2020 Homeschool Road Trips District of Columbia Travel

Spies Wanted for Washington, D.C. Mission. A Homeschool Road Trip to Remember!

We’re excited to announce that our next Homeschool Enrichment Adventure Road Trip (HEART trip) ♥ is to Washington, D.C.! We’ve had so many people ask us to do a trip to D.C. that we decided to make it happen. The dates for our trip are April 26-April 30th, 2020, so be sure to mark your calendar!

Most homeschooling families include a study of our nation’s capital in their homeschools, so we understand why this trip is so often requested. Those of you who have traveled with us, though, know that we always try to make our trips extra special! We not only love to include community (giving you the chance to travel with and get to know other homeschooling families and to form life-long friendships), but we also like to make our trips a little different than what you might experience on your own or even with another group. On this trip, we’re going to have lots of fun taking a look at the capital through the eyes of a spy! 

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to help your children learn more about Washington, D.C., and our history in the most fun and intriguing way possible. Remember, the mission is completely TOP SECRET, so don’t tell your children it’s educational! And, as a matter of fact, don’t share the details of where we are going with them. We’ll be sending you clues for them to investigate and decipher where we will be going and what fun things we will be doing. This is a great way to get your children excited about the trip and for them to start learning more about what they will see and do at the capital before they even leave home. (And the suspense will be fun!) But, of course, you know your family best. If you need to share those details, we understand.

What Is a HEART Trip?

If you’re not familiar with our HEART trips, they are simply educational road trips. We think of them as extended educational field trips for the whole family. It’s hard to believe that we started these road trips five years ago, and this will be our seventh trip. We’re enjoying meeting and traveling with so many homeschooling families, including several families who’ve joined us on every one of our trips so far! We love accompanying you on these educational family road trips, getting to know you, and sharing in some exciting educational experiences together.

We always have fun educational activities, and we always build in some time for families to get to know each other and make connections with other like-minded families. We all know that our kids (contrary to popular belief) typically spend plenty of time socializing, but we parents are the ones who don’t often have time to create true friendships. On these trips, we make time for educational activities and do plenty of learning, but we also make time for building life-long friendships with other homeschooling families–moms and dads included!

Note: It is not required that both parents attend these trips.

Community

Some nights after dinner (even when we are not enjoying dinner as a group), we will have a group gathering. One night we will have game night, so be sure to bring your favorite games! We know this community aspect is what makes our trips different. We will always put an emphasis on bringing families together and making memories.

For more information about what we’ll be doing on our trip, keep reading!

We know from our own experience (and research backs it up) that our children learn better and enjoy learning more when they dive in and engage all of their senses. There’s no better way to include all of the learning styles than by travel! Do you have an auditory learner? We’ll have opportunities to do tours in which we’ll hear all kinds of interesting and exciting information about our nation’s history and government. Do you have a kinesthetic learner? Let your kiddos jump in and gather clues, participate in hands-on activities, and take walks around the capital as we move from one event/location to another. Visual learner? We’ll see all kinds of landmarks, treasures, and important government buildings during our trip. Of course the best way to teach is to incorporate all of these learning styles, which will be easy to do just by participating in the activities we have lined up!

CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION BELOW.

For Your Eyes Only.

Photo Credit: International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum.

The new International Spy Museum at L’Enfant Plaza is now open, so of course we’ll begin our trip there! (This museum is so popular that we had to beg for them to reserve spots for us to experience it while we’re there! They are literally already filling up all available reservations for months and months ahead of time!) The International Spy Museum is the only public museum in the United States dedicated to the tradecraft, history, and contemporary role of espionage. We will experience their interactive exhibits and installations, the foremost collection of spy artifacts in the world, and first-person accounts from top intelligence officers and experts. In other words, we will become spies. We’ll learn about the hidden world of intelligence and espionage that have played critical roles in our past and are important now and in the future too.

The Museum’s mission is to educate the public about espionage and intelligence in an engaging way and to provide a context that fosters understanding of their important role in, and impact on, current and historic events. We will go undercover and test our spy skills on a mission as we travel the permanent exhibitions. We’ll also each get a secret spy identity! This enables the tracking of each spy’s performance and is used to provide needed information for debriefing upon the conclusion of the mission.

What better way is there to get our kids excited about learning about the capital from the very beginning of our trip?!

Photo Credit: djLicious

National Portrait Gallery.

