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East Coast Road Trip: Exploring DC (Newseum, Madame Tussauds, PRET, A Capitol 4th)

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 here, and Day 3 here.

Day 4 of our 14-Day East Coast Road Trip started out a little rough. I think we were all just tired and needed some quiet… and it resulted in bad attitudes and disagreements and overall grumpiness from most of us (me included!)

So we spent a few hours at the hotel just taking it easy, talking, working through our disagreements, and pressing the reset button. It was just what we needed!

I had promised Silas we’d go on a little morning Metro adventure, so we walked from our hotel in Alexandria to the Metro and rode it to the Reagan National Airport and got out and walked around a little. Then, we hopped back on the Metro and headed back to our hotel.

(I hadn’t even fixed my hair or put on makeup/my contacts before I left on the Metro Adventure with Silas. We just walked out the door and went!! I am learning more and more to jump on these opportunities with my kids. They won’t care that mom had bed hair and bags under her eyes. They will only remember the fun times we had together!)

The Newseum

Our first stop in DC was the Newseum. I hadn’t heard of this museum before, but since it was one of the options we had as part of our D.C. Explorer Pass, we looked it up and realized it would likely be something we’d all enjoy since we love politics, media, and the internet.

You guys! We LOVED this museum and I would highly, highly recommend it if you are news/current events/political junkies and/or if you are a blogger. It was absolutely fascinating to see how the media impacts our culture and how news has played such an important role in major events through the years.

Some Things to Know Before Visiting the Newseum:

  • You can bring food and drinks in, but you can’t eat it inside the museum. We had snacks and water bottles in our backpack and it went through security without any issues.
  • The Newseum is 6 floors and there is a LOT to see. I would recommend planning to be there for at least 3-4 hours. I think you could easily spend a whole day there if you are really into reading the signs/watching the videos and fully experiencing the museum and the interactive exhibits.
  • Tickets are $24.95 for adults. Kids ages 0-18 get in free until Labor Day. We got discounted tickets with our D.C. Explorer Passes.
  • Your ticket is good for two days. We stayed the first day until they closed (5 p.m.) and went back the next day because there was so much more to see. We could have spent quite a few more hours there! But we’re also news junkies! 😉
  • Some of the content of the museum might not be appropriate for younger kids. There is some graphic stuff when it comes to news events. Nothing I saw would be more than PG rated, but just know that some of the exhibits are definitely ones you’d want to go through with your kids and have discussions about. And there may be at least a few things you wouldn’t feel comfortable having younger kids see, depending upon their sensitivity/what they’ve been exposed to.

At the very beginning of the Newseum, they have this amazing Berlin Wall exhibit. We stayed there for quite awhile because our kids asked so many questions about it and were just pretty overwhelmed by thinking about how it would have been to live on either side of that wall.

At the top of the Newseum, they have this amazing observation deck where you can look out and get incredible views of the city. We spend quite a bit of time up there, too!

One of the cool parts of the museum is that they have the front page for that day of a newspaper from every state. We had to find the Wichita, KS newspaper, of course (we lived in Wichita, KS for most of our lives)!

We stayed until they closed and then we headed (in the rain) to the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. (We made a quick stop by Ford’s Theatre on the way.)

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

We wouldn’t recommend paying for the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum as we went through it really quickly and we thought it was WAY overpriced for the experience.

It was fun to take pictures with the presidents (including my favorite president, Teddy Roosevelt!), but we would have been super disappointed had we paid the actual admission fee (it was one of the attractions we got into with our D.C. Explorer Pass.)


We splurged on an amazing dinner at PRET. We’d never heard of this restaurant before and fell in love instantly. We’ve seen a lot more of them in the following days as we’ve been in NYC and Boston.

If you are not familiar with this restaurant, it’s a fantastic, casual restaurant with organic and healthy food options. I was especially excited they had Rooibos Cacao tea!

We were very impressed with their high quality ingredients, how fresh everything was, and the many healthy options they offered. From what we could tell, they make everything fresh every single day!

The prices are a little higher than you’d typically pay at some place like Panera, but the food is much better, much fresher, and they have so many organic options that I think the prices weren’t unreasonable at all.

A Capitol Fourth

And then we walked for blocks and blocks and blocks to see the White House and experience a little bit of the Capitol 4th of July celebration — along with thousands of others. The crowds were pretty insane!

Though Day 4 of our 14-day East Coast Road Trip started in a rocky way, it ended well and I’m grateful!

Book finished today: Chop Wood, Carry Water. (A great, quick read with lots of insightful nuggets of truth!)

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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  • Crystal, it’s great that you are taking several days to tour Washington, DC. There is so much to see there. Our senior trip there was full and packed, and many places have popped up since I’ve been there.

  • Abby says:

    I loved Chop Wood, Carry Water! Such a motivational, energizing read. I’ve joked that I need to read it on repeat. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Adrienne says:

    Pret is a big deal in London. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you for posting and talking about going on adventures with no makeup or hair done. It’s so true that our kids don’t care! Also, you look like your younger daughter’s twin with no makeup on!!! ?

  • Kimberly says:

    What a fun adventure! If you haven’t been to Native American museum yet, check it out! Very cool! And, they have authentic (but pricey) food!

  • JJ says:

    I’m not sure if you planned on stopping on Long Island, but I saw you with Teddy. His summer home is on Long Island(very awesome tour with a lot of cool facts!) and was one of my favorite getaways when I lived there. Fun fact: He read 1-2 books daily. And if he found you boring during conversation, he would pick up a book and start reading. ?They used to have a free private beach(it is the north shore, so VERY rocky!) but a delightful place for a picnic lunch! Happy travels!

  • Danielle says:

    I am trying to plan a family trip to DC and would love some of your advice on where to book a hotel at…we don’t want to travel real long to get to the attractions…like the monuments but also don’t want to spend a fortune! Your post just mentions you stayed in Alexandria….can you tell me more about how you decided to stay there and the benefits of it.

  • Marion Wachsmann says:

    Do you remember where you stayed? We are planning a very similar trip in June, we have 4 kids and we have found many hotels in DC don’t even have rooms big enough to sleep us all 🙂

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