On Feb. 23, the SAC organization on campus sponsored an event for West Chester students to travel to Washington, D.C. for $10 on a comfortable coach bus. Unable to resist the great price and a chance to see one of my favorite cities, I hopped on the bus with my agenda of must-sees and must-dos.
First, I visited the admission free Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The museum, which was built in 1910, is open 364 days a year and is the most visited natural history museum in the world. There, visitors are welcomed by a life-sized elephant and directed to countless areas of the museum. Upon entering, you are immediately overwhelmed by the halls of geology, human origins, dinosaurs, mammals, oceanic and insects.
Perhaps one of the most visited areas of the museum is on the second floor in the Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals. This hall houses the famous Hope Diamond, which was purchased for $250 million in 1958 by the Smithsonian Museum. The diamond’s history is one of mysterious allure. According to legend, whoever possesses the diamond tragically dies, but the current owner says to not have had any problems…yet. The Museum of Natural History is an opportunity visitors definitely have to take advantage of.
Directly next to the Museum of Natural History stands the also free Smithsonian Museum of American History. Renovated in 2008, this museum houses four floors of incredible treasures of American history. It holds Judy Garland’s shoes worn in The Wizard of Oz, a collection of the First Lady’s inaugural dresses which includes Michelle Obama’s 2008 gown, along with the largest exhibit dedicated to past wars of American history.
One of the best things about D.C. is the organization of the city. It is visitor friendly due to its linear street design and centrally located National Mall. From the Capitol to the Lincoln Monument, the mall stretches 1.9 miles. While standing in the middle of all the action, it is incredible to look around and see all of the history and sense the importance of our nation’s capitol. A short walk from the National Mall is the White House. When I approached the White House, I saw some construction occurring directly in front of the building. After some eavesdropping and observation, it became clear that they were still deconstructing from the Presidential Inaugural Ball that occurred January 20.
About three miles from the National Mall and a quick metro ride is a secret treasure for shopping, dining and entertainment. Georgetown is a beautiful area with colonial-style buildings and cobblestone streets. Many may have watched the TLC show, D.C. Cupcakes, which follows the bakery, Georgetown Cupcake, while baking and delivering their yummy treats. Georgetown is a must-see while visiting the D.C. area for some extraordinary shopping and great food.
From March 20 to April 14, Washington D.C.’s famous Cherry Blossom Festival will be taking place. These cherry blossom trees were planted to represent friendship, specifically friendship between the United States and Japan. Lining the Tidal Basin, the trees can be seen flanking the mall and surrounding the water near the Jefferson Monument. With many of the events free to the public, the festival promotes culture, arts and tradition through concerts, performances and even the annual Cherry Blossom Parade.
One of the best things about Washington D.C. is that is conducive to all seasons throughout the year. Whether you’re visiting in upcoming months for the Cherry Blossom Festival or looking to get away, D.C. is filled with opportunities to learn and enjoy the beautiful capitol of our country.
Lauren Grow is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at LG811077@wcupa.edu.