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Monday - Day 1

Roanoke ⋅ Union Station ⋅ Smithsonian National Zoo ⋅ Lincoln Memorial ⋅ Korean War Veterans Memorial ⋅ Vietnam War Veterans Memorial ⋅ World War II Memorial ⋅ Potomac Pizza ⋅ Embassy Suites

If you’re visiting DC, I hope my blog will help you plan accordingly and get the maximum experience from your trip. The key to going to DC is having enough time, and planning properly. We decided to spend 6 days in the District for spring break to take our youngest son to explore the city and see the museums and monuments. I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan ahead. The further in advance you plan, the better experience you’re going to have in D.C. Here is how our vacation went, what we did, and what we spent. Hopefully it will help you plan your trip as well!

Our trip started off on the wrong foot before we even left home. We were set to leave on Monday morning, and Friday evening I threw my back out lifting a case of water. Fun!! Saturday and Sunday I could not move from my couch and was in so much pain. We had planned this trip for a while though, so I was not backing out. I did pack a large bottle  of Aleve Back & Pain Relief but that’s the best that I could do.



Monday morning is when our trip to DC began. We took Amtrak from Roanoke, VA to DC. I paid $7 per person each way from Roanoke to Union Station in DC. We woke up at 4:30am so we could stop at Bojangles and get breakfast to take on the train with us. We were set to leave Roanoke at 6:20am on the 176 NE Regional. The Amtrak station in Roanoke is a single platform with no attendant and no facilities. It also has multiple tracks that Norfolk Southern also uses. About 6:15am, a Norfolk Southern train came through, which delayed our Amtrak train from arriving. We were delayed 20 minutes. 

Finally Amtrak arrived and we were able to get on our car and start our journey north. We were set to arrive at Union Station at 11:25am. The trip from Roanoke to DC was very uneventful. We arrived at Union Station around noon thanks to the delay in getting started. The great thing about taking the train from Roanoke, is that the NE Regional originates in Roanoke so there’s nobody on board when the train gets there. It’s usually pretty empty until you get to Charlottesville, where the UVA kids get on. From Charlottesville, there are several stops along the way that has a good amount of passengers board.

Once we arrived at Union Station, we went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, then we went up to the Metro platform to head to our hotel. We purchased our SmartTrip Metro cards at Union Station.

Normally I just use my phone and I would have used the WMATA app for this trip as well, but my wife wanted an actual SmartTrip card for our son in case his battery died on his phone. So we paid for cards this trip. We purchased the unlimited 7 day pass, which is $58 per person plus a $2 fee for the card for a grand total of $60 for unlimited rides for 7 days. This is the same cost on the app as well. Be sure to download the SmartTrip app on your phone or you can get a card like we did. The cost is thre same.

Once we got out cards, we headed to our hotel.

I am a Hilton Honors Diamond member, so I stick with Hilton properties when we travel. After looking at many hotels in and around DC and comparing, I ended up booking us at the Embassy Suites DC / Chevy Chase Pavilion. This hotel is in DC but right at the border. The DC/MD border is in front of the hotel.

This is a very nice hotel. They have made to order breakfast which is nice, unlike conventional hotel breakfast. My wife loved their omlettes. Across the street from the hotel is several restaurants including Clyde’s, Potomac Pizza and several other eateries. There’s also a shopping plaza across the street as well as a bus station. The hotel itself is in an old abandoned mall. There is a Cheesecake Factory at the hotel, on the 3rd floor which is nice! There’s also a Metro stop at the hotel, you simply take the escalator down from the hotel lobby into the Metro station. For reference, it’s the Friendship Heights Metro Station on the red line.

Once we got to the hotel, we went straight to our room to drop our bags off. Then we had a day to begin!

We went downstairs of our hotel and hopped on the Metro. We took the red line 2 stops to Cleveland Park, where we would exit the Metro and walk to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. The next stop on the Metro is Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan, but if you get off at the Cleveland Park Metro stop, you’re walking downhill to the zoo. From the Metro stop, it’s a 0.5mi walk through the Cleveland Park area to the Zoo Entrance. There are shops and restaurants along the way if you need to stop.

