Lifestyle

Easy Dollar Tree Topiary Decoration

With Video Instructions

I love creating crafts from dollar tree products. This creation is inspired by one of my visits to the Home Goods store. I love all the topiaries that Home Goods have during spring and summer times, however cannot bring myself to pay $20 for something that is basically some foam balls and faux moss.

This piece added a nice all year round touch to my fireplace mantel. I also hit the jackpot and found a teal gnome for $2.00 at the gift shop at my work! This DIY does come with some burnt finger tips due to the hot glue but is otherwise a fun, easy decoration idea. It can also be a very interesting project for your tween and teens too.

Here’s What You Will Need

  • 2 foam balls( any size you want… try to get a green one if it is available)
  • One craft dowel rod ($tree)
  • Faux moss ($tree)
  • Terra cotta pot ($tree) or an old pot from a gift I received a while back
  • Hot glue gun ( any craft store)
  • White paint ($tree)
  • brown paint(optional) ($tree)

How To Make It

  1. First paint the terra-cotta pot. You can use acrylic paint or chalk paint whatever you have on hand. Let it dry completely before you move onto the next step.
  2. Cut a small foam piece to fit your terra-cotta pot and place it inside.
  3. Next insert the Dowel rods into the foam balls. You can paint the dowel rod so that it looks more like natural bark or you can leave it as is. I would suggest painting it before you insert into the foam balls rather than as I have shown in the video because it’s much easier painting it ahead of time.
  4. Position the foam balls how you would like it to look, then hot glue above and below the insertion sites of the rods to keep the foam balls in place.
  5. When the foam balls have dried up and are secure I would go ahead and start hot gluing the faux moss onto them at this point. In the video I secured the foam balls into the pot first then glued on the moss, I found this a little bit on the difficult side so I would suggest gluing the moss first then securing the foam balls into the pot.
  6. After you have glued on all the moss, press down with your hands to secure everything in place.
  7. Once you are happy with your creation go ahead and hot glue the bottom of the dowel rod and insert it into the foam that you placed in the terra-cotta pot.
  8. Add some moss inside of the terra-cotta pot to hide the foam inside and give it a nice finishing touch with a bow or anything else of your preference.

There you have it! You’re very own handmade topiary without breaking the bank.

I would love to see your creations. Please post them in the comments or on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Aintnohoodlikemotherhood2/

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Lifestyle

Yosemite National Park In The Winter

Yosemite National park is located in Calaveras county in California. Californians usually camp in this national park during spring and summer months however this park is visited by millions of people from all over the world each year. Hikers love it here because once you have hiked to your destination you can be sure to be mesmerized by glorious mountain peaks, lakes, wildlife if you are lucky, and best of all, the majestic waterfalls.

The best time to visit Yosemite is in the spring to about end of fall. Most roads are closed in the winter because the park is mostly blanketed with snow. Even though we knew this, we went to visit the park in January! And it was the day before Super Bowl too! We just had to get out of the house and go somewhere because the kids really hadn’t gone anywhere for Christmas and we were all well overdue for a road trip. We were lucky because the sun was actually out and it did not snow up in Yosemite until we left the next day. However, we did go prepared with heavy warm gear because we expected it to get cold out there fast.

There are 4 entrances into Yosemite park depending on where you are coming from. Traveling from Sacramento, CA, we took the highway 120 route and traveled all the way through the park to Oakhurst where we stayed the night.

