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  • Writer's pictureJuliet Weller

Exploration and Intrigue in Washington, D.C.

Updated: May 25, 2020

Memorial Day is such a dichotomy, isn't it? I said it in my abbreviated email from this time last year, and I don't intend to repeat that message, but that duality will always exist for this holiday. Right now, there are people remembering loved ones lost in battle, and at the same time there are some who have never tasted that pain; some are cavorting in the backyard pool or traveling (yes, traveling!) on what is traditionally considered the first weekend of summer. That is just the way it is. Memorial Day has that bittersweet thing going on - remembering (perhaps mourning) and simultaneously celebrating. As a former military member, I got off easy; that is to say, I fought no war, and lived to tell the tale. In preparing to write, it struck me this way: that as much as I love to travel, imagine embarking on a trip overseas to meet one's fate. Since you are reading this, it didn't happen that way for you either. Fortunately, there is a trip we can take to commemorate the past (and passed), and have fun...a trip to Washington, D.C.

Once upon a time, long ago....i had hair.

I lived in suburban 'D.C.' ( i.e., Northern Virginia) for many years, and never saw everything that it has to offer. Your vacation there is bound to end up that way too, so we'll select some highlights that make you want to return. By the way, as promised, this is the third in my three-week run of sample itineraries to remind you that travel will live again, and inspire you to venture out. The time is soon upon us. Last week's luxury train itinerary to the big cities of the east had me ready to pack my bags; Washington, D.C. was one of those stops, so this week we'll explore the city in detail...from the countless monuments and sights along the Washington Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue to the many popular museums around the city, there’s something special for everyone when visiting Washington, D.C.

Day 1 - Once you have checked in and relaxed a bit, go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the International Spy Museum with an ex-operative. This museum has interactive exhibits, and the largest collection of espionage artifacts currently on public display.

Day 2 is for private, behind-the-scenes tours of working U.S. government buildings led by a former Congressman. First, an exciting insider tour through the U.S. Capitol building to rooms not normally open to the public. Make sure you stop and look up at the stunning beauty of the rotunda ceiling when you first enter. Your family will learn from a Washington insider how the branches of government work together and hear first-hand accounts of their time in the House.

During your private afternoon tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, you'll see millions of dollars being printed as you overlook the production floor. Hands off, please! The day ends with a night-time tour of the city. Your expert guide will show you everything from the National Mall (no, it's not a mega-shopping facility) to the sculptures along the Tidal Basin. Monuments honoring FDR, Lincoln, MLK Jr., and Jefferson are lit up against the night sky; hear about the development of the city from an urban planning perspective and how the various museums, memorials, and institutions reflect the national identity of the United States.

Day 3 kicks off with an unforgettable private tour of the National Air & Space Museum led by a retired astronaut! The family will be agog at the Apollo moon gallery, featuring an Apollo capsule, lunar spacesuits, moon rocks and the lunar rover. Your guide will talk to you about the evolution of man's exploration of space and his own life as an astronaut. To commemorate your experience, you’ll receive a signed copy of his autobiography. Wow!

In the mid-afternoon, meet your captain at the dock in Georgetown for your private cruise to George Washington's plantation home, Mount Vernon. You'll have a private after-hours tour, exploring the mansion, grounds and gardens. A driver will take you back to your hotel along a scenic route that will allow you to see the monuments illuminated against the night sky one more time.

Days 4 and 5 - You are on your own to take in a museum of your choice...the museum or Natural History or the Museum of American History are top of mind, but the National Archives and Museum of African-American History also await. Or use your hop-on hop-off bus pass to see Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, ride past the Pentagon, L'Enfant Plaza, the Holocaust Museum. and so much more than I can name here.

Day 6 - Cross the mighty Potomac River and explore Civil War battle sites within reach of the capital, like Manassas National Battlefield, where the First Battle of Bull Run was fought. Your next visit to D.C. area could center completely around Civil War History, perhaps include a day trip to sobering Gettysburg National Battlefield in Pennsylvania. This itinerary could be an eight-, nine-, or ten-day trip, AND you won't have seen everything. Do you see why you'll have to come back? We can totally handle that. Your hotel and dining choices are many, and together we'll customize your accommodations with amenities for the family. You'll experience all of the excitement, history, and adventure of the capital city on this getaway.

King crab curry and plantain chips at Kith/Kin Restaurant

If a culinary tour makes your mouth water, chefs all around D.C. are telling their personal stories through food. There is no shortage of places to dine. The "Where's Where" of the hottest places in the area include: American Son, Amoo’s Restaurant, Izakaya Seki, Kith/Kin, Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly, and Timber Pizza Co. Your reservations for these uber-popular restaurants will be in place before you even leave home.

Your trip to the nation's capital should be a memorable one - the city is a living history/architecture/social studies/civics lesson, and you're an avid student. Put the dates for your first post-isolation vacation on the calendar now and don't wait a minute longer to put your favorite advisor to work.

'til next week.


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