When you go to the Smithsonain National Zoo, you need tickets to enter. The tickets are free and there isn’t any charge. You just need to get the dated tickets to enter. You do not need to print them out, they can be on your phone. There were a bunch of people outside the entrance getting their tickets, so I would suggest getting your tickets in advance, just to ensure you get the date you want to go. I got our tickets on March 12th for our April 10th entry.

We got into the zoo, and spend a while walking around, seeing the animals and enjoying ourselves. The weather was perfect but I was in a lot of pain from my back. I was sitting down every chance I got to rest. The zoo was nice and clean, but there were a ton of people there and honestly it was a bit underwhelming. We frequent the North Carolina Zoo and it’s one of the largest zoos in the nation so I am often comparing other zoos to that.

I was so glad that we entered the zoo from the Cleveland Park Metro Stop because everything was downhill from there. Otherwise it’s a long hike up a hill at the zoo.

Once we were finished at the Smithsonian National Zoo, we were ready to head to our next destination. Rather than walking back up a hill to the Cleveland Park Metro Station, we decided to just catch an Uber to our next stop. Since it was only 3 of us without any bags, a regular UberX was good for us. Pheap picked us up in his Toyota Camry and took us to the Lincoln Memorial for a total cost of $22.92. He dropped us off right at the memorial and that’s where we began.

The Lincoln Memorial operates 24hrs a day, is free and is on the O/S/B line at the Smithsonian Metro Stop (12th St & Independence Exit). The DC Circulator also stops here at Lincoln Memorial Circle (Stop 9 on the red line)

First, we walked up to the top of the Lincoln Memorial to check it out and get pictures of the memorial as well as the reflecting pool looking back into DC.

Once we finished at the Lincoln Memorial, we walked over to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The Korean War Veterans War Memorial is to the left of the Lincoln Memorial. This was very touching. There are many inscribed named into the wall, as well as statues of Korean War Veterans. While we were there, there were members from the South Korean Military doing a wreath ceremony. It’s a great memorial to check out. It’s at the same stop as the Lincoln Memorial as mentioned above and operates 24hs a day.

After we spent time at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, we walked over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This is a long wall with a list of names of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. The wall has over 58,000 names inscribed. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is to the right of the Lincoln Memorial, and is open 24hrs a day. If you do not get off at the Smithsonian Metro Stop, you can also exit at Foggy Bottom from the O/B/S lines.

We walked along the Vietnam Veterans Memorial back toward the Washington Monument, along the Reflecting Pool to the World War II Memorial

The World War II Memorial is dedicated to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in World War II. This is a pretty large memorial with a beautiful fountain in the center.

After we were finished at the World War II Memorial, we decided to head back toward our hotel and get dinner. It had been a long day and we were tired and hungry. We took the DC Circulator from the World War II Memorial back to Union Station, where we would get on the red line back to our hotel. Once we got to the hotel, we walked across the street to Potomac Pizza. We wanted something quick and easy and close to the hotel since we were so tired. I could hardly move by this point. At Potomac Pizza, the service was great and the food was EXCELLENT. This is one of the better pizzas I have had. The ingredients are chopped, not diced so it’s larger ingredients, including actual bacon instead of bacon bits. I highly recommend Potomac Pizza. If you’re staying at the Embassy Suites, it’s across the street from the hotel. Walk through the bus station and you’re there.

After we got full on our dinner, we walked next door to Amazon Fresh to grab some drinks and snacks for the hotel. Then we walked back to the hotel to take showers and call it a night. I am pretty sure everyone was asleep before 9pm. 

Today: 17,705 steps / 8.22mi

Tuesday - Day 2

Ford’s Theater ⋅ Peterson House ⋅ The White House ⋅ Arlington National Cemetery ⋅ The Pentagon ⋅ Clydes

We woke up about 7am and went downstairs at the hotel to eat breakfast. We all slept really good last night! The breakfast at the hotel was really good, and was cooked to order. After we ate breakfast, we were ready to begin our day. We took the escalator down to the Metro station where we got on the red line (which is the only line that comes to the hotel). We took the red line to Metro Center, which is where we would exit the train.

