It’s President’s Day and I thought this is a perfect time to write about my trip to Washington, DC. In October of last year, Hitesh and I went to DC for a little holiday. Anjali and Rani were going on their 8th grade DC trip through their school which means we had the whole week to ourselves, so we decided we would do the same – head to DC, not with the twins of course. The twins were mortified to know that we were going to DC! They were worried we would tag along with them on their school trip. No worries here! This was a chance for Hitesh and I to be together without the kids. Are you kidding? Why would we tag along? Coincidentally we did end up on the same flight as the twins on the way out to DC. Of course they thought we planned it that way, but we really didn’t 😉
October is a great time to head to DC. The weather is amazing – in the 60s and 70s, there are no crowds anywhere, there are no lines to get into the attractions, it’s actually very quiet in town, peaceful, a lovely way to enjoy DC and all that it has to offer.
Like all tourists we saw most of the major attractions; the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Mall, all the memorials, Ford’s Theater, Air and Space Museum, toured the Supreme Court, toured the Pentagon, toured the Capital building, did The White House tour, Holocaust Museum, went to Georgetown, did a day trip to Mt. Vernon, and even visited my cousin Dharini and her family, and Vinatha Aunty and Dhruva too! We covered a lot in those five days!! It helps to not have kids around to slow you down, there is no need to take a break for food every 2 hours, nor discuss endlessly where all the kids want to go that day; it’s just the two of us who decide where to go and what to do, and just make it happen. Pretty great.
If I had to tell you what my most favorite attractions were I would have to say The White House Tour, the Ford’s Theater, the Holocaust Museum, and Mt. Vernon.
The White House tour was something special! – It’s such a simple home for a place that houses the President of the United States! I don’t know what I expected, opulent and grand rooms with lots of gold and silver and fancy grand furniture. But I found the home to be elegantly decorated with very tasteful furnishings and beautiful house wares and decor, nothing over the top. It’s a self-guided tour meaning you stroll around the rooms at your leisure and there are tour guides in each area to answer questions. They limit the number of people who can go in for the tour at any given time. It’s a good thing, because it makes the entire experience more relaxed and enjoyable. The White House residence is a very approachable home. I liked that about The White House – it is the people’s home after all.
The White House Tour
Ford’s Theater! Can you believe it? You can actually go inside and sit in the theater where Lincoln was assassinated? Remember I mentioned that there were no lines anywhere in DC for any of the attractions? Well, I didn’t think the Ford’s Theater was the real Ford’s Theater because there was no one here in front of the building. I thought something of this historical significance would have at least some people waiting to see it, so I didn’t believe it to be THE building. It turns out it was! A small structure that you would pass by if you didn’t pay attention. The theater itself is pretty small. When you go in you can sit anywhere you want in this theater, except for the booth that Lincoln and his wife sat in when he got assassinated – this area is cordoned off. It was a surreal experience to sit in the theater and picture yourself watching the program, while Lincoln was sitting at his booth. Very cool!
Ford’s Theater Pics
The Holocaust Museum is a must see for anyone visiting DC! It is one of the most unique museums I have ever been to. Unlike a typical museum it is very interactive and is divided into floors, each floor depicting a different timeframe in history leading down to the Holocaust. What I really liked about the Holocaust Museum is that it doesn’t just focus on the Holocaust but the events leading up to it. What you learn is that something like the Holocaust just doesn’t happen over night, but takes years and years of slow propaganda and brainwashing, which eventually lead to prejudice and hatred. They do a great job of showcasing how it’s the small acts of hatred that when we look away can lead to larger acts of genocide and carnage. What stuck with me is when Anjali said that when they were touring the museum one of her friends who is of German descent told her “Anjali, I’m embarrassed to be German” – how profound for a child to see the horror that her ancestors inflicted on others and to feel that embarrassment for herself. The museum is that good! You can’t leave this museum without it having made an impact on you.
The Holocaust Museum
Mount Vernon, Washington’s home on the Potomac is spectacular! Situated on the banks of the river Potomac overlooking miles and miles of waterway with greenery all around you, it’s a gorgeous estate. The home itself though it looks big is a very humble home for a man of his stature. The rooms are not very big but elegantly decorated. Martha Washington’s style in decor was very understated and I would say it’s the kind of decor that is timeless and would even look good today. The gardens are amazing here. Washington was an avid farmer, gardener, and landscape architect, and this shows in the properties’ multitude of gardens. It’s a lovely place to visit and stroll around the estate, sit on the banks of the river, and just enjoy the beautiful outdoor surroundings. But you know what made this visit extra special? Our unexpected visit to Washington’s Grist Mill! No one tells you about this place when you are planning your visit, but it’s a must see!
Just 15 minutes further from Mt. Vernon is Washington’s original Gristmill that is still running and producing corn meal, flour, whiskey, and brandy! First of all not many people seem to know about this place or care to go. You kind of find out about it once you get to Mt. Vernon, but then if you have plans to see other places and are pressed for time, many people skip the Gristmill entirely. For us we had no pre-planned agenda, so we decided to check out the Gristmill especially as the tour guides kept telling everyone to go, that it’s a worthwhile detour. When we got to the Gristmill we were the only visitors there! Seriously! Then another couple showed up, but that’s it. They have a tour guide at the Gristmill who show you around the mill, the water wheel that is still being used, how the corn is ground and made into flour, and the barn where they make small batch apple brandy and whiskey. I bought two little sacks of flour from the mill for my baker friends Rose and Georgina. Did you know that at one time George Washington was the largest producer of whiskey in America? This was truly an awesome visit!
Had dinner at some fabulous restaurants and cafes around town. October is a wonderful time to visit Washington, DC.