Revolution and Revolt on the Historic Trail - Page 2
|A Capitol Idea: Washington, DC, a family travel mecca (Corbis)|
Days 3-5: Philadelphia to Washington, DC (135 Miles)
There's so much to see in DC that it's hard to choose. Start by exploring the Smithsonian museums on the mall (202.633.1000; www.si.edu). To keep to the revolutionary theme, first take in the impressive exhibits on the US presidency, the First Ladies, and the Star-Spangled Banner Conservation room at National Museum of American History (202.633,1000; http://americanhistory.si.edu). While there, also visit "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War," which traces the way war, from Colonial times to the Iraqi conflict, has shaped American history.
At the National Archives (866.272.6272; www.archives.gov) see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and use the interactive features of the Public Vaults exhibit to read President Lincoln's telegrams to his generals and research the Civil War.
While at the Mall, people-watch, picnic, and let little kids take a spin on the Smithsonian carousel located outside the Arts and Industries Building. And when you need to refuel, forego the street vender hot dogs. Two Smithsonian museums not only have engaging exhibits but good size cafeterias. Learn about flight at the popular National Air and Space Museum (202.633.1000; www.nasm.si.edu) whose eatery serves typical burgers, salads, and pizza. The recently-opened National Museum of the American Indian (202.633.1000; www.nmai.si.edu), which explores the cultures of many native nations, has the Mitsitam ("Let's Eat" in the language of the Piscataway) Cafe, which serves Native American tacos, fry bread, squash, grilled salmon, and other traditional foods.
Beyond the museums, there's loads of other stuff to take in—during the spring and early summer consider some of the city's walking alternatives. Breeze by the monuments and memorials with teens 16 and older on a Segway tour. Both day and evening tours with City Segway's (877.734.8687; www.citysegwaytours.com) glide by the White House and the Capitol, as well as pause at the Vietnam and Korean memorials, the Washington Monument, and the WWII Memorial. Since you see the facades but don't enter the buildings, we suggest the evening tour when the lit monuments look more impressive and are less crowded. Segs in the City (800.SEGS.393; www.segsinthecity.net) offers one- and two-hour guided tours that spin by the Capitol, Union Station, the Library of Congress, the White House, and Ford's Theater. Reservations required for both companies.
On a Bike the Sites (202.842.BIKE; www.bikethesites.com) Capital Tour, work your glutes for three hours (or seven to eight miles) while you stream by the Mall's museums and monuments as well as the White House and the Supreme Court. The Sites@Nite tour, a three-hour, four-mile ride, focuses on the Tidal Basin and the Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, WW II monument, and the memorials. In spring, the Blossoms by Bike tour puts you in the thick of the fragrant cherry blossoms. While competent cyclists four-foot-six-inches and taller pedal their own bikes, younger ones can ride tandem with a parent or roll behind in a trailer attached to an adult's bike. DC is a bike-friendly city, especially on the Mall, with few hills, wide paths, and even bicycle lanes on most streets. Reservations required.
Or forgo the asphalt entirely and take the to the Potomac River and its tributaries by enrolling for a half-day tour with Atlantic Kayak (800.297.0066; www.atlantickayak.com). On the Georgetown Tour glide under Key and Memorial bridges, then around wooded Roosevelt Island while you learn about Georgetown's evolution as a port. And if you can time it right, the July 4 tandem kayak trip along Georgetown's waterfront gifts you with a great view of the rockets' red glare and all the sparkling pyrotechnics. Younger kids are welcome to share tandem kayaks with parents. Book ahead.
While not revolutionary and well off the tourist-trotted Mall, it's fun to see panda cub Tai Shan romp with his parents at the National Zoo (202.633.4800; http://nationalzoo.si.edu).
Home base while in DC can vary from one of the many family-friendly hotels on both sides of the Potomac, or at Cherry Hill RV Park (800.801.6449; www.cherryhillpark.com). The park, with 400 RV and tent sites, is about 18 miles north of downtown Washington, DC.
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