Tips For Traveling Through The Yosemite Park

  • The park is very large. If you were planning on hiking to all the famous spots in the park, it may take you 2 to 4 days to do the entire park. I would highly recommend staying at a hotel or camping out at least 1 night to get the whole gist of the park. We stayed in Oakhurst CA, at Yosemite Southgate Hotel and Suites http://www.yosemitesouthgate.com because it was the best priced online for a late reservation. We were pleasantly surprised at how friendly the staff and clean the hotel was. As a bonus, since we ran out of food and the kids were getting hungry and cranky, they had a Denny’s right on the lot. The city was not too far either so more food options, grocery, pharmacy etc. were all close by. Other hotels right next to ours included Best Western, Holiday Inn, Fairfield Suites. If you want to stay closer to the entrance you can check out Yosemite View Lodge.
  • There are roads to several of these hiking spots that you can drive to, and then take a short hike to the spot. This might be the ideal way to travel if you have kids. However these roads maybe closed in the winter so check the website.
  • They are very little food options in the park, and even several miles after you exit the park too. So carry plenty of food and water with you and I mean plenty of it because kids will get hungry as they are out and about hiking and enjoying the environment.
  • Make sure you travel with emergency supplies such as first aid kits, medications if you need them, toilet paper, hand wipes, sanitizer.
  • If you prefer, you can also take some rain coats as you will get wet underneath the waterfalls.
  • If you were traveling in the spring and winter months make sure to dress warm as it will be very cold.
  • Carry empty plastic bags to keep wet clothing and garbage in. Yosemite is very adamant about keeping the park clean.
  • print out a map and or take pictures of your route on your phone before because as you start heading to higher elevations you will lose phone reception.
  • Prior to your visit, check out the website https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm and note down all the famous spots that people visit and how to get there, print out a map of the park, and look up any alerts that the park has issued regarding the weather etc.
  • During the winter there are few road closures, please check out the closures before traveling.
  • The roads are very windy. So take care of your passengers that may not have strong stomachs. For a little kids you may have to stop several times and let them rest as a right can make them very nauseous. If you prefer you can purchase one of the anti-nausea bracelets before your travel.
  • The visitor’s center is right at the entrance of the park which has a lot of information plus nice clean bathrooms.
  • The entrance fee is $35 and is good for 7 days so don’t loose your ticket!
Visitor Center

Must See Places While In Yosemite.

Tunnel View.

As you enter the park from the Big Oak Flat entrance you will encounter many Vista points as you drive along. One of the most famous places that people like to visit is called the tunnel view. Appropriately named, it is a Vista point right next to one of the tunnels. As you approach the tunnel you will see people pulled over in the Vista point area. this would be a good spot to get out, stretch. The tunnel view is the best spot to take pictures because you can all the famous mountains find a spot. El Captain, Horsetail fall, Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks, and the Bridal Veil Fall can all be seen from here. The tunnel view is a very famous picture spot so this is definitely a must see place in the park. After you have got your perfect pictures, you can head down through the tunnels and stop over at the other Vista Spots to get different angles of the mountains. Sunset is a nice time to get great pictures. The ride through the tunnels is really fun for the kids. Just be sure to drive slow through the park as wide animals can jump out at any time and the roads are quite narrow.

Bridal Veil Falls

The Bridal Veil Fall is a magnificent waterfall that you must not miss if you go to Yosemite. It is located off of Wawona road, which would be closer to the North entrance of the park. The best time to visit this fall is during the springtime when the ice is melting in the waterfall is at its peak and it truly looks like a bride’s veil flowing from the top . There is plenty of parking near the waterfall, however it can get full pretty fast during peak visiting season. There is a small hike, about .4 miles which can take you right up underneath the waterfall. So if you go during the spring time you can be sure to get soaking wet by the magnificent water that is flowing from the top of mountains. Take raincoats, and towels to dry yourself off afterwards. Keep in mind that it may still be a little cold during spring time so go prepared with extra pairs of clothes if you get soaking wet. This site has both a paved road and a hiking trail to get to the waterfall.


Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

The Giants Sequoias are a must see for all nature lovers. It is located in the Wawona and Fish Camp area. Since we stayed in Oakhurst California(HWY 41), we were able to visit this area on our way back up to the park the next morning. however the roads were closed, so we cannot drive up close enough to see the sequoias. The girls did try to hike up since the trails were still open, however it would be a long hike in to see the trees and we have to make it back home to watch the Super Bowl so we skipped the height for this time. However when we go back period.

Source; Yosemite Visitor Guide Brochure

Merced River

On the way back home, we decided to take highway 140 as we were told my staff at the hotel but it would be a lot less windy. I’m glad we took this highway home as it was a beautiful scenic route along the Merced River. We stopped by several places To take more breathtaking pictures of the falls and the mountains. We pulled over and let the girls play by the River and took some awesome pictures.