From Metro Center, we took the 11th Street exit and walked fo historic Ford’s Theater. The Metro Stop is 0.1mi from Ford’s Theater in a very easy flat walk. Ford’s Theater is where John Wilkes Booth shot and ultimately killed Abraham Lincoln. The theater is open from 9a-5p 7 days a week. The cost varies based on what you want to include with your visit. The price ranges from $3.50-$11.00 per person. All tickets include the aftermath exhibits, including the gun that Booth used to shoot President Lincoln with. It also includes other artifacts such as the pillow that Lincoln was using when he died, complete with blood stains. All tickets also include entrance to the Peterson House.

Ford’s Theater is still an active theater that’s still used for performances today. If you do the Ranger Talk, there’s a US Park Ranger that will tell the story of how it all happened, and you can see the presidential box where President Lincoln was shot. This is a very fascinating experience.

Once we were finished at Ford’s Theater, we walked across the street to the Peterson House. The Peterson House is where they carried President Lincoln after he was shot to take care of him and where he died. You also can see the bed where he died as well as the room that was the power of the United States for a brief moment in history.

After we were finished at the Peterson House, we started to venture toward The White House, as we had reservations to tour there. We walked a half-mile from the Peterson House to the White House. If you’re using a rideshare service, you’ll want to go to 1450 Pennsylvania Ave, which is the White House Visitors Center.

We had to wait a bit since we were early for our reservation but once the time came, we got in line and quickly got in. You first are stopped by a US Park Ranger to see your ticket. Then you proceed to the US Secret Service where you begin the security screening process. There are multiple screening stations you go through. It’s very secure as you would imagine. Once you finally get through US Secret Service clearance, you’re allowed to enter the east wing of The White House. The tour is self guided, and very limited. You see the corridor, the movie theater, the Vermeil Room, the Library, the China Room, the East Room, the main hallway, the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the State Dining Room, and the staircase.

While limited, it was very awesome to see the inside of The White House, even if it were only the east wing. We did not see the President, only US Secret Service agents. Many of them!

If you’re just going to see the outside of The White House, it’s located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and the best Metro stop is McPherson Square or Farragut West on the O/S/B lines.

If you wish to go inside of The White House, you have to submit your request through your state representative. For us, I went through Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-09). I contacted his office on January 19th. They submitted my request that day. I heard back from The White House the same day with a link to register. I submitted the dates we would be in DC and they pick a date/time for you. I heard back from The White House on March 28th with confirmation for us to come on April 11th. This is one ticket you have to actually print out.

We were finished at The White House, so our next plans were to go to Arlington Cemetery. We walked from The White House up to Eye Street Grill (on I St.) for some lunch. They made my wifes sandwich wrong, and mine was buffet. Nothing was good here. It was nasty and expensive. I would stay away from this place!

From Eye Street Grill, we walked over to McPherson Square Metro Station, where we got on the blue line to Arlington. We got off at Arlington Cemetery stop and went and got on the trolley. You can go to the cemetery free. However, I highly recommend the trolley. You can hop on/hop off as you need to. They make four stops; President John F. Kennedy gravesite, John J. Pershing Gravesite, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Arlington House. Tickets range from $5.25 to $19.50 (uniformed military and veterans are free). This saves a TON of walking and they tell you key plots as you go around. Be sure to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

My son really enjoyed this and it is a powerful experience. We spent several hours here.

Arlington National Cemetery operates 8a-5p 365 days a year. It’s located at the Arlington National Cemetery stop along the blue line.

After we were finished at Arlington National Cemetery, we walked back to the Arlington Cemetery Metro Station, where we got back on the blue line to the next stop which is the Pentagon. We went to the Pentagon to see the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon. This is a very touching memorial dedicated to those who were killed at the Pentagon in the terror attacks on September 11th 2001. If you look at the Pentagon side where the memorial is located, that’s the section where Flight 77 struck the Pentagon on 9/11, killing 189 people.

This memorial is free, open 24/7 and is at the Pentagon stop along the blue line.

Once we finished at the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon, we got back on the Metro to head back to the hotel. It was time for dinner. We took the blue line back up to Metro Center, where we transferred to the red line back to the hotel. Once we got to the hotel, we walked up to Clyde’s for dinner. This is next to Potomac Pizza that I mentioned earlier. The service was great and the food was fantastic!! I ordered a fried chicken sandwich and it was probably the best fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever had. My wife had steak and my son a burger.

