History and Beauty Less Than an Hour from Anne Arundel County
By Katy Agro Myers
In my early 20s, I lived and worked in Washington, DC. I can remember riding the bus to work and going by all the monuments - my heart would swell with American pride. In my late 20s, I returned to DC to work, and still, I would feel the emotion every time I spotted one of those monuments or memorials around town. I had the remarkable experience of enjoying nighttime tours of the monuments and it was one of my favorite things.
My littles this year had to complete American Change Maker projects for 2nd grade. They were each assigned a historic American and had to research, write and give a speech, and dress like their Change Maker. Brennan chose George Washington and Avery chose Vietnam War Hero, Senator John McCain. We ALL learned a lot from these projects - but not just about their Change Makers - about their classmates too!
Months later, they are still talking about all the Change Makers, so I decided it was a great time to head to Washington, DC, and see some of our country's history! We booked the Monuments by Moonlight Tour and hyped the boys up for our adventure!
We arrived at the Washington Welcome Center about 45 minutes before our departure time, but were delighted to see that they were sending the trollies off as soon as they were full, so we actually left early! My kids were so excited as we boarded the trolley and grabbed seats in the front row.
The tour drives around Washington, DC with three stops where you can get out and explore monuments and memorials. Our first view was the Capitol Building before we headed over to the FDR, Tidal Basin, and MLK, where we had 30 minutes to explore. Our tour guide, Hollywood, was amazing at sharing not only interesting and sometimes unknown historical facts, but also sharing which stops had the cleaner bathrooms.
The FDR Memorial has always been one of my favorites. There's something about being inside the stone "rooms" and hearing the water flowing that centers me. I also love that it features First Lady, Elenor Roosevelt and acknowledges her great contributions to our country. The boys loved exploring, feeling the mist from the water, and learning and asking questions about FDR.
We thought 30 minutes was a long time to explore but while marvelling at the views from the Tidal Basin, we discovered we barely had time to make it through the MLK memorial before running back to the bus for departure. MLK was a gorgeous site and we've added it to our bucket list to explore more the next time we go!
The drive took us down the National Mall, to spot the Washington Monument close up - and hear all about the history of the building of these gorgeous landmarks, the White House, and more. My little George Washington junkie was in heaven spouting off his own knowledge of our first president. Hollywood even joked that Brennan might be his touring partner one day soon!
The next stop was the World War II Memorial and Reflecting Pool which was particularly meaningful to me knowing that my Grandfather and Great Uncle fought in that war. The kids recognized some of the scenes from Forest Gump and Lucas just couldn't help himself - he had to put his feet in the water.
Our last stop was the Lincoln Memorial and Hollywood gave us extra time here because the sun was setting and he shared with us that the view was gorgeous from the backside of the monument. We headed there first and were surprised to find that it was mostly empty on the backside. Hollywood was right. The view of the sunset was absolutely spectacular.
The Lincoln Memorial was the most crowded of all of our stops during the tour - but it was still magnificent.
We were initially concerned about the length of the tour - would our kids be engaged for three hours? Would they make it past 10pm after a long week of camps and summer fun? We told ourselves worst case scenario, we'd just leave and uber back to the car. The three hours went lightning fast. They all loved it and were super into the history lessons. I can't wait to take them back to DC to explore more history with them and they can't wait either.
A few tips and tricks:
It was 97 degrees the night we went - it was sweltering! We took only one tiny water bottle and although we were able to refill at all three stops, it wasn't enough. I'd recommend taking water bottles for everyone.
We parked near the Washington Welcome Center in a parking garage and were pleasantly surprised parking was only $12 for the evening.
If you need a drink, grab one at the Lincoln Memorial on the steps. We got two sparkling waters and three bottles of Gatorade for just $12.
We all LOVED the Monuments by Moonlight tour and can't wait to head back to DC to explore more of our Nation's Capitol!
My family was hosted for this adventure in exchange for my review, but all of my opinions are my own.