My DC Staycation

by - Monday, January 04, 2016

Today was the last day of my epic 17 day winter break. I am so sad to see my vacation come to a close, and I'm sure tomorrow is going to be a brutal kick in the pants when I go back to work.


But, I like to think all my time off was well spent.

The first week of vacation was mainly spent at home in PA celebrating Christmas with friends and family. The "kids." Christmas Eve 2015

I think we know who my mom's new favorite is.

Then I was back in DC for a glorious week-long staycation. I had a few social things on my calendar (like a friend's going away party and NYE plans), but largely my schedule was wide open, which left me all the time in the world to be a tourist in my own city.

Over the past week, I've been to five different museums, walked along the National Mall to see some of the monuments and curled up with a book in the courtyard of the Smithsonian Castle on a particularly warm December day. Untitled

I feel like in the past two weeks between the books I read and the museums I visited I have learned a ton (especially about World War I and II) and have been the least stressed out I have been in months (maybe years?).

Here's a peek at some of cool things I saw (and learned) in the museums.

National Museum of Health and Medicine


I never even knew this museum existed until my friend Erin told me about it at book club.

It's tucked up in Silver Spring, off the beaten path and is largely dedicated to military medicine. They have a huge exhibit on military medicine during the Civil War, where amputation was pretty much the answer to everything. The museum actually has skulls and various other body parts with bullet holes and other wounds from combat. Untitled

It's insane that these artifacts survived this long and that they're now in a museum where you can see them.

There was also a really cool exhibit on Lincoln's assassination.

The bullet that killed Lincoln

Here's the bullet that was recovered from his head.

Freer and Sackler Galleries


These two Smithsonian museums are dedicated to Asian art, and since the Freer closed today for renovations for all of 2016, I wanted to check it out before that.

One of my friends tagged along for this one, and we had a fun time scoping out all the Buddha and Shiva statues, as well as the famous Peacock Room.


National Museum of American History Untitled
Terrible picture of C-3PO

This is definitely one of the coolest Smithsonian museums. It may very well also be one of the most massive and most crowded. I spent more than three hours here one day and only got through a fraction of the exhibits.

My favorite by far was the exhibit on the history of America at war. The exhibit, which is really long and winding, starts in pre-colonial times and you basically walk through history from the French and Indian War through the Revolutionary War, Civil War, wars of expansion, World War I and World II all the way up through the modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've always found military history really interesting so I probably spent the majority of my time in this exhibit, but of course I also checked out the super-popular First Ladies exhibit. Nancy Reagan and Jackie Kennedy sure had style.

In July of this year a new exhibit on American Innovation opened. I took a brief walk through it, but by that point was just pretty exhausted and not really processing much, so figured I'd save the rest of that exhibit for another day.

Air and Space Museum


This is perhaps my favorite of all the Smithsonians. Since I had just been there last summer (and again to watch Star Wars when it came out a couple weeks ago), I didn't spend as much time here as normal.

I hit up the couple of galleries they have on the history of war-time aviation and wandered through my favorite exhibit on air-craft carriers where I basically pretended I was in Top Gun watching planes land on the flight deck. (Was all prepared for the Maverick flyby).


Normally I also spend a decent amount of time in the space exploration exhibits, but after all the history I've absorbed this week, my brain couldn't take much more. So I quickly walked through the space race exhibit (it's a good one) before heading on my way.

And that basically sums up the highlights of my staycation. It was seriously just what the doctor ordered, and even though I go back to work and the normal grind tomorrow, I'm going to try to hold on to a little bit of the zen I've found in the last two weeks.

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  1. Fred and Tina2:48 PM

    Wow, that's a sweet staycation! And you still got in a home visit. We went back to work today 1/4/16, and it was good because it saved us from another day of a less than stellar staycation. Unless you consider reruns of "Blue Bloods" to be educational our staycation was not a scholarly one. LOL. Have a great get back to work day tomorrow, on a short work week. :)

  2. Good luck on your return to the office tomorrow! That was one really well deserved and well used vacation time.

  3. DC is on my list of places I'd really like to see someday. How fun that you live there and made a neat stay-cation out of it!

  4. I'm headed to DC for the weekend and will definitely pay the National Museum of Health and Medicine a visit! Any tips? :)

  5. I always feel like I never took advantage of being so close to DC when I was at Maryland. The National Museum of Health and Medicine sounds awesome! Nice work on the staycation!