10 Reasons You’ll Love Learning in Washington DC

| October 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

In honor of the election season and the spirit of patriotism I thought I’d  share about Washington DC, my all time favorite destination for educational travel.

Washington DC National Mall

Washington DC National Mall

If you have never been to Washington DC, I’d recommend adding it to your list of top destinations for Traveling with Purpose.  I’ve been there twice and would love to live closer, so I could go there on a regular basis. In fact, my husband and I have talked about moving to the east coast just so we could visit there on weekends.

Here are just a few of the reasons that you’ll love America’s capitol too!

  1. DC is Dripping with History – now I’m not a history buff like my husband, whose favorite reading material is the biography of a past president.  And I can’t even say that I enjoy reading a lot about history because I get bogged down with all the dates and names, but history comes to life and smacks you in the face in Washington DC. You can smell it, touch it and stroll through it unlike any other place on earth.
  2. The Smithsonian Institution – which was founded in 1846,  is the largest museum and research complex in the world, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and 9 research facilities.  You’ll find facilities relating to Art & Design, Science & Technology, History & Humanity, as well as the National Zoo.
  3. Admissions are FREE – all the museums, memorials and the zoo are free to visit.  Which makes for big money savings on entry fees, especially for families.  Plus check out this list of 100 things to do for free (or practically free) in DC.  Be sure to check on the various Smithsonian websites specific to where you’ll be visiting to find even more free activities that change throughout the year.

    Washington DC Cathedral

    Church across from our hotel in DC

  4. The Architecture is Spectacular – to give you an idea of just how special it is, when I asked my 14 year old son what his favorite part was from his 8th grade trip to DC, he said the National Cathedral!  He loved everything about it and didn’t even get to go on the gargoyle tour to look for Darth Vader.  Seriously though, the city is filled with exquisite architecture but I searched high and low and amazingly couldn’t find any sort of comprehensive architecture tour for DC online.  If you know of any, please let me know so I can pass them along.
  5. It’s a Walking City – so much is within such close proximity, don’t fight the traffic and parking issues. Try walking or maybe change things up with a Segway tour, or a bike ride.  Washington Walks is a great place to find seasonal walking tours in the area. Or visit the Ghost Tours Directory to find a tour about the most infamous haunted buildings in the city.
  6. Tour the Home of the POTUS (President of the United States) – Free  White House Tours can be requested no less than 21 days, and up to 6 months in advance through your member of Congress. Even citizens of foreign countries can request a tour through their embassy. Make plans to go during the holiday season. It’s spectacular!
  7. Watch our Government in Action – For those with an interest in the political process, the Senate and House of Representatives galleries are open to visitors whenever either legislative body is in session, however the galleries are not included as part of the U.S. Capitol Tour. Passes are required to enter either gallery at any time. Visitors may obtain gallery passes from the offices of their Senator or Representative. International visitors may inquire about gallery passes at the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level of the Capitol Visitor Center.
  8. The Fallen are Remembered– Some of my most emotional moments in DC were spent remembering those who gave their lives for our country. The various war memorials were sobering reminders of the price of war and how thankful we should be for the men and women who sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms. You can download a free narrated walking tour of the National Mall area which covers many of the memorials, as well as the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Holocaust Museum commemorates the horrific genocide that occurred in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. While geared toward adults and children 11 and older, this Family Guide outlines learning opportunities for ages 8 and up. Arlington National Cemetery(ANC) is our nation’s most hallowed burial ground with row upon row of white marble headstones. The burial site was established in 1861 and now honors hundreds of thousands of veterans, US congressmen, presidents and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An ANC app will help you locate specific grave sites by name, notable graves, events and points of interest via your web browser or mobile phone.
  9. Enjoy the Outdoors Too – The outdoor spaces are works of art as well.
  10. Dig Deeper through the Smithsonian – As if the millions of artifacts throughout the city are not enough to keep you busy for years, visitors can choose unique and focused Study Tours on subjects as varied as Horses, Henry VIII, and Horticulture. The Smithsonian Sleepovers make me wish that I had younger children again. Or perhaps you’d like to enroll your youngster in one of the week-long, half or full day Smithsonian Summer Camps so you’ll have time to do some grown-up-only exploring during your visit.

So we’ve just scratched the surface on things to do in Washington DC. If you come away from a trip to our nation’s capitol without learning bucketfuls of new information, it would only be because you didn’t set foot outside of your room. Please plan to take some time before you visit to check out the Smithsonian website so you can customize your trip to your interests. Otherwise, plan to spend at least a year there…and enjoy!

What’s your favorite part of Washington DC? Any hidden gems that we should be checking out? I know there’s so much to choose from it will be hard to narrow it down.

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