Washington, DC for Tour Insiders

5 New Tour Sites To Look Forward To

by Melissa Clifton

As the city makes plans to cautiously reopen, our nation’s capital has added some amazing, new attractions to explore. The recent *opening of new museums, monuments and memorials is a welcome sign for travel-ready explorers who are beginning to plan trips for 2021 and beyond!

*Each location is currently paused as we follow distancing recommendations, but we’re keeping them in mind as we dream about our next class trip or family vacation!

MUSEUMS

Planet Word

Opened Oct. 22, 2020

The world’s FIRST voice-activated museum has arrived!

Regarded as one of the most engaging and entertaining spaces of today, Planet Word is a one-of-a-kind museum which encourages visitors to explore the origin and evolution of language and it’s role in shaping the human experience. Expect to be wowed as you’re greeted by hundreds of voices within the luminescent Speaking Willow Tree; make your way to the 22’ tall, talking word wall; paint your environment with sound, motion and color; or record a famous speech with a teleprompter of your own. With three separate floors of interactive wonder, there is something magical for all ages.

Insider tip: Find the hidden door in the library for a poetic moment.

National Museum of the Army Civil War Display

National Museum of the US Army

Opened Nov. 11, 2020

Not only do the exhibits of the new National Museum of the US Army pay respect to wars and soldiers from our nation’s military past, but groups touring the newly-opened site can expect plenty of interactivity and opportunities for modern experiential learning. As described by the museum, “using a real world scenario, visitors and students will gain new skills in Geography, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (G-STEM) through high-tech, simulated Army training. Scheduled groups will move to the Learning Lab to work collaboratively and utilize their new skills to help the Army respond to a humanitarian crisis, Operation Safe Passage, facilitated by Museum educators.” Other available activities include history hikes (a series of guided hikes at battlefields), battlefield learning experiences, and leadership programs.   

MEMORIALS

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial

Opened Sept. 18, 2020

Honoring his time as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II and as former president of the United States, the newly unveiled Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC is a tribute that spans a four-acre park. This new memorial is located across from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at the base of Capitol Hill. After long-term controversy between architect Frank Gehry, the Eisenhower family, and others, the project which had been stuck in the planning stage for decades, has finally become a reality in 2020. The stone, bronze and stainless steel homage to our 34th president features a one-of-a-kind metal tapestry which blocks the view of surrounding buildings, and “heroic-sized” sculptures representing Eisenhower’s early through late life circumstances.

Insider tip: For the best view, visit at night when artistic lighting reveals an abstract depiction of peacetime beaches in Normandy on the metal tapestry, and the features of the bronze figures truly shine.  

National Native American Veterans Memorial

Opened Nov. 11, 2020

The first national Native American Veterans Memorial fittingly opened to the public this year on Veteran’s Day in Washington, DC. Located on the grounds of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the memorial honors American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian veterans. Peace Chief and self-taught artist Harvey Pratt, of Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, designed the site as a powerful yet intimate space. Benches, intended to evoke periods of contemplation and reflection, have been placed strategically along a winding, nature-filled path which concludes at the installation itself- a large, stainless-steel circle balanced on an intricately-carved stone drum. Water for sacred ceremonies has been incorporated throughout the site, as well as 4 lances intended for veterans, family members, tribal leaders and others to tie cloths for prayers and healing.

The National World War I Memorial

Scheduled opening Dec. 2020

After decades of discussion, revision, and planning, the long-debated World War I Memorial will soon open at the current site of the John Pershing Memorial Park in Washington, DC. The city previously had only a small domed, Doric temple in honor of the citizens of the District of Colombia who perished in WWI. The new memorial is set to honor the service, valor and courage of all of the 4.7 million American sons and daughters who served in WWI. The memorial park will encompass the existing site of Pershing Park, diagonally situated across from the White House South Lawn on Pennsylvania Avenue. The site will incorporate newly constructed features that honor the theme of the winning design “The Weight of Sacrifice,” such as: Peace Fountain- a large scale water wall with contemplative seating area; the Soldier’s Journey- a 58’ wall of cast bronze figures representing the “everyman” in war; as well as tributes to peace efforts, diversity, the toll of war and the idea of “making the world safe for democracy.”

MORE TO COME

As we wait in anticipation for our next vacations and class trips, Washington, DC and other popular travel destinations continue to add enticing, must-see monuments, memorials and museums. These 5 are only the tip of the iceberg for those looking forward to their first experience of our nation’s capital; but will also provide something fresh for those who travel year after year. For more information about class trips to Washington, DC, get a quote for your group today!

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