Now that we have been fully trained, each agent will receive a mission for each location we visit. The first stop will be the National Portrait Gallery. There we will use our spy skills to uncover information about the faces and stories of the people who shaped our nation. I wonder how many of them were spies and we never found out! We will spend time seeing the “American Origins” exhibit where we will browse through the galleries to see Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, Sojourner Truth, and others who shaped the country. We will also see the “America’s Presidents” gallery which features every U.S. president, including Gilbert Stuart’s “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington, Mathew Brady’s “cracked-plate” portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and likenesses of Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush.

To make the visit even more fun and interactive, be sure to download the SmARTify app to use while you’re there! (Go to the Apple or Android app store to download SMARTIFY.) During our visit, anyone who has the app will be able to use the phone’s camera to “scan” each work of art in one of the Permanent Collection galleries to learn more about the portrait and to save information and images for later.

You may also want to take a look at these educational resources that are available to download and start learning before the trip. While these resources are geared toward classroom teachers, many of them can be used in a homeschool setting.

Jesse Lee Tucker [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Smithsonian Castle. 

And of course any good spy will love a visit to a castle…The Smithsonian Castle, that is! Completed in 1855, the Castle is the signature building and home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center. During our visit to the Castle, we will get a grasp of the scope and scale of the Smithsonian, see collection highlights from each of our museums, tour the Castle’s 19th-century architecture, see what’s going on at all the museums, and consult with their in-house experts about what to see and do. It’s the perfect place to visit in order to prepare for a day visiting the various Smithsonian museums!

The Smithsonian Institution 

The world’s biggest museum and research facility — the Smithsonian Institution — is every art, history, or culture lover’s dream. There are quite a few museums and galleries on the National Mall (listed below). We’ll set aside a “free day” for families to choose and visit whichever museums they want, so plan ahead! As mentioned above, we’ll all visit the Smithsonian Institution Building (aka The Castle). Then each family will be able to visit whichever of the following museums they like:

  • The National Museum of Asian Art
  • Enid A. Haupt Garden
  • Museum of African Art
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

The National Mall. 

According to the American Institute of Architects, half of Americans’ top 12 favorite architectural gems line the National Mall. There’s no denying the significance of the Mall for its symbols to American history and for its uniquely designed monuments. So, when you come to D.C., it’s likely that these world-famous monuments and memorials will be at the top of your must-see list. That is why they are on our list too! Touring Washington, D.C.’s monumental core at night will give us a different perspective. Crowds are smaller and the city is quieter, so we’ll have more time for reflection and for truly enjoying the monuments. The memorials are run by the National Park Service (NPS), and they are usually staffed by NPS Rangers who can answer our questions and give us information from 9:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Photo Credit: Jarek Tuszyński / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The National Archives

Another stop on our tour is the National Archives Building. Years before the first Archivist of the United States was appointed — before the National Archives and Records Administration even existed — architect John Russell Pope and his team were busy drawing up plans for the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. Since its opening in 1935, this magnificent neoclassical revival building on Pennsylvania Ave, halfway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, has drawn researchers and visitors from around the globe who have come to research their own family histories and to explore the most important records of our democracy. Today, researchers enter the building on Pennsylvania Avenue, while other visitors enter on Constitution Avenue to explore exhibits and programs at the National Archives Museum.

Ford’s Theatre.

All good spies will want to see Ford’s Theatre where Abraham Lincoln’s legacy lives. When we visit Ford’s Theatre, we will step back in time. While at the historic site, we will learn about the events of April 14, 1865, and the lasting impact of Lincoln’s assassination on our nation. This very popular Washington, D.C., tourist destination welcomes more than 650,000 visitors a year.

“The South wants justice, has waited for it long. She will wait no longer” – John Wilkes Booth

 

Walking Tour. 

It was a night that changed the history of a nation forever. We will journey back in time with a historian to learn about the three-pronged attack designed to decapitate the U.S. Government. Shrouded in mystery, intrigue, and conspiracy, the assassination of the 16th U.S. president has fascinated Americans and foreigners for more than 150 years. We will take a family-friendly walking tour to meet the characters, walk the streets, and see the buildings where this great drama played out in the Lincoln Assassination.

