Exploring a destination always works better when you give it some meat! I definitely believe in that old saying “You get out of it what you put into it!” So here are some tips for you for getting more involved and embellishing your visit to Washington, DC in a few, very different ways!! I know all of these tips are going to sound quirky --- and they are!! But try them! You just might be surprised with the results!
1. Check-out Some Literature Related to DC --- And Make It Children’s Literature. I don’t mean travel books for kids but rather novels set in and about DC that are written for kids. Why not! I think you will find these reads fun and VERY informative for your exploring!
- Ron Roy’s Capital Mysteries for kids: In this delightful series the reader gets a good tour of many DC sites.
- The Princess and the Peacocks by Linda Merrill and Sarah Ridley: This beautifully illustrated book tells the inside story of James McNeill Whistler’s famous Peacock Room located inside the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art. Read the book, then come see the actual room in the Freer Gallery --- Jefferson Drive at 12th Street, SW ( The Peacock Room is not always open so do check the Freer Gallery's schedule: https://www.freersackler.si.edu)
- Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave by Ann Rinaldi: Oney Judge becomes Lady Washington's closest confidante and, for all intents and purposes, a member of the family --- or so she thinks.
- The Words We Live By – Your Annotated Guide to The Constitution by Linda Monk: Love this book! It’s a great way to get your head around our Constitution. Then, a visit to the US Capitol or to the National Archives to see the Constitution will actually mean something.
- Capitol Hill Haunts by Tim Krepps: I threw-in this book in case you just must have a book for adults. It’s full of tales about everyone’s favorite DC ghosts. Total fun!
And if you need to be convinced about the power of children’s literature, check-out Kitty Felde's podcast for middle school students. Listen to one of her podcasts, each with a guest reader and wonderful analysis by the students. The kids will tell you how to analyze what you read. Kitty is also a journalist and a playwright. She wrote the script for our White House as a Home Walk with Quentin Roosevelt.
2. Ask A Playwright How He FEELS Washington, DC --- Stephen Spottswood (Helen Hayes award-winning playwright and author of our Pickle Pea Musings with a White House Gardener Walk) is giving a course in --- you guessed it --- playwriting at the Shakespeare Theatre Company here in DC. Taking the course would be great fun! But, if you can’t make the course, you could email him and get his take on living in and writing about DC. He definitely FEELS the city! The walk he created for Pickle Pea Walks is luscious! FEELING a city is one of the best ways to get to know it!
3. Create Your Own Graphic Novel About Washington, DC --- We are pretty sure if you think about writing a graphic novel as you’re exploring Washington, DC, you’ll see and learn tons about the city!! Tons! You’ll notice things you would definitely have missed otherwise.
4. Ask Someone Who Looks Bored for Information About Their Site --- How many times have you visited a site and the person at the front desk/information center looked totally bored? Well, they probably were! People in these positions almost always know a whole lot about “their site” but they rarely get a chance to share this information. So, ask them! I bet you will be surprised and very pleased. And, you will have given this person a chance to shine. A win-win all around!
Why not try this out at the White House Visitor Center --- 1450 Pennsylvania Ave NW. Many of the folks here know a whole lot more about the White House than you might think! It's up to you to discover what they know!
5. Get Involved with Someone from the Past --- What better way to get a more authentic picture of our nation’s history than to befriend a person who was actually there! Get a first person account! Come take a Pickle Pea Walk with either Liz Carpenter (First Lady Lady Bird Johnson’s press secretary), Quentin Roosevelt (President Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest child) or John Ousley (the first White House gardener – 1825 to 1852). And --- take-on a role in their world. We would love to have you join in with the action! Take a look and see if the roles we’ve dreamed up are of interest to you. It’s great fun being a part of the past!!