RVING IN WASHINGTON D.C.
If you are interested in history, science, art, and government, there is no better place to go RVing than Washington D.C. We had high expectations for our visit to our nation’s capitol and D.C. met and exceeded every one. We spent 10 days exploring museums, neighborhoods, monuments, and other national treasures.
Washington D.C. is surrounded by a ring of campgrounds ranging from county parks to private independent parks. One of the closest campgrounds is Greenbelt Park Campground, managed by the National Park Services. It is located approximately 15 miles from downtown Washington D.C. During our visit to Washington D.C., we stayed at the Cosca Regional Park in Clinton, Maryland. The park was clean, well maintained, and conveniently located. Whether you opt for a private or a public campground, you are sure to find something to fit your family’s needs.
Click here for more campground options in the D.C Area – http://gorving.com/where-to-find/campgrounds
After choosing your campground, it’s time to decide how you are going to get into the city each day. Unlike RVing in New York City, you have the option to drive into the city if you have a car. Our first day in D.C. we rode the Metro. It was a fun experience, but we did the math and realized taking the Metro in was going to cost the same, if not more, than driving and finding a parking lot.
After a bit of researching, we found the perfect alternative for getting into the city. There were a few free parking lots managed by the National Park service near the Jefferson Memorial. We discovered if we got there early enough it was easy to find parking. The best part was we could bring our bikes and get anywhere in the city easily. Washington D.C. is very bike friendly. I’m not a particularly experienced cyclist, but even I felt comfortable biking around the city with just the boys. There are paths and racks everywhere. It was a blast!
What to See
After figuring out the logistics of where to stay and getting into the city, it was time for the fun part, figuring out all the places we wanted to see! There is so much to see in Washington D.C., much of it free, and it was hard to narrow down our options. Our advice is to go online ahead of time and spend a few hours researching things you want to do. Write it all down on a big list. Next, ask friends who have been there and write all their suggestions down as well. Then look at the two lists to see what overlaps and make those your priority.
Since we are on the topic of friend’s suggestions, here’s what we saw in D.C.:
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center – This was the first place to visit on our list. Be sure to book your tour ahead of time as there are a limited number of same-day tour passes. You can book online or at the offices of your senators or representatives. Don’t miss the exhibition hall for a wonderful educational experience!
National Museum of Natural History – The national museum of Natural History is part of the Smithsonian. Whether you are interested in butterflies or mummies, you are sure to find something for everyone in the family.
National Gallery of Art – The National Gallery of Art is home to an impressive collection of permanent paintings ranging from the Middle Ages to the present. Make sure you visit the National Gallery Sculpture Garden. Kids and adults alike will enjoy looking at the large outdoor sculptures.
National Air and Space Museum – With two locations, one in D.C. and one in Virginia, the National Air and Space Museum is the largest of the Smithsonian museums. Kids and adults will surely delight in learning about the history of flight.
National Museum of American History – This was perhaps our favorite museum in D.C. where you can see thousands of artifacts remembering and celebrating American history and culture. Artifacts range from the flag that flew over Baltimore during the War of 1812, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem, to Dorothy’s red slippers from the Wizard of Oz.
National Archives Museum – If seeing the Constitution of the United States is on your list of things to do in D.C., you’ll want to head over to the National Archives Museum. Inside the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, you’ll also find the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
National Mall and Memorial Parks – When one thinks of Washington D.C. the first thing that often comes to mind are the icons of our Nation’s Capitol. A trip to D.C. isn’t complete without visiting places like the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. You most likely won’t see them all but do make an effort to visit a few that interest you most.
Ford’s Theatre – Ford’s Theatre, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, is a not-to-be-missed National Historic Site. There you can learn details about that fateful night and the legacy of our nation’s 16th president.
Peterson House – Located directly across the street from Ford’s Theatre, the Peterson House is where the mortally wounded Abraham Lincoln was taken the night of his assassination. You can walk through the house and an exhibit detailing the aftermath of Lincoln’s death.
Library of Congress – The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world housing millions of books and other media. There is a free one-hour guided tour of the Jefferson Building that is definitely worth your time.
Supreme Court of the United States – The Supreme Court of the United States is located next to the Library of Congress. While guided tours are not offered, visitors are encouraged to tour the building on their own.
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing – The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing prints out billions of dollars each year. Take a tour and see millions of dollars being printed!
National Cathedral – The National Cathedral is the 2nd largest cathedral in the United States and the sixth largest in the world. It hosts many major events and memorials and many distinguished American citizens have been buried at the National Cathedral.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is our nation’s official memorial to the Holocaust. From the USHMM website, “The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.” Visiting the memorial is a sobering, but powerful experience.
Arlington Cemetery – Established during the Civil War, the Arlington Cemetery is the final resting place for many who have sacrificed their lives for freedom. The beautiful rolling hills are a peaceful and beautiful place to reflect and remember our nation’s soldiers. Arlington is also the home of the Tomb of the Unknowns where you can witness the Changing of the Guard Ritual.
Chinatown – When you think of Washington D.C., Chinatown doesn’t typically come to mind. However, the small but fun Chinatown within walking or biking distance of the National Mall is great place to browse colorful shops and get a bite to eat.
Have you ever gone RVing in Washington D.C.? Where did you stay and what was your favorite attraction?