Washington D.C. Family Trip On A Budget

We were really excited to go to D.C. this year! We wanted to go somewhere different for Spring Break and we thought it would be a great educational trip for the kids.  We had so much fun and can't wait to go back again!  Here are some of the details of our trip. 

On our way to D.C. we made a stopped that literally changed my life. We stopped at the Flight 93 Memorial in Stoystown PA. We saw the flight 93 crash landing field and went inside of the museum. It was such a reverent somber place. I was so pleased with how the kids acted. They read things, and asked questions. My son still talks about it today. It was honestly so surreal being there. If we did nothing else on this trip as a family besides this, it would all be worth it. Check out some of the pictures at the end of the blog of this place.  
The best thing about the Smithsonian Museums is they are ALL FREE. Yep, FREE. We love free! The Air and Space Museum was so interactive and the kids had a blast. We could have easily spent are entire day at that museum. Our next favorite was The American History Museum. They had loads of information and we were all entertained the entire time. After leaving the museum we walked to the Washington Monument and played around in the giant open area and took some pictures. This would be a great day to pack a lunch and eat outside. The Lincoln Memorial is also a must do monument. We did this at dusk and it was absolutely gorgeous. Just looking out at the reflection pond as the sun is setting is breath taking. So much history has happened in that area. They also have an elevator for people unable to take the stairs and they have a small little museum in that area too. It is definitely worth taking a few min to walk around. After the Lincoln Memorial we went and saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We did this at night which I do not recommend doing. Our pictures did not turn out and it was nearly impossible trying to locate a name on the wall. One thing that we did not do which I do regret is driving past the White House.  The kids got a great view of it many times during our stops at the monuments but I think it would have made the experience even better if we had gotten a bit closer. Another monument we saw at night was the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. My husband has a man crush on Thomas and it literally made his life. That picture of him below starring up into the sky with the Washington Monument behind him was here.

The best part about going to D.C. in the springtime is the Cherry Blossoms. It was absolutely gorgeous and besides rain on one of our days it was really pleasant outside and you only needed a small jacket to stay warm.

My husband and I are food snobs and it took a lot of homework for us to find our favorite places to eat. Once we did we were hooked. There is a burger place that is to die for called Burgers Taps and Shakes. They had the most amazing milkshakes we have ever had and burgers that were equally as satisfying (we actually ate here twice). If you love pizza a must stop restaurant is We The Pizza. They had such a variety of pizza choices and very cute upstairs seating area that made it a personable experience. They really did a great job with such a small area.  Another place that we ate at more than once is Shake Shack. This is MUST EAT place. They are so popular it is really hard to find seating. I mean people were literally hoarding tables and calling dibs on ones that people were already sitting at. Sounds crazy but it is SO worth it. It wasn't until months after our trip that we realized this is actually a very small franchise and we have a Shake Shack right here in Chicago. Last but not least if you have ever watched D.C. Cupcakes on TLC you need to make a little side trip (seriously like ten min away in Georgetown) and get cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes. I have tried the Cake Boss cupcakes and these far exceed those. Literally the best cupcakes we have ever eaten ( and we eat them a lot). We still talk about them. 

We did a few extra things that made the trip amazing. We went to the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum and it was well worth the money. They have plenty of coupons and deals online to bundle and save. We bundled ours with tickets to the International Spy Museum and did save money in the long run. Whether you have been to a wax museum before or not this is a must do. They have so many historical figures. The kids loved posing with the people they have learned about in school. The spy museum was a lot of fun but to really make it worth the money you have to reserve nearly a whole day for this. We only had time to stay there for a few hours.  They give your group an awesome task of being spy's and you get to solve mystery's and work as a spy throughout the exhibits. If you research your mission before you start you will find some cool tips and tricks online and maybe even some hidden secrets. The kids loved crawling through the air vents like in the movies and learning about how real spy's kept their secrets. Another paid museum we went to was the Newseum. While it seems a bit pricey it is really worth the cost if you plan on staying long because your next day is totally free. We all had a blast in this place. We did fake newscasts with green screens and learned so much information. Jake and I really devoured the exhibits with real life evidence and artifacts from major news stories that have happened in our life time. They even have the actually cabin used by the unibomber and pieces of the Berlin Wall. 

***If you go in March and you decide to drive into D.C. make sure they are not hosting their St. Patrick's Day Parade. Nearly every rode was blocked off and we circled around for 3 hours looking for parking. It was a nightmare. Make sure you know of any major events that are happening before you take your trip***


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