Tourism on a Dime: Discover Washington D.C. Affordably

Over the last few weeks I have been traveling a little more than usual. I recently visited my hometown of Washington D.C., and while I was there I toured the local monuments.

What some people may not realize is that some major cities have lots of free things to do.

Although D.C. is an expensive place to live, there is nothing like packing a lunch and heading downtown.

We started out by going down Independence Avenue and heading toward the Martin Luther King memorial. My kids and I have not seen it since it was built.

The statue of Martin Luther King overlooks the reflecting pool across from the Washington Monument and the Lincoln memorial. It is a huge, well carved sculpture. The children and I were in awe because we felt like ants standing next to it, and that makes for an appropriate tribute to one of the great civil rights leaders.

My youngest son has not received much civil rights knowledge in preschool, so he only knows what I teach him. As a parent I feel I must teach them all about the heritage and triumphs of African Americans. Sometimes history books skim over details, and that is where we parents should be picking up the slack.

We stood at the memorial for about an hour. My oldest son read a book about the march on Washington, and he shared a lot of good and accurate facts about that day. I chimed in with some more information as we stood and read quotes from speeches King delivered.

We walked around to the next site nearby and that was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. My oldest son likes to read biographies, so of course he was able to teach us all about President Roosevelt.

As we walked, we were able to read facts and touch the brass statues. The kids love to touch the statues and pose with them for pictures. But who doesn’t like to do that? I had fun posing with a few statues myself.

The children had so many questions, and I answered them to the best of my ability and a little help from Google.

We wanted to walk a little more to get to Lincoln Memorial but decided not to as the kids were hungry, and so was I.

With our lunch in hand, we sat at a bench on the National Mall and ate as we watched a huge game of teacher-versus -student dodge ball. The boys got a kick out of that.

I had remembered that the Smithsonian recently opened the African American Museum, and I wasn’t aware that it offered daily free tickets. I will be sure to sign up for the tickets before my next trip because I wasn’t prepared to wait in line for them with the boys. That’s one museum I do not want my children to miss.

We headed down Constitution Avenue where Smithsonian has two of our favorites museums:  the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History.

The line was long for both, so we decided to leave and do some sightseeing from the car.

I pointed out the many federal buildings we passed – the Department of Commerce, the Treasury and, of course, the Capitol, to name a few.

Of course they wanted to know what the people in each building did, and thank goodness my Google was up and running!

Keep in mind that most of the Smithsonian museums are free, and there are many. So next time we will extend our day and plan accordingly.

We rode down Pennsylvania Avenue to catch a glimpse of the White House, but I couldn’t stop too long on the busy street with traffic moving and Secret Service bustling. I made sure to point it out to the kids. They immediately wanted to go inside, but I had to explain to them why it’s not that easy.

We circled the block so they can get a better front and rear look of the building, which is possible despite that fact that it’s so heavily protected.

One thing I do love about the city is that it is rich with information and it’s a very accessible place to tour.

As we searched for a spot to sit and eat our packed lunch, we noticed a lot of food trucks parked downtown.

There were a few favorites like Killer Tomato, which features pizza, and D.C. Taco Truck, that offers an array of tacos that are so good.

Even though museum food can be so expensive, it’s cool to grab a taco or even milk and cookies and sit on a bench and enjoy the downtown scene.

The city has expanded so much over the years, and it caters to the tourist, so next time you’re in D.C. head down Constitution Avenue and grab some history lessons and a local bite to eat.