Friday, July 4, 2014

Places to See In Washington DC and Hershey Pennsylvania

Hey y'all! Today I am going to be sharing with you some pictures, stories, and thoughts of my vacation in Washington DC. My family and I went to DC and Hershey Pennsylvania for 10 days and had an absolute BLAST! For those of you who don't know, I am 15 years old and my sister is 13 so though you may think that DC isn't a place to bring teens let me tell you that both me and my sister had the best time! I definitely wouldn't have been able to appreciate it had I gone when I was a kid because I simply wouldn't have understood a lot of the things we read, saw, and did or have the patience to do a lot of the things we chose to do there. This was probably one of my favorite vacations of all time with my family.

In honor of July 4th which is today, I thought I would go ahead and share with you some pictures from this nations capital!
Tip #1- Within one day make sure you have a balanced amount of activities both inside and outside. It may sound crazy but I could walk probably an hour on concrete before my feet started hurting and only about 10 minutes on the marble floors of these museums! On certain days of our vacation we only did inside museums and such and actually had to cut our day short and rush through some things because of the pain of our feet. I brought my very best tennis shoes every day as well and they still were killing me so make sure to have a nice balance.

Tip #2- I highly suggest buying a metro/subway pass for a vacation in DC. I have friends who decided they were going to rent a car to take to DC or drive up there and regretted it. I can definitely see why because in DC you pretty much have to walk from place to place once you reach the general area and I cant imagine the horror of trying to find parking places at some of these destinations. I definitely recommend using the DC Metro to get from area to area and walk from there. We used a 7 day pass which wasn't too expensive so I recommend that if you are going to be there around that much time.

Tip #3-  This isn't so much a tip as it is a suggestion as to where to stay when you are visiting DC. My family stayed at a Wyndham Resort in Old Alexandria Virginia. We loved staying there and thought the town was beautiful. Our resort was close to the Metro so that made it very easy to get where we needed to go!
 DAY 1
National Archives
This first thing we went to see was the National Archives in DC. This is where they have the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. This is a full museum however that has a lot of interesting things such as the Magna Carta and more! I found this to be very interesting.
However, the floors in this place are marble so make sure you have your very best tennis shoes on! Find out more about the National Archives here.

National Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
The second thing we did the first day was the Natural History Museum. I wasn't sure how much I was really going to be interested in this but I actually found it very fun! This museum is all about animals and has quite a bit of different exhibits and sections- all of which I found very cool! Find out more about the Museum of Natural History here.
National Smithsonian Museum of American History
This was the last thing that we decided to do that day and we were all getting pretty tired and our feet were hurting real bad so we didn't spend as much time in this museum as we would have liked, however a lot of the things I saw I LOVED. I saw the original Red Ruby Shoes of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, the dresses and gowns of all the First Ladies, and more! This is a very interesting museum so I suggest putting this near the beginning of the day rather than at the end of a very eventful, tiring day. Find out more about the Museum of American History here.
Mamie Eisenhower's Gown
Library Of Congress
The Library of Congress was probably one of my favorite things of the whole vacation. I walked in not really knowing what to expect considering I hadn't heard too much about it and walked out in amazement at the beauty of it! The amount of books that are here are ridiculous and the artwork and architecture in this building was breath taking. I cant imagine having the ability to go study somewhere like here! Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and passionate about her job which showed, and made the tour that much more enjoyable and amazing! Find out more about the Library of Congress here.

The Nations Capitol
Seeing the US Capitol is not something you can turn down. I definitely recommend asking your congressmen to get you in for a tour. However, though it was quite cool, I feel like for such a huge and important place for this nation, I didn't get to see very much. On the tour we only got to see two rooms both of which aren't used any more so I was partially disappointed by the tour however it is still something you really cant  go without seeing! Find out more about the Nations Capitol here.
Inside the Capitol

Union Train Station
This was one of my favorite places to burn time and shop while we were waiting between scheduled tours or just wanted to chill for a bit. Even if you aren't catching a train this station is a great place to eat, shop, and relax as it has plenty of restaurants and many shops and specialty stores. This train station had way more than my local mall did!! If I lived in the DC area I have a feeling I would be spending a lot of time it is probably best I don't! :) However, if you are gluten-free, UNO has gluten free pizza there which is VERY VERY good and trust me, after eating out a lot and ordering a lot of fancy food and such you might be craving a slice of pizza or two through out the week. Find out more about Union Train Station here.

Fords Theatre
For those of you who don't know, Fords Theatre is the place in which Abraham Lincoln was shot. This is a very fascinating exhibit which you can tell from the long lines that always wrap around the building! My family went to this museum near the end of a long day therefore our feet were pretty worn out from hours and hours of standing on marble floor however I would definitely recommend this destination. Fords Theatre gives you more insight in to what Lincoln was like and what he was doing up to the time he was shot- a lot of which I didn't know. Find out more about Fords Theatre here.

International Spy Museum
The Spy Museum is somewhere you could either spend 2-3 hours in or the whole day in depending on your schedule. My family spent only a couple hours in there due to the time however we enjoyed every second of it. This museum can kind of creep you out once you learn about all the different devices and things spies use but all the information is definitely fun to learn about for people of all ages! Find out more about the International Spy Museum here.