After we ate, we walked back to the hotel, took showers and crashed. I think we were all asleep by 9:30!

Today: 16,795 steps / 7.91mi

Wednesday, Day 3

US Supreme Court ⋅ US Capitol ⋅ National Museum of American History ⋅ Cheesecake Factory

We got up today about 7am again and went downstairs to the hotel to grab breakfast and hop on the Metro. We had another busy day today! First we took the train to Union Station where we got off, and walked 0.6mi up to the United States Supreme Court. Since we got there early, there was no line. We walked right in. You can walk around the US Supreme Court and see the building, and peek inside the courtroom, as long as there is no cases being heard that day. The US Supreme Court is a very powerful building and you can feel it when you’re inside. It’s free to enter, and is open from 9a-3p M-F.

After we spent time at the United States Supreme Court, we walked across the street to the United States Capitol Building. We had timed tickets to visit here. The United States Capitol is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30a-4:30p. You need a timed ticket to visit The United States Capitol

The United States Capitol is an incredible building. Once you go through security and enter, you see the crypt which is amazing in itself. From there, you go to the rotunda which is very popular and busy. This is also where prestigious folks lie in state, such as a President once they pass. You also get to see the monument room, which is full of, you guessed it, monuments. The US Capitol is a guided tour and you cannot go off on your own.

If you’re on a tour of the Capitol, you can walk from Union Station Metro stop. Alternatively, you can get there via the Capitol South stop on the O/S/B lines

You can also get to the United States Capitol via the DC Circulator. You exit at the 3rd St. NW near Madison Dr NW (stop #15) on the red line (National Mall loop)

After we finished at the United States Capitol building, we walked back to Union Station where we would get on the DC Circulator to go to the National Museum of American History. Out of the 17 Smithsonian museums, this one is my favorite by far. I think it’s because I can live my childhood here. It’s also very modern. We started off in the cafe where we had lunch. Then, we went to visit the exhibits. They have old cars, old computers, dresses former first ladies wore, the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. They also have Mr. Rogers sweater and shoes, a guitar owned by Prince, Kermit muppet from 1955, Supermans outfit, Archie Bunkers’ chair, props from M.A.S.H., the hat Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was shot, and last but not least, the Star Spangled Banner that originally waved over Fort McHenry. This museum is massive and you can easily spend an entire day here.

We finally finished the National Museum of American History, then walked over to the Smithsonian Metro stop, where we hopped on the orange line to go up to Metro Center to transfer to the red line, so we could go back to the hotel. We were beat and my back was killing me. I was so sore. Once we got back to the hotel, we walked downstairs to Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I didn’t feel like going anywhere else. We had dinner, then went to the hotel room to chill the rest of the night.

Once I went to pay at the Cheesecake Factory, I realized I had lost my Chase card. I knew where I lost it; at the museum. My wife immediately froze the account on Chases website. Thankfully there were no charges made. I submitted a lost item form on the Smithsonian’s website.

Today: 17,054 steps / 7.99mi

Thursday, Day 4

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center ⋅ National Museum of Natural History ⋅  United States Law Enforcement Memorial ⋅ Embassy Row ⋅  Clyde’s

The first thing I do when I wake up, is check my email. I woke up to an email from the Smithsonian that they had my Chase card. I told them that they could shred the card, because I locked the account and a new card was being sent to me. Super fast response from them!!

Today was going to be a busy day for us. We started out about 8am and went to get breakfast downstairs at the hotel. Once we ate, we got on the metro and headed for Metro Center, where we would get on the silver line and head out to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia. The Udvar-Hazy Center is open 10a-5:30p every day except Christmas Day. Admission is free and tickets aren’t needed. Parking is $15.

We took the silver line from Metro Center to Innovation Center Metro Stop which is in Fairfax County. Once we got off of the Metro at Innovation Center, we hopped on the Fairfax Connector #983 which runs every 25 minutes. The cost for the Fairfax Connector is $2 and it drops you off at the front door of the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Once we got inside the Udvar-Hazy Center, we began exploring. This museum is massive with tons of aircraft, including but not limited to a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, the Enola Gay and spaceshuttle Discovery. You could spend the day here. This is one museum that I highly recommend. My sons favorite was the Discovery and Enola Gay. They also have the ‘basket’ from the Goodyear Blimp, Felix Baumgardner’s space capsule, a jet from the Blue Angels, a USCG helicopter and many other aircraft.

