DC – Museums, Monuments, Memorials, Mammals and More – Oh and Don’t go in May!

DC – I loved it all! So much to do, so little time! I feel like a broken record, but it’s true.

The campground was nice and pretty. It was kind of far away, and there was not much to it at all, but for the price it was great! It was super tight though. I feel like we barely fit through there. I’m sure Huck covered the 5 different tries until we fit in a spot. And boy none of the sites were even close to being level. But we found one that worked.

Let’s cover the biggest down side…. The school groups. Not just a few, but hundreds of groups of kids everywhere! We didn’t really have a huge choice in the timing. I know that sounds weird, but there’s a lot of factors in the timing of our trip and you can only control so many…. If any. So, if you can help it, do NOT visit DC in May.

It would be ideal to visit all the monuments in one day. And preferably on bikes when you have kids. BUT the forecast called for rain on most days for at least part of the day. The hardest part of traveling as fast as we are and to as many places as we are is not knowing what “rain” means – a little drizzle or a down pour? for a short amount of time or all day?  Also, we found free parking down below the Jefferson Memorial, so we decided to break up the monuments and do half one day on our way to the American History Smithsonian. Then we would do the other half the day we went to the  Museum of Science and Nature.

We actually were very lucky! Free parking worked! And we had slight drizzle, but also had breaks in the weather when we were walking to the monuments. The nicest day was unfortunately the one we were scheduled for our capital tour. Bummer. Oh well.

We all had a lot of fun at the American History Museum! It was hands on and very interactive. I was worried with all the travel and site seeing we have done that we would be bored and there would be a lot of repetition, but that was not the case. Funniest thing….I learned that Ft. Collins (only 30 miles north of our home town) is a big deal in the energy world. Big enough to be in the Smithsonian exhibit “Places of Invention.” Alongside Hollywood, the Bronx and Silicon Valley. What??  This exhibit was really fabulous and a lot of fun:

Places of Invention takes visitors on a journey through time and place across America to discover the stories of people who lived, worked, played, collaborated, adapted, took risks, solved problems, and sometimes failed—all in the pursuit of something new. The exhibition features six communities representing what can happen when the right mix of inventive people, resources, and inspiring surroundings come together:

    • The story of precision manufacturing in Hartford, Conn. in the late 1800s shows how a factory town puts the pieces together in explosive new ways;
    • Technicolor in Hollywood, Calif. in the 1930s puts the spotlight on the young town that gave birth to the movies’ Golden Age;
    • Cardiac innovations in Medical Alley, Minn. in the 1950s examines how a tight-knit community of tinkerers keeps hearts ticking;
    • Hip-hop’s birth in the Bronx, NY in the 1970s looks at how neighborhood ingenuity created new beats;
    • The rise of the personal computer in Silicon Valley, Calif. in the 1970s–80s adds up how suburban garage hackers plus lab researchers equaled personal computing;
    • Clean-energy innovations in Fort Collins, Colo. demonstrates how a college town combines its energies for a greener planet.

George Mason

Washington Monument

Note taking


Kids with TJ

TJ Memorial

Spark lab

Light decorating



DJ Brie Brie

Classic bike

Classic bike

Classic bike


Hello sir

Keep head inside subway!

White House

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

TJ's memorial

Washington monument from TJ

Young geese

The Museum of Natural History was fun since we all love animals. I’m so glad we were there on Tuesday and the Butterfly Pavilion was free! Brielle was excited (and a little nervous) to go in, but it was waaay smaller than what I’m used to. The one in Louisville, CO really spoils a person. The other ones in our travels are all so much smaller. On a side note, I was reminded that Brielle hasn’t been to the Butterfly Pavilion at an age where she remembers it. :/ Guess we’ll be going there in July/Aug! We also loved the Gems exhibit! So pretty and so fascinating! Brielle and I had fun naming the different formations. We were so bummed the Hope Diamond was off exhibit due to renovations. 🙁 Oh well, you’ve seen one diamond, you’ve seen them all, right?

