Tag Archives: smithsonian

Lions and Tigers and Bears and Airplanes and Fossils

IMG_4310Before we made our big move, way back when we still lived in DC, my parents, one sister, and my nephews and niece came to visit us. It was a last-cousins-hurrah before we headed overseas, and it was awesome.


Literally my two favorite girls in the whole world.

We spent that weekend hitting my top three recommended places to go with kids in Washington D.C.: a day on the National Mall, checking out monuments and memorials, a visit to a few of the Smithsonian museums, and another day at the Zoo, checking out lions, and tigers, and bears.  That’s a good weekend right there.

IMG_4303 You can also just put “seeing my parents and sisters enough” right at the top of my list of things I don’t get to do enough, so a weekend with my family always makes me smile. IMG_4315 We drove downtown and managed to find parking, which is always a fun challenge, but it’s definitely easier than schlepping seven children on the Metro.  And then we just walked.  The kids ran, and jumped, and climbed, and skipped, and played. 

IMG_4324We saw the Washington Monument, walked past the White House, stopped to relax and cool off at the WWII Memorial, and then headed back toward the Capitol Building and the air conditioned Smithsonian Museums.

IMG_4325Obvi, though, we got ice cream first.

My personal favorite Smithsonian museum is Natural History.  Even with the dinosaur exhibit closed, it’s still the coolest.  There’s an exhibit on the lower level called Qrious! that we just love. 

IMG_4343Full of fossils and specimens of plants, animals, and bugs, you can touch and handle and learn about it all in a completely hands-on way. 

IMG_4336Everyone from my 3-yr old niece up through my Dad was engaged and interested. 

IMG_4340 My 6-yr old nephew who wants to be an archaeologist or a paleontologist was just entranced; he spent half the time pretending HE was the scientist who’d found the specimens we were looking at, and telling us all about what we were seeing. I highly recommend checking out the Qrious! exhibit if you go to the Natural History museum — it’s one of my top DC-with-kids suggestions.

IMG_4346We also went to the Air and Space museum, which was so much more interesting than I remembered!  We hadn’t been in years, but I was so glad we went back.  I remembered it as very technical and kind of boring, but it completely wasn’t — there were so many interesting exhibits, AND we took the kids on a flight simulator ride, which was just so fun.  

The next day we went to the National Zoo, which is one of my very favorite things to do in DC.  It was cool and a little rainy, but not enough to make it miserable — just enough to make it NOT crowded and not too hot.

IMG_4374We saw all our favorite animals, and quite a few that were surprising.  The Komodo Dragon took us all aback when we realized that it was not, in fact, a fallen tree trunk, but a ginormous lizard who had earned the name “dragon” quite honestly.

IMG_4377We roared at the lions and watched the pandas nap.  We marveled at the elephants.  We ate a picnic lunch, and, naturally, more ice cream.

IMG_4370 We filled that cousins weekend up with memories and adventures and laughter and hugs, picnics and ice cream and miles and miles of walking.  We ended the days with children snuggled together watching movies on the couch and grown-ups playing card games at the kitchen table: the best kind of weekend there is.



There’s something about an open-air ice skating rink that’s just more exciting than an indoor rink.

We took the kids skating in Central Park just before Thanksgiving and had so much fun.  They’ve been asking to go skating again every week since then, so over winter break we drove into DC to check out the outdoor rink at the National Sculpture Garden.

Who am I to deny them?  Plus, I love skating.  And field trips into the city.


Downtown, we met my cousin and her family, who were visiting for Christmas.  They have two little girls the same age as B and G.  We see them twice a year—once at Christmas and once in the summer—and each time B gets together with her cousins, it’s like they never missed a day.  I love these little peas in a pod.


No trip to the National Mall would be complete for my kids without lunch at their #1 favorite restaurant in the whole world: The Atrium Cafe in the Museum of Natural History.  Seriously, you would think this was a 5-star restaurant rather than a cafeteria-style cafe the way my kids talk about it.  But it does have good food—much of which is organic and locally sourced—so we went there for lunch before our skating adventure.


We also spent some time strolling the Sculpture Gardens and getting coffees and hot chocolates.  Then at 4PM, we took to the ice.

154-IMG_3455 180-IMG_3481 190-IMG_3491 194-IMG_3495 195-IMG_3496 204-IMG_3505

The skating passes we bought were good for two hours, and we used every minute of our time.  As the sun set and the lights came up around the rink, it just got better.  Walking back to the car, B asked why we don’t go into the city more often, and I didn’t have a good answer.  I think we’ll have to put it on our adventure list for this year.

As I’m looking through these pics, I realize that Matt isn’t in any of them because he was manning the camera the whole time.  We need to do a better job of getting him in these shots to prove he was really there!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...