Last weekend, I packed up LJ and we hit the road for an overnight with GG (my mom) and her husband in the NOVA/DC area. It wasn’t our first solo trip together, but it was our first since his baby sister was born. And now that he’s closing in on the BIG THREE, it was the first where he had input as to what we did and the first I think he has a shot at remembering.
This trip was particularly special for me as I grew up in the area, so it was a chance for me to share a little taste of my own childhood with him, namely his first trip to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. I was lucky enough to go there countless times as a kid.
We have the Good Night Washington D.C. book, so a few days before our trip, Leopold and I read it again, and I explained to him that we were headed there. I let him pick if he wanted to go to the museum with the dinosaurs or the one with the airplanes and he voted for the airplanes.
My next step was to google Air and Space for families and this helpful page on the museum’s site popped up. LJ is still too young for a lot of the activities, but I was happy to learn that there is a free Sesame Street movie, One World, One Sky in the Planetarium on Friday and Sunday mornings at 10:30. We watched the preview online so he would know what to expect.
The Air & Space Museum opens at 10 on Sundays. We opted to drive as LJ and I planned on hitting the road after our time at the museum. Fortunately at 9:50 on a Sunday morning, we had no trouble finding parking within half a block from the museum.
Unfortunately, there was a long, long line to enter the museum. Entrance is free, but all visitors are required to go through a metal detector. My mom kindly offered to hold our diaper bag and stroller so LJ and I could go through the quicker “no bags” line. It’s a good thing, too, because even then we only made it in at 10:27.
EXPLORING THE AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
After we were in, finding the Planetarium for the movie was a breeze. More than one kindly museum employee stopped us to make sure we a) knew about the movie and b) had our free tickets. I had worried that the movie would be crowded as the tickets are on a first-come, first-serve basis, but the theater was nearly empty and we had our choice of seats. When I saw how empty the theater was and considering the line outside, I thought they might opt to delay the movie a few minutes, but it started right on time. Latecomers were allowed in throughout, including my mom and stepfather who made it in about halfway through.
LJ enjoyed the movie, particularly the part where Elmo and his friend Hu Hu Zhu travel to the moon. Whenever he did start to get antsy, the movie switched tracks (with a song, different backdrop, counting, etc.). Those folks at Sesame Street know how to do it right! I definitely got a kick sitting in the Planetarium–the site of many a field trip for me–with my son.
From there, it was off to the kids’ exhibit How Things Fly. Kids of all ages were enjoying the interactive displays on everything that goes into making a plane fly, air pressure, gravity, thrust, etc. LJ had a blast running from display to display looking for buttons to push and dials to turn. Here he is spinning a propeller blade.
After that, we checked out the various aircrafts, including the Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and the rockets and space shuttles. Then it was on to LJ’s favorite part, the gift shop. He was beyond excited to pick out a helicopter (purchased by me) and a space shuttle for himself and a fighter jet for his sister (purchased by GG).
Then it was on to lunch in the Air & Space Museums food court. He had his first McDonald’s chicken nuggets. I was definitely not thrilled to introduce him to fast food, but he was fading fast at this point and the only other options were Boston Market and a pizza place.
After lunch, he didn’t want to leave the museum, but I was able to lure him back to the car with the promise of milkies. He was so tired after our 3-hour express trip to the museum that he slept all the way to Newark (about four hours)!