Last week my twin sister; my oldest daughter, Claire; and I flew out to see family in northern Virginia. We flew Spirit because $150 for a round trip flight from IAH to BWI is worth going three hours without wifi. I had to mentally prepare myself for this flight because I’ve never flown one of the bargain airlines and was lead to believe it’s basically a gulag with wings. No peanuts or water or pillows? Gawsh, why even exist in the 21st century?

The plane ended up being relatively comfortable. Our flight left at 7:30am so we were at the airport by 5:30am and we ended up sleeping the entire flight. The pitch, or space between your seat and the one in front of you, is supposed to be one of the smallest in the industry. I can definitely see that. I’m 5’10” and my knees were against the seat in front of me, I can’t imagine how a full grown man would have to sit. Claire had a great time and did very well on the plane. At least I’m hoping so, because I was seriously out of it the entire trip. Maybe the flight attendants had to adopt her for the two and a half hours I was unconscious?

While most of our time was spent with family in Virginia, we did get to make an excursion into D.C.. I was born and raised in northern Virginia so all of Washington’s monuments and memorials and museums are old hat to me, but the excitement my kids feel when seeing a towering obelisk or a man carved from marble can turn even the most blas√© resident, such as myself, into a tourist with a camera constantly pressed against their face.

When we went into D.C. I thought about taking the Metro, but decided there are plenty of other times to go shuttling along underground in a tube that is packed with strangers and smells like urine. So we drove in and since it was later in the evening on a weekday we managed to score some free parking off of Independence Ave by the MLK Jr. Memorial. Claire and I hadn’t seen it since right after it opened in 2011, and she certainly didn’t remember it, so it was great to see it again and get to read some of his most inspiring quotes.

We didn’t actually go all the way around the Tidal Basin to see the Jefferson Memorial because it looked super crowded and plus we really wanted to see the Smithsonian Castle. So I just took a photo of it with my telephoto lens so I could pretend I got closer to it. Also snapped a shot of the some of the Washington Monument as we went past.

The Smithsonian Castle had just closed by the time we got there. Someone we were with was convinced that since the Natural History Museum stayed open until 7pm the day before, then the Smithsonian Castle would as well. It did not.

That’s okay because the outside of the Castle is impressive as well, and we got to ride the carousel and have some delicious funnel cakes at the little kiosk across from the Arts & Industries Building.

We decided to head back down the Mall to the other side of the Washington Monument. We actually went up into the little loop at the base of the monument, and I laid down on a bench so I could get this picture of Claire from the angle she wanted. Apparently I’m willing to look ridiculous to help my kids make memories.

Of course we had to stop and play on the white mulberry tree to the southwest of the monument. I remember playing on this tree when I was a kid, so it’s pretty awesome to see Claire playing on it. According to the National Park Service, “the age of the white mulberry tree located southwest of the Washington Monument has not been determined, historic photographs suggest that it could have been established naturally around 1910.” Go forth children, clamber all over a centenarian.

I’ve decided to split this post into two because this is already very image heavy and there’s plenty more pictures to come. So I’ll post part II tomorrow!

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? What’s your favorite monument or memorial, anywhere in the world, to visit?

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  • Those pictures are so beautiful! It sounds like you’ve been having a lot of fun! It’s a shame the Castle closed before you get there. I think things like that should be open a lot longer, just so tourists can fit everything into a holiday. I know I always struggle to do everything I want to do when I’m away.

    I’ve never been to Washington D. C. In fact, I’ve never even left the UK. That’s probably why I don’t really have a favourite monument – I haven’t seen enough places!

    Looking forward to your next post!

    • Thanks! I was kind of surprised by how early they closed (5:30pm) but I guess they’re still working on off season times.

  • Oh yay the Washington Monument doesn’t have scaffolding on it anymore. I was there right before there was a tremor in DC. As such the Washington Monument was covered in scaffolding. I also walked all the way from the Smithsonian to the Lincoln Memorial. I wish someone told me that is a long frigging walk. Wonderful photos!

    • Yes! It seemed like that took forever. The earthquake epicenter was actually down by Lake Anna and we were living in Charlottesville at the time so we felt it a lot stronger. Still, it took like 3 years to repair all of it!

  • Amazing pics! I went to DC a few years ago, but I want to go again because there’s just SO MUCH to see and do!

    • There really is so much! I forget how lucky I was to be able to pop over whenever I wanted, especially when I was a kid and we went on a field trip into DC almost every week.

  • Jessica

    Amazing pictures, and I’ve never been to DC. It’s definitely on my bucket list, and I cannot wait to see Part 2.

    • Thank! Part 2 will be up soon :)

  • I agree, the castle is still impressive outside. It looks like it was crafted for a theme park. :)

    Did you enjoy the carousel? I used to like it when I was young now it makes me dizzy. :))

    • I’m a little iffish about carousels. I can’t ride the horses because the up and down motion as we go around really makes me dizzy, but I can usually stand with no issue. On this ride we sat in a tea cup and spun it around but that was surprisingly okay.

  • I’ve never been to D.C. but would love to! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    • It’s a really fun place and there’s always so much to do. Hope you get out there!

  • Mariah Kaercher

    These are such beautiful pictures!! I have never been to DC but it’s on my list of places to visit.

    • Thank you! It is a great place to visit and there’s so much to do and see. I always recommend renting a bike, they have those little bike stalls everywhere and it really helps cut down on time spent traveling between monuments and such.