When I scheduled a day off to see the 2009 Inauguration of President Obama, it was a huge piece of history especially for my son who was 8 years old. Another milestone is having an opportunity to tour the White House in in 2011. Initially, I was going to postpone but decided to just do it. I am so glad we took our date and were able to do the tour in addition to see some great sites in DC.
Last year, I submitted several dates for a White House tour, two of the three trips were canceled due to the weather(snow again, and again). I believe the third date was canceled on my end due to the threat of torrential downpours. In January, I submitted another request and received a date within 2 weeks.
After deciding to go, I looked for a hotel at a reasonable price in close proximity to the White House. I am a fan of boutique hotels mainly because of the personalized service and each hotel offers a unique experience. My hotel of choice was located in Northwest DC, Topaz Hotel. Thanks to Expedia, the rate was $109 per night. The hotel is nestled away within a residential NW neighborhood and within walking distance to a variety of eateries. The best part for me was a Starbucks on the corner.
In order for my son to have an excused absence from school, he was required to do a presentation on his trip. The road trip to DC was fun for the kids and they were extremely excited to stay overnight in a hotel. We checked into the hotel on Thursday evening and then decided where to eat dinner. Since the Bertucci’s was within walking distance, we headed there for dinner. Since my kids are not big eaters I love when restaurants offer kids menus and reasonable portions. I was a little tired and wanted a smaller meal. For my meal, I ordered endless soup(Tomato Basil) and salad with Red Sangria(delish!) while the kids ordered pizza and lemonade(the kids menu offers an ice cream cup as well).
Our White House tour was scheduled for 9:30 so we turned in early. The hotel reserved a cab for the next morning and the White House was only 10 minutes from our hotel. After checking in at the gate, we entered our first security screening and then the 2nd security screening. I was amazed at how immaculate everything was within the White House. After the entrance, you walk through a hallway adorned with photography that chronicles the Obamas as well as previous Presidents. Prior to the tour beginning, we were able to look into a library containing over 2,700 books, Vermeil Room, there was also a cabinet with china and crystal from previous administrations. I was just in awe with the amount of history. The first room we walked into was the East Room(largest room in White House), with 3 beautiful chandeliers that require 96 hours for cleaning which is done once a year and 2oft high ceilings. This room also has a historical portrait of George Washington. From the East Room, right down a hallway is the red carpet where guests are ushered down. It was amazing to see the short path in this hallway because on tv the hallway looks far longer. Next we entered the Green room which has a piece of artwork by Jacob Lawrence that was purchased for $ 2.5 million by the White House Historical Association. The next rooms were the Blue room, Red room, and State Dining Room. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take in any pictures in the White House. After the tour, we went into the White House Store to purchase some souvenirs.
Since we were in close proximity we decided to visit the Washington Monument. The best part is the tickets are free. The elevator within the monument takes to 550ft and there are portals with breathtaking views. The elevator is below at 490ft and on the descent down the elevator makes two stops and you are able to see the inside of the monument which has memorial stones. It is unbelievable when you see the detail of each stone.
After grabbing lunch, our next stops were the National Museum of Amerian History and National Museum of National History. Both museums are free except for the IMAX theater in National Museum of National History. The exhibits in the Museum of National History were beyond words and I plan to take myself and the kids soon. The kids were totally exhausted from the walking so we hopped on the Metro and headed back to the hotel. Our nap was long overdue and so one cab ride later we arrived at one of my favorite eateries, The Diner. Another restaurant with a kids menu and the kids were antsy for breakfast food all day. My DS ordered the french toast, DD ordered chocolate chip pancakes and I had the mini burgers/fries and Diner Punch(hmmm). Our last morning there we grabbed a quick bite at the Luna Grill, it was quick and local but not worth another visit.