With our son-in-law Wade’s conference over, we loaded our daughter’s vehicle with all the luggage. We had secured 6 nights using our Marriott reward points. So with a free hotel, we were able to do some fun things in Washington DC. We would check into the new hotel after our day of adventure on the National Mall. Whitney and Wyatt were excited to start the day. They especially enjoyed the electronic board at the hotel.
It was Sunday so all of the street parking in DC was free. We found a spot close to Union Station were our Old Town Trolley “Duck” boat tour originated. Union Station opened in 1907 and at it’s peak during World War II, 200,000 people passed through in a single day. Today, about 90,000 people pass through every day, as the station serves, Amtrak, commuter lines, and buses. In front of the station is the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain. It was dedicated in 1912 by the Knights of Columbus. Looking from Union Station, you have a great view of the Capitol Building.
The inside of Union Station is impressive, with high arching ceilings.
We had the first “duck” tour of the day which turned out to be good, as it was already 85 degrees when we boarded the boat.
We found seats on the back and after a safety lesson we were on our way.
The tour took us on the edge of the mall. Our “duck” did a stop for a quick view of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II. This is to honor the more than 110,000 Japanese-American people, most of the them citizens, that were placed in Internment Camps during the war. One of those camps is in our home state of Idaho and will soon be a National monument.
The tour gave us a good over-all view of the National Mall and what we would have to look forward to seeing up close as we had a two day Hop on Hop Off pass as well.
Our “real” destination was the Potomac River.
Everyone was pretty excited about the river portion of our tour. The “duck” is an amphibious vehicle from World War II. It can drive on land or motor in water.
Once out of the marina and into the main channel of the Potomac we saw the Pentagon, the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, and the Washington Monument
Then everyone was given a duck call…
We went under the George Mason Memorial Bridge and motored up to the edge of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The planes flew right over the top of our duck boat.
Everyone was enjoying our “duck” ride on the Potomac River.
It was soon time to leave the river and head back to Union Station.
The “Duck” boat tour had been awesome. At Union Station we were able to catch the Hop On Hop Off bus. This is a good option if you would like to learn about the National Mall sights. The narration is informative as well as interesting.
Our first stop was the Air and Space Museum. This building opened on the National Mall in 1976.
We enjoyed learning about the Apollo 11 moon mission.
We touched a moon rock…
We saw the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer
Numerous displays of historic planes…
There was a hot air balloon that was part of the race to the Stratosphere.
There was even a collection of spy planes
After enjoying the Air and Space Museum we rejoined the Hop On Hop Off bus tour and headed down the National Mall to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial which sits on the edge of the Tidal Basin. Construction was started in 1939 and completed in 1943.
The inside of the memorial features a large statue of Thomas Jefferson, which was added in 1947.
The walls are inscribed with several of his most famous quotes. As we read them, they are really quite inspirational.
Whitney and Wyatt decided to become Junior Rangers. While they worked on their books, we enjoyed the views on the steps outside the monument.
The next stop was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. It is a short walk along the Tidal Basin and you couldn’t beat the scenery.
The memorial honors FDR who led the United States during the Great Depression and World War II and was dedicated in 1997. It covers 7.5 acres and traces the 12 years of his presidency through four outdoor rooms.
The memorial has many beautiful water features
We were at this memorial in the summer of 2000 when Jade was 9 years old. We replicated the picture we took of him then. Whitney and Wyatt wanted their own picture. This depicts the “bread” lines of the Great Depression.
The visitors center had several interesting items including President Roosevelt’s wheel chair.
From the FDR memorial we continued our walk to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial which opened in 2011. The memorial wall contains 14 of his quotes that stress justice, democracy, hope, and love.
The inspiration for the central design comes from his “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered only 800 yards away at the Lincoln Memorial.
We jumped back on the bus and rode back up the National Mall to the National Museum of American History. It opened at its current location in 1964. This museum collects, preserves, and displays the heritage of of the USA in the social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history. Our first stop was the Batmobile, can we say “way cool”.
There was a artistic statue of George Washington and we looked at the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner. This flag flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore. It is kept in a dimly light room, and displayed behind glass to help preserve it. There are no pictures of the flag allowed.
The Gunboat Philadelphia is on display. It was built in 1776 and sunk in Lake Champlain during a naval battle with the British that same year. It remained on the bottom of the lake until it was discovered and recovered in 1935. It came to the museum in 1964, still carrying the 24 pound ball that sunk it.
We especially enjoyed the Presidential dish room. Each President and First Lady are able to have a set of china designed to be used for special occasions during their term.
The First Lady inaugural dresses are also on display
There was an interesting area containing some Abraham Lincoln items.
Whitney and Wyatt thought it was pretty exciting to stand at the “inauguration” podium.
We then walked the short distance to the National Museum of Natural History, which is the most visited natural history museum in the world and the most visited museum of any type in North America. It opened in March of 1910. The museum collection includes over 126 million plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts.
There were fossils, bones, and human artifacts
The ocean section featured a variety of creatures.
The museum contains a large section of animal skeletons
And of course there was a dinosaur area
Our final stop in the museum was the Hope Diamond. This is a 115-carat blue diamond that is said to be cursed. The legend goes that whoever has possessed the diamond has met a tragic end. It is displayed in a rotating case and was extremely difficult to get a good picture, but it was still very impressive.
We caught the bus and road back to Union Station, grateful we didn’t have to walk. It had been a long day and we had already covered a lot of the Mall, however, we had 3 more days and still more to see. Day 4 was going to be full of surprises….