Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is so much more than what the name implies. Not only is it our most treasured cemetery in the nation, it also has a rich deep history. The Cemetery was born out of betrayal and hurt. It was the home of Robert E. Lee — the General of the Confederate Army. Ulysses S. Grant was the General of the Union Army and friends with Lee before the war. Both high ranking military men that had an opportunity to lead the Union Army. Lee decided to take up arms with the Confederate Army because his state (Virginia) was a confederate state. After the war was lost his property was confiscated by the United States government and turned into a cemetery to disgrace him. Tours of the house are still available, however when I visited the home was under construction and could not be viewed.

The Grounds

Upon arrival at Arlington it is a good idea to pay for tram tickets to see all the grounds and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington Today

Up until recently any solider could be buried at Arlington if they so choose. Today space is limited and their are certain requirements that have to be met in order to be laid to rest here. The day I visited there was a burial taking place and I got to witness a portion of it as the coffin passed by me.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

The Tomb of the Unknown Solider

The Tomb of the Unknown Solider is an around the clock special detail military guarded tomb honoring those lost in war with no body recovered. The changing of the guard happens every 30 minutes.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Silence and respect are required while visiting and observing all parts of Arlington. The soldiers will address any unnecessary disturbances. It is best to put cell phones on silence when touring the grounds.

The Big Bus Tour

The only tricky place to get to while visiting DC, was getting to the Cemetery. We decided to purchase a two day ticket with the Big Bus Tour because it went to Arlington. I do not recommend using this form of transportation. It would have been easier and cheaper to use an Uber. The Big Bus Tours simply used the same lines the public transit system used. They do provide a nice prerecorded informational tour and headphones while on the bus, but a part from that it is a waste of money and time.

One of their claims to fame is that a bus comes every 10 minutes. In Georgetown we waited two hours for a bus and most places at least 30 minutes. Often the drivers would tell us their bus was full and to go to another bus in which the information they gave us was bad. There was no air conditioning and my daughter had a mild heat stroke at the end of day two. They also tend to pack as many people as they can on them and do not follow any safety precautions. City transit is air conditioned, faster, safer and more dependable. A complaint was filed and we did get a partial refund.

Until next time ~ Happy Travels!

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum and Castle

Before we traveled to Washington DC, I had everyone write down their top three places they wanted to visit. My oldest’s picked The Natural History Museum.

Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Dinosaurs!

We all thoroughly enjoyed it. The dinosaur section was excellent with two huge dinosaur exhibits featuring the skeletons of each.

Visitors were able to view the lab from the museum floor. . It was great to see paleontologists working!

Butterfly Exhibit

We went into the butterfly exhibit and enjoyed watching four different types.

The Origins of Man

The Neanderthal on display was fascinating. He provides the first scientific evidence of murder. The origins of man exhibit was of great interest to us all.

The line to get into the museum can be quite long. However, the grounds are fun to look at. We could not resist a picture with this guy:

Pavilion Cafe

It took us half the day to get through the museum. We decided to take a break and grab lunch at the Pavilion Cafe. It had a great selection of food. The cafe was located in the Gardens at the Smithsonian Art Gallery. Fantastic views and food about a 5 minute walk from the Natural History Museum.

Smithsonian Castle and Garden

The Smithsonian Castle and Gardens were just a short walk from the History Museum. I thought I would be most impressed with the castle. It was impressive, but the gardens were the shining star at this stop!

The inside of the castle was spectacular as well! It is important to always look up because ceilings on historical buildings are gorgeous.

This day was my boys’ favorite day spent in Washington DC. They enjoyed it so much that later in the week they returned to the Natural History Museum to take in the exhibits they did not spend much time in previously.

Until next time ~ Happy Travels!