Washington DC, when you hear that city name, what comes to mind? For me, I know it has always been a important travel destination steeped in American history. School kids of all ages take field trips there, visitors from other countries mark it as a must see destination when they visit the US. For me though, it never ranked really high on my must see list of places I wanted to visit, and definitely not an itinerary I had considered for an Adventure by Disney vacation.
My wife, Leslie on the other hand had rallied for it on several occasions. Each year when we would plan our family vacations, we’d pull out the Adventures by Disney brochure and dream of exciting and exotic locations around the globe. My daughter Sarah and I would suggest European adventures in Germany or Ireland and talk of the fun we could have in locations like Costa Rica or the Galapagos. Leslie would boldly offer, “well what about our nations capital” and we’d say, well maybe next year, or that’s not as much fun as Costa Rica!
Well, this year for the first time in my life an opportunity to visit DC appeared and I accepted. I was attending a Disney Travel Advisory Council meeting, and the folks from Disney had also set up a mini Adventure by Disney day for us during our time there in order to expose the council members to this incredible vacation experience.
I arrived early afternoon, and had a few hours to myself before our council dinner that evening. We were staying at the historic Mayflower hotel which is located within a reasonable walk from the National Mall. So I talked to the hotel concierge who gave me some simple directions and a guide map and I was off to discover the city that’s the seat of power of the greatest nation in the world.
My first stop was the Washington monument. Surrounded by fifty flags, it’s a pretty impressive structure. From there I walked down the mall past Smithsonian buildings and beautiful museums to the Capital building, and that’s where it happened. Yes, that’s where it began to hit me how historical and important this city is. I began to realize that the great men who founded our country and the decisions they made that shaped our lives happened here.
I looked at the statue of Ulysses S. Grant atop his horse and the battlefield depictions on either side of him and thought about all the courageous men and women who have fought for our freedom and this great country.
From there I walked the other way up the mall past the Washington monument, took some time at the World War II memorial and then on up to the Lincoln memorial. And that’s where it really happened. When I walked up those steps and looked for the first time at Mr Lincoln I was not prepared for how impressive of a scene it was. We’ve all seen pictures of Mr Lincoln looking out across the mall towards the capital, but I had no idea how large it actually was! Seated the statue is nineteen and a half feet tall, and when you stand there it seems gigantic. His hands, his boots, everything about him is just huge and there’s no other way to say it but it’s extremely moving. To think that such a humble man from a simple beginning led this country through the most challenging times in history and did so much to reunite a house once divided. You really have to see this in person to get the full impact of how large and important this memorial really is.
The next day we visited several other monuments and landmarks in the DC area. We also traveled across the Potomac and visited Mt Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington and their final resting place. We ended our tour back in DC at the Korean War Memorial, an eerie reminder of the impact of war and the fact that Freedom is Never Free
So I can easily say that I went away from this trip with a new perspective on Washington DC as a destination and the way I look at travel. This IS what travel is supposed to do. It should reveal a destinations history and importance, it should make us glad that we ventured there, make us realize there is much to be discovered just outside our front and around the world, and leave us wanting to return to find out more about not only where we are, but who we are.
Rick is President of Kingdom Magic Vacations, and as you might guess, he loves to travel! His wife Leslie have two great kids, teens actually, and they love to travel together as a family. They love cruising also, and most of all they love Walt Disney World!
You can find Rick at www.TravelwithRick.com where he loves to share with you the place (Walt Disney World) and the places (anywhere else around the world) that we love to visit. I’ll do that with articles, video and pictures.