The USA is a magnificent country and provides endless opportunities for family travel. A great destination for a family trip that just might involve some education, is a visit to a national monument. The National Parks Service (nps.gov) administers all historic monuments and sites and is a great place to start your research for a family trip. They have a great Find-A-Park listing of all the parks and monuments, listed by state.
One of the greatest monuments to visit is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. On several spring breaks when our kids were in school, we rode the Amtrak train from our home city of Philadelphia to Washington. It was often during the annual April blossoming of the Japanese cherry trees, making our trip a colorful and enjoyable vacation and history lesson. The highlight of our trip was always our visit to the imposing Lincoln Memorial. The sculpture of the seated figure of the 16th President is on the National Mall, and up a long flight of steps, behind imposing columns in a Greek temple-style building. Washington, D.C. is very accessible, easily reachable by train or car from anywhere on the East Coast. The city is also close to local airports reducing a lot of the hassle of family travel.
The entire white marble Lincoln sculpture is 30 feet high, and we and other visitors felt the deep emotions the experience evokes in all of us. Behind the figure’s head is the dedication, which reads: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” There are tablets on the inside walls that contain some of Lincoln’s most famous words. We always had the pleasure of hearing our kids when they took turns reciting them aloud. The most familiar to schoolkids is the one that has all the words of the Gettysburg Address.
It was especially meaningful, because the battlefield is about a 90-minute drive from our home, and we had visited it frequently. Seeing the lines of graves of thousands of soldiers who died there always gave Lincoln’s speech deep meaning for us. The other tablet contained some of the words from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address he gave in 1865 just after the Civil War ended. The conclusion showed the deep feelings he had about the nation recovering from the war: In addition to the Lincoln Monument, we often visited other famous landmarks, all of which are within easy walking distance.
Our favorite hotel was the River Inn, at 924 25th Street, NW. It’s just a bit over a half-mile walk from the Lincoln Memorial in a quiet, residential neighborhood. Many of the rooms have views of the Capitol Building, the Mall and the Potomac River. Our kids enjoyed the hotel, because each room has a kitchen, very handy for early morning breakfasts and snacks after a long day of touring the city. When we stayed there, we found the rates reasonable for Washington. The hotel’s latest listings for prices are from $180 for a basic room to $350 a night for the one-bedroom suites.
924 25th Street NW
Washington D.C. 20037-2126
The River Inn has a cozy, fireplace-warmed restaurant with the odd name of “DISH + drinks”. Our kids also loved the nearby Southern-style Founding Farmers Restaurant, at 1924 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. They have wonderful, fresh food, and specialize in the farm-to-table concept of true fresh, high quality food. It was a great discovery for us. The bags of leftover barbecued ribs and chicken pieces made great midnight snacks when we got back to the hotel.
Founding Farmers Restaurant
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20006