Travel: D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (with middle schoolers)

A run-down of how we fit a lot into a short trip with 17 students!

Day 1: Washington D.C.

Memorials!

National Mall, Washington DC

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

World War 2 Memorial, Washington DC

The National Mall is worth exploring and it’s easy to get to lots of different sites. We hit the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. All worth seeing!

Holocaust Museum

Holocaust Museum, Washington DC

A very well done tribute to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. I definitely recommend going here to everyone.

Smithsonian: National Museum of African American History and Culture

This museum is pretty new – not even a year old yet. And it’s big. We only got through one main section of the building in about 3 hours! It’s designed as a timeline of African American history, starting with tribes in Africa being disrupted and brought to the States for slavery, all the way up to present day influencers of culture. I’m already wanting to go back and see the rest!

Day 2: Gettysburg, Fort McHenry, and Baltimore Harbor

Gettysburg

Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg, PA

We had a guide on our bus and drove around the battlefields, occasionally stopping to get out and see something up close. We thought it was really interesting that artifacts and even skeletons are still being found recently on the battlefields, and that everything is slowly being “restored” to look as accurate to the war in 1863 as possible.

Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland

Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland

Claim to fame: where the “star spangled banner” was created. It was fun to walk around and learn about the Fort and the war that inspired the song that became the national anthem. Highlight of the visit was watching all the students help take down and fold the 17′ x 25′ 15-star flag, which you can participate in most evenings at 5:00pm.

Baltimore Harbor

Baltimore Harbor, MD

We just went here for a quick dinner, so I didn’t get to do much exploring, but later found out that there are often impromptu concerts going on and that if you want some super good seafood you should eat at Phillips.

Day 3: Old Virginia

Jamestown

Jamestown, VA

I wish we could have stayed around here a bit longer, but our tour guide did a great job highlighting everything important (we were a bit late, so we had to shorten our tour). The students loved trying out the different Native American tools and walking through the ship. Plus, the cafeteria has really good food!

Yorktown

Yorktown, VA

Highlights here were learning about medicine during the 1800s, and the video in the museum had special extra effects, which the students got a kick out of!

Day 4: New Virginia

Norfolk Naval Base

We just took about an hour guided bus tour around the base – it was definitely cool to see the aircraft carriers and learn some fun facts. For example, every aircraft carrier from this base has a Starbucks on board! The state houses from the World Fairs are beautiful too.

Busch Gardens!

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA

Because you can’t miss something like this. This amusement park is beautiful and small enough that you can do a half day here and hit pretty much everything. I recommend a week day to keep lines smaller. Loch Ness Monster and Apollo’s Chariot were my faves!

Done any other “cannot miss” things over on the East Coast? I left feeling like we just scratched the surface!

Lydia Jane


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