Our 4th day in our nations capitol was the day that I think we had all been looking forward to the most. This was the day we were going to tour the White House. Our tour was scheduled for 1:00 so we decided to hit up one of the Smithsonian Museums first thing in the morning. It wasn't tough to decide which museum we went to, since three of us in my family are history majors.
We had quite a surprise when we should up at the Museum of American History at 9:25, expecting a 9:30 am open time, and found out that they didn't open until 10:00. So we had the immense pleasure of literally being the very first ones in line and thus the first ones in the museum. Not that that made much difference once we started looking around!
This museum was so massive that I'm surprised we made it though as much as we did in such a short period of time. We made it through the majority of the museum in about 2 and half hours. My Mom said we spent way too much time looking at the machinery and inventions room.
My favorite part of the museum was the section dedicated to each of the Wars the US has fought in. Every war from the American Revolution to the Was in Iraq was represented with some really neat artifacts.
Like this one! This one of George Washington's actual military uniforms! So freakin cool is that?! (I totally showed this to my students on the first day of school. Some were impressed, others not so much) The had personal items, clothing, weapons and letters from several historical figures. As a history major I was in heaven.
There was a whole exhibit dedicated to the Presidents and the First Ladies. Sadly I kept forgetting to take pictures because I was so busy reading and soaking everything in. In the First Ladies exhibit they showcased the inauguration dresses worn by several of the First Ladies. This was particularly fascinating because it basically gave you a history of fashion in the US. They also displayed every china pattern selected by each First Lady, as well as, some of their personal items.
The President's exhibit had similar things. Personal items owned by each of the President's and their families were scattered around the exhibit. I did remember to snap a picture of Abe Lincoln's top hat. It's kept in a very low lit area to help preserve it.
After our two hour stroll through the Museum of American History it was time to head over the our designated meeting spot for the tour of the White House.
When I told people we would be getting to go into the White House, the first thing they asked was, "Wow, how did you do that? Do you know someone?" The answer is no! To get into the public rooms of the White House, you don't have to know anyone. All I had to do was fill out a request form.
Here's a little breakdown. Back in February when I submitted my request to tour the Capitol building through my Congressman, I signed us up to get a tour of the White House. After I filled the initial form, I was emailed back by the Congressman's office and asked to fill out a second form that would then be submitted to the White House on our behalf by Congressman McCaul's office. The form was a basic security form. I had to give names, birthdays, and social security numbers so we could have background checks done. In March I received another email directly from the White House asking me resubmit the security part because they would be handling requests from then on. SO if you are traveling to DC in the future and you want to request a tour of the White House, you now go through the White House Visitors Center for requests and not through your Congressman's office.
Once I re-submitted all the required information, I got another email in response saying that we would not hear where we had been granted the tour until about a week or two before out trip. And that is exactly what happened. I received our the confirmation email one week before we were set to head to DC. Then almost immediately after receiving the email I got a call from Congressman McCaul's office saying that they never got people from my district get confirmations for White House tours and that if there was anything they could do, to please not hesitate to call! Pretty cool huh! I thought so! :)
The check in spot for the tour was right outside a park (sorry can't remember which one) adjacent to the White House. We were given a list of do and don't beforehand. For example, no bags are allowed inside the White House. Mom and I were able to bring in a wristlet but that was it. No cameras with removable lenses, so my fancy camera had to be left at the hotel. We were able to bring in cell phones though, so all the pictures you're about to see were taken with my iPhone.
We went through 4 security check points: two ID checks, one bomb-dog-smelling- check, and a metal detector. We also had a bit of an extended wait because some girl passed out while she was waiting in line and an ambulance had to be called. Thankfully it wasn't super hot that day and there was a nice breeze so that wait wasn't too terrible. Before we knew it, WE WERE IN!!
I've rambled on for a while now, so I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves! The tour is 100% self guided. There are secret service agents spread out along the tour route and they were super knowledgable and willing to answer any questions. Since the tour was self guided though, we were able to take as along as we wanted once we were inside.
Our first view when we walked in. This is the First Ladies garden.
This is the famous painting of George Washington that was saved by First Lady Dolly Madison, just before the British entered Washington DC and burned the original White House to ground during the War of 1812.
View of the North lawn from The Green Room. That little black dot to the left is the First Dog! Sadly we did not get a glimpse of the rest of the First Family.
The Green room
The Blue Room. Here is where you can find the huge Blue Room Christmas Tree every year!
(Sidenote: My mom was super irritated that the carpets were rolled up like this. She pointed out that in Windsor Castle they let you walk on the rugs, so why can't the White House. Lol)
The Red Room
The State Dining Room
View from the South entrance into the Blue Room. Across the hall and to the right are the stairs to the family residence.
Family shot in front of the South entrance to the White House!
Getting to go into the White House was definitely a major highlight of our trip. According to the Congressional intern who gave us our tour of the Capitol, about 95% of the people who put in requests to get a tour of the White House get denied. So we were super lucky to have been selected to go in. And I know it is something that our family will never forget. I'm so glad I got to experience it with my family. Hopefully I'll be able to do it again with my own children one day! :)
I have to throw in this last picture. As we were walking off the grounds of the White House and around to the front, I ran into this group of guys. They were so excited to be in Washington DC, they decided to dress in their best for their visit. The hilarious part? These guys aren't even from the US! In the pictures we have two Aussies and two New Zealanders! So obviously I had to snap a picture with them! :) GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Following the tour we headed out to Georgetown to look around and have a late lunch. We had dinner reservations that night for the Old Ebbitt Grill so we didn't want to have a super heavy lunch. My cousin had given us a few must eat at restaurants and the one she raved about the most was Luke's Lobster Rolls. So we piled into an Uber and headed to Georgetown.
We decided to split two rolls between the four of us and shared their Clam cChowder and Lobster Bisque. It was the BEST meal EVER. Our food literally disappeared within about 10 minutes and we immediately started talking about coming back for lunch one more time before we left.
After lunch we wandered around Georgetown for a bit and then decided to head back to the hotel to rest and relax before out dinner reservations at the Old Ebbitt Grill. This restaurant is seeped in Washington history and is located just around the corner from the White House. It's the oldest saloon in Washington D.C. and its patrons include Presidents, Congressman, Senators, and judges. We had drinks, oysters, entrees, and even dessert! My mom definitely had the best meal, she had their salmon and it was perfection. Overall it was a delightful meal and experience. Definitely put on your list of restaurants if only because of it's history!
And that friends wraps up day 4! I am so glad we got to tour the White House. If you go through all of that, I applaud you! What I love is that now, I can say that I've been in the official residence of both the Queen of England (I went to Windsor Castle in 2004) and the President of the United States. Not too shabby if you ask me! :)
I've got one more post and then our DC trip will be completely recapped!
Linking up for Wanderlust Wednesday and with Jenn and Jess for What's Ha-"Pinning"!
Have a great Wednesday!