*From our teen correspondent, Brooke, in our monthly series, Teen Travel Chat.
I had never thought of Washington D.C. as a fun place to spend a vacation during the cold winter months, mostly because it is not tropical and there are no palm trees that await you once you arrive. To me, a vacation is somewhere warm…with pools, beaches, and palm trees. However, traveling to D.C. gave me a whole new appreciation for all of the nation’s rich history that the city shares with its visitors.
I traveled to D.C. with my classmates during the eighth grade. We took our trip during the brutal, winter months that leave D.C. covered in snow and ice. I personally recommend traveling to D.C. in the warmer months so you do not have to deal with the harsh, cold weather like I did (unless you’re up for that and that’s your thing, and if so, I have major respect for you). Despite the cold temperatures, Washington, D.C. was a really fun and enlightening experience. I got to travel on my own for the first time without my parents, and I also learned an incredible amount of information while being there.
Because I was traveling to D.C. with my classmates, we did not get to choose what sites we got to visit. Instead, we had an itinerary which mapped out what we would do and where we would go each day of the trip. Of the extensive itinerary, the sites I really enjoyed were: The Shear Madness show (at the JHK Center for Performing Arts), the Newseum, the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, the National Mall, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool, and Ford’s Theatre. Since I like history, I found the museums to be really neat. While the Holocaust Museum is definitely not an exciting or happy thing to walk through and to think about, I am very glad I went to because I got to delve deeper into the history of Holocaust and grow more of an understanding of it than I had before.
I recommend taking a trip to Washington, D.C. for everyone at least once to learn about all the history that is located there. With an immense number of things to do, I think everyone will be able to find at least one thing they enjoy whether it be shopping at the National Mall or going to the museums. D.C. is packed with museums, historical buildings, monuments, memorials, parks, art, and gorgeous scenery, especially when the cherry blossom trees bloom with pretty pink flowers in the springtime.
If traveling to D.C. with kids, I highly recommend the Newseum in D.C. It is extremely informative with all sorts of topics and exhibits. There are a lot of films, pictures, and news articles to feast your eyes on that are really compelling. There is even an interactive newsroom where you can film your own news broadcast like the pros do! Another thing I thought was really cool was the I-Witness 4D Time Travel Adventure film in the theatre inside the Newseum. The film is creative and easy to understand. And as an audience member, you may feel like you are actually a part of the film – depending on what type of film is being shown – by experiencing some rain or wind just for an example. This 4D film is something to definitely make sure you include during your visit! Kids and adults would both be able to find something to do at the Newseum. If you have kids especially, this place is ideal for them because the kids do not have to be kept quiet and they can participate in the interactive exhibits and have a blast. With five floors of diverse activities and exhibits, you will not be disappointed.
Along with Newseum, I recommend going to see the show Shear Madness at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. This show is unique in that the outcome of the show is never the same as previous shows, which makes every person’s experience unique. The plot changes depending on the audience! The actors are super talented and you can tell that they really enjoy performing. This show is hilarious and will be a great activity to take in with the whole family.
Arlington National Cemetery
During my trip to D.C., I, along with a selected few other students, were granted the honor to lay the wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery. This was such a humbling and memorable experience. The cemetery itself is breathtaking. Walking through what seemed to be thousands and thousands of gravestones, I felt very thankful for all of the people that risked their lives for my country, and for me. I felt extremely appreciative to the people who were no longer here because they were fighting for their country, as well as to those who are fighting right now. Now, although this place might not be the first thing someone thinks to do when they are going on a trip or vacation, I do recommend going here. It was a very special experience for me that I am I glad I had and that I will always remember.
Washington, D.C. was definitely a different kind of trip for me. It did not consist of relaxing at the pool, doing fun activities like zip lining, or enjoying a refreshing virgin piña colada. But it was full of learning, excitement, and wonder. I got to learn, go to museums (which I enjoy), see the White House for the first time in real life, and stand at the same spot Martin Luther King Jr. stood at during his “I Have a Dream” speech. I had the opportunity to laugh during the Shear Madness show, lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, make a news broadcast with my friends, and take in all that was new to me. Out of the things I did in D.C., I did not cover it all; I did not cover even half. D.C. has such a large variety of things to do and places to see, and I want to go back to continue my adventure in Washington, D.C.
I am Brooke Lauryn. I am a high school student with diverse interests. I enjoy being a member of my high school band and marching at Friday night football games, along with participating in basketball and track & field. I appreciate art and music and learning about other cultures. I love spending time with my family and friends. Since I was a child I have always enjoyed traveling, and I look forward to sharing some of my favorite places and “cool” things to do with you.