After we finished touring the museum, we went to Shake Shack located inside of the complex. As I have posted in other blog entries, we met and talked to the founder of Shake Shack in Miami Beach and he was awesome to my kids, so we try to go there whenever possible. However the one at the Udvar-Hazy Center I cannot recommend. The food itself was good but it was so slow. It took an HOUR to get our food. Many people were getting refunds because they waited so long and they stopped taking orders at one point because they couldn’t get orders out. I would not waste time here.

After we finished eating, we hopped back on the Fairfax Connector #983 back to Innovation Center, where we would get on the silver line Metro back to DC. We took the Metro back into DC, where we would get off at Metro Center and get on the red line and go 2 stops to Judiciary Square. We wanted to go to the National Law Enforcement Memorial, which we did. This is something we visit every time we come to DC. This wall is inscribed with names of law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Many of them are from September 11th, 2001. I highly recommend visiting this if you can. If you exit the Judiciary Square Metro stop, it’s at the top of the escalator so you don’t go far. The memorial is open 24/7.

There is also a museum, which we did not visit. It’s kinda pricey at $21.95 a person. My wife and I will return one day but didn’t want to pay that for my son.

Once we were finished at the National Law Enforcement Memorial, I had tickets to the National Air & Space Museum in DC. However it was close to our ticket time, and none of us were interested in going so we scrapped that plan. The National Air & Space Museum in DC is nowhere near as good as the one in Chantilly. We’ve been to both several times and the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly is so much better (and less crowded!). Since we scrapped our Air & Space Museum plans, we got back on the red line and rode up to Dupont Circle. My son is 11 and absolutely obsessed with flags and foreign countries. He can name almost every country flag. Some countries I have never heard of. Embassy Row was something he was very excited about. So we spent a good part of the evening walking around Embassy Row, checking out different embassys and letting him see them. This was a highlight of his trip.

After we left Embassy Row, we got back on the red line and went back to our hotel. We walked across the street to Clyde’s again since it was so good previously. However tonight was a bust. The server told me they did not have a certain soda, which I knew they did because I drank it there 2 nights ago. My son ordered a plain cheeseburger with nothing on it, cooked well. When the hamburger came out, it was barely medium cooked and LOADED with mushrooms. Apparently in Maryland they can undercook meat and it’s fine. Thankfully in DC and VA, that’s illegal for restaurants. Who wants a bloodburger? Between the bad food and bad service, I paid and we left. The manager did come over and talk to me and comped the burger but it was just a bad experience. We did not return to Clyde’s after that.

From Clyde’s we went to Amazon Fresh to get more drinks, then back to the hotel to relax in the hot tub a bit before calling it a night.

Today: 13,199 steps / 6.16mi

Friday, Day 5

Thomas Jefferson Memorial ⋅  Hirshhorn Museum ⋅  Natural History Museum ⋅  Washington Monument ⋅   Pan American Union Headquarters ⋅   Lockkeeper’s House ⋅  US Holocaust Memorial Museum ⋅  Ted’s Bulletin ⋅   Embassy Row

Today is Friday and it’s setting up to be a very busy day today. We began our day about 7:30am when we woke up and got breakfast downstairs at the hotel. My back is actually feeling a little better today, thankfully. I am still sore and stiff but not in as much pain as I have been. I also have sciatica which doesn’t help my current situation.

We began our day by taking the Metro to Union Station, where we would hop on the Circulator and go to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial first. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is located at E. Basin Dr SW at Jefferson Memorial, which is stop #7 on the Circulator (red line, National Mall Service). If you don’t want to take the Circulator, you can also take the O/S/B line and get off at the Smithsonian Metro stop and walk. The memorial is free and open 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is very nice and sits right along the tidal basin. It’s a beautiful place and I highly recommend visiting this memorial.

