Washington DC: Honorable Mentions

We had a pretty jam-packed trip to Washington DC back in May (you can read more about it here and here). While I ranked our top ten moments from the trip, there were a few other places we visited that I’m going to put on an honorable mention list (sounds weird but my blog, my rules, right? Ha).

1. White House Visitor Center

When we got the invitation to Alyssa and Eric’s wedding, the first thing I did before even booking our flights was request a White House tour. I submitted our tour request for any day over the span of a week to see if that would help us get a spot; if we got a tour, we would plan the rest of our trip around it. Unfortunately, they couldn’t schedule us for a tour while we were there. To try to make up for it, we decided to check out the White House Visitors Center. We got there early in the morning, so it really didn’t start filling up until we were getting ready to head out. There are over 90 artifacts from the White House collection, including some table settings for state dinners, copies of schedules (you bet I took a picture of any schedule that mentioned meeting with Queen Elizabeth), letters, videos, and more. Overall, it was a great glimpse into what history has looked like in the White House.

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2. National Museum of Natural History

This is probably one of the first museums that comes to mind when you think about the Smithsonian Institution, or at least it does for me. I’m sure this museum already gets a big kid crowd, but since we were there on a rainy Saturday, there were tons of kids running around. Some of our favorite highlights were seeing the African Elephant in the rotunda, the Hope Diamond (I’ll take one of those, please), and the geogallery (as a kid who loved going to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, this was awesome). Our favorite exhibition of the whole museum was the 21st annual Nature’s Best Photography Awards Smithsonian Exhibition. To say those were some incredible pictures would be an understatement. We went through the museum pretty quickly before heading out to the National Museum of American History.

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3. Smithsonian’s National Zoo

We had heard great things about the National Zoo, especially when it came to the giant pandas. Now this zoo is just a smidge on the large side… as in it covers 163 acres. We walked a lot, but honestly, I preferred it that way. I struggle a bit with zoos and how much space each animal is given and what their quality of life is like. I appreciate the education-side of zoos and how they give us access to animals we normally would never get to see, and I realize they can help preserve certain species, but I think it’s a fine line between education and entertainment (don’t even get me started on circuses, I think they should all be shut down). All that to say, I really was pleasantly surprised by how much we had to walk between each animal exhibit and was glad that they weren’t all crowded on top of each other. The grounds were so well-maintained and I was happy to see how active a lot of the animals were in their spaces. One monkey in particular loved swinging around for all to see before laying down on a perch and checking us out.

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4. Library of Congress:

At the risk of sounding like an idiot, did you know the Library of Congress is an actual library? It’s actually the largest library in the world, and I have to say, it is by far the most beautiful library I’ve ever been to. It’s the library used by members of Congress, and also has some really beautiful exhibitions. I highly recommend dropping in for a visit, just don’t go on a Sunday, they’ll be closed just like every other library. Whoops.


Standing in the rain outside the Library of Congress on Sunday, right about the moment when we realized they were closed


Back at the Library of Congress, on a sunny day when they were open

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Library of Congress

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I have one more post coming on our trip to DC and it will cover all our favorite places to eat. Ending with the really important stuff, am I right?

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