City Breaks | Washington D.C.

My trip to Washington D.C. last spring was exciting for a number of reasons. It was my first time out of Europe: my first time to the United States. Plus, as a historian and at the time, a politics student, it was fascinating to see the places that are so often filmed on TV, or in the textbooks, brought to life.

I went as part of a school trip to the US capital, and we had about four days to explore the city, and getting a taste of American culture. Although it the trip was a while ago, I thought I’d share some of the photos from my visit, as it was a really beautiful city; steeped in history.

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The White House & National Mall

On our first full day we went to the White House visitor centre, before going to see the White House itself! We then explored the Mall, and had some time to take in the sights of the numerous memorials. I think one of the things that really struck me was the sheer length and size of everything in America. One street is so much longer than you’d expect!

When we were about to leave, there was a bit of commotion as there were rumours going round saying Obama was off to play golf… Whether these were true, I don’t know, as we didn’t see him, nor his motorcade, but regardless, it was exciting to see the White House.

I will say this though – the Washington Monument is immense!

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Vietnam Memorial with the Washington Monument in the background

I thought I’d throw in this random selfie – just to put my face on the blog for once! Thanks to Ross for the loan of his hat; I’d underestimated the chill of the wind in April!

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The site of MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

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The Lincoln Memorial

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The National Mall

Later that same day, we took a walk back down to the Mall, and got a glimpse of it at night. It was so much nicer without the large crowds, and the sight of the reflecting pool in the dark was majestic.

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Washington at Night

Arlington Cemetery

We had a free day – and we decided to visit Arlington Cemetery. It is such a large cemetery, and it just seemed to keep on going. Still a very poignant place – and I recommend getting there fairly early, as it can get busy.

Arlington - Panorama

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Arlington Cemetery

Ford’s Theatre

Seeing a show at the venue where Lincoln was shot in 1865? Yes, that is indeed what we did. And, it was fascinating (albeit slightly morbidly) for a historian!

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Ford’s Theatre – the box where Lincoln was assassinated

The Library of Congress

(one of my new favourite places on Earth) … I would have loved to go into the reading room! Can all libraries be this beautiful?

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Library of Congress – Reading Room

We also took a quick visit into the Supreme Court.

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The marble exterior of the Supreme Court

The Smithsonians

Now this is the place for any museum-lover to visit.

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A galaxy-style travelator in the National Art Gallery

We decided to visit the National Air and Space museum (a must-see), and the American History Museum, both of which could have easily taken up a whole day!

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The American History Museum was very cool – a particular highlight was this flag sculpture that represented the Stars and Stripes by reflecting light! Another interesting display was an exhibition about the Presidents; including a set of street signs with Presidential names!


On our final evening, we went to an ice-hockey match. Trust me, that was an experience and a half! The size of the arena was overwhelming, as was the noise. Unfortunately the Capitals lost in extra time, but it was still a great spectacle.

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The Capitol

Somehow – we made it to our last day! We had a couple of jam-packed days, we walked for miles, and still there was so much more we could have seen. On our final day, we had a tour booked for the Capitol building, home to Congress, around the Senate and the House of Representatives. These were pre-booked, but meant that the queuing wasn’t too bad. It was so fascinating to get a chance to sit in on a session and see what was happening – even if they were just discussing some small tax!

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The Capitol

Unfortunately the Capitol building was having work done, so there was scaffolding up, and some of the ceiling art was hidden, but having said that, I think it was the only scaffolding around on our whole trip.

E Pluribus Unum

This brought us to the end of the trip – time to head back to the airport, and the long flight home. Fortunately it was an overnight flight, so the perfect excuse to sleep!

I loved exploring Washington D.C., and one day would love to see the city during the Blossom festival. But until then, the historian in me has been satisfied! Now onto other parts of the US!


A glimpse at the D.C. metro – goodbye for now!

Have you been to D.C.? What were your highlights?

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