Amtrak and Late Enough teamed up to talk about the awesomeness of train travel.
On Sunday, we took the train up to Washington D.C. for the day.
I’m a bit obsessed with trains to the point where I chose my first apartment in Charlottesville in 2002 based on seeing the train tracks from my window. In retrospect, I would’ve factored in my landlord not caring if my bathroom had heat, but I still found the whistle and chug of the trains soothing while I putz around my place.
The last time we went to D.C. on the train as a family was in 2009 to meet up with friends at the zoo.
And yes, I had planned to take a matching photo, but my children refuse to be dolls.
We took advantage of everything the train has to offer from the Wi-Fi to downtime.
And of course, we hit up the most exciting part the train: THE DINING CAR!
We arrived in Union Station, and while I liked the architecture of the main room, my kids were much more into the spiral staircases and not just because they led to lunch.
We decided to walk to the mall (which as a kid, I remember being confused when there were no actual shops and this explains why my son said: I thought there would be more stores) to visit the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (thanks to everyone for the excellent Facebook suggestions).
On our way (it’s about a 20 minute walk), we passed the U.S. Capitol Building where my kids had as much interest in Congress as the rest of the nation.
I also ooh’d and ah’d over the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.
We arrived at the museum, and my kids were immediately excited about the ice cream truck parked out front that is exactly like the ones in any town, anywhere, but with a promise of dessert “in a little while,” the kids went on to explore the museum.
My kids also loved the Wright Brothers exhibit and IMAX show. Plus, the show was nice way to sit for 20 minutes.
After the IMAX movie, my daughter said: We are all made of stars, mama. Be still my heart.
We went back outside for the very fancy ice cream we had promised.
And we hopped on the carousel.
We were going to head down to the Lincoln Memorial, but the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History caught our eye, and with all the museum being free, we decided to wander inside. My daughter loved this place and not just because she got a stuffed animal out of it. She was running around naming animals like the tiniest biologist they’ve ever employed.
After the gift shop fun, we met up with friends and played in the dirt and chased birds off the mall. We hit up a food truck (mmm…. falafel) and (took a cab) back to Union Station (because our day was a lot of walking for a 5- and 7-year-old).
I asked my kids what their favorite part of the trip was and taking the train #1 and #2 for each of them. Pretty impressive since we visited two D.C. museums, ate ice cream, and got gift store presents. For me, the worst part of the day was my daughter falling asleep on the train because I knew she’d be up until 11 p.m. but not having to drive back in Sunday night Washington/Virginia, I-95 traffic made it all better.
PS. I still annoy my daughter with the lean in pose on trains after all these years.
Thanks to Amtrak for sponsoring our trip! If you would like to know more about taking the train to avoid traffic and parking and all that annoying car stuff, visit Amtrak Virginia. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter @AmtrakVA. Remember, tickets for kids 2-12 years old are always 50% off, but if you book 14 days in advance, all tickets are 25% off. Between you and me, the people who work at Amtrak were the nicest on our trip. They chatted up my kids and helped fellow passengers without needing to be asked. I was really impressed, and I have pretty high standards for customer service.