After we explored the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, we got back on the Circulator and rode up to the Hirshhorn Museum. This is somewhere I had not been before because honestly, I am just not interested in art. However the Hirshhorn Museum had some pretty neat stuff in it and I enjoyed my time there. The Hirshhorn Museum is open 10a-5p and is located closest to L’Enfant Plaza along the R/S/B/Y/G lines. There is free admission and no tickets are needed.

The Circulator also stops at the Hirshhorn Museum which is the National Air & Space Museum/Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Gardens stop, Jefferson Drive SW/12th St., which is also stop #14 on the Circulator red line (National Mall Service)

Afterwards, we walked over to the National Museum of Natural History. This is probably the busiest museum of all of the Smithsonians if I had to guess, maybe second to the Air & Space Museum in DC. We didn’t have a ton of interest in this museum but wanted my son to see the Hope Diamond. We saw a few other cool exhibits and killed some time here. One could easily spend an entire day here though. The National Museum of Natural History is free, no tickets are needed. It’s open 10a-5p and is closest to the Smithsonian Metro Stop (Mall Exit) on the O/B line.

The Circulator also stops at the National Museum of Natural History. It’s the Madison Dr NW/12th St stop, which is stop #4 on the red line loop. (National Mall Service)

We killed some time in the National Museum of Natural History for a bit, then went outside to grab some lunch. We went to one of the little park stations where we’d grab a quick bite to eat. I got a hot dog with fries, my son got fries and my wife got a funnel cake. Just enough to hold us over for a bit. Then we began walking toward the Washington Monument.

I had tickets to go into the Washington Monument at 1pm. The Monument is open to go inside 9a-5p every day except Christmas, July 4 and part of July 3. Tickets for this go super fast so what I recommend is being on a desktop, not a phone at 9:55am. Be logged into website with payment in hand. Have the website pulled up and at EXACTLY 10:00a when they go on sale, refresh the page. Do not wait until 10:00 and 2 seconds, or you’re going to miss out. The reservations are free, but cost $1 per ticket processing fee.

We got in line when it was time, and went 500′ to the top of the monument where you got a 360 view of Washington D.C. This was the highlight of our trip. The view up here was absolutely amazing. It was incredible. There is no time limit and you can spend as much time as you’d like up top. There also aren’t many people at the top, so you get plenty of views out of each window.

The Washington Monument itself is open 24/7 to see from the outside and is free. The closest Metro stop is the Smithsonian (Mall Exit) on the O/B line. You can also take the Circulator and exit at Washington Monument stop #12 (15th St NW), Washington Monument/National Museum of African American History & Culture stop #5, (Madison Drive & 12th) or Holocaust Memorial Museum/Bureau of Engraving & Printing, stop #6 (15th St SW near Maine Ave)

Once decided to come down from the top of the Washington Monument, we walked over to the Pan American Union Headquarters, so my son could see all of the flags and name them all, which he did. Then we walked across the street to the Lockkeeper’s House. It was a small house built in 1837 that was part of the canal system. This is located next to the Washington Monument on Constitution. You can go in for free when it’s open and they will tell you about it. I am glad we stopped here.

From the Lockkeepers House, we walked up to the Circulator stop to hop back on. Next up, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

We then hopped back on the Circulator and rode it around to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This is a very somber museum but definitely one to check out. My only issue with this museum is that they let way too many people in at once. A timed ticket is required to enter the museum, and cost $1 processing fee. Otherwise the ticket itself is free. You can ride the Circulator here and get off at the Holocaust Memorial Museum / Bureau of Engraving & Printing (15th St near Maine Ave, stop #6 on the red National Mall Service loop). You can also take the O/B line and get off at the Smithsonian Metro Stop and take the 12th & Independence exit.

The museum can easily take up an entire day if you’re watching the films and reading the exhibits. Daniel’s Story is really touching, and tells the Holocaust from a childs perspective. There are also Nazi uniforms, a gate replica of Auschwitz. There are also models of Auschwitz, books that were to be burned, a ghetto replica, family photos as well as shoes from the Jews who were killed. This is a museum everyone should visit to learn a bit more about the history of the Holocaust.

Once we finished at the US Holocaust Museum, my wife wanted to walk to the White House Visitors Center so we did. It was a 0.5mi walk which seemed like 9 miles. I guess since we had walked so much already and I was getting sore. We got there at 4:15 only to see they closed at 4:00. Bummer!!

