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Visiting Washington DC for the First Time

Updated on February 11, 2015

Visiting the Smithsonian

Before, I continue ... I would like to say, "don't feed the birds." You may think that they are so cute but these are not your average birds. These are scary dive bombing birds from hell leaving gifts of their poop in their wake. Be far warned. Also, they bite. You may tell me that they have not hurt you on your visit. "Good for you!" They do bite are just lucky.

So, one day when you think you are safe from these birds ... they attack. You thought that you could feed them like every other time you visit. They never attacked you before, so why not take a chance on feeding them, again. Suddenly, a jealous bird, the likes you have only seen from the movie the birds comes crashing at you. Oh, no! I told you so but you believed that you knew the truth. How argent of you not to believe me. So, now you have pooh on you. Not the bear Pooh from Pooh Corner. No, you have the discouraging pooh only birds can provide.

Arriving to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. is often done by bus. There are many tour buses to choose from in the area. Using a tour bus can save time in finding a place park. Luckily, there are websites that will help everyone park their car like that of: and Still, I suggest taking a bus.

A bus can pick up a person or family from the airport and/or hotel. DCtours's webpage provides 24 different tour companies for people to use.

While on a tour, everyone should say together. A plan of each building that you are going to visit should be made before you leave your hotel and/or home. There are so many things to see that a member of the group could get lost. Also, staying on-time for the next bus.

The Smithsonian has a lot of stuff in it. Way too many thing in it to understand each item. Before going to the Smithsonian become educated with the ideas in some of the buildings, so that you can point them out to others when you arrive. Each item is fascinating to see but the history behind the item is what makes a person want to care about it.

-picture taken from This site will tell you more about the Smithsonian.

The picture shows the building known as, "The Castle," all of the websites I have visited say that this is the perfect first stop for your tour of Washington DC. This is the Smithsonian Institution Building where the exhibitionism don't change. That means that the exhibition will be there the next time you visit.

For all those interested there is even a dead guy in, "The Castle." James Smithson is in a coffin there in on of the rooms. He lived from 1765-1829, so no one will be viewing the body.

Collections of items are also inside the museum in display cases along with a large collection of civil war photography.

There is even a gift shop in the building so you can have a reminder of your visit.

As you can see there some lush grass, plants, bushes and flowers outside, "The Castle." Just by looking at the plants you can get ideas for your own garden or flower patch.

It would be nice to have a garden this big outside but my neighbors might not like it. Plus, I don't have the money to build such a garden or the space.

An Adventure with the Kids

Bring something for your kids to do. This place takes some time to get to in the car or on the bus.

They can play games in the car to keep busy or watch a DVD in a DVD player. They can even sing songs to radio. It is import to plan to entertain your kids on an adventure such as visiting the Smithsonian.

PYLE PLRD92 9-Inch Flip Down Monitor and DVD Player with Wireless FM Modulator/ IR Transmitter
PYLE PLRD92 9-Inch Flip Down Monitor and DVD Player with Wireless FM Modulator/ IR Transmitter

This can be used in a car or SUV for kids to not get board on car rides. I had a small television set as a kid for long car rides.


Bus Tour

I would have opted out of taking a car in Washington DC. I would want to be more informed about the surrounding area. A bus driver will know more about the area than any travel guide can teach you. Although, a guide will not know questions that you don't ask.

A tour book such as, "Scavenger Guides Washington, DC: An Interactive Travel Guide For Kids," can give you child a preview of what they are about to see for the first time.

As a child, I toured Washington DC. There were so many things to see from the bus. I found myself wondering about the all the builds that where unknown to me. After awhile, everything became too much for me. I could see the buildings out the window but I didn't understand everything. I had no guide. I had only basic knowledge of Washington DC.

"Basic," meaning that I had seen shows about it on television and that I wanted to see it. Everything was too new to me.

