Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fabulous spring break in Washington DC

Today's post isn't going to be about anything specific, but a more personal type of blog post. We just finished up spring break in Fairfax County and had a fabulous time staying home and enjoying the local sites downtown. Some friends came to visit which made the week off even more fun.

Many people travel from afar to see Washington in the spring, so the streets were crowded and lines were long, but we covered a lot of the Mall areas. Earlier my daughter and I hopped the Metro to see the almost to peak cherry blossoms and once our friends arrived, we took on many parts of the city.

Friday was a busy day, first we visited the Supreme Court. I'd visited inside once before, but never sat in on a tour in the actual court. It was a very interesting experience to sit in the highest court in the land and listen to the Q & A session we'd attended. 

Courtroom Washington DC
Photos are not allowed inside the courtroom, but you can catch a glimpse in this photo
After this, we popped in next door to the Library of Congress and spent quite a bit of time here (I have a couple of blog posts I want to write about in the future about the LOC). 

LOC research room
Main research room at the Library of Congress

From the LOC we headed down towards the cherry blossoms as they were peaking at this point. Saw the pre-sunset views which were stunning! 

After that, we walked through the Mall and saw the Washington, WWII and Lincoln Memorials as the sun was just about to set. Another gorgeous view!

Lincoln Memorial on National Mall
Sunset over Lincoln Memorial March 2016
Fortunately, on Saturday traffic wasn't too bad getting downtown. We parked at Union Station and started off the afternoon with a Capitol tour. The restoration is still ongoing, but it was nice to see the top of the dome back to its shiny white. The inside is still full of scaffold, but our guide said this should be coming down late summer or early fall. Since we were right at the tunnel, we popped back over at the LOC for another quick visit.

Afterwards, we walked down to the National Archives. As expected, there was a long line, but it moved quickly which was great. We didn't stay long. I really like visiting the Archives, but I wish on busy days they'd set up a better viewing system in the Rotunda. The officer asked everyone to be kind to one another during his presentation prior to entering, but clearly a few people weren't paying attention. 

At other times of year their system works, but not so much on spring break. My family was shoved out of the queue to see the Declaration of Independence by two tweens and a mother who demanded she needed to "stay with her girls". She pulled the same card a few minutes later to get further ahead of people. One of my friends was actually cussed at by a man who was standing in front of one of the documents with his child in a stroller with his back to it, totally blocking anyone else from seeing the document. Not the best experience there on this trip.

After that we made the trek back up to Union Station where we grabbed a bite to eat and then got on our moonlight bus tour. Now THAT was fabulous. It was the second time I'd done this and, while the one we did last year was good, this one was fantastic. More on this in a future blog post. We had booked our tour with Old Town Trolley and Mike was our guide. Great stuff! 

Iwo Jima Memorial
Marine Corps War Memorial (also referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial)
On Sunday we visited the National Zoo to see the pandas and a few other exhibits. Little Bei Bei was out, but not the other pandas. The little one was sound asleep. I couldn't get a good view of him, but a family member did.

National Zoo Bei Bei sleeping
Photo Credit: DL
After a couple of hours at the zoo we headed over to Pennsylvania Avenue to see the White House and the Old Executive Building. Monday, the last day of break for Fairfax County, was back to the American History Museum, but alas, that line was still so long and didn't appear to be moving very quickly, so the kidlet and I headed back down to the cherry blossoms for one last peek before these beauties were done for the year. 

I'd been on or near the Tidal Basin several times this week and I'm really glad we went on Monday. It was the best viewing day of all. The wind made it a bit "snowy", just gorgeous.
cherry blossoms at Tidal Basin, Washington DC
Gorgeous cherry blossoms showing on March 28, 2016

Cherry blossoms in Washington DC


  1. I ADORED this post. The pictures were fabulous and the dialogue was just great. The LOC is something I would love to see. The one time I was there as a kid, we stayed at the Iwo Jima Motel. I wonder if it is still there. Ha!

    1. I'm so glad you liked the post! Thanks for the great comment. You would totally love the LOC. The first time I went, I spent hours in there just looking at the architecture, was so in awe of that I didn't even know there were so many exhibits to see until my 2nd visit.
      (I'm not sure if that motel is there, I looked it up, and there is a Best Western that might be it?)