So by this time we were hungry, so I got us a Lyft and we decided to go back toward Dupont Circle. We decided on Ted’s Bulletin. From the White House Visitors Center to Ted’s Bulletin was $18.13 for the 1.64mi/8m 13sec ride with Edul in his Toyota Highlander.

We went in Ted’s Bulletin and ordered dinner. My son got a hamburger, my wife got a steak and I got fish & chips. This was the best meal of our whole trip. I HIGHLY recommend Ted’s Bulletin. It was fantastic! The service and food were great.

We relaxed at Ted’s a bit before walking back down Embassy Row to the Dupont Circle Metro stop, where we’d hop on the red line and go back to our hotel. We had packed more into this day than anything and we were beat. We went back to the hotel to get back in the hot tub and relax for a bit before crashing for the night. Tomorrow is a new day!

Today: 17,705 steps / 8.22mi

Saturday, Day 6

Mount Vernon ⋅  Mount Vernon Inn ⋅  Potomac Pizza

Today is our last full day in DC, so we decided to make it an easier day. We only had 1 thing planned for the day. We slept in a little, I think we got up at 8:30. We went downstairs at the hotel and got breakfast. From here, our only plan for the day was Mount Vernon, which was George Washingtons home. I wanted to maximize our Metro and pay less for an Uber, so we rode the Metro to Gallery Place/ Chinatown where we got on the yellow line to Huntington which is the closest Metro stop to Mount Vernon. The original plan was to take the Fairfax Connector #101 from Huntington station to Mount Vernon but we just missed the bus and didn’t want to wait 25 minutes for the next one. I went ahead and got an Uber. It was $20.94 for the 6mi/21 minute ride with Bassam. Bassam was a great Uber driver and we had a very interesting conversation on the way to Mount Vernon. He is from Syria and works here with the Syrian government at their embassy for the foreign relations. He does Uber at nights and on the weekends for extra money. He kept saying he loved being an American and had finally got his citizenship. He was an all around great driver. Anyway…

Bassam dropped us off at the front entrance to Mount Vernon so we could go in. We got there at 10:46 and had 11:45 tickets to enter the mansion. Since we had time to kill, we explored the outside grounds of Mount Vernon first. We saw the gardens, the slave quarters as well as different buildings on the property. It was very historic and amazing to see. We have been there before but you see something new every time.

At 11:45 it was time for the mansion tour. You see both floors, including George Washingtons’ bedroom including the bed he died in. It is a very interesting and historic tour. Once we finished inside the mansion, we walked down to the tomb where we would see the tomb of George & Martha Washington. Then we walked over to the slave memorial to check it out. We had a great morning and early afternoon at Mount Vernon.

Once we finished on the property, we went inside of the museum and checked out the artifacts inside, including the original cupola from Mount Vernon. The museum had some neat stuff in it. Then we walked over to Mount Vernon Inn which is near the entrance/exit to grab lunch. This was a very nice restaurant. My son and I got a burger and my wife got chicken. I also got the skillet cornbread and it was fantastic! This is a great place to eat if you want some good food.

Once we finished eating, we were ready to head back to DC. We were supposed to ride out to Tysons Corner after this so I could meet up with my brother and do dinner with him, but he ended up getting stuck in Virginia at one of his Airbnb properties, so he could meet a guest. I didn’t get to see him this trip.

We waited at Mount Vernon for the Fairfax Connector #101 to take us back to Huntington Station where we would get on the yellow line Metro back to DC. We made it back to the station with no issue. However, once we got to the Metro station we got an alert that a pedestrian had been struck on the tracks and killed by a Metro train on the blue line at Pentagon City. The yellow and blue line run parrallell through this area, so all train traffic was stopped in this area the entire day. So we ended up getting on the yellow line and went to Ronald Reagan National Airport where we would get off of the Metro, go downstairs at the airport where they were putting Metro rail passengers onto Metro buses and taking everyone to the Pentagon to get back on the blue line to continue north back to DC. This obviously added more time to our commute but I understand the reasoning.