Sights on the tour on the Lincoln Assassination Tour:

  • White House
  • Lafayette Square
  • Site of William Seward’s Home
  • Site of Vice President Johnson’s Hotel
  • Willard Hotel
  • National Theatre
  • Star Saloon
  • Ford’s Theatre
  • Peterson Boarding House
  • Baptist Alley

The Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument was designed by Robert Mills and eventually completed by Thomas Casey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It honors and memorializes George Washington at the center of the nation’s capital. The structure was completed in two phases of construction, one private (1848-1854) and one public (1876-1884). Built in the shape of an Egyptian obelisk, evoking the timelessness of ancient civilizations, the Washington Monument embodies the awe, respect, and gratitude the nation felt for its most essential Founding Father. At the time it was completed, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world at 555 feet, 5-1/8 inches.

The Metro. 

Washington, D.C.’s Metro is one of the busiest public transportation systems in the country! Its expansive network of tunnels and above-ground tracks connect all four quadrants of D.C. with suburban Virginia and Maryland. The system is heavily used by local commuters and it’s a popular, convenient, and affordable way for visitors to D.C.to get around the region. Since most of our destinations are within walking distance, we’ll do a lot of walking on our trip! But we do plan to take the Metro one day to visit Arlington National Cemetery. We want to experience the Metro (and give our children a chance to experience it too) while we’re in the capital.

Arlington National Cemetery.

Discover Arlington National Cemetery’s rich history, witness the time-honored ceremonies, take in the scenic landscapes and grounds, wander through the headstones and monuments, reflect on the names, and ponder the stories each person could tell. Twenty-four hours a day, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” stand watch over the Tomb. The Tomb Guards, also called Sentinels, are chosen for this prestigious and highly selective post only after rigorous training and a demanding series of examinations (see below). The Old Guard has held this distinguished duty since 1948.

The United States Capitol.

The United States Capitol is a monument, a working office building, and one of the most recognizable symbols of representative democracy in the world. The Capitol Visitor Center, the main entrance to the U.S. Capitol, is located beneath the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol at First Street and East Capitol Street.

The Library of Congress. 

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world! There are literally millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps, and manuscripts in it collections.  The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse, and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire, and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors.

The Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Building, majestic in size and rich in ornamentation, serves as both home to the nation’s highest Court and the manifest symbol of its importance as a coequal, independent branch of government. Although the Supreme Court does not offer guided walking tours, visitors are encouraged to tour public portions of the building on a self-guided basis and take advantage of a variety of educational programs, including courtroom lectures, a visitor film, and court-related exhibitions. In addition to the Courtroom, portions of the first and ground floors are open to the public. Highlights include the John Marshall statue, portraits and busts of former Justices, and two self-supporting marble staircases. The Courtroom is located on the first floor.

The Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum. Nicolas Raymond / Flickr

Arboretum.

Discover a stunning collection of plants and Instagram-worthy sights at the Arboretum! Established in 1927 by an act of Congress, the Arboretum aims to increase the aesthetic, environmental, and economic importance of landscape and ornamental plants. The attraction does so through gardens and exhibits, long-term botanical research, and conservation of resources. And on this gorgeous, 446-acre property you will find  the iconic Capitol Columns, making  it an inspiring and visually captivating visit at any time of the year.

To register, keep scrolling until you see the “Ready to Register?” section below.

When: April 26th – 30th, 2020 (5 days / 4 nights)

Where: Washington, D.C.

Payments: Please see the information below for pricing and payment information. Each family will need to pay a registration fee of $250 at time of registration and will need to pay 1/4 of your balance each month (December, January, February, and March). Later registrations will require larger payments each month in order to pay the total amount by the due date. 

The registration fee of $250 per family is due upon registration. Because we can only get 25 rooms at this rate, you’ll want to sign up and pay your registration fee to hold your spot as soon as possible. Additional rooms may (possibly) be available, but the rate will increase significantly because of limited availability. Also, please note teens are counted as adults for this trip, so you will see 2 adults without children (when that is one adult and one teen).

Registration Fee: Because we try very hard to charge reasonable prices for activities, meals, and hotels, we have had to start charging a registration fee. This $250 fee is the amount we charge per family to ensure that your family is signed up to attend the trip with us and to cover the services listed below. Because we have a limited number of available “spaces” for families to attend, paying the registration fee ensures that your family has secured one of those spaces. And because we work so hard to plan our trips and all the necessary details, this registration fee helps cover a small part of the time we contribute to researching, planning, phone calls, paperwork, and so on. (It is unbelievable how much time and work goes into planning a trip like this!) For more information about what this fee covers, please see the list below.