The bus dropped me off along with my group. I was told a time to get back on the bus. Then, my group went separate ways. I found myself wondering with a small group but more then often by myself though unknown buildings with no tour guide. I thought, if I only had a tour guide ... I would know what all of the things in the building meant.

The bus arrived on time for the group I had arrived with in the first place. I was lucky to find some people in my group to walk when the bus arrived.

Staying Together - Get to Know Your Group

There are so many activities in Washington DC that it is easy to want to see them all. Seeing all of the building in Washington DC in one day will take a lot of walking with people that are barely known to you.

Getting to know someone can be difficult. The more you do know about a person the more you can know about compromise in a situation that involves choosing where to go next. It may not matter what order you see your favorite item. Work as a team to see most of the sights everyone wants to see.

Talk to each member of the group. Make sure that they will not wonder off on their own. Don't make them leave the group. Understand that this is not a place close to home. Every member must stay together to get back on the bus safe.

Plan team building activities for your group. Get to know some facts about each person. "Break the Ice," speak to others in your group about what you see maybe they know more about the items.

Look up the items later with you group so you can learn about what you saw in the museum. What did you like the most about your visit?

Learn about the history of each item that you liked the most. There are so many items that it will be hard to remember everything in the building. Try to learn about one item at a time.

Give yourself some time to look at each item. Do you like the planes or the space items. When you get home you can learn even more about the area of study. Check out books from your local library or download on kindle.

Invite your team members to a party that is themed by the things you saw at the Smithsonian.

-pictures can be taken from websites for the party to be taped on walls.

-non-alcoholic drinks can be looked up on-line so that your guests will have a theme drink.

-even themed games can be thought about or borrowed from a website.

-make prizes for games or buy them.

-talk about what you saw on your visit.

-for younger children they can decide to go to a local museum as a group.


There are many museums and galleries with over 100 million items that are often historical items, artwork, scientific items, and things that are part of culture. There are so many things to learn.

Many are historic buildings that contain items that have significance in history. Science of aviation, space, underwater creatures and IMAX films along with planetarium shows are in those buildings. Art of many countries can be viewed in their galleries. Music and children programs are also available. While there in the buildings fossils can be viewed along with jewelry.

"Address: 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20004

Admission: Free

Phone:(202) 633-1000


Monday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Tuesday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Wednesday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Thursday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Friday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Saturday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Sunday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm" all this is taken from the Smithsonian website.

It will take several days to see them all. When you get back to your hotel you can look up on-line what you saw in each building.

What did you like? What would you like to see, again? What did you miss? What are you going to do the next day? What gift are you considering buying? What did you learn?

Plan out your day to accommodate your interests.

Washington on Foot, Fifth Edition: 24 Walking Tours and Maps of Washington, DC, Old Town Alexandria, and Takoma Park
Washington on Foot, Fifth Edition: 24 Walking Tours and Maps of Washington, DC, Old Town Alexandria, and Takoma Park

Please, get a map of some kind. I have walked the thing of foot with no map. Don't let this be your mistake too.

A Walking Tour of Washington, DC - The National Mall
A Walking Tour of Washington, DC - The National Mall

Another, book that will help you plan your adventure.


What do you plan to see at the Smithsonian in Washington DC?

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    • DChance LM profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Fans of the travel channel will love the trip. I would not mind going back with family.

    • Traveloholic profile image


      3 years ago from Colombo

      Would love to visit one day ia!

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind Guides 

      4 years ago from USA

      Good idea for a lens. I think you could add a lot more pictures and maybe a quiz module too.

    • DChance LM profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @Charito1962: It is better to go with family.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      If I do travel to the U.S. again someday, I'll definitely want to visit Washington!

    • DChance LM profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @OhMe: I would have loved to go with family. The group I was with left me to walk through the Smithsonian by myself. I would love to go back with my family.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      We took our son back in the 80's and it was absolutely the best family vacation we took. Then many years later we took our grandson and felt the same way. There is so much to see and do and learn there. Enjoyed reading about your visit.


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