The White House
It is honestly just awesome to think you are under the same roof as the president and his family whether you like them or not! I enjoyed seeing a lot of the ball rooms and press rooms that they say are still used weekly. I again wish I could have seen more but that is only because I was so intrigued with everything I saw and learned through out the tour. Maybe you will get lucky and see the President or a member of his family being escorted out with police cars and security vans like my family did. Find out more about The White House here.

Washington DC Newseum
This museum is even more awesome than someone who thought of the catchy name for it! This News Museum contains SO much information that it is not physically possible to do the whole museum in one day. You will simply have to pick out which exhibits you want to see most and block out time for those because my family stayed until they kicked us out and we still only covered about half of the museum. Gladly we got the chance to see all the parts we wanted to see most but I still could have easily spent another couple of days there! Make sure to check out the 911 exhibit as that one is sure to wow you. This museum is 8 story's so make sure you have a lot of time mapped out for this one! This museum was a lot more interesting than me and my entire family expected and we were SO glad we decided to do it. We wish we only had more time! Find out more about the Washington DC Newseum here.
Berlin Wall- Newseum

Arlington Cemetery
Arlington Cemetery was very depressing however almost uplifting to see how many people died so that I could have freedom. To look at such a stretch of tomb stones as far as the eye  can see is almost heart wrenching. Something that took me by complete surprise was the very official changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For those of you who don't know, on the hour, the guards who stand by the tomb of a soldier that is unidentifiable switch out. This is huge ceremony where every one gathers around silently as we pay our respects to the soldiers who died for our freedom yet we don't know who they are. Along with this, you can also tour the Arlington House which is fairly interesting as well. Find out more about Arlington Cemetery here.
JFK's Grave

The Holocaust Museum
The Holocaust brings attention to a lot of details of this tragic event. This museum was fairly large and though I enjoyed a lot of it I felt I definitely could have appreciated more artifacts and things of the such rather than so much reading. Not that I have anything against reading, but there is no way you can read everything therefore you do feel a little rushed and feel like you missed a lot of important things. When my family got back to the hotel and we were talking about it, we were all mentioning facts each other hadn't even seen. You really have to sorta rush through. However, this museum was very well done and a lot of the documentaries they showed were very impressive. I definitely don't recommend bringing small children. I do however recommend doing this near the end of the day because you really aren't going to want to jump right into another sight seeing adventure considering this museum is quite heavy. Find out more about the Holocaust Museum here.

DC Trolley Tour
 The DC Trolley Tour was super enjoyable and relaxing when we decided to just ride around Georgetown and listen to the driver tell us facts however when you ride it as a way to get from place to place or by chance to go see the different monuments and memorials like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, etc.. It can be very hectic. We ended up waiting outside in the heat for an hour after already walking around the huge memorials and everything because the trolleys were full or didn't know where to pick us up. Overall I would just say that it was very enjoyable when you stay on the trolley most of the time and see out the top the different things, rather than depending on it to get you from place to place in a timely fashion. Find out more about the DC Trolley Tour here.

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
A Wax Museum is one of those things that is just so cheesy and funny and yet you cant pass it up. It was so fun to take pictures with Presidents and famous people made out of wax. It is a crazy concept however, it was nice to just do something fun mid-way through the week. We took a lot of great pictures and really enjoyed doing this. So much fun!! Find out more about the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum here.
Me and Abe hangin' out.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
For those of you who aren't aware the Bureau of Engraving is where money is made. This was a quick yet fascinating tour that I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot! Learn more about the Bureau of Engraving and Printing here.  

Mt. Vernon/ George Washington's Home
My family rented a car and drove to Mt. Vernon Virginia which wasn't too long a drive. This area was very pretty and I loved the tour of George Washington's house. I think they did a very good job not making his plantation and home too museum-like however did add a separate museum in a different section of his plantation which was very well done and very informative. Find out more about George Washington's Home in Mt. Vernon here.
George Washington's Tomb

Hershey Amusement Park in Pennsylvania
 The Hershey Amusement Park was SO much bigger and more fun that I imagined. They have a lot of awesome roller coasters (some of which I didn't get to ride due to the long wait times) and quite a nice water park as well. WARNING: The water park is REALLY crowded in the summer. There was even a line just to get into the wave pool. The whole park had a lot of great shows, restaurants (several of which have gluten-free options), and rides. They have a variety of large crazy roller coasters (which me and my dad love) and enjoyable fair-type rides (which my sister and my mom love). Great selections of things to do there! I recommend going if you find yourself in Hershey Pennsylvania! Find out more about the Park here.

Hershey World
Hershey World is something I particularly thought was so SO fun and not to mention the whole place smells like chocolate. At Hershey World you can take a tour of the chocolate factory, a trolley tour of the town, a chocolate taste test, create your own candy bar, and more! There is so much to do here and I wish my family had  more time! Not to mention, you can spend hours just looking around in the HUGE gift shop area where everything has to do with CHOCOLATE!! This was tons of fun and very interesting as well. Find out more about Chocolate World here.
My sister and I with the actors of the ride in front of the Hershey Town Trolley

-A few of these pictures are from a DC Photo Disk which you can purchase from the Bureau of Engraving : PO Box 156921, San Francisco CA 94115 -

That is all that I did on my vacation with my family to Washington DC and Hershey Pennsylvania. I hope if any of you were looking to find out more about this area that this helped you plan your visit. What is your favorite place to visit? Comment below or send me an email!
Hope you all have a great 4th of July! God Bless!

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