On to the good stuff! So, you find yourself in the DC area this summer, now what?! There is so much to do here and one could easily get overwhelmed, but there's a few things that we do almost every year and as much as we can. So while I could go on and on about the things to do, here are a few of our favorites!!!
1. Twilight Tattoo - This is an event on Fort Myer Army base, open to civilians as well. It is sort of hard to describe, but its a show really. And really, its almost best described in descriptive words - Singing, cannons, guns shooting, guns twirling, bayonets and horses!! Twilight Tattoo kicks off the season and we try to go at least once, but really going more than that is my goal. We pack up a dinner, bring a blanket and hang out. I would show up 45 min early, picnic and then when the show starts you'll be ready to go. What is so great about it is we give the kids the camera and they head out on the field after the show to snatch pictures and talk to the soldiers. It really is a great opportunity for them to get up close and personal.
2. Baseball Games - I love baseball in the Washington, DC area. We have the major league Washington Nationals, and the minor league Potomac Nationals. Both of them offer military discounts (the Potomac military tickets are such an affordable price) and are great for the whole family.
3. The National Mall - There is so much to do down in the National Mall area. We frequently go down there and just hang out. Walk around, let the kids run around in the grass, take a picnic. Sometimes its super crowded, sometimes its not. If you head down there, make sure you snag your tickets for Washington Monument. They are free to request online (with a small fee) or you can just show up first thing and hope for a walk on.
4. Smithsonian Museums - If you're going to head out down into DC there are a ton of museums to check out, with the majority of them being free. Our personal favorites are the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History.
*visiting the Wizard of Oz props at the American History Museum*
5. The Spy Museum *military discount*- If you've got older kids or the opportunity to sneak away with just adults, make sure to check out The Spy Museum. Aside from the Crime Museum, this one is my favorite! The store itself is full of cool things. There are also special guests and speakers...including real-life retired spies, that come into the museum from time to time. Go around the corner to Shake Shack to eat and you can thank me later.
6. Blue Star Museums - from Memorial Day to Labor Day Blue Star Families, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, offers free admittance to museums across the country. The link takes you directly to museums in Washington, DC, however check out museums in other states as well. There are some really good ones on this list to check out. In particular check out President Woodrow Wilson House, The Dumbarton House and the National Building Museum which have quite a hefty admission fee.
7. Mt Vernon - This isn't located in DC, but just outside. It's worth the trek out if you're staying in the city. They have a great discount for military, but also if you purchase online which is nice. Also, ages 0-5 are free which I think is just so cool. For the free rate to go up so high is something I feel like you never see, so that's why I like to mention it. Lots of places to run around outside and get your ya ya's out before the house tour, or as a reward for being good through the house. It is a very manageable length of time inside the house. If you are visiting during Christmas time try to take the special house tour. It is the only time of year they open the very top level. They also have the Christmas camel out and fun actors.
8. Fort Myer MWR - Fort Myer is accessible fairly easily by Metro. Most people take the Blue or Yellow Line to Pentagon and you can walk over if need be. Hop on over to the community center for discounted tickets to various sites in the DC, Virginia and Maryland area. If you are close to another base near you, you can probably access the tickets you need there as well. But there are lots of local specials that you may only be able to access here locally.
9. Busch Gardens and Water Country USA - if you're a local for feel like taking a drive you can check out Busch Gardens and Water Country USA down in Williamsburg! You can use your Waves of Honor discount to snatch free and/or discounted tickets! Check out my post about Busch Gardens, and tips for doing it with kids on the cheap!
10. Great Falls - We love going to Great Falls. The falls are gorgeous, but there's open grass area for hanging out, throwing a ball around or having a picnic (bring a trashcan, its a take in, take out park). There are several walking trails and lots of shade. It's humid here, so you have to contend with that, but its fun.
11. RecCenter or Base Pools - There are tons of indoor pools at all the local rec centers, as well as great pools on one of the local bases in the area. We spend a lot of our summer at the pool on base, but we have used the Rec Center pools before and they are really great. If you want to get really wild and crazy you can travel out to CubRun Rec Center out in Chantilly. There they have indoor slides and water park attractions, with a rec center price tag.
12. Baltimore - Take a trip out the Baltimore Harbor area for the day or overnight! The Harbor has attractions and sites like Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, Science Museum, Children's Museum, the Aquarium and huge historic ships that are docked there. Most of those things have great military discounts available. Check out my post for more details on that.
13. Delaware City, Delaware - This is definitely worth the trip if you are looking for something that is maybe more than a daytrip, but still close enough that you don't feel like you are packing up for a huge, complicated vacation. We had so much fun in Delaware City!
I could go on with so much more. The DC/VA/MD area is so full of so much to do! You could even branch out further a take a day trip up to Philadelphia or head up to Annapolis. Not to mention one of the beaches like Virginia, Bethany or Ocean City. The options are endless and could take three or four blog posts to get through and still barely have scratched the surface. So have a great summer and drink it all in! There are sometimes it really does feel like a magical place, even after four years of being here.