We finally made it back to Metro Center where we would get on the red line back to the hotel. We were tired and hungry. We ended up walking back across the street to Potomac Pizza again since it was really good. We ate pizza, then went back to the hotel to pack up some stuff since tomorrow we had to leave. Even though we only did 1 thing today, it was a long day since it was so hot. Tomorrow is our last day! 🙁

Today: 11,987 steps / 5.54mi

Sunday, Day 7

Union Station ⋅  US Navy Memorial ⋅  National Archives ⋅   US Postal Museum ⋅  Uno ⋅  Roanoke

Today was our last day in DC, boo! We slept in as late as we possibly could. I think we finally got motivated around 9:30 this morning. We went downstairs to grab breakfast, then back to the room to pack up. We packed everything up, then left the hotel with all of our luggage. We went straight to Union Station so I could drop our luggage off at Amtrak with their luggage hold service. It’s $10 per bag if you have an Amtrak ticket and $20 if you’re not a customer. So I paid $30 and left our luggage at Amtrak for the day while we made the most of our last day.

From Union Station, we took the red line to Gallery Place/ Chinatown where we would get on the green line to the Archives Metro stop. We got off of the Metro and went to the United States Navy Memorial which is at the top of the platform. We were heading to the National Archives which is across the street from the United States Navy Memorial. The best way to get here is on the G/Y line and get off at the Archives – Navy Memorial – Penn Qtr.

We had 11:30am passes to go into the National Archives. This has always been one of my favorite places. When we walked over, there was no line and we walked right in to the security. One thing about the National Archives is that there is no photography allowed inside of the building. Inside of the National Archives you will find very important documents such as the Magna Carta, the Emancipation Proclomation, the Bill of Rights, the United States Constitution as well as the Declaration of Independence. These are all original documents and are in the rotunda of the Archives. It’s a highly secure area and is very dark and cool to protect the documents. There are also many other documents you can see including letters from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and others. The Archives is an amazing place. It’s free to enter though timed passes are required. It’s $1 processing fee per tickets.

Once we finished at the National Archives, we caught the Metro back to Union Station and walked over to the National Postal Museum. I figured this would be a quick in and out and pretty boring. I was wrong. This museum is massive with lots of interesting items in it.

We learned about “dead letters” and saw a lot of historic exhibits from the United States Postal Service. They have the handcuffs used to arrest the Unabomber, a mailbox from the World Trade Center that was damaged in the 9/11 attacks. They have a mailbox that was damaged in the Joplin tornadoes, things from the Anthrax attacks and the worlds largest stamp collection. They also have a Z grill stamp that’s valued at over 3 million dollars as well as the rarest stamp, the inverted Jenny.

The United States Postal Museum also has other exhibits such as Amelia Earharts flight suit and a bunch of baseball history as well including Mickey Mantles jersey. They also have pieces from The Green Monster from Fenway as well as part of the scoreboard. The United States Potal Museum did not disappoint!

The United States Postal Museum is located next door to Union Station so your best Metro stop is the red line at Union Station.

Once we were finished at the United States Postal Museum, we walked back over to Union Station where my wife would buy some macarons and we would head up to Uno Pizzeria to get some lunch. We killed time at Uno until it was about time to leave. We walked downstairs to Walgreens to get some drinks for the train, then to Amtrak to pick up our luggage. Then we had to go to our platform to board our train home. Our Washington DC spring break trip had officially come to an end.

We boarded the NE Regional Amtrak train en route to Roanoke, which is the final destination. We made it back to Roanoke about 10pm with no issues. We got off of the train, walked to the car and headed south back home. It was a very fun, very long but exciting trip and we loved it. But as Dorothy said, there’s no place like home. Thanks for reading and I hope this can help you with your trip planning to Washington DC!

Today: 9,780 steps / 4.53mi

Total: 104,225 steps / 48.57mi

Planning Tools

I did all of our planning and saved it to a spreadsheet prior to going to Washington DC. This helped us so much because all of the information was in one place on my phone. We did this agenda and were able to get everything done. You can download the spreadsheet here and use it yourself!

The first “download” link is to download the file for Microsoft Excel. If you do not have Excel, click the “View” link to open the spreadsheet in Google Sheets.

CityMapper is a must-have app when traversing around Washington DC. It will help you figure out which Circulator, Metro rail, Metro bus, Uber/Lyft, Bike, Scooter or walking to take!

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