Ah summer! School’s out, the work-pace is slowing down…time to pack up the kids and get away for awhile. Unfortunately today’s economic climate has a lot of us thinking about forgoing this summer ritual. Vacations are turning into ‘staycations’ as we tighten our belts and look for ways to trim our budgets. But travel doesn’t have to break the bank…even family travel. Full of history and relevance, Washington, D.C has always been a popular destination for parents and children. The fact that many of the capital’s attractions are free is an added bonus that makes the nation’s first city an especially attractive travel destination for families. You can spend a day, a weekend or even a fortnight here without spending a fortune! To get you started on your tour of the nation’s first city why not:
- * Watch money being made at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 14th and C Streets SW, (866) 874-2330, www.moneyfactory.gov (really!).
- *See how the mail moves at the National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, (202) 633-5555, www.postalmuseum.si.edu.
- *Ogle some pandas at the National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, Smithsonian Information: (202)633-1000, www.nationalzoo.si.edu .
- *You can even go for a mule-drawn canal boat ride down the C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) Canal, Georgetown Visitor Center, 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, (202) 653-5190, www.nps.gov/choh.
The hardest part of your trip will be deciding on an itinerary. The following list is only a sampling of all that this ‘City of a Thousand Thrills’ has to offer. Visit their web sites or call for additional information.
- *National Aquarium – Learn about America’s Aquatic Treasures, in the lower level of the Department of Commerce Building on 14th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, (202) 482-2825, www.nationalaquarium.org.
- *Visit the Building Zone or check out a Family Tool Kit at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW, www.nbm.org.
- *Tour the open-air rooms of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and get to know our 32nd President. The park is sure to be a hit with visitors of all ages with the waterfalls, reflecting pools and numerous resting spots. 900 Ohio Drive SW, (202) 426-6841, www.nps.gov/frde .
- *For a hands-on science experience you won’t want to miss the Marion Koshland Science Museum where with the help of the Lights at Night exhibit you can view your hometown (or the entire planet Earth) at night! The museum is on the northeast corner of 6th & E Streets NW, (202) 334-1201, www.koshland-science-museum.org.
- *Take a spin on The Carousal on the National Mall. 900 Jefferson Drive SW, (202) 633-1000. Click on www.nca-usa.org/psp/NationalMall for some wonderful photos of this wooden landmark.
- *Looking for dinosaurs? Head to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. The museum houses several world-class collections and exhibits including ones focusing on entomology (bugs), and meteorites. Find it at the intersection of 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, (202) 633-1000, www.mnh.si.edu.
- *The stunning exhibits, artifacts and photography at the National Geographic Museum make it a memorable stop. 1145 17th Street NW, (202) 857-7588, www.ngmuseum.org.
- *The International Spy Museum at 800 F Street NW, (202) 654-0930, www.spymuseum.org will capture the imagination (and attention) of any espionage aficionado.
- *Smithsonian Institution Building, aka the Castle, 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW, (202) 633-1000, www.si.edu/visit/infocenter/sicastlehtm is where you will find information on all things Smithsonian, in six languages, no less and a scale model of the federal city.
So, go ahead…get away from it all this year. Pack up the kids and take them to the ‘heart of America’, Washington, D.C. Your only problem will be trying to fit in all that the city has to offer – however long (or short) your stay!