Whether you have little ones or other family with whom to share the excitement or even just on your own, it’s fun to explore new places and with free, the price is right.
According to Wikipedia, “The National Mall is an open area national park in downtown Washington D.C., the capital of the United States,” but that hardly describes the bounty of museums (the bulk of the D.C. Smithsonian museums are located here and they are all free) and monuments (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Vietnam War, Korean War, and so much more) located in this relatively small area. There are also art parks and a botanical garden. For more information see http://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm.
U.S. National Arboretum
The U.S. National Arboretum is even easier to get to from Fort Meade and has a host of options for families. You can feed the koi in their giant pond that will be bursting with water lily and lotus blooms later this summer. You can walk through an assortment of different gardens in wooded settings (azalea walk, Asian gardens, and conifer gardens) or through more urban or even indoor settings (National Herb Garden, National Bonsai and Penjing Musems). And I personally think it’s a wonderful place for a picnic or game of Frisbee. For more information see http://www.usna.usda.gov/.
Who doesn’t enjoy a day at the zoo? Personally, I think the National Zoo is the best in our area. The animals are active and plentiful and you can get your exercise on the hilly terrain (but they have thoughtfully located benches generously throughout the park so tired feet can take a break). Even on a rainy day you could take in their indoor exhibits such as the Reptile, Small Mammal and Bird houses. And if you’d like a sneak peak, they have zoo cams on many of their animals on their website, http://nationalzoo.si.edu/. Zoo entrance is free but there is a charge for parking.
Rock Creek Park Planetarium
This will be a new trip for us but it’s the only free planetarium in our area of which I’m aware and it’s located in a beautiful National Park (entrance is also free) so it’s a two for one day of fun. For more information see http://www.nps.gov/rocr/planyourvisit/planetarium.htm
National Cryptologic Museum
Had to have at least one located close to home. Located right here at Fort Meade this is a great place to visit if you (or someone in your family) are interested in our Nation’s cryptologic heritage. More information is available at http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/museum/. There is also an adjacent outdoor display of two aircraft used for “secret missions” at the National Vigilance Park, making this another two for one trip.
If you know of other local fun and free trips, please do share!
I hope that you all have a safe and enjoyable summer!