Horse tail falls

The Horsetail Fall is another famous waterfall that only flows for a few weeks in February . When is the sunset in the perfect position it appears as though the fall is on fire . People flock from all over the world to come see this magical view . Unfortunately for us , we were not able to see this . But this is a must see if you were visiting the park in February .

Embers pour over a cliff (left) while a waterfall is illuminated by sunset color (right)
source;
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/horsetailfall.htm

Yosemite falls

The Yosemite Fall is the tallest in all that America and it takes a good 8 hours to hike to the top of it . However you can get good views of the fall with just a two mile hike in. Be sure to carry plenty of water and sunscreen if you are going to pursue this hike

Glacier Point

This is another one of the famous tourist spot that we were not able to visit due to road closures. You can access the glacier point by car , or you can hike to it and there is also a shuttle available seasonally . You can also book a bus tour. The glacier point is famous for its instagramable pictures especially at sunset

There is so much more to see in Yosemite than what we were able to see in the Winter. For the best experience check out the park’s website and plan your trip beforehand. I hope you enjoyed this read. Please like and share if you did and happy travels.

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Lifestyle

Washington DC and Virginia in the Summer with kids

Blog contains affiliate sites

Travel   Visiting the Nation’s capital and its surrounding history is a must for everyone living in the states especially if you have kids. Visiting from California, we were all just blown away with the rich collection of American history on the East Coast. I highly recommend that you wait until the kids are 1st or 2nd grade and or learning about American history in school before taking them to get the full experience of your trip. If you are going to do this trip I suggest you start planning at least 6 months ahead as places that require tickets fill up pretty fast. If you are planning on going during peak season such as spring break or summer break, buy your tickets ASAP to avoid being disappointed at the time of your trip. Luckily you don’t need to pay for any of the museums with the exception of African American History Museum for which tickets were sold out for the next 3 months . For our trip I spent about 3 months researching and mapping out our excursions by the day and hour to hour. Our trip was only 10 days so it was very important to know museum hours, tour hours, ticket prices, location, parking (we had a rental which we left at the hotel most of the time… don’t get a rental, Uber is cheaper, and convenient). I spent many hours thumbing through Pinterest blogs to get the scoop on do’s and don’ts, tips and must see places.

Some Tips:

  1. Summer time is hot and humid. Be prepared with plenty of water and snacks. While in Washington DC, we were lucky enough to stay at a hotel just 10 minutes walking distance to the wall and 5 minutes by Uber. We also got a room with a Kitchen and stocked up on water and snacks. We saved money by making breakfast before leaving in the mornings and cooked simple meals with Trader Joe’s just around the corner.
  2. Take a water squirting fan with you as it will become very useful while you wait in lines for the museums. I purchased this one from amazon: https://amzn.to/2Pgn3HV
  3. Speaking of lines…. even though the museums are free I strongly recommend going on the individual museum websites and purchase tickets online if it is an option. They are very cheap. I paid anywhere from $6-$12 for a family of four. With our pre paid tickets we were able to skip the huge free lines and get in faster which allowed us more time to do other things during the day. You don’t have to buy for each and every museum, just the popular ones with long lines. If you are traveling with kids, you will be glad you purchased the to tickets ahead unless of course you like to stand in long lines on humid days with crying , whining hungry children. Again keep plenty of snacks on hand, however there were plenty of restaurants and sandwich shops everywhere.
  4. I’m going to be bad mom here but traveling with kids in Washington is a lot of walking and tiring for both you and your kiddos. I found that giving soda to the kids for lunch really got their energy going and allowed us to power through the museums. Take a break inside the museums also If they have a café you cool down in the air conditioning and grab a bite.Plan your day so that you can go back to the hotel and rest before continuing your adventure in the evenings.
  5. Clothes: cotton, cotton and cotton. I got this tip from Pinterest and bought a lot of my cotton clothes from children’s place and I was glad that I did because they were light breathable and comfortable in that humid weather.
  6. Shoes: Don’t be cheap. Spend some extra bucks and buy really comfortable walking shoes for the family. Take a foot massaging cream and give each other foot rubs at bedtime especially the kids because their little feet will be so tired from walking but they won’t complain because of all the soda you gave them earlier 😉.
  7. Carry plenty of water, fruits, snacks for the kids to eat especially for long car rides to places and while standing in line waiting to get into places. Stock up the evening before as there are plenty of grocery stores and Walgreens etc. around.
  8. Duck Tour: We had an extra day as we cancelled our plans to go see the Liberty Bell so we went on a Duck tour. It was a nice way to wrap up our time in DC and see and learn about places we saw or were not able to see. Also the bus becomes a boat and took us into the Potomac River where we were able to see the Pentagon.
  9. Research all websites for places you want to see to check what is or is not allowed inside, hours of operation, ID requirements, pre-approval from your congress leader to visit( places like the White House and other federal buildings need an application to visit, information can be found on their websites), photography rules, availability of restrooms, cafes etc.
  10.  Be sure to watch all the documentary movies that are offered at the various museums. We truly enjoyed watching America’s history at each and every site we went to. It really has given us a new appreciation of the land we live in.
  11. Also be sure to watch the documentaries on websites before your trip. These really helped the kids understand where we were going and its significance. You can do this during downtime at the hotel.
  12. Visiting Federal buildings will need approval and background clearance for each member of your party. You can find information on how to apply on your city’s congress member’s website.

