DC: Day 1- The National Mall with our dog

The truth is, I didn’t think I’d like visiting Washington D.C. I don’t like cities, busy places, or traffic, and I’m not particularly patriotic or fond of the government….all that considered, I didn’t really want to go. 

Turns out I was wrong and I actually loved our time in DC. I love history, I love cool architecture, I love memorials to good humans, and my homeschool mom self LOVES a good museum. So, if you’re like me and have no interest in a trip here, consider that you too could be wrong.

For our first day in the city, we had our dog with us. We visited all the memorials, had a picnic, and took a walking tour, all so Marley could come too. 

We started our day with the Washington Monument which was the tallest structure in the world when it was built in 1884. You can go in and take an elevator to the top but you need tickets (they’re free) and they only give so many a day. So minus a ticket and plus a dog, we just looked at it, took some photos, and moved on.

Family walking up to Washington Memorial

The WW2 memorial honors all the states and nations who joined together in one of the world’s most darkest times. It has a pool and fountain which is a lovely place for a rest. 

We walked along the reflective pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a sacred place that should be honored. My naughty dog didn’t care and doesn’t understand respect. He busted out of Juliette’s hold and jumped in the pool to chase the ducks. Not good. Luckily, no authorities took notice.

kids and dog at reflective pool, Lincoln memorial, Washington DC

The Lincoln Monument is quite impressive. We just finished a school study on Abe and had him fresh in our minds. As we entered the huge temple and saw him sitting there carved from marble and surrounded by the Gettysburg Address, we reflected on his character of being a kind, humorous, humble man, the legacy he left from his work through the Civil War and the ripple effects this life had on the future of our nation. 

From the steps of the Lincoln Monument, we had a great view of the National Mall. It’s humbling and rather moving to think that we stood in the same place that Dr. King stood as he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Children on the steps of Lincoln Memorial overlooking the National Mall

Everyone we spoke to warned us about parking. I was super stressed out about finding a place to put our giant diesel truck. Taxis and buses aren’t an option with the dog and the whole thing gave me anxiety. Turns out, we didn’t have any trouble with finding metered street parking. Most spots do have a 3-hour max parking time, so we just had to move around. So we went back to the truck and enjoyed our packed picnic in the park and moved spots. 

Next, we took a stroll along the Potomac River to the Franklin Roosevelt monument. I’ve never paid much attention to FDR, but judging him by his words, I think I would have liked him. Some favorite quotes were “Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.” and “They [who] seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers…call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”

My dog made a fool of himself…. Alongside Franklin’s statue sits a memorial to his dog Fala. Marley saw that thing and lost his dang mind. He raised his hair, put his tail between his legs, and barked and growled like a psychopath to the laughs of the crowd around us.

Fala Dog statue at FDR Memorial Washington DC

Next up was the Martin Luther King Memorial. It’s carved out of stone, inspired by a line in his famous speech that says, “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” The walls are lined with famous quotes which we reflected on as we walked.

Mother and Daughter at MLK memorial

The last memorial of the day was for Thomas Jefferson. It was tied with Lincoln for the votes of our favorite. His statue sits in a dome held up by marble pillars. We read the Declaration of Independence and had great conversations.

After a day of nearly 8 miles of walking, we decided to head back to the hotel for an evening of Chinese food delivery, junk TV, and some rest for another day in the city. 

A few thoughts on DC with your doggy: 

-Yes, you can bring your pup and still experience quite a bit that the city has to offer. Your main point of interest will be the National Mall.

– A day with your dog is going to mean public transportation isn’t an option for you. Be prepared to walk. 

-It’s a lot of exercise for not just you, but your dog too. The National Mall has plenty of water fountains. Be sure to bring along a little dish so your dog can hydrate.

-Avoid visiting in the hottest parts of the year, the concrete may be too hot for sensitive puppy paws. 

– Some of the monuments (specifically Lincoln and Jefferson, possibly others) will not allow your dog to go all the way into them. To fully experience them you’ll want to take turns with a friend or family member so one can stay back with the pup while the other takes time in the monuments. 

-If taking your dog feels like too much, consider using Rover. We have had great success with hiring dog sitters for the day through the app. It’s very affordable and every sitter we’ve had has been wonderful. Here is a code for $20 off your first Rover

Where we Stayed:

Harbor View Thousand Trails, Colonial Beach Virginia: Camping in the city isn’t really a thing. There may be closer campgrounds to the city, but we have a Thousand Trails membership, so we opted for that even though it was over an hour from the city. It was a simple park but it had all the things we needed like laundry and a little office space for Tom to work. The kids enjoyed the playground, mini golf and tether pole. We got an inexpensive pet-friendly hotel in the city (that isn’t worth noting) so we could do two days without the time driving back and forth. All the folks we spoke to in the park were doing a DC day, so hotel or not, it seems like the thing to do there. 

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