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East Coast Road Trip: Exploring D.C. (Holocaust Museum, Newseum, Chopt, & Arlington Cemetery)

Welcome to my 14-day series on our East Coast Road Trip where I share our adventures along the way, how we’re doing this on a budget, honest reviews of attractions & restaurants we visit, and money-saving tips and ideas. If you missed it, read Day 1 here, Day 2 hereDay 3 here, and Day 4 here.

Y’all. On Day 5 of our trip, I realized just how much I’ve changed in the past year, thanks to my Year of Rest and so much heart work.

Not only did I wear yellow shoes to walk all over D.C. (who knew that the color yellow would make me so happy??), but I randomly stopped into a little shop called Teaism and bought some Heart of Africa tea (Me? Spontaneously purchasing something? Just for fun?? And loving it? Who am I?), and then it poured rain and we got soaked to the bone at the Arlington Cemetery and I just laughed and took in the moment.

This road trip has had its hard moments, of course, but it’s been such a wonderful experience! I am so grateful that I’m so much less high-strung these days so that I can actually enjoy life — even when it’s pouring rain, I’m freezing, we have blocks to walk, and we didn’t bring an umbrella.

Today’s highlights…

The Holocaust Museum

Wow! I have long been interested in World War II and have read many, many books on the topic. So I was really wanting to go to the Holocaust Museum on this trip. I am so glad we went. However, I wish I had been better prepared for it.

Here are some pointers and things to know if you are considering visiting:

  • I didn’t realize that it was so big and would realistically take at least 3 hours to go through. I probably could have spent 5 hours if I had stopped to read most of the signs/watch the videos, etc. We had only planned to be there for an hour and a half because we’d reserved our tickets online ahead of time and had been given an hour time slot. Jesse and I just assumed that this meant we should allow an hour. We allowed some extra time just in case. Well, when we got there, we were shocked at how huge it was and were sad that we hadn’t planned to spend more time there.
  • I also didn’t expect that it would be so crowded. Gratefully, we’d been tipped off by a reader that you need to reserve tickets online in order to actually get to go through the museum. So I’m grateful that we did that because, otherwise, there’s NO way we would have gotten in just by walking in that day. (Read here more about how to get tickets to the museum. It’s free to go to the museum, but it costs $1 per ticket to reserve them online.)
  • The museum definitely covers some topics that might be unsettling or upsetting for kids who are sensitive (or anyone who is sensitive to these types of things). However, I went through the museum with Silas (8) and explained things to him at the level I felt he could understand and take in. We read the signs together and I was there to answer all of his questions. We had many good discussions as a result.
  • There are some pictures that might be disturbing, but the museum did a good job of having any really disturbing videos blocked off with a warning sign so you’d know and could choose whether to watch/look.

In the atrium, they have an area where you can sit down and talk to a Holocaust survivor. I thought this was such an amazing idea!

Like I said, there were a LOT of people there and it was pretty packed, especially in the first parts of the museum. We had to wait in line to be able to see things/wait for people so we could see certain exhibits.

Before you go into the museum, they have you choose an identification card from one of the victims of the Holocaust. I thought this was a beautiful way to make it much more personal and real — and to share the stories of some of the victims.

One of the areas that really impacted our kids was the section where they show the living conditions in the concentration camp barracks — including the bunks they slept on.

No words.


I told you in my last post all about the Newseum and how much we enjoyed it. Since our tickets were good for two days and we hadn’t gotten through all of the museum the day before, we went back because we loved it so much!

(I can’t recommend this Museum highly enough if you love current events, news, and/or politics!)

We spent most of our time at the 9/11 section. They did an incredible job of honor the media members who did the reporting of this horrific event — including the photographer who died.

The girls also loved getting to pretend they were reporters — reading from a teleprompter and reporting “live” on different new segments!


When dinner time rolled around, we started looking for some place to eat and we randomly found Chopt and stopped for dinner. We’d never heard of it before, but after just 10 minutes of being there, we promptly decided it was our new favorite restaurant.

(It’s so yummy and healthful and pretty reasonably priced, too! Highly recommended!)

Arlington National Cemetery

We got to Arlington after dinner and made our way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which our kids were fascinated with. It’s so sobering to be there and to think of all the lives lost in order for us to enjoy the many freedoms we do.

We stayed for the final Changing of the Guards. In the middle of it, it started raining and didn’t stop. Which was just about the time we realized that we had forgotten something very important on this trip — umbrellas and/or ponchos.

Since the cemetery was closed after the final Changing of the Guards, we had to quickly walk the long way back to the entrance and back to the metro. By the time we got there, we were thoroughly soaked. But we just laughed and danced in the rain, because it was certainly a memory!

