Traveling with Tiny Humans: DC

With Spring Break quickly approaching and a seemingly perpetual winter, my husband looked at me and said quite bluntly "We need to leave." After mulling over the prospect of being stuck in the house with three children during yet another prospective snow storm, I adamantly agreed.

We wracked our brains tossing around ideas for road trips that would be both cost effective and balance fun for the kids along with some educational stuff too. After much debating we settled on hitting up our Nations capital for a day before heading back into Pennsylvania to visit Hershey Park.
I packed up the car using my pre-trip regimen and we hit the road.

We started our trip off with a bang by detouring into Philly to let the kids scooter a bit and stretch out legs by jogging up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, ala Rocky. We also stopped over for cheese steaks at Pat's King of Cheese Steaks and Geno's Steaks. I have to confess, while both are delish, I'll take a Cheese Steak wit' Wiz from Pat's over Geno's any day of the week.

Full of Cheese Steaks and eager to finish up our drive we hopped back in the car and headed down to DC. As we were driving (and we had finished our third Pixar movie of the trip), I realized the cherry blossom trees were in bloom. It was so nice to actually see evidence of spring and automatically boosted our spirits. We turned the movies off and confiscated our oldest kids' Nintendo and reminded the kids to look around because they were in a new place. 

One of the best decisions we made while throwing together our trip together was our choice in hotel. We have gone both ways in terms of picking hotels on trips; we have done the super chic and we have stayed in a few dives.There have been a bunch of middle ground hotels as well that were super bland but did the job in just being a place to crash, while making me feel confident that there wasn't a colony of bed bugs living in our mattress. On this trip, I was looking for something in our price range and within walking distance to the White House, Monuments, and Museums. In the end we went with the Kimpton Donovan, and we were so thrilled that we did.

It was super easy to stay with them because they offered a garage with a Valet, and after a full day of travel they were extremely accommodating and helpful with the kids. We were greeted at the front desk and informed that our room had been given an upgrade since we had enrolled in their rewards club while booking our stay. 

* Please excuse our post road trip exhaustion and general chaos in the video above.

I think when traveling, and in general really, parents usually try and find whatever will make the kids happiest and most comfortable. If the kids are happy, then we are happy. Sometimes that means staying someplace that isn't necessarily where you would choose to stay. We have totally been there! Staying at the Donovan was way different for us because not only was the hotel (and views!) gorgeous, but they catered to us and the children in a way that we hadn't experienced in the past. My personal favorite part of our stay was the awesome Japanese restaurant downstairs. It was so nice to be able to change and head down for some sushi and cocktails and then just hop in the elevator to go to bed. There was also a rooftop bar- which if we didn't have the kids, we most definitely would have explored.

The next day we were up nice and early and on our way by foot to the White House. We did a quick walk by and then went from there to the Washington Monument. We hadn't realized it until we were there, but there was a kite festival that day so we were treated to views of hundreds of kites all around the Monument. Between the beautiful blue skies, the cherry trees in blossom, and the kites; it was such an amazing experience just to walk around. 

After taking in the sights, we headed towards the Smithsonian Institute. I knew we didn't have time in our schedule to do all the museums, so we just set out with the intention of seeing as much as we could. The first museum we took on was the American History Museum. The kids favorite parts included seeing Kermit the Frog and all of the old automobiles and trains. My favorite parts were all of the First Ladies' inaugural gowns and also Julie Child's kitchen . We buzzed through the museum pretty quickly, and I was actually shocked how much we saw. We did cherry pick exhibits based on what we wanted to see but from the way the museum is set up, we were drawn into exhibits that we didn't think the kids would make it through and ended up loving. 

The second museum we decided upon was the American History Museum. We really cherry picked exhibits here! Since we go to the New York City Museum of Natural History often, we skipped all the stuffed animals. We were really there to see dinosaurs, mummies, and the Hope Diamond. We made it through all of those sections surprisingly quickly and even had time to check out their insect zoo.  In the end we actually skipped the Air and Space Museum because the kids were just not going to make it through another line.

My big takeaway for trip was that we 100% should have started out a tiny bit earlier in our day. The lines for the first museum weren't too bad, but as the day went on they just grew and grew. I would also definitely recommend taking the bare minimum with you for the day ( Not easy with three kids, a diaper bag, two scooters, and a giant double stroller.) The lines are really due to bag checks with security, up until this trip I never realized almost all of the Smithsonian Museums have free entry. There is such a wealth of things to do at the Smithsonian, that we will absolutely be taking another trip very soon!

After we made the decision to skip the Air and Space Museum we headed over to Monument park. It was amazing to watch the kids faces and see them take it in. They were particularly amazed by the Lincoln Memorial ( Although I don't know how much of that had to do with the fact that we realized that they thought Abraham Lincoln was actually as big as his statue...We had some fun with this and then finally told them that he actually was not.)

*Lincoln may appear depicted larger in scale than in actual life.

By the time we walked back to our hotel to pick up the car, Griffin was exhausted (So was I actually, my Fitbit must have been amazed by the number of steps we took!) We hopped in the car and were on our way to Hershey, reflecting upon all the sights we took in that day. DC is such a great city and we cannot wait to visit again! 



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