Famous Places to Visit

  1. Monticello: Thomas Jefferson’s Home

Our vacation started in Hollywood, Maryland far away from the city amongst lush green scenery and cute colonial style homes. The cool breeze, peace and quite of the day and the magical fire flies at night was like we had entered a fairytale. From here we traveled about 2 and half hours to Charlottesville, Virginia to visit Monticello. We had a rental car solely for traveling to Virginia and back into Washington DC. If you have young ones and traveling to different states this is the way to go. Keep in mind however that you have to pay for parking in DC, even at the hotels unless you find one with parking included.

Monticello was gorgeous, small but so much history within it. You do have to purchase tickets for this place and I suggest start looking at them several months ahead of time especially if you are going in peak season. Plan your trip and reservation time keeping in mind bathroom breaks etc. so that you can arrive at your tour time one time. The tour guides were awesome and as long as you arrive on time with your tickets there were no major delays getting Into the home. Do give yourself At least 30 minutes extra time as you have to go through the visitor center first and then take a shuttle up the mountain to the house. The tour does not include the tombs but they guide you to where it is. Photography is absolutely not allowed inside the house. However when you come back to the visitor center at the bottom of the hill, visit the kids center, it has all the cool gadgets that you see in the house and can actually take pictures of it in there. Make sure to watch any movies or documentaries they are showing that day as they are very good. Give yourself a good 3-4 hours to see the whole place here. We thought we could make it to our next destination however ended up getting. Hotel and heading out the next morning.https://www.monticello.org/

2. Mount Vernon: George Washington’s Home

Like the Monticello you have to the tickets in advance. We went in June so I think I had the tickets purchased by March. Again arrive about 30 minutes before your tour time and expect to spend about 3-4 hours here too. The tour is awesome and the views at the back of the house overlooking the river is a good family picture spot, so wear clothes that would look good framed up on the wall. https://www.mountvernon.org/

3. Arlington Cemetery:

We squeezed this trip in after Mount Vernon and I was glad we did because after this visit we headed Into Washington DC and did not have to make a trip back into Virginia. I did not buy tickets ahead of time for this but I remember they had a good deal at their ticket booth that included entry fee and a train ride/tour. I highly recommend this as the cemetery is huge and it will take forever to find the famous sites on foot especially with the kids not to mention the blazing hot sun burning up the back of your neck. The train rides are unlimited and it’s hop on hop off so you can stop anywhere you want. Be sure to check the Changing of Guards schedule to plan your ride.