Plus, after spending the morning at the Holocaust Museum, how could we complain about a little rain? It really changes your perspective on life and the many, many blessings we have that we take for granted every single day.

Book read today: The Sacrament of Happy (beautifully written and inspiring to me!)

To be continued…

Want to follow along with our trip in real-time? Follow my personal Instagram account here where I’ll be sharing a daily recap + videos and photos via Instagram Stories.

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  • Joy in Alabama says:

    I’ve loved seeing all the vacation pictures! Thanks for posting! (And you have such cute kids!)

  • Laura says:

    What an awesome day! Thanks for sharing!

    I really enjoyed Chop’t too when I visited Arlington! I had never heard of it. Once we ate there (did you get a fountain beverage?!), I looked into whether they sell franchises. (They do not.) We need one in Seattle!

  • karen b says:

    We were in DC a few years ago & a tip that was given us was to be line to the Holocaust museum was to get there really early in the morning & that worked great. We were one of the first in line so that worked. Just a heads up for any other reader 🙂

    • Yes, that’s definitely an option… if you want to get there really early in the morning and run a risk that you might not get in. 😉 We much preferred to just book online so that we could guarantee tickets and a time that worked for us.

  • Wendy Briscoe says:

    Did you take the Clarendon Metro? I was born, and raised in Arlington, Virginia, and lived two streets away from Ft. Myer’s back gate. Used to hear TAPS and Revilie every evening and morning. I’m so glad you are getting to see so much history. I miss Arlington so much, but I hear it has changed so much. Most of the stuff you saw today wasn’t even built the last time I was there in 1998. So glad you are having a great experience in my home town. 🙂

  • Erin says:

    I have never been to the Holocaust Museum in DC but we are currently in Poland celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Everyone considered us nuts for planning to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau on this trip but how can you not. I did not prepare for the visit on purpose. On the bus ride out to the sites we watched a video, I was like, oh man, what have I gotten, myself in to! It was the most powerful thing I have experienced and while it was incredibly hard to see it, I am so glad we went.

  • teri g says:

    Would love to go to DC and visit Arlington and the Holocaust Museum. My uncle was a paratrooper during WW II. He jumped be enemy lines and was in the group that liberated some of the camps. He never said a word about what he witnessed till the day he died. And after what I learned in school, I wnever wanted to bring it up to him.

  • Heather says:

    Chopt was one of my favorites while we lived there. Seriously this chain needs to expand to the south and give me another option besides fried chicken!

  • Amy Ferrigno says:

    Hi Crystal
    I have been enjoying your vacation as much as you, also if you could ask your readers if they have any suggestions for Providence,RI & Plymouth, MA? I will be traveling there with my kids ages 6 & 3 and niece age 5. Thanks

  • Kristen says:

    I loved reading about your visit to the Holocaust museum! I was blessed to visit the one in Israel nearly 10 years ago and I cried my way thru it. Just incredible history. What I’m coming to discover is that there are so many small memorials throughout the country. When we were in Portland, Oregon last year I came across a small, but beautifully done holocaust memorial. It’s a great thing to Google whenever you’re in a new town!

  • The Holocaust Museum is such a special memorial. I remember going there with some family and it has stayed with me all these years. I’m so glad your kids are able to experience it and gain such a deep appreciation for history, good and bad.

  • RO says:

    Girl, I gotta give you a High 5 for those fabulous shoes! I used to work in DC and am a veteran so I have seen the Arlington Cemetery. You give some great pics of all the places you visited. I love the name of the Tea Restaurant. Very unique. Hugs…RO

  • Jen says:

    I have never had the chance to go to the Holocaust Museum in the US but I have visited Dachau in Germany. I was 17 at the time and even then as a young, self-involved kid I realized the enormity of Hitler’s regime.

    Our Children’s Museum in Indianapolis has an exhibit on Anne Frank (and Ruby Bridges and Ryan White). They have a wall that has butterflies all over it. Each butterfly signifies 5,000 children that died during the Holocaust. My eight-year-old couldn’t fathom that not only would she not have been allowed to have Jewish friends, but that most of the Jewish children her age would have been in a concentration camp and likely killed. Her honorary grandfather is Jewish and in his mid-70s. I told her how lucky we all are that he was born in the United States rather than Germany.

    These museums are such an important “right of passage” that all kids need to be exposed to so that history does not repeat itself.

    • Yes! I so agree! I know it’s a morbid subject and it can be difficult to know how much to share with our kids, but I think it’s such an important part of history that we need to talk to our kids about (at age-appropriate levels) and let them ask and ponder the hard questions.

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