The Fourth July // Day 2

The Fourth of July. Independence Day. Whatever you choose to call it, you know it's going to be a fun filled day celebrating that day in 1776 when we declared independence from the British. Sure the history can be a bit spotty (we signed it this day, but it wasn't approved until this day, yada yada), but Washington DC is a place where it converges and we can remember the sacrifices and obstacles our forefathers made in order to create this great country. 

Our second day started off pretty low key seeing that we slept in a bit and decided to jog to a breakfast place. After navigating the streets, we arrived at Lincoln's Waffle Shop. Now on the outside, it's a bit of a dive, but boasts 20+ years of serving the Washington DC downtown area. But when theres a long line of people waiting outside, you know it has to be good. We opted to order take out and avoid the wait for a table. Waffles with a few sides of bacon and sausage are always a good way to start the day.  

With our breakfast in hand, we headed over to the National Archives and waited to hear the Declaration of Independence be read. At first we sat on the stairs of the museum and maneuvered our way through the throngs of people already there. Unfortunately from this vantage point, we were watching the backs of the actors, so we descended the steps and sat across the street. Before the ceremony started, we made our way closer to the stage area. Unbeknownst to us, where we standing was the perfect spot; we were standing in the middle of the road (blocked off of course) behind the roped off area where there was a performance by the Fife and Drum Corps

Later on in the hour, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin and a whole slew of other historical characters put on a show and read the Declaration of Independence. After the performance, we walked around the Smithsonian grounds. 

We found our way over to the Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art which have large collections of Asian art paired with permanent and temporary features. There's everything from Chinese to Islamic art. I quite enjoyed the traditional stamps and ancient coins. 

For whatever reason, we were ambitious enough to jog over to the Jefferson Memorial. Everyone we asked for directions thought we were crazy, but it's only about a mile away from the National Mall. Of course, on our way over, we happened to pass the Washington Monument so we snapped a few shots. 

I've always seen the Jefferson Memorial from the far, but this was the first time I'd been inside. Jefferson is one of my favorite presidents because of his appreciation for education, and he's often regarded as a renaissance man for his many skills. The memorial embodies that passion for learning, and some of his famous writings and quotes are written on the walls. There's even a great view of the towering Washington Monument. 

I remembered that the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was in the area, so we had to see that. Outside of the Jefferson Memorial, there was a long bike stand. Washington DC, being a major metropolitan area has got the whole transportation thing down. Granted it's always busy and there's quite a bit of traffic, renting bikes has become a new trend for major cities and caters to both locals and tourists. Capital Bikeshare allows you to rent bikes for as long as you need them and there are multiple pick-up and drop-off stations all across the city. The one drawback is that you can only rent 2 bikes on one credit card. Since there were 3 of us, my mom and I made my sister run. She's a cross country runner. She needed to run that day anyway. 

Along the way, we stumbled across the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. It's a beautiful, tucked-away memorial, probably a great place to relax and take a break when touring. We found a large statue of FDR himself along with his pet dog Fala. Not sure if I was more excited to see FDR or the dog...


We finally made our way to MLK Jr. Memorial and I was in complete awe. The memorial encompasses the beauty and power of MLK Jr. and his presence is felt here. The stoic statue looks out towards DC. 

Covered in sweat, we went back to the Willard, showered and changed into our fourth of july garb. I opted for this H&M maxi paired with a navy shirt. I was lacking red, but I'm pretty sure the other spectators made up for it. 

With some time before fireworks, we decided to go to Arlington National Cemetery. Walking to the nearest Metro station and catching the train, it was a surprisingly quick trip there. Walking into the cemetery, I didn't know what to expect, but it was overall a moving experience. There is a mass amount of graves sprawling across the grounds with soldiers, some even from the Civil War. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip; it was a humbling experience to see the graves and watch the changing of the guards. It makes you appreciate the sacrifices our troops make to keep our country safe. This place is a must if you ever travel to DC.

A quick trip back to our hotel to grab some grub and coats, we popped by the White House on our way over to the National Mall festivities. Somehow we managed to snag spots facing the Lincoln Memorial. 

The fireworks were spectacular and illuminated the night. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.