4. Washington DC

National Mall:

The mall is beautiful. I would look up some maps of the mall and plan your route. We could not see every single monument but we did all the popular ones. Wear appropriate shoes and clothes that you are comfortable in but also photo ready as there are many beautiful picture spots. The Lincoln memorial has lots of steps so be prepared with the kiddos. The Jefferson memorial was a little farther away so we drove by it at night. You can visit the website here to prepare for your visit:https://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm

Marine Corps Monument : https://www.nps.gov/gwmp/learn/historyculture/usmcwarmemorial.htm

5. The Museums:

There are tons of Museums! And they are FREE!! With the exception of the African American History museum which does have an entry fee and you actually have to get tickets months In advance. Even though these museum are free I highly suggest visit their websites and see if you can “buy” ticket ahead of time. I bought what’s was available to purchase online and only had to pay online processing fee which was most of the time $6 for a family of four. But for $6 we were able to avoid long lines ( and whining kids waiting in the lines) and skip to the front of the lines. Some places had signs that said we couldn’t but the staff were nice and saw pre purchased tickets and let us in. The bureau of printing and engraving tickets are hard to get online but if you get to the ticket booth right outside really early ( we were there by 8) they have few tickets they give out for free every few hours. Be sure to check out National Archives and see the original Declaration of Independence!Check out all the museums here: https://washington.org/find-dc-listings/museums

6. Ford’s Theater: Site of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination

 This was a extra little trip from my daughter who is absolutely fascinated with Abraham Lincoln. the theater is small but beautiful. Again I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time online as space will be limited. We only bought tickets to the theater walk through and the museum. The Museum was really nice as it had Lincoln’s original bloody pillow, his  gloves and the original door with the bullet hole. Be sure to check out the free movie playing in the museum too. https://www.nps.gov/foth/planyourvisit/index.htm

7: The White House

Honestly speaking I was not too impressed with the White House in person…..It looks so much nicer on TV. First of all expect security all over the place. Also if the president or his family is out and about, expect the police and special agents to suddenly show up and close up the area so that they can pass. There are two sides to the White House. The back side is facing a park area where we sat and ate lunch. We tired to take pictures but were disappointed that it didn’t look instragramable. We finally approached on of the guards and he told us to walk over to the front of the house which was on Pennsylvania AVE. We walked around and found the White House we always see on TV. There will be tons of people taking pictures and guards making sure you don’t get to close to the gates. FYI the White House Viewing promptly closes at 5 Pm and the guards are very quick to shut down roads and move out all visitors. We were lucky that we made it in the nick of time and got to snap some pictures for our wall. https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/tours-events/


8: The US Capital Building

This is was the only Federal Building that our family was approved to visit by our congress member. Being from California, we received an email from our Congress member, Ami Berra’s office on all the details on our VIP tour of the US capital Building. We met the awesome staff in their office after taking some selfies out side of Mr. Berra’s office. The staff took us on the most fascinating tour ever, taking us through underground routes, and taught us many fun facts about the capital building and its history.https://www.visitthecapitol.gov

Please Like, Share and Follow me for great ideas and products.
Lifestyle

Washington DC and Virginia in the Summer with kids

Blog contains affiliate sites

Travel   Visiting the Nation’s capital and its surrounding history is a must for everyone living in the states especially if you have kids. Visiting from California, we were all just blown away with the rich collection of American history on the East Coast. I highly recommend that you wait until the kids are 1st or 2nd grade and or learning about American history in school before taking them to get the full experience of your trip. If you are going to do this trip I suggest you start planning at least 6 months ahead as places that require tickets fill up pretty fast. If you are planning on going during peak season such as spring break or summer break, buy your tickets ASAP to avoid being disappointed at the time of your trip. Luckily you don’t need to pay for any of the museums with the exception of African American History Museum for which tickets were sold out for the next 3 months . For our trip I spent about 3 months researching and mapping out our excursions by the day and hour to hour. Our trip was only 10 days so it was very important to know museum hours, tour hours, ticket prices, location, parking (we had a rental which we left at the hotel most of the time… don’t get a rental, Uber is cheaper, and convenient). I spent many hours thumbing through Pinterest blogs to get the scoop on do’s and don’ts, tips and must see places.

