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We took our boys on their first trip to Washington DC when they were at the ages of 11 and 8. These seemed to be good ages. Our 11 year old was interested in almost everything. Our 8 year old was not interested in a few things, but most of it, he took in well.
A good trip to DC requires some planning ahead of time. This proved to be a great investment on the front end as the trip ran very smoothly. We were able to get a lot into our days. We arrived after 10PM on Saturday, went straight to the hotel, quick read the sections about the White House from the Kids' Guide to Washington DC and went to bed. Sunday morning, we got up and enjoyed a quick breakfast at Starbucks. Then we headed to the White House.
We had requested a tour of the White House with our Senator; yet, we did not make it on the tour list. This was a tad disappointing, but we had heard there isn't a ton to see in the White House like there was years ago. It was still fun to show the boys the White House. The best photos could be taken from the back side. In fact, photos were almost impossible from the front side as a structure was being constructed for the inauguration. Even though the inauguration is held at the Capitol, the structure will be used for the parade.
This was the best view from the front of the White House.
We headed to the White House gift shop and then to the White House Visitor Center. There were several things the boys enjoyed seeing at the Visitor Center. All of us enjoyed the video from former Presidents, First Ladies, and children who had lived in the White House. If you go to the White House Visitor Center, don't miss this video. Before traveling to DC, we had read Fly Guy Presents The White House and Madeline at the White House. Both book are fiction but provide some facts about The White House. We also used our Kid's Guide book to discuss the White House. You can click on the book titles above to see them on Amazon or check your local library.
Our next stop was the National Archives. Of everything we did, this might be listed on the low end of the boys' list. To be honest, it could be better organized. You get in a line to see the original Declaration of Independence. Some people in the line are spending so much time that you are wondering if they are reading every single word in the entire document. Ideally, this line would move you to the Constitution. But since there are so many people moving at different rates, there ends up being an unorganized line to see the Constitution, which seemed to cause chaos and no one knowing where to go. The boys didn't want to wait. Maybe that's our fault for not discussing these documents with them in length ahead of time. I'm not sure, but this was a stop they did not enjoy. Nonetheless, they can say they saw the original documents. We have no photos as you are not allowed to take any of the documents and maybe not in the building at all -- I can't remember.
It was time for lunch. Across the street from the National Archives was a restaurant called Burgers, Bourbon, and Beer. It was nice to sit for awhile and have someone serving us our food. We could have gone to a counter-service type restaurant, but it is a good thing we found a sit down place for everyone to regroup a bit.
The afternoon was spent at the Newsuem.
On Newsuem's website, they say, “The Newseum, headquartered in Washington, D.C., promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.” Everyone enjoyed this museum. TRAVEL TIP: If you buy tickets on line, you save 15%. Also, they sometimes offer a LivingSocial coupon. Also, start at the top of the museum and work your way down.
This is an actual part of the Berlin Wall.
The day was full and we ended it by eating at one of TravelMan's favorites, Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab.
M was very happy about his steak and crab dinner!
Before we went to bed each night, we read to our kids from Kids' Guide To Washington DC. Tomorrow was going to be a big day and there were lots of sections to read. Every night, we would read to our kids about the places we would visit the next day. We had also done a lot of reading of books at home prior to the trip. This way they would be educated on what they would see. I can't say it enough, but preparing for this trip is very important! You can click on the title of the book above to see it on Amazon. Another book we had with us was