This is the last edition to my East Coast Road Trip Series. If you’re behind, catch up with the first four stops on our trip: Acadia National Park, Maine, Niagara Falls, Boston, and Jersey Shore.
Our final and last stop was in Washington D.C. At this point, we were pretty much vacationed out, but nonetheless still excited to stop in D.C. I had been to Washington D.C. previously on a class trip in 8th grade, but Trevor never had. I was excited for him to see our nation’s capitol.
After we left Seaside Heights, New Jersey, we checked into our hotel located just a few blocks away from most of the main attractions. We stayed in D.C. for two nights, unlike the other stops on the trip where we only stayed one night (with the exception of camping in Maine).
If there is one thing that sticks out to be about this trip, it’s this: IT. WAS. HOT. Like, scorching hot. I specifically remember walking about the city that I thought there was a slight chance that I might die of a heatstroke. Oh and in case you were wondering, D.C. has basically no shade whatsoever in the city. But we didn’t let the 90 degree heat stop us !
The following are top 8 must-sees in D.C. that I highly recommend anyone planning a trip to the city to check out!
1.) Arlington National Cemetery
Even though the nation’s largest military cemetery is technically located in Virginia, I’m going to include it in this list. There are no words to describe Arlington. It’s vastness encompasses over 624 acres of land and is home to more than 400,000 graves since the Civil War. Notable names that have been buried at Arlington include the John, Robert, and Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.
2.) Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Although the Tomb of the Unknown Solider is located in Arlington, I want to individually point out how special this monument is. The Tomb sits atop a hill overlooking D.C. and represents an unidentified American solider form World War I. On the tomb reads, “Here rests in honored glory an American solider known but to God.” The tomb is located in a plaza of a beautiful, breathtaking marble Memorial Amphitheater.
3.) Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is a 555 foot tall obelisk looking over the nation’s capital. Made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss, it’s the world’s tallest stone structure. It was built in 1848 to commemorate George Washington. Visitors are allowed to tour and go up to the top of the monument for an extravagant sight-seeing experience. You really don’t realize how tall this structure is until you’re standing right under it!
4.) Lincoln Memorial
As the name suggests, the 12 foot Lincoln memorial was made to honor our 16th president, Honest Abe. Built in 1914, the memorial stands as a symbol of the Civil Rights movement, where 250,000 people crowded around to listen to Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
5.) The White House
Let’s be real here. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the place to be here in Washington D.C. Since John Adams in 1800, every single president as resided here at one point. On this trip I wasn’t able to go inside of it, but this is something I did when I was in 8th grade and would highly recommend to anyone else. Being the history buff that I am, I loved just being near someplace so historic and full of honor.
6.) Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an absolute must-see. The wall itself is both beautifully fascinating and devastating. To see the thousands upon thousands of inscripted names onto the stone really puts our American soldiers’ sacrifice into perspective. It sits on 2 acres and has about 3 million visitors each year. The wall is 246 feet long and has approximately 58,300 names. It’s one of those things that people can’t simply tell you about. You have to go experience it for yourself.
7.) National World War II Memorial
The National World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. and the more than 400,000 who died. The center point of the memorial is a gorgeous fountain surrounded by 56 granite pillars that represent each of the 48 lower states, as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska Territory and Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was opened in 2004 by George W. Bush.
The Memorial itself is incredibly humbling and beautiful. When we visited, there were people who were wading in the fountain and then were yelled at by a Memorial Worker to respect the Memorial, which I thought was great. As tempting as it was on that scorching day, I was not going to put my feet in that memorial.
8.) National Museum of American History- Smithsonian Museum
The Smithsonian is by far the coolest Museum I have ever been to in my life, aside from the 9/11 museum. Once again, the history buff in me was just dying. Awesome point of interest within the museum:
-Dorothy’s REAL shoes as seen in The Wizard of Oz
–Kermit the Frog
-The original Star Spangled Banner
-Original copy of the Gettysburg Address
and many, many more. The museum is HUGE. I mean, huge. It was hard to cover the whole museum in a single day. The first floor exhibits transportation and technology on the East wing; the west wing exhibits science and innovation. The second floor considers American ideals; the third floor exhibits America at war. There is also a newly renovated exhibit on American pop culture, AND there is a food court! There really is something for everyone in this museum.
9.) National Archives Museum
The National Archives Museum is our country’s storybook through historic documents. I was totally geeking out here. You can see the legit see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution & the Bill of Rights, just to name a few. The museum itself has a historic feel with dimly lit lights and a quiet atmosphere. Note: There is no photography allowed.
10.) The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the only attraction we didn’t visit on our road trip, but I had the pleasure to visit years back as an 8th grade student. It is our nation’s headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, technically located in Arlington County, Virginia. The one point of our trip that I didn’t get to visit was the memorial where the 9/11 attack occurred. Although 3,700,000 sq ft of the 6,500,000 sq ft of the Pentagon make up office space, the Pentagon is almost like its own little city with over 26,000 employees. It has over 20 of its own fast food operations, a cafe, a fitness center, and more.
Overall, D.C. is a must-visit destination for all Americans. If you haven’t already, make a point to stop and visit our beautiful nation’s capitol. You won’t regret it.
Have you been to Washington D.C. before? What points of interest would you recommend?
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