Though America is often said to be a young country, we more than make up for our age with a rich and varied history. From the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock and the War of Independence, to the birth of jazz music and civic leaders like Martin Luther King, few nations can match the epic nature of America’s golden history. The best place in the nation to soak up the stories of our glorious past is of course Washington D.C., a city every child must visit at least once. Let your child learn from the lessons of America’s founding fathers, and the great heroes who followed in their footsteps, such as Abraham Lincoln or F.D.R. Here are a few ways our wonderful capital can inspire your child.
Learn About Leadership
It is a rite of passage that many American teens undertake – the school trip to the capital. And impressionable minds cannot help but be wowed and inspired by the magnificent sights they see on high school trips to Washington DC. From the imperious Washington monument standing proud at 555 feet, to the corridors of power at the Capitol building, and everything in between, there is much here to teach your child about greatness. Stop off at Pennsylvania Avenue to catch a glimpse of the President conducting the nation’s affairs, and feel the pride and patriotism rise up at wonderful attractions like the Lincoln Memorial or the Jefferson Memorial. Guided tours fill in the blanks, ensuring your child returns home knowing all about the rich history of America, our proudest moments, as well as the backgrounds of the men and women who made the modern world possible. And who knows, maybe being so close to the centre of power and the leader of the free world will inspire leadership and statesmanship amongst your own teen.
Yet Washington is not only noted for its political intrigue and displays of power, it is also one of the world’s greatest cultural destinations. Galleries and museums display art and artefacts from around the world, while any trip to this beguiling city would not be complete without a day or two spent wandering the halls of the Smithsonian, perhaps the world’s greatest museum. The world’s largest institution of its king, the Smithsonian was founded as far back as 1846, and today comprises over 19 separate museums, together holding and displaying over 137 million items. Highlights in the collection include the Enola Gay aircraft, the original star spangled banner, the John Bull locomotive and artworks by American greats such as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keefe and John Singer Sargeant. If you want to develop your child’s artist side, or to spark off their curiosity in history, make sure they take educational tours of this remarkable facility.
As one of America’s most historic, and most monumental, cities, Washington D.C. perhaps offers a unique blend of preserved history and contemporary life that is hard to find elsewhere in America. Only here can one truly savour the richness of American history and feel close to historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and, of course, George Washington himself. Though we may see their faces on bank notes every single day, a trip to D.C. buys us time to think and reflect about the heroes who sacrificed so much to make America one of the greatest nations the world has ever seen.