  • searching for, negotiating and securing accommodations for families who travel with us (including paying deposits to secure blocks of rooms at hotels, etc.)
  • researching and choosing destinations to include in our trip
  • working with destinations to plan activities, tours, and so on
  • paying guides who will accompany us on our travels to teach, answer questions, and make our trip enjoyable and educational
  • researching and planning for meals that are included in our activities and researching and providing you with information for dining options when you have meals on your own

Accommodations

Capital Skyline Hotel, 10 “I” (eye) Street SW. Washington, DC 20024

Meals

Many of our meals are included in the Activity Fee. Included meals are listed below. Please see the information below the listed meals for more information about each meal and what’s special about it!

  • breakfast every morning (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning)
  • dinner every evening (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening)

In order to keep costs as low as possible and to give you some control over your food budget, lunches will be on your own. Most days we will be at (or will travel to) a location where there will be several meal options for you to choose from.

Payments, Cancellations, and Refund Policies

Your non-refundable registration fee of $250 is due upon registration. We cannot make any changes nor can we offer any refunds after February 28th. Note, we will need at least 25 families to register to be able to confirm this trip. Also, we will have to place a cap on this trip due our space limitations in Washington, D.C.  Because we can’t offer refunds after February 28th, we encourage you to check into travel insurance. Click the image below to get your customized quote online.


We worry so you don't have to.
 

Add-on Events:

Our trip (except for add-ons) officially ends after the Arboretum, which is currently planned for Thursday morning. After the Arboretum, families are free to have lunch on their own before heading home or doing whatever else it is your family wants to do.

Add-on options will include the Holocaust Museum on Thursday afternoon and the Museum of the Bible on Friday (including an archaeology program specifically designed for students).

Holocaust Museum Add-On:

If your family wants to go to the Holocaust Museum (which is free) with us on Thursday afternoon but you will NOT be staying overnight to go to the Museum of the Bible on Friday, May 1, there will be NO extra charge for this add-on. You will, however, need to check out of the hotel on Thursday morning before leaving the hotel. You will be able to leave your luggage at the hotel for the day.

If your family wants to go to the Holocaust Museum (which is free) with us on Thursday afternoon and you WILL be staying Thursday night, there will be an additional cost of $300 for the first adult and $40 for each additional person. (The Holocaust Museum is free, so we aren’t charging for the museum.  The additional fee covers the expenses we incur such as hotel, taxes, group dinner on Thursday evening, etc.)

NOTE: The Holocaust Museum will be a very emotional experience, so we understand if this isn’t right for your family at this time. For those who do want to attend, though, we will be glad to have you join us.

Museum of the Bible Add-On:

We will spend the entire day (Friday) at the Museum of the Bible and will also have one educational program, Archaeology and the Bible. The cost for entry to the museum and our archaeology program is $25 per adult and $20 per child (students up to 17). Our program will follow the methodology of archaeologists to critically examine artifacts, including writings in cuneiform. Discover how the archaeological record provides context about people groups and events described in the Bible. This program is offered for high school, middle school, and elementary school students.

If your family WILL be staying overnight Friday night at the hotel, there will be an additional cost of $300 for the hotel. It is not necessary to stay Friday night, but this is an option. The add-on part of our trip officially ends after the museum on Friday, so dinner Friday night will be on your own.

If your family will NOT be staying overnight Friday night at the hotel, you will need to check out of the hotel on Friday morning before you leave to go to the museum. (You will be able to leave your luggage at the hotel for the day.) Again, the add-on part of our trip officially ends after the museum on Friday, so dinner Friday night will be on your own.

Ready to Register?

Once you have registered and paid your registration fee, you will be added to a private Facebook group that is only for those adults who will travel to Washington, D.C., with us. (We create a group like this for each of our HEART trips.) This allows those who will be attending to start getting to know each other. It also give us a place to share important information with those who will attend. (IMPORTANT NOTE: It is required that you – or at least one adult who is attending the trip and who is doing the planning for your family – join this group since it is the way we communicate important information and details about the trip with the families who attend. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you will need to create one to use until the conclusion of the trip.)

