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Tuesday Travels: The Washington, D.C. Edition

Welcome to Tuesday Travels.  Each week, a grand city will be featured with highlights on inexpensive or free family activities, especially when you have little ones in tow.  After an inspirational Independence Day, it’s only appropriate to feature our nation’s capital.  This week’s guest blogger is Chris from Rude Cactus.  I’ve been an avid reader of Chris’ blog for almost 3 years.  He’s a dad to beautiful Mia and cute little Owen, and he’s here to be your tour guide of Washington, D.C.!


There are lots of things associated with Washington DC that aren’t so great. You know – red tape, bloated government, corrupt politicians, and crime. You get the idea. The problem is that these things often overshadow the great things about the city, specifically some of the great things the city has to offer families. Many of them free.

There are 14 museums run by the Smithsonian Institution. And they’re all free. Yes, I said free. Choose from the African Art Museum, Air and Space Museum and Udvar-Hazy Center, American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery, American Indian Museum, Anacostia Community Museum, Arts and Industries Building, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Natural History Museum, Portrait Gallery, Postal Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution Building. Now, sure, I realize that kids (and even lots of adults) might not be keen on visiting art museums or portrait galleries. But give the Air and Space Museum a try. Better yet, catch a ride out to Dulles airport and visit the Udvar-Hazy Center. Like all the museums it’s free but it’ll cost you $12 to park (a bargain for those of us used to parking in garages in DC). It’s worth the extra time – there’s an airplane hangar of helicopters, planes, rockets and even a space shuttle waiting for you.

If you’re in town on an unseasonably cool day or just don’t mind the heat, check out the National Zoo. The zoo boasts a relatively new Asia Trail and, of course, pandas. And who doesn’t like pandas?

The things most associated with DC (other than those politicians and red tape) are the monuments erected to commemorate people and events in our country’s history. Be sure to visit the biggies – the Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, FDR, Vietnam, Korean and World War II monuments. But don’t forget about the more obscure monuments. Like the monument to Maine lobstermen, the oft-overlooked monument to the Titanic or the last-surviving monument to temperance. If you get hungry and simultaneously feel the urge to see the what’s reported to be the country’s oldest elevator, stop by the Potbelly’s on Indiana Avenue and take a look.

Of course, Washington DC is full of intrigue. To see just how much – and maybe learn the art of a good dead-drop yourself – check out the International Spy Museum. Unlike most of the city’s museums, there is a charge but if you’re interested in the history of spying, you couldn’t find a better place. Just around the corner is a place known for intrigue – Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. It’s worth stopping in and seeing this landmark. And it’s absolutely free of charge.

So, there you have it – an insanely brief tour of our Nation’s capital. Now, don’t forget to drop me a line and tell me when you’re going to visit.


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