We lived in DC for eight years after college. I LOVE that city. In fact, we're talking about getting back this year for a visit since the kids have been learning American history this year. DC is like one big history experience.
Every once in awhile a friend will ask for advice on what to see or do while they visit there. Since it's vacation planning season, here's my hit list. Today I'll talk about my absolute must-sees -- and the great thing is most of it is free!
Holocaust Museum. Fabulous. Thought provoking. Horrifying. All at the same time. One key...make sure you stay at the end of the ticketed exhibit to watch the survivor stories at the end to end on a hope note. It's been several years, but I believe they still operate on timed-entry tickets. So my advice is to show up first thing in the morning to get your ticket, then go see something else and return based on your entry time. The exhibit will take at least an hour. If you don't have a timed entry pass, there is a children's exhibit that I believe does not require the ticket.
National Gallery of Art: take one of the one hour tours for a quick overview of the gallery and introduction to the key paintings like the only Leonardo DaVinci in the western hemisphere. I prefer the West Gallery because it has art from the 13th century to early 2oth century. The East Gallery has the modern art -- but does have awesome temporary exhibits from time to time. And it has a wonderful impressionist collection...that's my favorite part...
The American History Museum (Smithsonian): has great exhibits, but a really fun one is the first ladies' inaugural gowns.
All three of these things are on the Mall -- so right downtown. And you can do these in a day. It'll feel a bit rushed but is doable.
Next on the list is the Air and Space Museum. The first time I went, we had one hour. My sister and I stepped foot in each exhibit...but I can't say I learned much. You could literally spend three or four hours there. I have not been to the expansion at Dulles Airport, but I've heard it's great, too. I'm referring to the one on the mall -- basically across from the National Art Gallery and near the Capital. While not inexpensive, the Air and Space Museum has a food court in it, so it's a good place to land when you're hungry. It also has an IMAX theater.
Hmm, I think that's enough for today. All of these places are great for kids and adults alike. Come back Friday for the rest of our tour of the wonderful free experiences in Washington, D.C.