Touching a piece of Mars



Turd rock



Hairy rock


Crazy stick bug


There's a butterfly on Caden's shirt

Dacen's butterfly

Butterfly pavilion


Snack time

Shooting the breeze

Jr. Ranger work

Colorado's column at WWII Memorial

Each start = 400 lives lost

Enjoying the nice weather


Reflecting pool


Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Korean War pano

Korean War Memorial

MLK Jr. Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Washington Monument

Sibs at FDR

Hand prints at FDR

FDR's doggy


The Monuments were impressive and wonderful. They were sobering and inspiring. We all loved looking from the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument. The WWII Memorial was very well done. I loved the 2 fountains and the 2 sides and the way the bronze plaques were 3 dimensional. Some of the picture would protrude out. To me that made it so impactful. I always love it when we can find a park ranger or volunteer docent to ask questions. They are usually so kind and so passionate and eager to talk to you and bring history to life. We’ve learned so much about people and places and events just by asking one or two simple questions.

The Capital Tour was fun. I’m glad we had a personal tour through our Senator. I loved learning about the history of the building. So many fun tidbits! And seeing history come together through time in one place is very cool. I loved the statues! Each state gets to have 2 statues in the Capitol building. CO has an astronaut John L . “Jack” Swigert, Jr (right up our alley!) and a Florence Sabin. For a list and description of all the states statues visit https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/sites/default/files/documents/content/brochure/2759/guide-state-statuesen.pdf  The senate was in session and was actively voting. Unfortunately we were there around lunch time. Aaaannnd it seems that the committee work is what is important (probably a very good thing) but I wonder if the Sentate chambers is usually pretty empty and they just read the notes at the end of each day to quickly learn what happened, what was said, and what they need to know.

The only downside of our tour was the timing of it. We tend to go cheap and pack our own lunch. You cannot take anything into the Capital Building, however, so we left all our bags in Cory Gardner’s office. And the tour started at 11. And we spend soooo much time everywhere we go. So we were all very hungry when we got done. And when we got outside it was now raining and we had no where to eat. We were on our way to the Supreme Court and Library of Congress if all went well. We wound up finding a bus stop with a cover on it. A very kind chatty guy started talking to us. He loves DC and was excited for us to be there. When Huck asked what line of work the guy was in he said he represented surgeons. I wanted to say, “so you’re a lobbyist?” He got around to saying it himself and explained that most outsiders have a negative view of lobbyists but he loves his job and the energy of Washington, DC.

Riding the bus

At Senator Gardner's office

Riding the senate train

Colorado's Swigert statue

Tour guide Kyle Green

Ms. Sabin

Thinkin' with Lincoln

Presidential faces

Rotunda art

Old Senate Gallery

Eating lunch under cover

Supreme Cute

Supreme Court

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Pardon our dust

Waiting for the bus

We were able to see the Supreme Court and learn a little bit from a docent. I thought we could still go into the Library of Congress really quick and see the vastness since it’s across the street. What I didn’t know was that the buildings up there each close at 4:30, not 5:30 like the Smithsonians. Luckily we worked it out so the next day Huck dropped us off. We ran into the LOC while Huck parked the truck. We met Huck at the Air and Space Museum. Unfortunately we left 2 umbrellas at home and the other 2 in the truck with Huck. And everyone was sold out of umbrellas since it’s been raining every day. AND this was the one time it decided to rain pretty hard while we had to walk. And it didn’t look like it was going to let up soon. And the line was very long at the Air and Space Museum. Fun times. It was so crowded. We found out that in addition to the throngs of school groups, there was also a Police Convention in the area, so they were especially busy that day. Luckily we had seen and learned much of the stuff at the Kennedy Space Center. So we were able to shorten our time and go visit the Castle. When we walked out the sun was shining! We walked to the Castle. We didn’t walk through it much as we were all tired by this point and I expected it to be super impressive when we entered, but it wasn’t. The kids had fun taking their picture and having a mosaic made. I got a coffee and we were on our way to get the kids their Junior Ranger Badges they had worked on at the Memorials and Monuments.

Crazy pilot

Paper airplanes

Amelia's plane

Apollo 11



Jr Rangers

Lot A



Strawberry dessert

Lemon dessert

Mystery dessert

The National Zoo  was sooooo fun!! But this will be another post once we get the Flickr album uploaded!


DC was a success!!

One thought on “DC – Museums, Monuments, Memorials, Mammals and More – Oh and Don’t go in May!

  • May 26, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    I know how it is to race around the capital Toni and I tried to see it all in two days!!!! But an experience we all should have!


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