Washington D.C. Is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you’re bringing children or grandchildren with you who may not have been exposed to American History as much as you’d like. It is also an overwhelming place to visit. Between all the museums, monuments and places of interest available , how do you decide what to visit to get the best bang for your time and available buck?

Back when my children were small, schools would undergo huge fundraising efforts to be able to take sixth graders to Washington D.C. for a hands-on history experience. Although noble in thought, in reality this ended up being a whirlwind manic madhouse of the highlights with a hurry up look here move on focus. Boomers may remember the movie, “If It’s Tuedsay, This Must Be Belgium”. These school trips were like that… “If it’s 2:00 this must be the Jefferson Memorial."

With a current revival of interest in President Lincoln due to best-selling books and a blockbuster movie,  a Lincoln focused day in Washington D.C. would be enjoyed by all. In recommended order, here are five ways to meet the great man.

Busts and portraits of Lincoln

1. Your first stop is the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, specifically the Civil War Collection, and the Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life collection.  Highlights include Lincoln’s top hat worn the evening of his assassination and the famous Alexander Garner photograph taken in 1863. Why start here?  It’s important to know what the man was like and what he did to be so firmly planted in our collective memories before we move on monuments and the like. Why him? This is why.

Interior of Ford's Theater

2. Next we go to Ford’s Theatre (511 10th St. NW).  Although admission is free, you must have a ticket to enter. The box office opens at 8:30 am, or you may acquire timed entry tickets at http://www.ticketmaster.com/Fords-Theatre-tickets-Washington/venue/172408. Rangers will present a truly fascinating progam, there are Junior Ranger activities, a self-guided tour and an audio tour available as well. After learning about the theater be sure to head downstairs for the museum. This small area houses a treasure trove of artifacts, only a small percentage of which are on display at any one time. You will be sure, however, to be able to view John Wilkes Booth’s derringer and the clothes President Lincoln wore to the theater.

The Petersen House, where Lincoln died

3. Now that you have learned a bit about his life and set the stage for the assassination, head across the street to the Petersen House (516 10th St). After the shooting President Lincoln was carried to this house and cared for until his death. Preserved in the time of period, the house takes you back to that night that changed history, and you will see the room where Lincoln died.

The Lincoln Monument in Washington

4. Now that everyone is suitable somber it’s time to head to the Lincoln Monument on the National Mall. Designed by Henry Bacon the 36 columns in the Greek style represent the 36 states that were in the union at the time of Lincoln’s death. Take the time to truly take in this magnificent monument.

Lincoln Park

5. Finally, to conclude your Lincoln day, head to Lincoln Park which is located east of the Capitol building at 11th street. Here you will find two monuments, that of President Lincoln and, the first to honor a black woman in a public park, Mary McLeod Bethune, who was an educator and activist. The Lincoln stature, depicting the president in his frock coat and holding the Emancipation Proclamation, was unveiled on the 11 anniversary of President Lincoln’s death, April 14, 1876.

I guarantee that after your Lincoln day is concluded, children and adults alike will come away appreciating all that our 16th President contributed to our nation.



Nancy Julian is a travel writing, trip planning expert. She has had a life-long love affair with travel, starting with childhood road trips and extending through service in the Air Force, a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, professional work in that field, and finally to the creation of her own company, Magic Feather Memories. You can read more at Nancy's blog, http://magicfeathermemories.blogspot.com, and also drop by Mouse Tales travel at http://.mousetalestravel.com/.