North America

How to Make the Most of a Day in D.C.

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

My introduction to D.C. was… not even in D.C., but rather right across the Potomac River at the Arlington Cemetery – famous for it being the resting place of the Kennedy’s as well as the “changing of the guard.”

There were hundreds upon hundreds of these graves.

The changing of the guard was truly incredible and not what I expected at all.  While this is a custom in Britain, I wasn’t aware we had this in the states.  There’s a tomb for an unnamed soldier in the Arlington Cemetery and guards are keeping watch at all times.  They do a ceremony every half hour or so where the guard on duty is relieved.

During this ceremony, two new guards come to the area.  One of these two, apparently a higher rank, inspects the current guard and his weapon.  The way they all move is so perfectly timed out and, in a way it’s eerie.  Very robotic.  I recommend checking out a video of it on YouTube.

In addition to the changing of the guard, they changed the flower wreath as well, which I imagine happens once a day or perhaps once a week.

Washington, D.C.

Not really a state, but my nation’s capital nonetheless.

In crossing over to the D.C. side of the Potomac River,the first thing that struck me was the Washington Monument.  It’s by far the tallest structure in D.C., and to me it’s its identifier (obviously aside from the White House).

I remember as a kid watching My Date with the President’s Daughter on the Disney channel and that movie was my base for what D.C. would be like.  I couldn’t tell you if it was accurate or not because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it.  I’ll have to revisit.

Traveling in D.C. is fairly easy.  Downtown itself isn’t incredibly vast and the highlights (i.e. National Mall) are a mere 2.25mi span.  Easy walking… unless you’re walking in 90 degree July weather with hardly any shade at all.

The monuments are  S P R E A D   A P A R T  .  And with hardly any trees.

One thing that’s pretty cool is that in the National Mall, everything is placed in a line.  So from one end of it, like the Lincoln Memorial, you can see all the way to the United States Capitol building.

I’m unsure if it’s always busy in D.C. or if the business lies in the looming 4th of July holiday.   There were HOARDS of people, as you can tell from the outside view of the Lincoln Memorial above.

Obligatory pictures of the White House.



Can you imagine conducting VIP political business in the midst of all these people staring at your home?

Probably makes it more comforting when you have secret service patrolling your roof (not pictured, but I did witness that).  Secret service were all over the place, and they are NOT so secret.  It literally says “secret service” on their vests.

Apparently there was a press conference going on while we were there.

After the White House we meandered over to the United States Capitol building.  They were setting up some kind of event, as shown in the picture below.

What an intricate building.

While the National Mall is only 2.25mi across, it took the better part of the day to get from one end to the other… and back again.

Finally the sun was going down.  As I mentioned, it was HOT.

I had wanted to leave the Korean War Memorial until nighttime because I heard it was rather alluring (as well as creepy) in the darkness.

It was super creepy, but I wish I had waited until it was just a little bit darker.  It was still sunset, so I don’t think I quite got the full effect.

Despite lacking a textbook of historical knowledge, I found Washington, D.C. incredibly cool.  To be in such a political atmosphere around Independence Day was quite rewarding, despite the heavy tension with our current political situation.  The highlight sights were easily walkable, and it was a treat to be able to see these monuments in real life.  While the U.S. is still a baby, there has been much history that should be acknowledged and remembered.

If I get the opportunity to return, I would love to go to the National Archives, see the Pentagon, and see the cherry blossoms in the spring.