about the quality of my life?” They are the more likely to happen and important to me as opposed to the dreamer side of me.

What 5 places would you most like to see before you die? To see other bloggers’ bucket list checking out to check out posts, just head over to Supernanny Where Are You.