Well, we just went on perhaps one of the VERY best family vacations we’ve ever taken. We went to Washington D.C. over spring break and had a FANTASTIC time!!
Last year, we took our first spring break vacation and went on a Disney Cruise and loved it so much! Not only did we love the cruise (it was amazing!!), but we loved being gone over spring break with our kids. As soon as we got home last year, we told the kids that we were going to make going on a trip during spring break an annual affair and asked them where they wanted to go in 2017. After we told them no, we couldn’t go back on another Disney Cruise, Smith immediately said Washington D.C., and we loved that answer! Neither myself nor Andrew had ever been to D.C., so we thought it would make an excellent destination for the following year. So…we talked about it all year long and then (finally) departed on Saturday the fourth and it did not disappoint. I probably said the phrase “this is the perfect city for a family vacation” about 50 times while we were gone because it just was. The people were so friendly, it was small enough that we could walk everywhere (or take the super clean and efficient public transportation), the food was outstanding, the history was amazing, there was more to do there than we could fit in to our trip (we should have stayed longer!) and almost every single thing we did was FREE. And for a family of six, “free” is a fantastic word on a family vacation. So, instead of me gushing more…why don’t I show you some pics? Here’s post one of two of our trip to D.C…
Rise and shine! We left our house at 4:00 in the morning to get to the airport so that we had as much time as possible on day one in D.C. Here we are at the airport about to enjoy breakfast before boarding our flight.
Hey Ashby! The camera is over here. 😉
Love this sweet girl!
So, we flew to D.C. and then took a car to our Airbnb. That’s right, this time instead of staying in a hotel, we stayed in an Airbnb. We’ve learned that with a big family, you almost always have to get two hotel rooms…which is fine, but we thought we’d try another way of lodging this time…and we liked it! We rented a two bedroom/two bath apartment right in the heart of D.C. and even though I did miss some of the luxuries of a hotel (fresh towels, trash service, etc), this worked out really, really well. We picked up groceries so that we had coffee and breakfast in the apartment every day and then we just did a load of laundry each night before bed to get us our clean towels (they had a washer/dryer in the unit). After we dropped off our stuff, we bundled up and headed down to explore the town. This is us crammed in the apartment building elevator heading down…
…I didn’t want to leave out Madeley 🙂 .
On the street walking to lunch. We were headed toward the White House for our first stop and saw a busy little Mexican restaurant on the corner, so we stopped and ate. (The guacamole was INSANE!) The first two days, the weather was cold (35ish) but bright and sunny. This boy was thrilled to be there!
After lunch, we visited the White House (the back view) and then went inside the White House visitors center before walking around front…
…here we are inside visitors center. We loved this place! All of the visitors centers/museums we visited were very interactive and kid-friendly. They showed a quick little documentary about the White House, the kids could interact with almost every station/exhibit…it was fun, informational and educational. Something else…I think we hit D.C. at just the right time (first weekend in March) because it was not busy at all. We didn’t wait in one line the entire time we were there. Several people told us that it gets slammed starting mid-March and stays busy through early fall and then again at the holidays, and that we picked a good weekend to visit. We walked right in everywhere we went, never waited and it never felt crowded. We took our time visiting here and soaked up as much as we could.
Happy girl in D.C.!
Madeley is all like “you people woke me up at 3:00 AM!”. She slept about an hour and a half as we walked and toured 🙂 . Side note, before we went to NYC over Christmas break, we bought both little girls ski pants to wear. Since they’re in strollers and not moving as much, they get colder faster…plus, if there is rain, this keeps them dry. We used the pants again every day in D.C. We just slipped them right over their normal clothes for the day.
After we left the visitors center, we walked around to the front of the White House for a view.
She decided to wake up for this part 😉 .
Selfie with the White House!
Side note, you know how much I love, love, love my Kara style Ugg boots and have worn them several times on big city trips…well, right before we left, I saw these Uggs in the store and bought them too. They’re just like my other Uggs but short (so my legs don’t get hot at all). I walked miles and miles in them on this trip (I mean…MILES! Like 6+ a day!) and my feet were never cold and NEVER hurt 🙂 .
After we left the White House, we walked here…
…and Smith would tell you that this was his favorite part of the trip. He absolutely loved visiting Ford’s Theatre and even wanted to go back the next day (which we didn’t do because we had so much else to see!).
Going inside the visitors center/museum here too. Again, this is all free…which I find shocking because to take my family of six to a local museum here in Dallas will easily be over $100.
