We went on an AP US History class trip. There were 23 students, 6 parents, and 1 teacher. We walked a total of 34 miles in the 5 days that we were there and we had a fantastic trip. Thanks to all of you that helped with the planning. There were some pretty packed days! We stayed in the Towne Place Suites in Springfield and it was fantastic. We did metro passes but we also rented vans to ride to the metro station and for our Mt. Vernon trip, I am thankful that we did!
We arrived at Arlington National Cemetary for an 8:30 bus tour. We saw Kennedy's grave, The Changing of the Guards, and Lee's house. The tour was great and allowed us to see what we wanted as quickly as possible. Each student had to do a 10 minute talk on one of the sites we were visiting and this turned out to be an excellent plan. The student was able to fill in the blanks about the sites. It is much more interesting to see when you know what you are looking out. We left a few minutes before 11 and headed to the Reagan Center for lunch. It was a food court and we had 30 minutes so not too exciting.
Next, we had a White House tour scheduled so we quickly walked there. The security was very intense and we were still standing in line for over an hour even with our reservation. We were able to see a few rooms and then out. I guess it is fun to say that we went in but not sure if I would do it again, a lot of time for not a lot of reward.
After the White House, we headed to Ford's theater, the museum, and Peterson House. We were a little disappointed that the theater was closed for rehearsal but we still enjoyed our time there. We loved the books that wrapped around the spiral staircase with all of the books ever written about Lincoln...it went up 4 stories!!
We then headed to Union Station for dinner and it was Chipotle for most of us. This group is definitely not a bunch of foodies!! I know that most are saying that this was a long day but we are not finished yet, we are heading to The Kennedy Center for the Rachmaninoff performance. The pianist was AMAZING, I think his name is Matsuev. A great ending to a great day!
We were finally back at the hotel at 11:30..about a 16 hour day. No problem though because Sunday we get to sleep in until 7:30...yikes!
Sunday morning started with The National Archives. Being able to see The Declaration, The Bill of Rights, and The Constitution was great and the presentations by the kids reminded us some of those history points that we had forgotten.
We then went to the Mall where we had a short church service. Lunch was again at the Reagan Center and with less than 30 minutes, it was a struggle! I was surprised that the sandwich place was so slow, seems like they would need to move very quickly during lunch throughout the week.
Next, we went to the Holocaust Museum. this was one thing that I really wanted to do. I thought the museum was incredibly well done and the emotional aspect was expected. One of the main things that struck me was that I knew the impact on the Jews but the impact on all of the other countries and what they went through really touched me. Also, the shoes! This is a museum that I think everyone needs to see!
After that, we went to the Air and Space Museum. We only had a couple of hours there because we wanted to get back before the weather started to get bad. We had dinner at the Silver Diner in Springfield then back for an early night (10..ha,ha).
We were supposed to be up at 5:30 for a long day but 6 inches of snow let me roll back over and sleep until 9:30! Woohoo!! The kids had a study hall for a couple of hours as we waited for the roads to clear. We left about 11:30 for lunch at Chick-Fil-A in Springfield. Most of Washington was closed that day so we headed back to the Air and Space Museum for an IMAX film on the Hubble, very fascinating and I really enjoyed it. It was so crowded because nothing else was open so we left and went to the National Portrait Gallery.
We had not planned on going to the NPG but I am so thankful that things worked out where we could. It was probably my favorite museum and I loved the MLK room! The paintings that looked like photos were incredible! We headed back to the hotel, ordered pizza, and had anther study hall. It was a good day despite the bad weather.
We left at 8:30 and arrived at Mt. Vernon at around 9. We started the video but it broke down. We walked outside for our tour that was supposed to start at 10. For some reason, they didn't have our reservation. It took them about 3 minutes to get us a guide and she was amazing! When she took us to the tomb, they even let our seniors do a wreath ceremony! Very cool!! The assistant manager also took us down in the cellar for the National Treasures Tour. They went above and beyond what they needed to do for the mistake but it made for a wonderful morning! We had lunch on the estate, walked through the museum and headed to the American History Museum. I am sure that many of you guys liked this one but, as most of our group was women and girls, this was definitely not our favorite. Then, off to Union Station for dinner. Chipotle probably got tired of us!
After dinner, we headed back to the mall to hit some monuments. This was one of the highlights. We saw WWII, Lincoln, and the Vietnam. Loved them all!! Each monument had a presentation by a student and it was really great to learn more about each of them. We also walked to the White House for night pictures. After about 9 miles that day, we were ready to head back to the hotel.
Our last day...we started at the Supreme Court then on to the National Gallery of Art. We had a docent at the gallery and I think that this made our time there more enjoyable. Four of the students also gave presentations on four different artists so that also helped us understand the meaning behind some of the paintings. We had lunch in the basement of the gallery...expensive and not very impressive!
Next, we were scheduled for a Capitol tour so we headed over there. At 10,000 people/day, they are very good at getting people through. It felt a bit rushed but we did enjoy it. After our tour ended, we had about 4 minutes to get to our LOC tour so we quickly made our way through the tunnel..that was very nice as we did not have to go through security again. The LOC tour was on The March of Washington...very informative and very enjoyable. We then had a few minutes to do see the Gutenberg Bible and the library itself. A beautiful building and seeing Jefferson's collection was great!
We were going to hit a few more monuments but it was raining so we decided a relaxed dinner was what we needed. We headed back to Springfield and to the Silver Diner again. We made it back to the hotel by 10, had a short worship service, then sent everyone to pack.
We left the hotel at about 8 to head back to Baltimore for our flight out. Super Shuttle handled our transfer to and from the airport, that worked out great and they were very friendly.
I was surprised at how wonderful all of the guided tours were...even the free ones and most were free! It was obvious that the people loved the history of D.C. and loved to share it with others. I was amazed at the cleanliness of the city and of the metro, that made for a great trip! I loved D.C. and can't wait to return. Thanks again for all of your help during the planning stage!
Washington, D.C. trip report...
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