We just got back from a little road trip to Washington, D.C. & Hershey, PA and I thought I would share some of the details. I’m going to try to summarize here because we did a LOT of things. I’m the kind of vacationer where I want to plan everything out and try to see & do as much as possible, which ends up wearing me out and I’m so ready to go home and relax by the time vacation is over. I realize that is the complete opposite of a vacation, but that’s just how I am. Every time I say that I want to leave just one day for relaxing by a beach or pool, but I know I would be bored with that in a matter of hours, as would Dan, so…. it never happens. Lots of walking, early mornings, jam-packed days – we’re nuts. But we had a lot of fun and took over 1300 photos, so let’s get started.
We left on Wednesday morning and drove straight through, with the exception of one stop for gas, food, and bathrooms, so we got there just before dinner time. I’m like an impatient road trip Nazi and I really, really hate to make any stops along the way, I just want to GET there. Luckily, neither of us needed to stop more than once each way, and we didn’t hit any traffic coming or going, except for a 25-minute or so annoyance over the GW Bridge, so I would definitely recommend leaving around 9am on a weekday if you’re planning a similar trip.
We booked a couple of tours through our Senator’s office and the Capitol tour was by far our favorite. I have so many photos of the Capitol building from every angle, it’s ridiculous. It’s just such a massive building, and the architecture, just as with every other building in the city, is incredible.
The inside was gorgeous as well and we learned a few little anecdotes about the rooms, paintings, and history of the Capitol building.
From the Capitol there is an underground tunnel to the Library of Congress, which is hands down the most beautiful building we managed to get into. I highly recommend checking it out if you end up nearby.
We toured The Bureau of Engraving and Printing where we learned how money is made. Unfortunately, there were no free samples, but they do sell some in their gift shop as shredded up insides of Christmas ornaments, pens, and cards.
At the last minute (the night before we left!) we found out that we got to take a tour of The Pentagon. I was beyond excited for this, but it ends up that we were a little underwhelmed because you don’t really see much except for the hallways and some memorabilia that you pass by quickly. This is the only photo we were allowed inside the Pentagon.
We weren’t able to get a tour of the White House, so this was as close as we got to it. I was really hoping to meet Bo, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
We climbed the Washington Monument (by elevator!) and looked out over the city from all directions.
We checked out the Smithsonian American History, Natural History, and Air & Space museums. For as excited as I was about the American History museum, I expected a lot more pop culture and found that I was a little bored with what we saw.
The Natural History museum, however, ended up being better than I expected. I’m not sure what I thought it would be like, but it reminded me a lot of the Museum of Science in Boston.
The Air & Space museum was full of gigantic planes and shuttles to photograph and walk through. This was another museum that I ended up liking more than I expected. We even came back the next night to see a show in the planetarium.
One thing I was REALLY unimpressed with was the Holocaust Museum. We had heard from several people that it’s a really emotional place and very moving. Maybe we’re cold-hearted jerks, but all we saw was an exhibit for children that was pretty unimpressive and lots of empty space, so we left shortly after we arrived. Maybe we missed something? It was actually kind of bizarre walking from empty room to empty hallway, so I’m thinking we did?
What we didn’t miss was a pretty crazy thunderstorm. Of course, while this storm was occurring, we weren’t indoors, but in a wide open expanse of land known as Arlington National Cemetery. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to be exact. In case you ever wondered, those guards do stay out in inclement weather even when lightning is flashing not far away and the rain is pouring down on their very heavy-looking military uniform. To top it all off, we got kicked out in the middle of the storm because the park was closing immediately after the final changing of the guard ceremony, so we walked back to the Metro with my camera wrapped in Dan’s shirt, hoping not to get struck by lightning.
Speaking of the Metro? SO much nicer than the T in Boston. It’s pretty easy to follow, as once your inside the city you can take almost any train to the main tourist attractions, and we were blown away by how neat and clean it was. And air-conditioned!
Of course we visited several of the monuments. The Iwo Jima statue was roughly about 8x larger than I expected. It’s monstrous.
When we got tired of tours, monuments, and historical museums, we visited Madame Tussaud’s!
By far, the best place we ate at was Capitol City Brewing Company. In fact, it was the only place we visited off of the list I had made beforehand, since we spent most of the time at our hotel restaurant or grabbing snacks and fast food while wandering around.
Definitely glad Capitol City Brewing was the place we chose to check out because my black bean burger with avocado aioli, cilanto rice, and soft pretzel “dinner roll” (omg.) were all great!
We crammed a lot into three days and our feet were definitely feeling it, but our wallets certainly didn’t. I still can’t believe that most of the museums and tours are free, so if you’re looking for an inexpensive summer trip, this is a great option. AND! People are obscenely nice there! Cars were letting us cross the street, people were asking if we needed help finding something, and no one huffed and puffed if we slowed them down by a millisecond while trying to figure out where we were headed. I love me some Boston, but this was a welcome change.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Part II involves lots of chocolate, so I hope you come back for that also. 😉