A smorgasbord of history. More than just our nation's capital, the Memorials, Museums, and Government Buildings are the medium by which one generation communicates to another our nation's stories, struggles, and sacrifices as we continue to define and refine our ideals of freedom.
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Sites and Experience Highlights in Washington DC.... (click for more)
Capitol Hill (one full morning or afternoon)
- The Capitol is the legislative branch of the U.S. government with the Senate and the House of Representatives chambers flanking the grand dome. Public tours are processed through the new visitors center and typically include the Rotunda, Statuary Hall, and the Crypt. To also visit the public galleries of the House or Senate, the group must obtain free passes from either their Representative or Senator’s offices that flank the Capitol.
- The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library by the number of its holdings contained in several different buildings. The Thomas Jefferson building is the one to see as its architecture, sculpture, frescoes, mosaics, and exhibits are all designed to be a celebration of human discovery and creativity.
- Also on Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court is home to our Judicial Branch. The outside is an impressive ancient-styled temple to showcase the legacy and supremacy of the Law. Timing may also permit entering the building to hear a curator lecture in the actual Supreme Court Chamber.
The Presidential and Military Memorials (2-3 full evenings)
- Washington Monument is a 555-foot marble obelisk in the middle of the National Mall that honors the nation's first president. Timed tickets provide an elevator ride to the 500-foot viewing platform. For those without tickets, the best views of the monument itself are from the other memorials.
- Jefferson Memorial is located across the Tidal Basin and is surrounded by the famous Japanese cherry trees. The Romanesque structure provides an elegant view over the water particularly at night.
- The Lincoln Memorial bookends the 2-mile stretch of the National Mall along with the Capitol on the other end. Overlooking the reflecting pool on one side, and Virginia on the other, it appropriately honors the President who preserved the Union during our nation’s toughest trial, the Civil War. While it honors the man himself, the unity of the nation and emancipation, it is only fitting that it has also become a gathering place for subsequent generations to raise the voice of justice and equality.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial is one to be experienced rather than merely viewed. Its chambers and plazas located on the Tidal Basin, use touchable inscriptions, statues, and fountains to chronicle how the man and the nation persevered through the trials of the Great Depression and World War II.
Military and War Memorials:
- World War II Memorial, though a more recent arrival to the National Mall, is located prominently in the middle to show how the nation’s obligation and sacrifice to human liberty extend beyond our oceans. Divided into Pacific and Atlantic theaters, it is united by a memorial wall symbolizing the over 400,000 American lives lost.
- Korean War Memorial is near Lincoln Memorial and features statues of 19 soldiers making their way through unknown terrain in front a wall of reflected faces of service personnel. It is particularly striking at night.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The stark silent wall of over 58,000 names originally met with much controversy, but now is one of the most popular memorials as it effectively conveys the costs and emotions of a confusing war that brought trauma to both the frontlines and the homefront.
- Marine Corps Memorial: The iconic image of six soldiers raising a flag atop Iwo Jima serves as a memorial to the Marines in all wars. Located across the Potomac in Virginia, it also provides great views over DC.
- Air Force Memorial overlooks the Pentagon and DC with its flared prongs flying into the sky, portraying honor on the ground for the sacrifices in the sky.
- Navy Memorial often gets overlooked surrounded by more prominent sites on Pennsylvania Ave, but its worth a stop to admire its water encircled map of the world.
- Pentagon September 11th Memorial is built at the site where the Pentagon was attacked on 9/11. Strategically organized benches for each 184 innocent lives lost are even more poignant at night. Note, there is no bus drop-off at the Memorial, so long walks are required to visit it.
Arlington National Cemetery (one full morning or most of an afternoon)
- Potomac River Dinner Cruise: Spirit and Odyssey Cruises are fine dining dinner-boat cruises that take in the cooler air on the Potomac and views along river banks.
- Alexandria Ghost Tour: Creep through the darkest night following the lantern light of your 18th century guide hearing stories of ghosts, spirits & legends of Alexandria. And you'll be abandoned in a graveyard!
- Theatrical Performances: Enjoy a performance at Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln was assassinated, or in the Kennedy Center. Maybe catch a show in the round at the Arena Stage.
- Sports Events in season: Catch a professional baseball game with the Washington Nationals or Baltimore Orioles.
Washington DC Tour Logistics - Guides, Transportation, Hotels & Meals... (click for more)
Our guides maintain a 24 hour presence with the group from the time you arrive till the time you leave, so in addition to being your educational expert, they will also be navigating you through the logistics of transportation, meals, and hotels. While each guide has their own style and strengths, they strive to be flexible to the group’s needs and maintain the difficult balances between reverence and fun, promptness and leisure, information and action, being decisive and being accommodating. Some sites only allow their resident guides or rangers to lead/talk to groups, but other than that our guides are available to instruct as much or as little as you desire (Yes, sometimes our guide’s passion for the subject outlasts the mental energy reserves of the group).
For more information regarding packing lists, preparations, academic goals, fundraising, hometown connections, teacher tips, and other logistics of group travel, please visit our Traveler Resource Center.
Understanding the changing Seasons of Washington DC... (click for more)
WHEN TO GO?
Crowded sites, long lines and sweltering humidity often prompt our groups to ask us, “When is the best time to go to DC?” While there is no set-in-stone “best” or “worst” time to go, there are trade-offs with every season.
Other Nearby Destinations to Washington DC.... (click for more)
Colonial Virginia (3 hours drive, 2 days)
A great way to begin a trip as this is where the nation began, at Jamestown. Williamsburg takes you back to the 1770’s for a nice pace and hands-on rustic experience for a group before hitting the bustle of DC. Yorktown is where our Independence was won. Also make time for Richmond or Charlottesville on the way to/from DC
Civil War Battlefields (within 2 hours, day trip from DC)
Gettysburg, PA was the deadliest battle and turning point of the Civil War and now is the most monumented battlefield on earth. It is the most popular day trip out of DC, but even closer there are Antietam, MD, Harper’s Ferry, WV, Manassas, VA, and Fredericksburg, VA.
Philadelphia (3 hours, 1-2 days)
Original buildings abound where our founding fathers walked, slept, worshipped, argued and birthed our nation. Sites include Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Franklin Court and the Constitution Center. Nearby is Valley Forge and a little further Lancaster (Amish Country)
New York City (5 hours from DC, 2-3 days)
While NYC has it’s own treasures of American history, a trip here from DC will definitely take on a whole new pace and energy. Canyons of sky-scrapers, lights of Broadway, famous shopping, film sets, and an international nexus for both the poor, the posh, and the powerful; it truly is the Capital of the World.
Boston (9 hours from DC, 4 from New York, 2 days)
Walk the Freedom Trail in the footsteps of the Revolutionaries in downtown Boston. Follow the footsteps of the Minutemen and hear the “Shot heard ‘round the World” at Lexington and Concord. Join the first New England settlers at the Mayflower II and Plimoth Plantation.
Academic Expeditions is an accredited educational travel provider and a member of the major student travel, guiding, and transportation organizations across the country.
Contact Us: 917.520.5453 (General Inquiries) / 917.608.4177 (Registrations and Billing)