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My entire life I have longed to travel. I want to travel the world! However, I kept putting traveling off on my to do list because of various reasons (or rather excuses). You see, I was the person who often said, “I can’t afford it” or “I don’t have time.” But here is the kicker, wanting to travel and see the world doesn’t have to start with an international trip to seven different countries. It can start in your own backyard.
There are so many towns and cities across the world, within your home country and within your home state or providence that offer things to do and see. It doesn’t have to cost your life savings. I didn’t realize that until about 2-3 years ago when we started exploring our own town and traveling to other states. Then I realized that even though I wasn’t on a beach in Tahiti, I was still traveling. While lying on a beach sounds fun, there is so much more to explore!
So if you think you can’t afford it, think again! My partner and I are by no means rich. We are typical working class folks. We both still hold day jobs where we have to get dressed and drive into work. However, we didn’t let that stop us. And neither should you! Thus, here begins my travel blogs where I will share will all of you where we went, what we did, where we ate and where we stayed. With suggestions on what to see, what to avoid and what to pack, I certainly hope this entices you to explore these destinations.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Washington DC, America’s capital.
Washington DC is about a 2.5 hour drive from where we currently live. We usually leave early on Saturday morning and head home on Sunday afternoon. Our stays are never long but you could stay in Washington DC for a month and never drink at the same coffee shop twice. There are so many things to see and do that it can be overwhelming… especially considering that many of them are free! Overall, here are some of our favorite stops.
The National Zoo
The Washington DC Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. While admission is free, parking is not. It cost us $22 to park for the day but it was worth it. While it was a bit chilly outside, the park wasn’t crowded or cramped. Since it was the off season, amny of the concession shops were not open but we were happy to walk around and see what animals we could find.
Many of the exhibits have both inside and outside areas that you can view. This way, if the animal is cold you don’t have to worry about missing out. The indoor exhibits are heated and in some of them the animals roam free, like the one pictured below! But don’t worry, it’s completely safe.
The zoo’s address is 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008.
The best spot:
My favorite exhibit was the Lion exhibit. Part of me wished I had recorded the event on camera and part of me is glad that I saw it with my own eyes instead of watching it through a screen. The “alpha” male lion was separated from the others and for whatever reason was putting up a huge fuss that morning as we strode by. Hearing a full grown lion’s roar in real life is nothing compared to hearing it on a television special. Let me tell you, if I had heard that sound in the wilds of Africa, I would have peed my pants. To this day, it is one of my favorite experiences in a zoo and I try to visit every zoo in every city I visit!
We also met a very friendly porcupine. I think he thought we had food. Lastly, don’t miss the seals and sea lions. They are wondrous creatures!
The National Museum of Natural History
Located at 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, the NMNH is phenomenal. Free of admission, you could easily spend all day here. There is so much to see!
Favorite place: It’s a toss up between the Narwhal Exhibit and the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. Narwhal’s are among my partner’s favorite creatures so I list that mainly for him. And let’s be honest, they are unicorn fish… that’s pretty fascinating!
I was personally entranced by the Hall of Human Origins. In one section they have a display of human skulls found around the world during different times. It’s astounding! Even though I did take a picture, I encourage you to go see it for yourself. The exhibit itself is huge and it’s truly amazing to see how far we’ve come as a species. As a writer, it opens my mind to so many possibilities and that’s why I love it.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is a military graveyard that spans over 600 acres. Climbing to the top of the hill, there are graves as far as the eye can see. There is a small museum at the top which has free admission. However, if you go here make sure to schedule a viewing of “The Changing of the Guard.” It should be every 30 minutes in the summer time and every 2 hours in the dead of winter. The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony in which soldier’s switch places in their watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Located at the top of the hill, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marks the grave of an unnamed soldier from World War I. His grave is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
There are many notable graves here such as President John F. Kennedy and Hyman G. Rickover. As someone who has worked for a US Defense Contractor, as well as my partner who is US Navy, it was very important to us that we find Rickover’s burial site. If you visit around Christmas time, you’ll notice wreaths on every tombstone.
Walk the streets!
While I would highly suggest booking an Uber for longer distances, we were happy to walk from our Hilton Hotel room to many of the sites we wished to see. However, we also got a little lost. The unexpected detour turned fruitful as we found unique homes and alleyways painted with local art. There are plenty of other people walking around in the daylight so you can feel safe in the city.
Did you know that there are over ten art museums in DC? There are! You could spend a week in art museums there. Best of all, they are free! I normally don’t make it a huge habit of taking pictures in art museums. After all, no photos can ever do them justice.
If you like to have your mind stimulated, some exhibits are interactive! Check out the National Portrait Gallery, The National Gallery of Art, or the Smithsonian American Art Museum. There are literally so many to choose from you’ll find yourself coming back for more.
Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum
I’m already itching to go back here. I was so exhausted by the time we ventured in that I didn’t last but 2 hours. We toured the ground floor and watched a 45 minute video in the domed theater (it’s amazing to have a screen that spans the entire ceiling!)
Space is another topic that can get your creative mojo firing if you’re an artist or writer. We’ll be sure to stop by this place again on our next visit. It’s a reminder of how truly spectacular human beings can be and how far we’ve come.
The National Air and Space Museum is free of admission and located at 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560.
Don’t stop there!
Lastly, don’t stick to just my list. Explore! Washington DC is a wondrous place filled with history. There are Presidential Monuments, parks, fantastic restaurants (post to come Thursday and will be linked here), and alleyways filled with art! The White House even gives tours. Need a place to stay? There are Hilton Hotels at every price range you can imagine and most of them are within walking distance to some of DC’s finest sights.
Why do we choose Hilton? Because there is always a high level of cleanliness and hospitality no matter where we go. This way, we always feel taken care of and know what to expect. That’s why we love Hilton Brand Hotels. It’s our safe haven and home away from home.
Fear not, if you’re not a Hilton fan there are many accommodations in the area. I encourage you to explore Washington DC in all it’s glory!
Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.