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 and Day 2 here.
Day 3 was a day full of lots and lots and lots of walking! I decided to skip my morning workouts on the days where I know we’ll be walking a TON because I figure I will be getting plenty of exercise! 🙂
Silas wanted to go on a morning walk with me, so we started the day by exploring Old Town Alexandria. It’s such an adorable area with so many cute shops, yummy looking restaurants, and just old town flair!
We found Payne Street so of course we had to take a picture! 🙂
We stayed a few blocks from the King St. Metro in Alexandria so that we could park our car in the gated parking garage the hotel had (we had to pay $20 per day for this, but it was worth it to not have to worry about our car getting broken into, etc.) and then take the metro into D.C.
This worked out really well and meant that we could easily get around the city, but didn’t have to mess with driving in the traffic or finding places to park.
The International Spy Museum
Our first D.C. stop was the International Spy Museum. This was on our must-do list and, despite the long lines and crowds, it didn’t disappoint.
The kids had been here before with Jesse (when I was in South Africa) and had long talked about coming back so I could experience it.
A few things we learned:
- It’s really crowded in the D.C. area around the 4th of July. And the Spy Museum was a hot attraction… which meant that there was a long line waiting out the door when we got there. You can book your tickets online and by-pass this line.
- However, we got our tickets free from a 5-attraction Washington, D.C. Explorer Pass we purchased with credit on Groupon. Even though we had these tickets, we still had to stand in line.
- Tickets are regularly priced at $21.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids (ages 7-11). Children 6 and under are free. If you are planning to do multiple things in D.C., I’d highly recommend checking out the D.C. Explorer Pass. Even if we hadn’t gotten it free with credit from Groupon, it would have saved us quite a bit of money.
- You can bring food and drink into the museum, you just can’t eat or drink in the museum. For those who have babies and toddlers, note that you can’t bring strollers into the museum, but you can check them at the coat check area.
When you first enter the museum, you choose a cover identity and then you keep that identity throughout the whole museum. They have a few different kiosks where they ask you questions about your identity to see how well you’d do at remembering facts and dates as a spy.
The museum is not as interactive as I expected and I think it’s geared for older kids and adults. Our kids really enjoyed it, but they also are obsessed with spy stuff and history. I wouldn’t recommend it if your kids are younger (say 8 years or younger) or if they aren’t really interested in spies/history.
The museum covers a lot of ground: the history of spies through the ages, spies in different wars, cool spy equipment through the ages, James Bond, information and displays on what it takes to be a spy, and a large section on spies in World War II.
My favorite exhibit, by far, was Spies Among Us which traces the impact that deception and spies played in the success of D-Day and the atomic bomb.
One of the other cool things about the museum is that it has the “largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. Spanning the history of espionage around the globe, many of these artifacts have never before been seen by the public.” Read more here.
CitySights Double-Decker Bus Night Tour
After we left the Spy Museum, we walked for blocks and blocks to get to Union Station where we got our tickets for the CitySights Double-Decker Bus Night Tour.
We got these tickets with our D.C. Explorer Pass, but you can also purchase tickets for the bus tour only from Groupon (it’s cheaper to get the 3-attraction or 5-attraction Explorer Pass, if you’re planning to use that, but it’s still quite a bit less to buy the Groupon for the bus tour only than to get it from CitySights).
There was a LONG line of people going on the bus tours, but they were able to accommodate everyone and their staff was very friendly and helpful.
We loved this tour and would definitely recommend it. Not only was our guide incredibly knowledgeable, you could tell he absolutely loved his job and loved inspiring others and sharing interesting stories.
The bus tour was around 3 hours long, with a stop about 2 hours in at the FDR Memorial/Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Iwo Jima Memorial.
The weather was perfect, the sky was stunning, and I got all sorts of amazingly beautiful pictures. It was really fun to get to have such a great view of so many of the historic sites in the DC area — and to get to see so many of them in such a short timeframe!
We finally made it back to our hotel at 11 pm. Day 3 of our 14-day road trip was a success!
Book I finished today: Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents (I know it’s a heavy title; I’m reading some books on this trip to help me as I walk with one of my kids who is struggling and am trying to think through what I can do now to help prevent issues down the road.)