For my family, Washington DC. has always been a “we really should go there with the kids kind of place.” Last weekend, thanks to a blogger perk of a free stay in the beautiful Omni Shoreham Hotel, we did just that.
One of our favorite activities while we were there was the Newseum.
The Newseum is relatively new to the DC museum circuit. The 250,000-square-foot museum of news offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits. From the moment you approach the building, you see news. There is everything from active giant sized ticker tapes of the days news circling the ceiling, to editions of newspapers from the 16th century in cases. I think the metaphor is “news is all around you.” And it’s a good one.
My kids LOVED seeing the special exhibit on photographs and reading where they were taken and why. They were fascinated by the newspaper from the Salem Witch Trials, which, though encased in plexiglass, was still possible to read.
But the museum is more than written news and still photographs. The place is alive with video. From beautifully cut documentaries, to snippets from Saturday Night Live. There’s something for everyone.
My kids especially enjoyed the make your own newscast feature. You choose a background, get a test run reading copy of a prompter, and then get to make a video of yourself doing the news! The printed out picture of you (or you and your kid – you can do it in pairs) is yours, and you get a download code so you can get the video itself – just $5. Well worth it.
Another thing my kids loved was breakfast at the Omni (they didn’t mind the milk and cookies in the room on the first night of our stay, either. Even though their father ate both cookies before my kids had the chance to!). I have to admit – I loved breakfast, too. For the kids, the lavish buffet – including custom made omelets, fruit, cereal, bagels, yogurt, pancakes, bacon and sausage (whew!), was only $10 per child. Hotel breakfasts are usually way more. So even with a $20 per adult price, it isn’t a bad deal – at least in high-end hotel terms. Especially since with a buffet, your choices – and quantities – aren’t limited.
Plus, the breakfast is served in the spectacular lobby restaurant, Roberts, with giant glittering chandeliers, cloth napkins, and a wonderful, child friendly staff. My son thought he was underdressed! The Omni has a great history – Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton all have a connection. And there are historic pictures explaining those connections throughout the beautifully restored lobby.
If you’re looking for an intimate experience – well, this might not be the choice for you. But it’s a big, grand hotel that welcomes kids and families (cookies in the room anyone?). And while they’re clearly renovated the physical space – our room was lovely and sparkling, the bathroom clearly recently redone – the staff may still need an upgrade. The doorman who was there when we arrived after 10pm from the train watched us lug our bags out of the taxi’s trunk and carry them to the front door before he half-heartedly offered a hand. But overall – it’s a lovely place to stay.
While it isn’t in the thick of monument and museum territoy, it is walking distance to the Zoo, and only a few hundred yards from the Metro. For me, not being in the thick of things was a bonus – it’s not THAT far, and I can only take being in the tourist hub of DC for so long. In the summer months, the Omni has a big pool and lovely gardens. Another bonus – especially in DC.
Next week: The Spy Museum. Where your kids can be a spy.