The Best Things in Life are Free

One of the greatest things about DC is that a lot of its top attractions are free. And I’m not just talking about walking around looking at monuments. We toured the Library of Congress AND the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and it didn’t cost us a dime. I love this town.

We ended up at the Library of Congress almost by accident. The plan was to hit the Air and Space Museum first thing, but as it didn’t open until 10 and we were up and about long before that, we decided to walk down to the Capitol building to look around. (Google Maps says we walked almost 8 km today, not including the four hours of walking we did inside museums. I’m not sure my feet will forgive me.) Behind the Capitol lies the library, so we decided to check that out.

And was I ever glad we did. In addition to the beautifully decorated great hall and reading room, the library had a special exhibit of a Gutenberg Bible and the first map ever created that shows America as a separate continent. It was a history buff’s dream.

When we finally made it to the Air and Space Museum, it was Chris’s turn to get excited. We saw the actual command module from Apollo 11, the mission that first landed a man on the moon. We saw the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Lindbergh took on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris. We touched a moon rock. We walked through a Skylab replica. We saw a full-size model of the Hubble telescope. We got an inside view of the cockpit of an Airbus. It was all amazing. I still can’t believe it was all free.

On the long walk back to the hotel, we decided to stop and see the International Spy Museum. It’s one of the few museums in the city that charges an admission fee, but it was totally worth it. The place covers the entire history of espionage with incredibly detailed thematic areas, exhibits and displays. Everyone has to choose and memorize a cover identity, then you get a special briefing about what to expect, then you go through some exhibits that test your spy skills, and so on. They even had a special exhibit on 50 years of Bond villains that was pretty cool, even for people like me who have never been fans of the movies. Awesome.

One more day in DC…