Spring break in Washington
By: Brenda Harrison
Taking my teen-age granddaughters to Washington, D.C., during their spring break seemed like a great idea. I wanted them to experience our nation’s Capitol and get a visual of this beautiful city and a better understanding what it is about.
So, on April 3, I drove to Angier, N.C. to pick up Caroline, Madison and their mom Allison. Then we headed up I-95 to Arlington, Va. where we stayed.
On Wednesday morning, Sen. Tim Scott’s office staff provided a tour of the Capitol building on our first day in the city. We met at his office in the Hart Senate Building where we were greeted by a friendly staff who went out of their way to accommodate us, as well as several upstate visitors. During a brief tour of the senator’s office, I learned that the week of spring break is the busiest time in D.C.
Staffer Ethan escorted us via the tunnel to the Capitol Building. It was crowded with many other tour groups, but we managed to see a lot and learn a little about the building’s history.
After a nice lunch in the Senate Dining Room in the basement of the office building, we headed over to the Smithsonian to visit the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum.
The lines were long, especially due to security. It was crowded inside, but we managed to see the First Ladies’ Inaugural Gowns, White House state china displays, the exhibit of the tattered flag that hung over Ft. McHenry during a Revolutionary battle and a few other displays before going next door to the Natural History Museum to see its oceanic display and the “Hope Diamond.”
We found snacks outdoors along the Smithsonian Mall, but it was chilly and windy, so we didn’t linger long.
The next morning we went to the North Portico of the White House for photos and then over to the White House Visitors Center where we found excellent displays of items from the mansion, videos of its main rooms and a movie with comments from former inhabitants. I’ve toured the White House in the past, but today it is much harder to get in. You must apply three weeks ahead and then your name is entered in a lottery system. For those who did get a pass, there were long lines winding up to the South Portico waiting to enter. For those who don’t like standing in line for hours, The White House Visitor’s Center might be the best option.
After lunch and a little shopping in Chinatown, we headed over to the new Museum of the Bible which we all enjoyed. We only had three hours before closing, so we didn’t see everything, but what we saw was great. I would highly recommend this new state-of-the-art museum.
We ended our second day in the city by touring most of the monuments. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom around the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial. We got to the Lincoln Memorial at dusk and it was beautiful looking down on its Reflection Pool at sunset with the Washington monument and dome of the Capitol building reflected in the water.
Friday morning we headed over to the National Zoo where we saw the resident panda bears, red pandas, elephants, buffalo, gorillas, orangutans, and many others exotic animals. After nearly a full day, we headed home.
What do you suppose two 13 year-old girls enjoyed most about this trip? If you guessed the zoo, it was at the top of their list, but tied with riding the Metro trains.
They may not realize it, but I think they learned a lot on this short little visit. I hope they will want to go back one day, because there is so much more to see.