A day trip to DC?

From Brevard County?

Yes it’s possible.

Maybe not recommended for somewhat sane people, but it is possible to fly up to our nation’s capital and see more than you ever possibly could think of seeing in a single day.  The best part is that most of what you can visit in D.C. won’t cost you a penny.  There aren’t many places where you can spend days running around without worrying about paying to get into attractions, but Washington D.C. is one of them.  And it’s not limited to the museums and buildings surrounding “The Mall”.  While we didn’t venture far from The Mall on this trip until the end of the day when it was time to leave, we’ve been to D.C. before and visits to The National Zoo as well as the cathedrals in the area along with all of the monuments mean you can spend several days in the area and not have to pay for entry to anything if you don’t want to.

This adventure began early on a Saturday morning with a drive over to Orlando International Airport (OIA) to meet up with my son for a flight up to Ronald Reagan International Airport (DCA).  We would be flying back on a different airline that is in an entirely different terminal at OIA (we flew JetBlue going up and United to get home) so we both parked in the Terminal B garage and took the train way over to Terminal C for the flight up.  The reason being that we didn’t want to deal with having to make that train ride after what was going to be a long day.  Getting back home after what we knew would be a long day, we wanted to be able to walk off the plane and go straight to our cars so we could get home and into bed.

Had to start the day with breakfast at Sunshine Diner by Chef Art Smith which in is in Terminal C.  Good stuff!

It’s always nice to know you’ve got so many entertainment options when flying JetBlue and their seats are typically pretty comfy.

As a family, I think we all enjoy flying on JetBlue and when the opportunity presents itself, we’ll pick them every time.  We did choose to fly United on the way back home because we were going to be leaving from Dulles International Airport for a few reasons (we were going to end our day out there anyway, the price of the return ticket, the time of day we wanted to head back and we wanted to ride on a “moon buggy”).

Crazy fact of this flight was that he and I flew on this exact plane three weeks prior on our way back from Boston.  You can actually see our seats a few rows up and across the aisle!

Our agenda for the day was pretty much set ahead of time with some flexibility involved depending on how our time management went.

We started off after arriving at DCA by hopping on the train over to Arlington National Cemetery where we’ve been before, but wanted to pay our respects to all of those who lie there.  BTW, train rides around D.C. are $2 apiece and you can get a reloadable card at any station.

You can’t help but feel how special this country is while you’re walking through the grounds at Arlington National Cemetery and a big part of that is because of the sacrifice each of these white marble headstones represent.

Freedom isn’t free.

We were on a bit of a mission to see as much as we could so we hopped back onto the train and headed into DC, stopping at Union Station.

Now we’re a family who enjoys seeing as much as possible, and checking out some of the amazing architectural structures wherever we are will always get our attention.

Yes even subway stations are worth a photo!  And Union Station is also pretty amazing!

Our next stop was the US Postal Museum which is located right beside Union Station.

I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time here if you’re on a time crunch like we were, but it’s worth a visit.

Next up we wanted to walk by the Senate buildings, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress on our way to lunch.  There’s quite a bit to take pictures of on that walk from Union Station down 1st Street to Independence Ave.

The Dirksen Senate Office Building (left) and the Russell Senate Office Building (right).

The Supreme Court.

The Library of Congress.

A nice view of the U.S. Capitol from the east side.

We had picked out a spot to grab lunch and it was more about visiting a place we’d been 12 years ago thanks to a random congressperson coming up to us while walking by the Capitol and suggesting that we try the Toasted Marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery.

Still as good as we remembered and it’s a short walk from the Capitol.  And those fries……  Yum!

This day was really just beginning and we knew that we needed to get going so we walked by the House of Representatives buildings and did a quick stroll through the Botanical Gardens before walking up to the other side of the Capitol for some photos.

Another shot of the Library of Congress from across the street.

The Cannon House Office Building.

The Longworth House Office Building.

The Rayburn House Office Building.

The United States Botanic Garden is worth a stroll through for sure!

The view of the U.S. Capitol is pretty awe inspiring from wherever you are.

From there we walked by the National Gallery of Art, but the entrance from The Mall was closed and we didn’t feel like backtracking to go in on this visit since we’d already been inside on our last visit and we wanted to get over to the National Archives which we had not been in before.

Luckily there wasn’t a line to get inside the National Archives when we arrived.

FYI, you’re not supposed to take pictures right here.  Oops.  On a side note, the security guard was cool about letting me keep this photo to post.

Then it was time to get in a stroll through the Museum of Natural History and we picked a few of the areas to see that we didn’t spend much time in during our visit in 2012.

There’s so much to see inside the National Museum of Natural History.  You can spend hours or even an entire day in here for sure.

Next up was a walk over to the Museum of American History.  It’s not quite as massive as some of the others, but it can still take a bit of time to walk through and see everything.

My son has worked for Publix Supermarkets since he was 16 and on a whim while walking through the Food Exhibition gallery I thought that I would trick him and say that that Publix was mentioned.  The trick was on me because five feet from where we were standing was this!

After this quick walk through the Museum of American History, we left The Mall behind.  Tickets (they are free, but set for a specific time) are required still for entry into the Air & Space Museum and while we had them, they were for a little later and we knew that we’d be headed out to Dulles by then.

We finished walking the entire length of The Mall from the east to the west, we ended up at the Washington Monument.

This monument to the man who is considered the founding father of our nation is always a must visit when you’re in D.C.

We were running out of time with a couple more places to visit before heading out toward Dulles and we stopped by Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (because no trip of mine is complete without at least one visit to a local doughnut shop) and Capital City Brewing Company before hopping on the train out west for our last stops of this trip.

Maple Bacon yumminess at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.

They do have beer, wine and liquor at Capital City Brewing Company as well as a full food menu.

Our day in D.C. was coming to a close and we took the train out west to our last couple stops of the trip.

While we had been to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly (just south of Dulles International Airport) on our trip to D.C. 12 years ago, we wanted to stop by for another visit and here’s a look around the museum.

It does take a little effort to get out to this museum (either a $2 train ride which we did, or rent a car and drive out) and it’s so worth it.

Discovery is one of the three remaining space shuttle orbiters that actually made it to space on display across the country and the only one that doesn’t require a ticket to see.

My son and I never pass up an opportunity to stop by grocery stores to see if there’s anything that we can’t get at home that we’d like to bring back and one of our favorites is Wegman’s.  Thankfully there are two not far from Dulles and that was out last stop before heading to the airport.  We managed to grab some of the things we like from the bakery as well as a couple bags each of ketchup potato chips and we even snacked on some sushi while packing our haul into our backpacks.

Once we arrived at Dulles International Airport, we did a little “airport lounge hopping” to blow some time before heading over to our terminal for the flight home.  FYI, lounge access can make a visit to the airport (especially if you’re going to be there for a bit) much more pleasant.

Snacking in the Lufthansa lounge.

A little more snacking inside the Turkish Airlines lounge.

We decided to take one of the “moon buggies” over to our terminal and this was a first for us for sure!

After seeing quite a bit over the past few hours, it was time to hop back on a plane to get back to Florida and eventually climb into bed 23 hours after leaving home to start this day trip to D.C.

As you can see, it’s entirely possible to take a morning flight from Central Florida up to D.C. and make it back home in the same day while seeing as much as you’re willing to fit in.

Next up is a day trip to Chicago!

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