Miss Abigail Goes to Washington (and So Can You!)
Twelve-year-old Abigail, a native of Huntington Beach, was born with a congenital heart condition. She has endured three open-heart surgeries and additional operations throughout her short life. Although she has faced many challenges because of her condition, she doesn’t let it get in her way from succeeding in school.
Abigail has always enjoyed learning and has developed a fascination with the government and how it works. On Friday, March 17, Abigail learned her Make-a-Wish wish to go to Washington D.C. to learn more about the nation’s history, would soon be granted. She attended the Harbour View Elementary Jog-A-Thon as a special guest and was surprised by Huntington Beach Mayor, Barbara Delgleize. After a short discussion about local government, Abigail was called to the podium where the Mayor revealed her wish in front of nearly 800 elementary students.
If your kids share Abigail’s interest in the inner workings of the political system, try one of these Government Getaways to combine education with a whole lot of family fun. A bonus for families traveling in April — most of our country’s historical sites have been classified as National Parks. To celebrate National Park Week, families can enjoy free entrance during the weekends of April 15-16 and April 22-23.
National Park Service Junior Ranger Program
“Explore, Learn, and Protect!” The Junior Ranger motto is recited by children around the country; each taking an oath of their own to protect parks, continue to learn about parks, and share their own ranger story with friends and family. The NPS Junior Ranger program is an activity based program conducted in almost all parks. Interested youth complete a series of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate. Junior Rangers are typically between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate.
Visit the National Mall and Memorial Parks of DC
Clearly, the best place to go to see government in action would be in our nation’s capital. If you time it well, you can even take in a live proceeding at the Supreme Court. The city is packed with the energy of politics, with monuments to the country’s past leaders and heroes dotting the landscape at every turn. The National Mall — the great swath of green in the middle of the city stretches from the foot of the United States Capitol to the Potomac River. The area is very welcoming and accessible despite the somber symbolism. Within this same space are endless, and free, Smithsonian Museums to explore, a wealth of food trucks making grabbing a bite on the go a breeze. If roaming far and wide with little legs is a concern, there are many options for touring the monuments. Tours by bicycle, trolley, double-decker bus, kayak, and Segway’s are a few other options.
Stay in one of these great DC neighborhoods
Rosewood Washington, DC
Ideal for those wanting an off-the-beaten path home away from home, this pedestrian-friendly area is perfect for those who want to park the car and leave it (tempting in the maze of traffic-filled DC). A wealth of boutiques, flagship stores, cafes, bars and natural areas are just steps away from this tony hotel’s prime location on the C & O Canal. Head up to the rooftop for an overview, or to enjoy the heated plunge pool or grab a nicely crafted cocktail. Stroll down the hill to the Key Bridge Boathouse and pick up a SUP or kayak to explore this gentle stretch of the Potomac. A guided evening kayak tour of the monuments offers great birding opps as you paddle into the sunset.
Georgetown | www.rosewoodhotels.com
This modern, artsy hotel has all the excellent service you expect from a Kimpton (some even bring “pet” goldfish to ensure guests don’t get lonely), with a generous nod to the short set. Rather than just tolerating families, the Palomar celebrates its future customer base by greeting kids with a choice from a treasure box, tiny animal print robes so they can relax like mom and dad, and a kids’ happy hour with popcorn, fresh juice mocktails and video game tourneys to meet other young guests. Parents have their own complimentary wine and cocktail hour. The outdoor pool is perfect for a splash after a long day of museums. If you are traveling by Metro, you’ll venture down one of the longest escalators in the country (within a block or two of the hotel, outside a Krispy Kreme, no less).
Dupont Circle | www.hotelpalomar-dc.com
This hotel offers a location so prime for those interested in the White House, The Capitol, National Mall, Monuments and Smithsonian Museums…you might even witness Secret Service having a little talk with persons of interest up in the rooftop POV lounge. The hotel is directly across the street from the White House. Those popping for the incredible, and well-named, “Wow Suites” sleep with the glow of the massive Washington Monument in their front window and can peek in on the Prez in his own backyard from the corner perch overlooking the South Lawn. This can be particularly exciting if the identical Marine One helicopters are playing their shell game of landing and taking off to conceal the movements of key officials.
Lafayette Square | WashingtonDC.com
Visit Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia
A visit to Philly would not be complete without viewing the famous Liberty Bell. Conveniently located in the campus of historical sites, the adjacent block is home to Independence Hall. Tickets for timed tours are complimentary, and allow entry into the actual room where the Founding Fathers once debated and adopted both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. (Those especially moved by the experience will want to visit the impressive National Constitution Center.)
Stay at The Logan Hotel
Little guests will be charmed by the whimsical art installations throughout the hotel. Upon entry, a mobile of glass negative plates offers photographs of historical Philly figures while a metal wire figure stands guard by the elevator. The artsy vibe in continued through the immense rooms, many with lovely views of the parks and museums surrounding the hotel. (Logan Square is also just steps from one of the most upscale shopping districts in the area, if retail therapy is of interest.) Across the street is the Swann Memorial Fountain, a longtime hotspot for children to play amid the spouting frogs, turtles, swans and mythical gods. Be sure to fuel up for a day of exploring at the hotel’s Urban Farmer organic eatery.
Visit Boston National Historic Park
“The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people…” Discover how one city could be the Cradle of Liberty, site of the first major battle of American Revolution, and home to many who believed that freedom should be extended to all. Reenactments of the Boston Massacre, historic home tours, walking tours following the trail of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride await visitors.
Stay at The Four Seasons Boston
If your idea of visiting a national park included tent life and roughing it, you can fulfill a bit of that concept (with a decidedly luxe flair) with the unique Kids Adventure Glamping Package. This indoor camping adventure includes a luxurious in-room tent, camping-themed welcome amenity, “Gone Glamping” keepsake pillow, Scavenger Hunt, Cookie Baking lesson and more. The resort’s indoor pool overlooking Boston Public Garden and Beacon Hill only adds to family fun.
Visit Colonial National Historic Park, Virginia
Wander the sites of Jamestown and Yorktown — poking through the recreated homesteads and archeological ruins where our first colonists made their homes — while enjoying costumed interpreters as they share tales from the past. Full-scale replicas of ships float at the dock, awaiting visitors who explore their decks and down in the hull learning how families once traveled and the hardships they faced to find a place to enjoy basic freedoms. On weekends, blacksmiths and glassblowers demonstrate the art of necessity, as they recreate practical items used by those in the colonies.
Stay at the Colonial Houses of Williamsburg
Immerse yourself in the world of the past at nearby Williamsburg, as you lay your head on goose down pillows of canopied beds in historic tiny cottages, houses or take a room in the local tavern, as travelers would have once done. Dotted throughout the Williamsburg village, these offer a prime location to explore the shops, schoolhouses, apothecaries, churches and public areas of the 1600’s. Even the youngest of visitors will be entranced by the marching minutemen and costumed villagers who go about their day as if time had stood still.