Last year in homeschooling our emphasis was on the United States. We studied its history, and then studied its Geography. The kids learned what it was like leading up to our independence and beyond, and they memorized all the states, capitals, and many features from the map. It was a really great year; probably my favorite year of homeschooling thus far.
I had hoped we could complete the great year with a trip to our country’s capital, but figured we wouldn’t have the time or energy to plan a trip like that. And then out of nowhere one of our wedding couples asked us if we would be interested in coming to D.C. for their “day in the life” engagement session. It wasn’t until we agreed to it that it hit us….maybe the kids can come along!
Since we knew we’d be doing an all day shoot, we knew we needed someone to be with the kids. Enter Uncle J, who so graciously agreed to fly in from LA to hang with some of his most favorite little people on the planet.
We packed up and headed out on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, driving mostly back-roads from Cincy to the airport to pick up Uncle J. We did a blog post of our instagram photos a few months ago and you can find those HERE. Here are a handful from the big dog cameras….
In prepping for this trip I did as much research as I could (within a short period of time that I had) about how to tour D.C. with a family. Within this post are a few tips I found useful:
1. Rent a house instead of getting a hotel. We rented from vrbo.com, and were able to have our own bedrooms, cook, and hang out as if we lived in town.
Here is where we walked to from our house to wait for our trolley tour….
It was cool seeing the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, since it was a feature the kids memorized and labeled on their maps during the school year.
2. If you’re new-ish to D.C. I recommend starting your trip with a trolley tour on the first day. You’ll get an overview of the city in a day, and then you can branch out the days after with a knowledge of the lay of the land.
We LOVED the trolley tour, even despite temps in the upper 90′s (beats walking in that heat). It took us all around the city and we saw so many places we would NOT have traveled to otherwise.
Scenes of Georgetown, and the Washington Cathedral (where we did a family session):
The trolley stopped often for touring. We visited the Air & Space Museum….
We stopped for lunch at the Lincoln Memorial….
I worried about Gabe getting too overwhelmed and worn out. We literally walked and walked and walked with temps near 100 the whole weekend. But NOPE, he took over that city!
The kids memorized all 44 presidents. Singing the presidents became Gabe’s favorite song. He loved standing in the American History Museum, pointing and saying each president. I wonder what the guy in red (behind us) thought of the 4 year old singing that song. ;)
3. Have a plan for each day and look into museums and monuments to visit ahead of time.
4. Pack your lunch to save money, then have dinner at one of the many great restaurants around the city- but make a reservation first!
5. Pack plenty of water.
6. Don’t put too much pressure on your kids. They can only handle so much info at a time, and if you push them they will hate museums for the rest of their lives! Make it exciting and fun! I gave each kid a small notebook, scissors, a glue stick, and had them make travel journals. They picked up any brochures they found, maps, business cards, etc. and added to their trip journal at the end of each day.
We stayed in Georgetown. I fell in love.
I’m ashamed to admit the amount of money we blew at the local gelato place by our house. Yikes. (But so worth it.)
All happy and sugared UP!
It was a jam packed, sweaty, tiring, but super exciting family trip. We loved having Uncle J there with us, and we did so much in just a couple days! We can’t wait to take the kids back in a few years!