I decided to celebrate both my birthday and my retirement with a week in our nation’s capital. We both love the city and there is so much to do there. We booked our tickets in February and then began to plan the details of our trip. While we didn’t do everything on the wish list, we did plenty as you will see in this and the coming posts. I’m going to do the same as I did for our trip to the North Shore last summer and do one post for each day of the trip. Please come along as I show you in photos everything we saw and did, and ate in D.C.
We arrived on a Wednesday and left the following Wednesday so we had 6 full days. Shortly after we booked our flights I noticed that so many attractions would be closed. There weren’t any tours of the Capitol building or the White House, for starters. Okay, well, you work around that then. The Air and Space Museum as well as the East Building of the National Gallery of Art would be closed for renovations. But there is so much to do and see and we planned around these closures and even did some new things this trip.
I researched attractions and restaurants on Trip Advisor and Google to create our agenda for this trip. I kept going back to attractions’ websites to see if anything changed and so many things opened up in time for our trip! I believe it was from Trip Advisor that I learned Capitol and White House tours would start again in April so I got right on that to get passes. And one of my favorites, the U.S. Botanic Garden, also opened up. That, along with the National Gallery of Art, are things I try to do every time I’m in D.C. I also checked attractions’ websites to see if timed entry passes were required and there were many that required them. The Smithsonian group of museums were all free but a few of the museums that we visited did require entry fees.
On our first day we started with the National Museum of African American History and Culture. My featured photo above is of this museum. We got timed entry passes 30 days prior and were there when it opened at 10:00. I had been there before and my group started in the lower levels which is recommended, and there is so much history!! But I didn’t time it well for that visit. I made lunch reservations too early and we had to rush through the 4th floor where all the cultural exhibits reside. For this trip I made sure to leave enough time between events and decided to not book a lunch reservation so that we didn’t have to rush. So, we started on the 4th floor and soaked in all the music, television, theatre and comedy displays. There is so much to the cultural exhibits!! The museum does a fabulous job documenting all the culture the Black community has contributed to American culture. In my opinion, it’s a must see.
Neither of us can spend more than two hours in any museum. It is just so much information that our brains get full and we need a break. And so it happened again with this morning’s museum. We spent so much time on the 4th floor that we rushed through the lower levels about slavery. Again, there is so much information and it is truly well done. You work your way through history of the slave trade and the many years of slavery. One of my favorite parts of this museum is coming up that last ramp on the lower levels to a huge photo of Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009. It still gives me the chills! And it’s so well placed.
We did not have time for the 2nd and 3rd floors which covers sports, the African American Military and an “Explore your family history” section. There is so much in this museum that it seems impossible to view it all in one visit, at least for us. I think you could probably spend an entire day at this museum and not see it all. Even so, we really enjoyed our time there and we both bought shirts in their gift shop. Following is a gallery of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
We lunched at Old Ebbitt’s Grill, a favorite of ours. I was pleasantly surprised to be seated immediately. We sat in the atrium which was new to us, and had another fabulous meal. Old Ebbitt’s is now part of the Clyde group of restaurants and they sure know how to treat their customers. Service and food were just right!
We chose 3:00 to visit the Library of Congress. This was one attraction whose hours changed between February and May. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough time at the Library of Congress because previously it was going to close at 4:00, but they extended hours on Thursdays which was the day we planned to visit so that worked out well. We got there a little early and they let us in.
Such a beautiful building inside!! And of course it’s full of history. There was no guided tour this time but there were museum clientele throughout to inform about the Gutenberg Bible, the Reading Room overlook and other spots throughout. We didn’t stop at all of them but really enjoyed the beauty and ornate decorations within. We also saw the Rosa Parks exhibit which was very interesting. I highly recommend a visit to the Library of Congress.
Oh, I forgot to mention that on our way to today’s events we happened upon the new World War I memorial. It’s in Pershing Park which is in between the Willard Hotel and the White House Visitors Center and about a block away from the White House. The American flag was raised over the World War I Memorial for the first time on Friday, April 16, 2021 at the formal unveiling of the memorial. The sculpture “A soldier’s journey” is scheduled for installation in 2024. In the meantime you see a photo of it on a wall and it is quite moving. Here are the photos that I took.
I found a bit more information at the following link which contains a mock-up of what the sculpture will look like:
Here’s a brief description from that site:
Memorial architect Joe Weishaar calls Sabin Howard’s A Soldier’s Journey sculpture “The Everyman.” Thirty-eight separate figures, spread over approximately 58 feet of wall towards the western end of the Memorial Core, portray the experience of one American soldier. Starting from the left, the soldier takes leave from his wife and daughter, charges into combat, sees men around him killed, wounded, and gassed, and recovers from the shock to come home to his family. The figures are mounted on the wall.
I hope you will come back for the next five days of our trip!