If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you may have noticed we’ve been traveling as a family for the last 10 days in Delaware and Washington D.C.. In my opinion, September is THE best time to travel. It’s usually still warm enough in most parts of the US to enjoy being outside and because it’s off-season for everyone else, the beaches are clear and the touristy destinations are mostly empty.
It had been 8 years since I’d been back home (New Jersey/Delaware), the kids had not ever seen much of where I grew up, and I was missing my cousins, so we decided to turn our week off of school into a family vacation. We spent most of our time at the beach, but squeezed in a couple days for Washington D.C. on our way back.
Steven and I both talk honestly about our trips on the way home so we can decided what we want to repeat and what we want to do differently in the future. We both agreed that while Hugh is at a reeeeeeally hard age to travel (he turned 2 the day we left) and is cranky 75% of the time because you can’t walk past a store display window without him freaking out about getting a toy…
…we still thought this was one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. Right up there with Leland, MI and Canada 3 years ago. The weather was amazing, the older kids are at the age where they could appreciate good city pastries, and we freaking loved the quiet pace of Delaware mixed with the busyness of D.C..
We stayed in the heart of downtown at The Hamilton Crowne Plaza on 14th St. I would highly recommend it for their service (amazing valets!), location, and overall aesthetic. The downsides were that the rooms were small for a family of 6 needing to squeeze in a pack n play and the parking is expensive ($53 a night). In hindsight, I would have upgraded to joint rooms since Steven works for the hotel group that manages Crowne Plazas and with the deep discounts we get it would have been totally worth it! I’ve heard people recommend staying outside the city (for pretty cheap) and taking the metro in. However, we were willing to splurge a bit more on staying downtown since it takes forever to get everybody out the door in the morning and we wanted to be able to wake up, get dressed, and walk almost anywhere, which is exactly what we did. We had PAUL’s pastries for breakfast one morning and that alone was worth it!
From my research, everyone highly recommended taking tours with the buses or the boats because the walking is a lot for kids and even if you take the metro you still have to walk quite awhile to get to some of the monuments. However, Hugh can’t handle anything contained or with a timeframe, so we free-balled the entire week. The kids walked miles and miles with us and for the most part, did awesome and didn’t complain. There was a time when we got stuck in the rain that we took an Uber and we took the metro twice because we wanted the kids to learn about public transportation but yes, our kids walked/ran everywhere with us! I was so proud of them.
There is security personnel everywhere and one time I asked the girls to go climb this little wall in front of the capitol because I thought it would make a cool shot for a video I’m making. I’m videoing away and all of a sudden this guard on a bike rides up close to me and says,”Ma’am, please ask your kids to get down.” It was then I realized there was a prominent sign I’d missed that said “PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB.”
Emma was so embarrassed of me and Steven walked away like he didn’t know me. Ha!
Across the street from The Capitol is The Library of Congress. We had gotten more negative than positive reviews about taking the kids but since we were right there we went. Again, our tours are maaaaaaybe 30 minutes with Hughey, but we all absolutely loved it. My main goal was to see the Gutenberg Bible and whatever else we could fit in would be a cherry on top. I let the kids borrow my phone for taking pictures and they were so into the architecture and all of the displays…
We also did the Smithsonian of Natural History. It’s completely free to get in and we went right at 10am when they open and there wasn’t much of a line. You do have to empty everything out of your bags (like at the airport) and you cannot bring any food in (we ended up having to throw away some lovely leftovers from PAUL’s), so plan accordingly.
It’s a bit extra to go inside the butterfly exhibit, (I think it was $6 for adults, $5 for kids), but totally worth it! Steven stayed outside with Hugh because strollers were not allowed and can you imagine the terror he would ensue?! They give you a speech about delicate handling and all that before you walk inside and they check you before you go out for any butterflies that may be hiding in your hair or clothes. You’re not allowed to touch them but if they land on you by choice it’s magical. All three of mine loved it!
^^^Riding on the metro!
^^^I wore a hat everyday to disguise the rain hair. 😉
We had planned to go to the Spy Museum and the brand new Smithsonian of African American History, but didn’t make it there this time. Also on my list? The Air and Space Museum. We seriously loved this city so much that we are already planning to go back when the cherry trees are blossoming in the spring. Anyone want to road trip with us?!!!!