Sunday, January 12, 2014

U.S. Capitol Building Tour - H Fam Sightseeing Part 21

I know, I know, still MIA. I promise to try to work on an update post soon. But let's just say I'm really overwhelmed with life right now. Times to actually get on the computer and type something out is few & far between.

I did want to get on here and share about our most recent sightseeing - The U.S. Capitol Building!

Our favorite visitor, Greg's sister came to visit us after Christmas! We took her to Great Falls (she hadn't been there yet), she watched the boys so we had a date night, we TRIED to go see the ZOO Lights at the National Zoo (after an hour & a half in traffic, we were turned away because parking was maxed out), then her and I did some shopping & sushi one day, and on her last full day here we toured the U.S. Capitol!

We've seen the outside of it before when we visited the American Indian Museum, but not the inside yet!

Ah back in August when it was warm out!! Sigh.

There are various ways you can book a tour. You can probably get a better tour when booking through your state representative or senate, but you have to do it way in advance. So we kept it simple and you can book a FREE tour on their site. Works for me!

We decided since Union Station wasn't that far away (a few blocks walk) that we would park there. There's no parking except street parking and they encourage you to take the metro. Parking at Union Station was easy, then we walked through it (bathroom breaks, always important when traveling with kids!) and towards the Capitol Building. It was in the 30's that day so... cold... but do able. It was brisk!

Now there's a lot you should read once you book the tour, especially the prohibited list. It says on their many times that strollers are not allowed. Luke still has to be in a stroller, so I was a bit concerned about this. Since we'd have three adults, we figured we'd just play "pass the Luke". When you line up at the Visitors Center inside (they let about 20 people in at a time) they will tell you absolutely NO food or drink. If you even have a random piece of gum that slid to the bottom of your purse, you cannot throw it away inside. You'd have to come back outside, throw it away, and get back in line again. I checked and I had a random Hershey kiss!

You go through metal detectors just like at an airport, and then you can go in. They have Coat Check there which is awesome for winter time. Because you have no choice but to walk there, but inside the heat is cranking! So it was really nice to be able to check our coats, especially since there's no strollers allowed. Or so everything said, on our tour there was a double stroller, and a couple other strollers. What the heck? It says it's not allowed???? Oh well. Luke did pretty good for the most part, and the three adults all got really good arm workouts that day.

They recommend you get there 40 minutes before your tour, and I'm glad we did. By the time we waited in line (at 9am) outside, did security, coat check, got our tickets (line without reservations was long, ours was short!), another bathroom break (another family tip - big clean bathrooms and there's also a family bathroom option too!), and we had about 10 mins to check out the Exhibition Hall before getting in line for your tour.

Tour starts out with a 10 minute or so movie going over US history and mainly the history of the building of course. All kids were good with it and didn't get bored.

Then you exit the theater and line up in four rows (that becomes your group) and receive your headphones. Like the guide will tell you, the headphones are not great, they're just meant to help amplify their voice. They're static-y and cut out, but no biggie. The kids loved them!

Little touristy history nerds in the making, just like mom & dad :)

I have to admit I was a little disoriented as to where we were in the building at each time except in the dome. There were lots of twists, stairs, and turns we kept taking. The Dome of course was especially neat to see! Our guide was very good, funny (although many of his jokes were lost in translation, but we thought he was funny!) and really knew his stuff!

Like the guide said, treat the sculptures like your middle school dance partner... 12" apart!

At the end you can check out the Exhibition Hall again, but it was way too close to lunch time for my crew of boys. Our tour started at 9:40 and we were done about 11am. Made a quick stop at the gift shop for a Christmas Ornament (what we like to collect in our travels & sightseeing) and a coin for the boys. We walked back to Union Station that's filled with restaurants for lunch. Then it was easy to just walk to our car and head home.

The H Family at the Capitol!

Everyone enjoyed the morning and it was an interesting and neat thing to do. Glad we did it! Thanks for going with us and helping us out as always Aunt Megan! :)

1 comment:

Jeri Slater said...

Thanks for the post of your sightseeing trip! Sounds like everyone had a very enjoyable day! Take care and stay warm this winter.