The stars aligned and, despite his unpredictable travel schedule, Handsome was actually home for the week that our kids had spring break this year. So naturally we jumped at the opportunity for a spontaneous family vacation!
One thing we really like about living here is our proximity to our nation’s capital. Just 3 1/2 hours by car puts us smack in the middle of all the wonders that Washington DC has to offer – museums, monuments, historical sites, govt buildings, festivals, etc. You couldn’t see it all in a week if you tried.
Handsome and I have been to DC a couple times, but always without the kids. We decided they were finally old enough to handle the walking that the city requires and would enjoy seeing a few of the sights.
For our animal lover, we started at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, then trekked over a mile down Constitution to see the country’s most famous house on Pennsylvania Ave. Bug’s little legs got a boost for that hike.
For our aviation lover, we drove about 40 min outside of downtown DC, to the air and space museum at the Dulles airport.
Even for a non-aviation geek like me this place was insanely amazing – 176 aircraft under one gigantic roof, including the SR-71 Blackbird, the Concorde, the Enola Gay, and the Discovery Space Shuttle! If you’re planning a trip to DC, I would highly recommend adding this spot to your short list.
Even our hotel room view was a lesson in Americana with a phenomenal cityscape of the Washington Monument, Potomac River, and the Pentagon (foreground).
The next day we knew the kids’ legs wouldn’t last a whole afternoon of monument-hopping, so we opted for a stroll along the reflecting pool to visit Abe.
When I learned about Martin Luther King, it was from a flat, lifeless black and white photo in the “K” Encyclopedia Britannica. Now, thanks to YouTube, at the tender ages 4 and 7, both my kids have watched Dr. King give his “Dream” speech. So we stood in the place where he spoke those words and imagined what we might say to inspire millions of people.
Once inside, they asked if Abe had really been that big in “real life” (nope, he was actually as tall as Daddy!).
As a first grader, Songbird has been learning a lot about US currency, especially coins – their values, sizes, and who’s face is on what. Ironically, she found a penny on the ground outside of the Lincoln Memorial and was tickled to discover the teeny tiny imprint of Abe on the back – juuuuust a bit smaller than the man on the chair she’d met moments earlier.
We rounded out the vacation with a detour to Roanoke, Virginia.
Random, I know.
Was it the lure of the world’s largest free-standing illuminated star that brought us?
Cool, but nope.
What we really came for was the Virginia Safari Park. This gem is a 180-acre drive thru zoo where you experience and feed the animals with some seriously up-close interaction. Handsome chauffeured while the kids and I sat in the truck bed making lots of furry friends: elk, llamas, alpacas, bison, watusi, ostrich and zebra – just to name a few.
This guy was all horns and no fight – thank goodness!
In just 3 days time we explored T-REX skeletons, got within inches of the largest blue diamond in the world (the Hope Diamond), visited the President’s house, saw the plane that ended WWII, stood beneath the wings of the shuttle with the most missions in space, watched military helicopters land at the Pentagon, took a selfie with Lincoln, walked in Dr. King’s footsteps, saw the world’s largest man-made star, pet an American bison and smooched a zebra.
A spring break for the record books, I’d say.