Family Travel: Celebrate America in Washington, DC
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If the family takes an interest in Lincoln, head to Ford's Theatre, the site where John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Seated in the newly renovated theater, visitors hear a Park Ranger "talk" about the events of that evening. In the basement of the theater, there is a small museum that contains a variety of historic artifacts and interactive exhibits illustrating Lincoln's presidency and the Civil War. Note the theater is an active playhouse and thus visitors should check the Web site as visiting hours vary if there is a performance scheduled. Also, if your family is interested in theater, you should consider purchasing tickets to a show. Across the street is the Petersen House where Lincoln eventually died hours after being shot.
Although technically located outside of DC, Arlington National Cemetery is a must-see for all visitors to our nation's capital, as it is the resting place for more than 300,000 American citizens, including veterans from every war (Revolutionary through Iraq and Afghanistan) buried on the grounds. Overlooking the Potomac River, the most popular stops include the Kennedy graves, the Tomb of the Unknowns where visitors can watch the Changing of the Guard, and Robert E. Lee's former residence, the Arlington House. The grounds are spread over 200 acres so families should take a tour to limit walking.
If time permits and the family is still hungry for more DC attractions, the kids will enjoy seeing where money comes from at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. At the Postal Museum they can climb aboard an original Pony Express mail wagon. The International Spy Museum and the Newseum might be fun for families interested in espionage and newspapers, respectively.
For more general information, contact the Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corporation at 800-422-8644 or www.washington.org. Please keep in mind that visitors are subject to a baggage search at many of these attractions, so try to carry as little as possible. And for the family that doesn't want to drive, consider taking Bolt Bus. The company offers free WiFi, extra legroom, and fares as low as $1 from New York City to Washington, DC.