Some Tips:

  1. Summer time is hot and humid. Be prepared with plenty of water and snacks. While in Washington DC, we were lucky enough to stay at a hotel just 10 minutes walking distance to the wall and 5 minutes by Uber. We also got a room with a Kitchen and stocked up on water and snacks. We saved money by making breakfast before leaving in the mornings and cooked simple meals with Trader Joe’s just around the corner.
  2. Take a water squirting fan with you as it will become very useful while you wait in lines for the museums. I purchased this one from amazon: https://amzn.to/2Pgn3HV
  3. Speaking of lines…. even though the museums are free I strongly recommend going on the individual museum websites and purchase tickets online if it is an option. They are very cheap. I paid anywhere from $6-$12 for a family of four. With our pre paid tickets we were able to skip the huge free lines and get in faster which allowed us more time to do other things during the day. You don’t have to buy for each and every museum, just the popular ones with long lines. If you are traveling with kids, you will be glad you purchased the to tickets ahead unless of course you like to stand in long lines on humid days with crying , whining hungry children. Again keep plenty of snacks on hand, however there were plenty of restaurants and sandwich shops everywhere.
  4. I’m going to be bad mom here but traveling with kids in Washington is a lot of walking and tiring for both you and your kiddos. I found that giving soda to the kids for lunch really got their energy going and allowed us to power through the museums. Take a break inside the museums also If they have a café you cool down in the air conditioning and grab a bite.Plan your day so that you can go back to the hotel and rest before continuing your adventure in the evenings.
  5. Clothes: cotton, cotton and cotton. I got this tip from Pinterest and bought a lot of my cotton clothes from children’s place and I was glad that I did because they were light breathable and comfortable in that humid weather.
  6. Shoes: Don’t be cheap. Spend some extra bucks and buy really comfortable walking shoes for the family. Take a foot massaging cream and give each other foot rubs at bedtime especially the kids because their little feet will be so tired from walking but they won’t complain because of all the soda you gave them earlier 😉.
  7. Carry plenty of water, fruits, snacks for the kids to eat especially for long car rides to places and while standing in line waiting to get into places. Stock up the evening before as there are plenty of grocery stores and Walgreens etc. around.
  8. Duck Tour: We had an extra day as we cancelled our plans to go see the Liberty Bell so we went on a Duck tour. It was a nice way to wrap up our time in DC and see and learn about places we saw or were not able to see. Also the bus becomes a boat and took us into the Potomac River where we were able to see the Pentagon.
  9. Research all websites for places you want to see to check what is or is not allowed inside, hours of operation, ID requirements, pre-approval from your congress leader to visit( places like the White House and other federal buildings need an application to visit, information can be found on their websites), photography rules, availability of restrooms, cafes etc.
  10.  Be sure to watch all the documentary movies that are offered at the various museums. We truly enjoyed watching America’s history at each and every site we went to. It really has given us a new appreciation of the land we live in.
  11. Also be sure to watch the documentaries on websites before your trip. These really helped the kids understand where we were going and its significance. You can do this during downtime at the hotel.
  12. Visiting Federal buildings will need approval and background clearance for each member of your party. You can find information on how to apply on your city’s congress member’s website.

Famous Places to Visit

  1. Monticello: Thomas Jefferson’s Home

Our vacation started in Hollywood, Maryland far away from the city amongst lush green scenery and cute colonial style homes. The cool breeze, peace and quite of the day and the magical fire flies at night was like we had entered a fairytale. From here we traveled about 2 and half hours to Charlottesville, Virginia to visit Monticello. We had a rental car solely for traveling to Virginia and back into Washington DC. If you have young ones and traveling to different states this is the way to go. Keep in mind however that you have to pay for parking in DC, even at the hotels unless you find one with parking included.

Monticello was gorgeous, small but so much history within it. You do have to purchase tickets for this place and I suggest start looking at them several months ahead of time especially if you are going in peak season. Plan your trip and reservation time keeping in mind bathroom breaks etc. so that you can arrive at your tour time one time. The tour guides were awesome and as long as you arrive on time with your tickets there were no major delays getting Into the home. Do give yourself At least 30 minutes extra time as you have to go through the visitor center first and then take a shuttle up the mountain to the house. The tour does not include the tombs but they guide you to where it is. Photography is absolutely not allowed inside the house. However when you come back to the visitor center at the bottom of the hill, visit the kids center, it has all the cool gadgets that you see in the house and can actually take pictures of it in there. Make sure to watch any movies or documentaries they are showing that day as they are very good. Give yourself a good 3-4 hours to see the whole place here. We thought we could make it to our next destination however ended up getting. Hotel and heading out the next morning.https://www.monticello.org/

