Day 2: Monuments, Museums, and the Tidal Basin
Breakfast: On the Move
Grab a light breakfast at or near your hotel before getting ready for some serious sightseeing. It’s worth packing some snacks, too, since you’ll be walking a fair amount.
AM: Monuments Tour
A 1.5-mile stroll from the paddle boat dock around the west side of the Tidal Basin will take you past the Jefferson, FDR, and Martin Luther King Jr. memorials. After that, choose from the following for pictures and glimpses of the country’s history:
Tip: Though the monuments look close together on a map, the walk can turn from enjoyable
to exhausting in a hurry. Consider stopping by the Washington Monument or the World
War II Memorial during one of your other visits to the Mall to keep from making any
particular sightseeing experience too long for the kids to handle without complaint.
Casual French cafe and patisserie Paul opened its US flagship in Penn Quarter in May 2011. The order-then-sit-down eatery offers mostly sandwiches, soups, and salads along with a huge variety of house-made breads and pastries.
Next: Explore the National Museum of Natural History
Nearly as popular as the Air and Space Museum, Natural History sits on the Mall and houses more than 126 million items. Highlights include a 13-foot Fénykövi elephant from Angola that sits under the central dome of the rotunda, the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond in the Gems and Minerals gallery, and a Imax theater that shows nature movies on a six-story-high screen.
Admission, as with all Smithsonian museums, is free; for $6, you can also visit Butterfly Pavilion to view hundreds of live butterflies and moths.
If You Have Time: Head to the Museum of American History
For everything from Dorothy Gale’s ruby slippers to the original Star-Spangled Banner and Thomas Edison’s 1879 lightbulb, stop by this museum of all things American. The first floor focuses on transportation, technology, and innovation, and includes the first car ever driven across the country. On the second floor, don’t miss the original Greensboro lunch country from the 1960 sit-ins, and on the third floor, make sure to stop by the “American Stories” gallery.
Take a Break at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden
Give your weary feet a rest while taking in the art at this picturesque spot on the Mall. Vendors nearby sell water and ice creams, and adults can enjoy art by Joan Miró, Louise Bourgeois, and more.
Dinner: Hill Country
This buzzing barbecue spot offers child-friendly clamor, as well as juicy spareribs, baked beans, and crumbly cornbread. Kids can feast on Texas sheet cake for dessert, while adults can indulge in some of the spicy signature cocktails.
If You Have Time: Take in City Views at the Old Post Office Tower
The Old Post Office Pavilion was built on Pennsylvania Ave in 1899, and part of the
structure is a 315-foot clock tower which offers 360 degree views of the city, including
the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and others. National Park Service Rangers give
free tours every day, and no reservations are necessary. The tower closes at 8 PM