Research and advance preparations will pay-off when planning to travel Washington DC. Before getting into those, we recommend that you plan for a Segway Tour for your first day. It will provide you with a highlight tour of several top things to see. We highly recommend Capital Segway: https://www.capitalsegway.com/
Here are some advance planning suggestions:
Applying for a White House East Wing Tour:
- Tours are booked through your respective US Representative, tickets are free, but on a first come, first served basis.
- You can apply up to 6-months in advance, no less than 4-weeks before scheduled to arrive in DC.
- Go to house.gov to get your US House of Representative, if unknown.
- Go to your specific Representative’s website. Example: https://samjohnson.house.gov/
- Under your representative’s website, search for White House tour information.
- You will find an online form to be completed and submitted
- Once submitted, you will get an email from the White House confirming they received your request for tickets. They will request personal information on each person in your party wanting tickets, Social Security Number, Birthday, Citizenship, etc., for background checks.
- You are notified by the White House, approximately 5-10 days prior your scheduled date of arrival to DC, letting you know whether you received your tickets for the tour or were declined tickets.
We were notified 6-days prior to our arrival in DC that we were denied tickets to the White House. The denial email stated that they are inundated with tour requests and March and April is their busy season. However, Sam Johnson, our US Representative’s office, did give us free admission passes to the Senate Gallery and Congress Gallery (House of Representatives).
Visiting the US Capitol Visitor Center (CVC): Tours are free and can be booked in advanced, through your US Representative or by waiting in-line for an opening in another group that is not full. This tour is fabulous and the US Capitol building is beautiful! It’s a tour you do not want to miss.
- To schedule in advance, book through the Advance Reservations System https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/book-tour-capitol.
- Inquire with you US Representative about providing you with tickets.
- You can wait in-line, they open at 8:30 am and suggest if you want an early morning tour arrive by 8:00 am, they may be able to fit you into another tour group that has openings.
- There are lines during the day, you can wait in line and if there is an opening in another tour group, you will join this group
We did not have tickets booked in advance, we did not arrive at 8:00 am. We arrived in the afternoon and there were very long lines waiting to get into a group. Fortunately, the line did move fast and we did get into a group to tour the US Capitol and we are so happy we did it.
Holocaust Museum: Tickets are free, however, advance ticketing is recommended. You can get tickets online at https://www.ushmm.org/information/visit-the-museum/admission-tickets. Same day tickets between March and August beginning at 6 am Eastern Time, same website as above. Without a ticket you are not allowed to tour the permanent exhibit portion of the Museum, however, there are a few things you can see that does not require a ticket https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/museum-exhibitions. We did not have tickets and were not able to tour the permanent exhibits, however, we were able to tour the “Americans and the Holocaust, special exhibit.
Supreme Court: Does not offer public guided walking tours, however, there are public portions. Courtroom lectures, a Visitor Film, and court-related Exhibitions which are all free. Court sessions, is on a first come, first serve basis. We learned that the court sessions are very difficult to obtain 1 of the 100 maximum tickets given out on the morning the court session is scheduled because lawyers/reporters, etc., will pay people up to $50 per hour to stand in line for them and the lines can begin forming several days before the court session is scheduled to begin. For more information: https://www.supremecourt.gov/visiting/whatcaniseeanddo.aspx
College Park, Maryland – Cherry Hill RV Park (Washington DC) https://www.cherryhillpark.com/: This is the best RV campground when visiting DC. They offer guard-gated security, all the amenities you need, bus stop located in the park to ride to the metro-rail for traveling into DC. This RV Park offers a very informative touring training session that lasts approximately 45-minutes and definitely is valuable for a quick learn on DC’s public transportation. Six (6) out of the seven (7) days we were at Cherry Hill RV Park we traveled into DC.
Monday, April 23 was our first day in Washington DC. We took the city bus from the RV Park to the College Park metro-rail. It takes approximately 20-25 minutes with the stops the bus makes along the route. There is public parking at the College Park metro-rail station for $5.20 per day and driving your own vehicle from the RV Park to the metro-rail into DC, you save half-the-time commuting than by bus at RV Park to Rail. Once on the train, using our metro-rail map and the many signs on the metro-rail and in the stations, it is easy to get to your points of interest.
We took an earlier train into DC than our traveling companions, in order to go by our US State Representative, Sam Johnson’s office to pick up gallery tickets. Sam Johnson was not in his office, so we took the liberty to take a photo behind his desk. Our first day was scheduled for a Segway tour and we had advanced reservations to insure our tour time. There are a few choices when searching for Segway tours in DC, but we booked through Capital Segway and were very pleased. You can check out their website to see all the points of interest this tour takes you. Also, along the tour, you can hear the tour-guide by using the headset provided by them. Although we have taking Segway tours many times while traveling, it was Brenda and Orval’s first time on a Segway, and they too thought it was the best way to see highlights on your first day in DC.
Segway Stop: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a stop we made on the Segways, providing time for us to visit, take photos, and take some time to remember the soldiers who died in this war. There was a large veterans group being interviewed and visiting while we were there.
Segway Stop: Lincoln Memorial is located in walking distance from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, so we were able to take a few photos inside of this building on the Segway stop.
Segway Stop: The Korean War Vets Memorial is very nice, located near the Lincoln Memorial. It has 19 stainless steel statues, a mural wall, and a reflective pool.
Segway Stop: We stopped across the street from the Washington Monument where we could see and take pictures of other monuments like the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin.
Segway Stop: The White House is a usual Segway stop, however, the day we were there Secret Service was clearing out the park from all visitors. We suspected it was in preparation of Emmanuel Macron, the President of France’s, expected visit.
