We looked over a map and spoke with the hotel concierge and learned that ….1. Driving would be a nightmare 2. Fitting 7 into one taxi would be impossible and 3. It was a mere mile from our hotel in Dupont Circle to the White House and then the Capitol building was 2 miles farther than that. We figured that the 7 of us would just walk – easy enough after our summer of hiking, right?
We did walk to the White House – not a bad walk and the architecture in that town was amazing! We were asked to be at the line at the white house about 15 minutes prior to ticket times and we got there with time to spare. The tickets said we’d have about 45 minutes’ worth of a self-guided tour once we got in…no purses, bags, backpacks, CAMERAS, or other obvious things (explosives guns, etc) were allowed. The part that hurt was the “no camera” part as that meant that due to the walking, we had to leave the camera at the hotel FOR THE DAY! GAA.
The tour did allow phones (though not the use of them upon threat of confiscation) – so while I could not take pictures of the white house tour, I would have my phone camera for the remainder of the day. The security was CRAZY!!
Even though we could bring nothing as nothing was allowed, we had to go through 4 security checkpoints – 4! The first two checked our names against the tickets against our driver’s licenses verifying birthdays and socials. The third was a canine checkpoint and the fourth was a metal detector. All of that on top of the security check that they had to run before they even allowed us the tickets!
Scott and I were amazed at how little and how close to public access the White House seemed. It looks a lot grander in pictures, I think. And the crazy closeness that it had to many other important buildings in the area was unreal! There were secret service and police and security everywhere. Though, I did ask if they had the biggest police force and I was told NYC has a force many times larger numbering near 40,000 and that their force was supplemented with the security …(MORE learning ! )
We did get to take pictures while still in the security of the White House property though not until we passed a certain point on the driveway – still pretty cool though! And cooler still, the White House is a national park (who knew?) and so the kids got to complete another Junior Ranger program!! They were thrilled. They learned some interesting trivia (Gerald Ford was a park ranger at Yellowstone before he became president!), they filled in their book, and we completed our tour.
The tour was self-guided – we could look through many rooms on the main level and the included junior ranger book provided some fun searches to entertain the kids…” how many eagles can you find in this room?” etc. I think the most interesting aspect (to me) was that we were on the last (only?) scheduled tour for the day and we ended up being the last people on the tour.
As we left each room to move on to the next, the staff and security were there to transform the “national park” back into the home of the president and his family. They dismantled the red velvet ropes, rolled out the carpets, and moved the furniture back into position – it was interesting to see that as it brought it back to the reality that people live there!
At the end of the tour, we had about an hour to trek the two miles to the capitol building (again – easy, right?) but that did not include the fact that it was now 1:30 and we were headed to another tour and all the people in our family were currently STARVING and THIRSTY and NEEDING to pee (TMI?).
Factoring in that stop – just to order the food (as we actually ate while walking), we got to the capitol building at exactly 2:30, FANTASTIC! Except when we pulled out the ticket to see where we needed to meet our guide – we realized that we were supposed to be at our Senator’s office which was about 2 blocks (2 DC blocks) down on the opposite side of the capitol building! Scott called to explain our predicament and apologize. The staff was super helpful and agreed to provide the tour when we arrived.
We met our guide, Carrie – an intern with our senator for the summer, who was full of all kinds of interesting information. She showed us through the tunnel system from our Senator’s office underground to the capitol building – there was even a train that we got to ride on – the kids were thrilled!! There are all kinds of things underground including a hair salon and restaurants! Carrie was our own personal guide through the capital where she shared interesting information…
King Kamehameha (the last king of Hawaii) was represented as a statue for Hawaii…his decorations were pure gold
Iowa had the newest statue…
the statue of freedom (inside the capitol) is a plaster replica of the bronze statue atop the capitol.
In the crypt rotunda, (an area above the place built to entomb George Washington –which was never used), is a star marking the exact center of DC (at the time that it was built). It is “lucky” to step on that spot….
The dome was being fixed – so we didn’t have the best view.
However, there was a “doughnut” sort of catch-all around it that is designed to hold up to 2000 pounds of debris so that they can still have visitors to the dome while it is being restored.
A painting of Pocahontas being baptized into Christianity – the first Native American to do so.
And a sculpture honoring women’s suffrage carved to honor Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B Anthony. This was interesting in that Carrie told us that it was some peoples’ thoughts that the uncarved section behind those 3 women was left in which to carve the first women president’s face – Lily said that would be hers!! LOL
Lastly, we also got to sit in on the congressional floor as Texas Senator Ted Cruz delivered a speech on the amnesty situation – so interesting! (and also hilarious as the children have to be 6 …and so when asked if any children were in line that was under 6 Grace raised her hand – the security looked at her and trying to be helpful asked if she didn’t just have a birthday and she said no and then he prompted her that she was probably 6 but didn’t remember she had her birthday and she said no – so then he said that maybe today was her birthday to which she was just thrilled and asked where all her presents were – lol!!)
She was allowed into the audience and she did a great job of respecting the rules. The audience is allowed in to sit for as long or as short as they would like to stay – we stayed for a short time and it was well worth it and very interesting.
When we left the capitol, we walked down the mall- it was about 5 and we stopped in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery for dinner…dinner was fantastic as were the surroundings.
All of these people were taking selfies in front of the sculptures – our attempt didn’t leave much room for the sculpture -lol.
With our tummies full, we decided we could continue down the mall and we discovered that the Natural History Museum was open late that evening! We took full advantage – hitting the bones room, the dinosaur room, the insect room (GROSS), and of course my favorite – checking in on my new jewels – (the Hope Diamond).
We were able to walk the rest of the way back to the hotel (6 miles today!!) and on the way we stopped for a picture in front of the Washington Monument – I was taking a picture of all the family and a gentleman offered to take one to include me – can you tell the monument is behind us?? LOL – it was a nice gesture though!!
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 25 – New Mexico to DC
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 26 – DC Day One
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 27- DC Day Two
- 3-Day Washington, DC Itinerary to see All the Favorites with Teens
- Big Family Washington DC Trip – Day One Itinerary with Kids
- Big Family Washington DC Trip – Day Two Itinerary with Kids
- Big Family Washington DC Trip – Day Three Itinerary with Kids