2. Mount Vernon: George Washington’s Home

Like the Monticello you have to the tickets in advance. We went in June so I think I had the tickets purchased by March. Again arrive about 30 minutes before your tour time and expect to spend about 3-4 hours here too. The tour is awesome and the views at the back of the house overlooking the river is a good family picture spot, so wear clothes that would look good framed up on the wall. https://www.mountvernon.org/

3. Arlington Cemetery:

We squeezed this trip in after Mount Vernon and I was glad we did because after this visit we headed Into Washington DC and did not have to make a trip back into Virginia. I did not buy tickets ahead of time for this but I remember they had a good deal at their ticket booth that included entry fee and a train ride/tour. I highly recommend this as the cemetery is huge and it will take forever to find the famous sites on foot especially with the kids not to mention the blazing hot sun burning up the back of your neck. The train rides are unlimited and it’s hop on hop off so you can stop anywhere you want. Be sure to check the Changing of Guards schedule to plan your ride.

4. Washington DC

National Mall:

The mall is beautiful. I would look up some maps of the mall and plan your route. We could not see every single monument but we did all the popular ones. Wear appropriate shoes and clothes that you are comfortable in but also photo ready as there are many beautiful picture spots. The Lincoln memorial has lots of steps so be prepared with the kiddos. The Jefferson memorial was a little farther away so we drove by it at night. You can visit the website here to prepare for your visit:https://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm

Marine Corps Monument : https://www.nps.gov/gwmp/learn/historyculture/usmcwarmemorial.htm

5. The Museums:

There are tons of Museums! And they are FREE!! With the exception of the African American History museum which does have an entry fee and you actually have to get tickets months In advance. Even though these museum are free I highly suggest visit their websites and see if you can “buy” ticket ahead of time. I bought what’s was available to purchase online and only had to pay online processing fee which was most of the time $6 for a family of four. But for $6 we were able to avoid long lines ( and whining kids waiting in the lines) and skip to the front of the lines. Some places had signs that said we couldn’t but the staff were nice and saw pre purchased tickets and let us in. The bureau of printing and engraving tickets are hard to get online but if you get to the ticket booth right outside really early ( we were there by 8) they have few tickets they give out for free every few hours. Be sure to check out National Archives and see the original Declaration of Independence!Check out all the museums here: https://washington.org/find-dc-listings/museums

6. Ford’s Theater: Site of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination

 This was a extra little trip from my daughter who is absolutely fascinated with Abraham Lincoln. the theater is small but beautiful. Again I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time online as space will be limited. We only bought tickets to the theater walk through and the museum. The Museum was really nice as it had Lincoln’s original bloody pillow, his  gloves and the original door with the bullet hole. Be sure to check out the free movie playing in the museum too. https://www.nps.gov/foth/planyourvisit/index.htm

7: The White House

Honestly speaking I was not too impressed with the White House in person…..It looks so much nicer on TV. First of all expect security all over the place. Also if the president or his family is out and about, expect the police and special agents to suddenly show up and close up the area so that they can pass. There are two sides to the White House. The back side is facing a park area where we sat and ate lunch. We tired to take pictures but were disappointed that it didn’t look instragramable. We finally approached on of the guards and he told us to walk over to the front of the house which was on Pennsylvania AVE. We walked around and found the White House we always see on TV. There will be tons of people taking pictures and guards making sure you don’t get to close to the gates. FYI the White House Viewing promptly closes at 5 Pm and the guards are very quick to shut down roads and move out all visitors. We were lucky that we made it in the nick of time and got to snap some pictures for our wall. https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/tours-events/


8: The US Capital Building

This is was the only Federal Building that our family was approved to visit by our congress member. Being from California, we received an email from our Congress member, Ami Berra’s office on all the details on our VIP tour of the US capital Building. We met the awesome staff in their office after taking some selfies out side of Mr. Berra’s office. The staff took us on the most fascinating tour ever, taking us through underground routes, and taught us many fun facts about the capital building and its history.https://www.visitthecapitol.gov

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