For those of you who don’t know, Ford’s Theatre is where Abraham Lincoln was shot.
Miss Madeley is just enjoying the ride 🙂 .
After we left Ford’s, we walked directly across the street to the Petersen House where Abraham Lincoln was taken after he was shot and died a few hours later.
Abraham Lincoln died in that very room. To me, it’s crazy to think I was even in a room where Lincoln once was…much less took his last breath. They also had a wonderful visitors center that was really interactive, so we stayed and played/learned after we walked through.
My three big kids heading out to walk some more. (We had two strollers, so Ashby could walk or ride.)
So…this is where we screwed up a little. Before we left for D.C., I looked up family-friendly restaurants in the city and made reservations for three nights. One night, the first night, the place we thought we wanted to try did not accept reservations, so we thought we’d just show up early and eat…and we were wrong. Sigh. It was Saturday night and the place was already PACKED and because it was so cold, we didn’t want to wait outside with the masses, so we quickly had to come up with a Plan B…and at this point, our people were tired (3:00 AM wake up call, remember?!) and hungry…so, while we came up with Plan B, we did something unthinkable…
…we let them eat ice cream while we decided what to do. Sigh. It’s vacation, right? We can eat dessert first! We saw an ice cream shop and popped in and all four kids got a little treat while we put our names on the list next door at Carmine’s (where we eat in NYC…so it was not original but it was convenient and at this point, that’s all we wanted).
We finally sat down to dinner and it was so good! Honestly, is Italian food ever bad??? #nope
We were a happy, happy bunch!
So, after that, we headed back to the Airbnb and went to sleep. The next morning, we slept in a bit, ate breakfast and then headed out for the day. Since it was Sunday, some places were closed, so we decided it was the perfect day to visit the Smithsonian…
…first stop, the Museum of American History.
Once again, it was free and it was fabulous! We spent several hour here and could have stayed longer. There was just so much to see and so much to do!
See Kensington on the monitor? She was reading a famous speech and it projected her on the screen 😉 .
This moment right here was Smith’s very favorite part of the trip…we saw the actual hat Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was shot. Side note: Smith has an apparent fascination with Abe Lincoln…
One of the original pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
So, after we left here we were famished and started walking towards our next stop (a restaurant but it was closed because it was Sunday), so then we were just walking to find anything to eat and we found…
…the Sunday brunch at Trump Hotel. The popovers were out of this world!
Coffee, popovers and this guy. I was happy.
We left after brunch and headed back out…
One of the only pics of all six of us. I always forget to take big group pictures!
These two were both asleep (long cozy walks will do it to you!), so they slept and we headed toward the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.
We could have spent all day here too. (There was seriously more to do in this city than we had time!) We toured and then we also watched a really cool 45 minute documentary at their IMAX theater on D-Day. Ashby and Madeley woke up and enjoyed that too 🙂 .
Love this bunch! We left the Air & Space Museum and headed to the National Archives.
Picture taking was soooooo limited in the National Archives…but you should know the thing that we saw that was our favorite was…THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. Whoa! So cool!!! And bonus…there was no one there! I guess when you show up at 4:00 PM on a random Sunday in March, there are no crowds. We were able to take our time and absorb it all. Plus, we toured the rest of the Archives, which in my opinion, might have had the most interactive stuff to do until it closed. We had the best time! My kids have seen the movie National Treasure too many times because they wanted to check the back for the map. I’ve watched too much Scandal because I wanted to ask if Fitz and Liv really touched it 😉 .
We left and walked to dinner. I had made us reservations at City Tap House and it was delish! My kids enjoyed it, we enjoyed it…the atmosphere was great and the food was excellent!
And then after dinner, when it was dark, we made our way to the Lincoln Memorial. One of our very favorite parts of the trip. Everyone told me that you had to see it at night…and I think they were all right. Some things did not live up to their reputation and were a little underwhelming in person but not this one. This one exceeded all of my expectations.
Amazing. Absolutely amazing.
I took a selfie with Abe.
My big three taking it all in.
I love this picture :). This was just so cool.
And then walking out, you look out over the Washington Monument.
Having the best time in D.C.!
This is why I love to travel. You just have to see this stuff in person.
After that, we headed back for the night. It had been a BIG day!
Whew! Those are days one and two of our D.C. trip! Next week, I’ll post the rest. The first part of our trip was just so much fun…but the second part was extraordinary. 😉