Last year I helped a reader plan a trip to Washington DC for the 4th of July. She had liked the itinerary so much that she had me help plan out some stops for her drive to and from DC. I wanted to follow up with her 2011 trip to see how it worked out. Reader Jenni made it to most places on the trip but as luck would have it she was able to leave town early which meant she switched up the schedule slightly. If you’re planning a DC trip for the 4th this year, see how her trip went to give you ideas for your own travels.
Road Trip to DC
I had suggested taking the Southern route to DC and the Northern route back home. When Reader Jenni decided to leave earlier than planned, she realized taking the Northern route would put her in Baltimore right in time for a Cardinals and Orioles baseball game. Not one to miss her hometown favorites, she made sure to get to that game, though she saw a disappointing loss by the Redbirds.
Day One: July 1
Reader Jenni decided to try my Day Four Itinerary for her first day in DC. She took her family to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and but swapped the National Museum of American History for the National Museum of Natural History. She stopped for lunch inside the Air and Space Museum before heading over to the next stop. After the museums, the stopped by the Folklife Festival for some music before visiting the Pentagon City Mall for some dinner near the hotel. That sounds like an exhausting first day!
Day Two: July 2
Reader Jenni wanted to honor the military for Day 2 and she visited quite a few attractions to make it happen. Since her hotel was on the Virginia side, she visited Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington House, and the Iwo Jima Memorial, just like I suggested she do for Day 3.
She passed on the zoo and headed back into DC to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, and the outside of the White House. For dinner she followed the family tradition of eating at the Silver Diner in Arlington. Some traditions are too good to pass up.
Day Three: July 3
Jenni and her family spent most of the day at the Holocaust Museum and National Museum of Natural History before some rain sent them scrambling to the Metro and back to their hotel. Rain can often change your plans so be sure to be flexible. Since they couldn’t do dinner in the city they found some food at Pentagon Row. Jenni and her family had seen so much in their first two days that they took advantage of the storm and got in some rest before a busy day 4.
Day Four: July 4
Jenni and her family made sure to take the Metro into DC for the 4th, knowing there would be a lot of traffic and security checks. They exited at the Archives-Navy Memorial station to avoid crowds and be closer to their destination. They caught some of the National Independence Day Parade on their way to the Newseum. Jenni was hesitant about visiting the Newseum, not knowing if it would really interest her son but at the end of the trip she said it was the must-visit stop of her trip. She cautioned that it can be a very emotional place so be prepared.
Day Five: July 5
They also took a trip to the Pentagon Memorial, honoring those lost on 9/11. They then got an early start back home, driving a few hours at night before stopping in West Virginia.
Road Trip Back Home
There was one stop on my road trip plans that Jenni knew her family couldn’t miss. Being baseball fans they made sure to stop in Kentucky at the Louisville Slugger Museum. They were able to see several famous bats that made their place in history, from hometown hero Stan Musial’s bat to those used by the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Planning Your Own Vacation
Jenni’s trip worked because she was flexible with both the weather and scheduling. She did end up changing some meals around because her family ended up being more the burgers and sandwiches type but knowing food was nearby was helpful to her. Even with all the people in DC for the 4th, Jenni managed to take her family to many places that didn’t necessarily have all the holiday crowds. My guide helped her narrow down some ideas and allowed her to come up with a timeline that worked for her family.
Have a reader request? Leave me a comment with your email address or email me directly at [email protected] and I’d be glad to try to help you out.