We’ve seen many life-long friendships begin on our trips, and we expect the same thing to happen in D.C.! That is one of the greatest missions of these HEART trips–building community for families living the home education lifestyle. We can’t wait to meet you!! ♥ ♥ ♥

IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT YOUR REGISTRATION FORM:

  1. Once you’ve filled out the form below, this page will reload. PLEASE be sure to scroll back down to the bottom of the page to be sure your form was correctly filled out and accepted. If any information was missing, you’ll see that space highlighted in red and will need to add the information and submit the form again.
  2. Once you’ve submitted the form and it has been accepted, you will see a message (when you scroll back down to the bottom of the page again) that says “Your information was submitted. Thanks for registering. Be on the lookout for an email.”
  3. Your next step will be to check your email to be sure you received the confirmation email. The confirmation email will have the information you submitted along with your total amount due.
  4. In a day or two, you will receive a PayPal invoice so you can pay your $250 registration fee. (We have to send these out ourselves since they are not automatically generated.) Please pay this invoice right away in order to secure you spot on our trip.
  5. Once your registration fee is paid, Trish and Wendy will send you Facebook friend requests and will add you to our private Facebook group (just for our Washington, D.C. HEART Trip attendees). This private group is where we make plans, share important information, and get to know each other, so it is required that you (or at least one adult who is attending the trip and who is doing the planning for your family) join this group! Otherwise, you will miss important information. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you will need to create one. You can, of course, delete your account after the trip if you like.

If you have any questions, please email usand we will be glad to help!! Be sure to put “D.C. Questions” in your subject line.

We look forward to seeing you in D.C.!

Are you ready to register?

NOTE: It is possible (though unlikely) that our plans will change or that a destination we plan to visit won’t be available while we’re there due to circumstances beyond our control. If this happens, we will adjust our schedule as necessary and have a great time traveling and learning together at a different location.

About the author

Trish

Trish is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms. She has been married to her best friend, David, for 22 years and they have three sons (ages 19, 17 and 15). Trish is from the coast of North Carolina, but they now live in rural West Tennessee on a 40+ acre farm. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and her homeschool style leans towards a Montessori approach with a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. Trish’s family is Messianic and they love studying the Scriptures, learning Hebrew and growing in their faith and walk daily. In her spare time, Trish loves to travel, write, work in their garden and can regularly be found trying to learn something new, modeling that learning is indeed a life-long endeavor!

About the author

Wendy

Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms, Only Passionate Curiosity, and Love These Recipes. She married her high school sweetheart, Scott, 28 years ago, and they live in the South with their three children. Hannah, age 24, has autism and was the first homeschool graduate in the family. Noah, age 22, was the second homeschool graduate. Mary Grace, age 17, is the remaining homeschool student. Wendy loves working out and teaching Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She also enjoys learning along with her family, educational travel, reading, and writing, and she attempts to grow an herb garden every summer with limited success.

17 Comments

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  • This sounds like a nice museum. I always enjoy taking my kids to DC. It is one place we all enjoy and can find things to do.

  • Hello! Trip looks amazing! What is the age range? I have a 15 yo I’d love to bring, any other high school kids signing up? Thank you!
    Ann

    • Hey Ann, Yes, as a matter of fact, both Wendy and I have teens who will be there. I have two teen boys and Wendy has a teen girl. Plus we have nine additional teens registered.

    • You’ll need to be in D.C. on Sunday morning, April 26. Our events begin around 9:30 or so that morning. (We will arrange with the hotel for people to leave their luggage at the hotel that day if needed.) Some people may choose to arrive on Saturday the 25th instead. If so, we can add that. The trip ends at lunch time on Thursday, April 30 unless you do the add-ons. The add-ons are the Holocaust Museum on the afternoon of the 30th and the Museum of the Bible on Friday, May 1. If you have other questions we can help answer, please feel free to email us at info@hiphomeschoolmoms.com. 🙂

  • Is transportation included and provided to get to and from Washington D.C.? And is transportation included each day/night while we are there in D.C.?

    • Each family gets to D.C. on your own. But yes, transportation is included during the time we’re in D.C. We plan to walk to most places since we’ll be very close. At least one day we’ll ride the metro.

    • Because homeschool families often have kids of various ages, we try to make our trips fun for kids of all ages including teens. We always end up with kids from toddlers to teens on our trips!

  • We have been teetering on home schooling. We’re currently in a private international school and it’s better than the local public school, but we still aren’t quite happy. One of our biggest concerns is socialization. Are these kinds of meetings common?

    • I think you’ll find that, in the vast majority of homeschools, socialization is not a problem! 🙂 It is actually a huge misconception of those who aren’t familiar with how homeschooling really works that our homeschoolers aren’t well socialized. We have several great articles on our site that discuss this topic. Here’s a link to find them: https://hiphomeschoolmoms.com/?s=socialization

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