I have not been to Washington DC in almost 30 years. And even then, I never really toured or saw any of the sites. Luckily I have a cousin who lives just outside and they let me stay with them for a couple of days and showed me how to use the Metro to get in and out of the city (bus from Annandale to Pentagon, train to the Mall or Chinatown). I can see how people (especially kids) can get overwhelmed and over tired. There is so much to see and learn and do. So people try to cram as much as they can into each day. Some places you could spend one whole day. You CANNOT do it all. You really need to pick and choose a few things. I tend to go for the atmosphere and just see things and take pictures ; I only read a few of the placards in a museum. I went the second week of October and it was still hot and humid, I can’t imagine actual summer time. My pictures are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulshircliff/albums/72157700784550091 all with title #DC
It was a fortuitous beginning, my cousin having me get off at the stop for Lincoln, not realizing it was also for Einstein and the National Academy of Sciences. NAS had a display of pics of some “ground calibration targets” that our spy satellites used in the 1960’s. Superimposed on them are tracks of current satellite paths. (Ground Truth Corona Landmarks). Then off to see Mr. Lincoln and a walk up the Reflecting Pool to the World War II Memorial.
Then I walked around the Tidal Basin. This path houses the Martin Luther King Jr. , Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. There are many water features at the FDR. Both MLK and FDR have so many quotes that are pertinent to society today and how we should be living our lives.
I stopped in at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (the Federal Govt. started issuing currency at the beginning of the Civil War in order to pay for soldiers and supplies) and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Then took a closer look at the Washington Monument (which is closed for repairs until Spring 2019). Then a look at the National Mall from this end, and the Smithsonian Castle on my way to lunch at the Museum of the American Indian. Wonderful menu of “native” based meals : tacos, burgers, steak, bison, lamb, salmon, quinoa. Just remember that museum food is a bit more expensive. I had a bison steak and it was very good.
After the late lunch, it was back to the touring. First stop was the Air and Space Museum. So much to see here. One interesting thing I learned was an analogy for the electromagnetic spectrum, of which visible light (ROYGBV-the rainbow we see) is a very small part. If visible light was one octave on a piano, the whole spectrum would be 65 octaves. Then back to the Museum of American Indian to actually go through it. Again, so many things to see and learn. One that stood out was that Indians make up less than 1% of our population but their imagery (& influence) can be seen everywhere. They had a couple of rooms showing this, from advertisements to TV to names of everyday items.
Now for a walk near the Capitol and the Grant Memorial. Then off to catch the train. By luck, there is the Navy Memorial Plaza next to the train station. As well as a restaurant named “Paul”. The Navy Memorial has a world map in the cement. It would be neat to get an aerial view of this.
Day 2. Yes my feet still hurt from day 1. Less outside walking today and more inside museums. I started at the National Building Museum. They had several little kid school groups there, so they must have some focused activities for them. There are a couple of building/tinkering rooms for kids, and they also have classrooms with building materials. They only have half a dozen exhibitions, but they are info packed and important to current society. One is about the impact of evictions. Another is a teen led one about “their space” in community. They have an interesting one about the “Secret Cities” of the Manhattan project. The one I liked best was “Making Room” showing how the demographics of our households and construction are not in line with each other. 53% of our households are singles or couples, yet how much housing is designed for them. We seem to keep building large family homes. They had a model of a 1000 square foot house and displays about alternative housing (micro, tiny, co-housing, co-living)
I went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum & Portrait Gallery (in Chinatown). They have a wide variety of ages and styles.
After lunch at the Corner Bakery Cafe, I got on the bus , DC Circulator National Mall route. It took me around the monuments and museums I had walked by and in, but from a slightly different vantage point (and they had USB plugs to charge phones). It only costs $1.
The Museum of American History has SOOOOO much. You could spend days. Transportation, innovation, business, protest, war, internment, nostalgia, entertainment, Presidents, food from 1950-2000… and much more.
The final stop of the day was the Museum of Natural History. They have packed a great amount into a relatively small building. Mammals, Oceans, skeletons, humans, butterflies, insects to name a few.
There are actually two Air and Space Museums, one on the Mall and one near Dulles. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center has such a variety of small and large flying machines. They have ballooning, helicopters, spacecraft, planes large and small and experimental. They also have displays about engines.