As our tour progressed there were many other points of interest pointed out by the Segway Tour guide as we passed by them.
On with our touring of Washington DC by foot, bus, and train. It was exciting to be able to see at least a few trees with the pink Cherry Blossoms since we heard they were in full-bloom from the end of March into the first weekend of April. Bunny, my good friend who was the Plano Garden Club President and currently is a member at the Gainesville, VA Garden Club, said it is the white Cherry Blossoms that are so beautiful to see and are planted throughout the DC area. Bunny told us that it was Lady Bird Johnson who was responsible for the beautiful gardens that surround the White House. The tulips were still blooming too which was amazing since in Dallas they barely make it until Easter!
There is so much to see and do in DC, planning your day is recommended. The Capitol Building is a beautiful building, one of our favorites out of all the buildings. Inside the architecture is amazing and resembles the European style that is not seen in many areas of the US. There is a tunnel that you can walk through to get to the Library of Congress. We took the Congressional Visitor’s tour and without tickets we had to wait in-line, but it moved quickly.
The Museum of the Bible is a museum we learned about through a family on the Circulator Bus. They highly recommended it, so we just jumped off the bus and walked over a few blocks. It’s only been opened since November 2017 and it was awesome! There are artifacts and the presentation in their 270-degree theatre makes you feel immersed into the life of Jesus. Check it out at www.museumofthebible.org
We were able to meet our good friends Bunny & Larry Barrett, former Somerset neighbors, who moved to Virginia a few years ago. It was great visiting with them and we had lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill, a historic site, highly recommended for a meal while in DC. After lunch the six of us walked over to the White House Visitor Center watched a short film that showed pictures of the inside of the White House, it’s nice to spend some time walking around the Center; although our initial plan for the visit was to purchase the 2018 White House collectible Christmas ornament. Bunny has been collecting them for several years, my sister and I only wanted the ornament for 2018.
Since we did not have White House tour tickets, our only view of the White House was behind a few fences in a public park. There are large crowds of people in this area, protesters, street vendors, lots of large tour-groups and students. The landscaping around the White House is really pretty.
The Arlington National Cemetery was a “must-see” for us. Once at the Cemetery we purchased a trolley tour which is highly recommended. It stops at points-of-interest for you to jump off to walk around, take photos and spend as much time as you want; then you jump on the next trolley to ride to the next point of interest. President John F. Kennedy, Jackie and two of their children’s grave-sites is a highlight stop, there is an eternal flame that burns; it is located just down-hill from the Arlington House (formerly the home of General Robert E. Lee) and was one of President’s Kennedy’s favorite places to visit. This stop also has beautiful views of DC. The tour stops at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier where you are able to watch the changing of the guards. As you drive through the cemetery you are surrounded by thousands of uniform white grave markers and you can’t help but reflect and be thankful for our military who have given their lives for our Country.
Night Tours of DC are offered through Cherry Hill RV Park for $50.00 per person. A couple we met, Pat & Rodney from Alabama, took the tour and said it was very good. We decided to do our own driving tour of the city at night so we could take our dogs. Orval did a great job getting us around the city’s night highlights: Jefferson Monument was amazingly cool at night with the reflection of the monument on the water of the Tidal Basin; the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building were well-lit, also making good night-time photos. It was 11 pm by the time we drove by the White House and realized there were no lights on, but we were not going to get out of the car to get up close enough for a night-time photo anyways.
Saturday, April 28, the day before our DC departure, we were able to meet-up with our nephew lawyer, Sean, and visit his newly purchased first house. We drove our truck over to his place, met Scott, his partner, visited awhile at their new house, and walked over to a neighborhood café to have a nice breakfast. So proud of Sean for his accomplishments and he is just an awesome, good person. Love you Sean!
After our breakfast with Sean, we drove downtown, parked in a public parking lot and toured the Smithsonian of Natural History. The museum is filled with artifacts, life-size replicas of all species of animals accompanied by exhibits that describe their associated historic facts. For a small admission price they also had a special exhibit live butterfly garden. We enjoyed the museum and really liked the exhibit room of award-winning photographs nature/animals.
Smithsonian of Natural History: Hope Diamond:
Ford Theater was on our walk from the Smithsonian of Natural History back to the parking lot where our truck was parked so we took a quick walking tour. There was a musical performance of “The Wiz” at the actual theatre, so we were not allowed in the Theater, but walked across the street to the Peterson House and did the free Lincoln Assassination Aftermath tour. The Peterson House is where Abraham Lincoln died after being shot. It was quite interesting and there was a huge, tall tower of books stacked from the first-floor of the lobby up to the 3rd floor made entirely from all the books written about Abraham Lincoln.
Supreme Court Building:
Union Station is both a Metro stop and the DC Amtrak station. The station itself is an old historic building that has been restored and matches much of the glamour of the other DC building and monuments. We found ourselves there a few different times and usually we had lunch there. Union has a huge food court with many fast-food choices, also retail shops and souvenir shops.
We have noticed that both in Clifton Forge, VA and again in Maryland there are many more American Robin (birds) than we see in Texas. It has been fun seeing so many of the beautiful Robins, although difficult getting a photo.
It was a wonderful visit to Washington DC, and the culmination of a long held desire that even at our age we should take the time to visit our great Nation’s Capital and see all the wonderful historic buildings and monuments. Our desire now is to have all of grown children and grandchildren someday also have an opportunity to visit soon.
1 Timothy 2:1-2: “Therefore I exhort, first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”
Heading to Rehoboth, DE “Delaware Seashore State Park” – Chapter 4, the portion of our road trip taking us on-the-way home in Texas . . .