View Full Version : Suggested living history/other sites in Balt/Wash/Mid Atlantic?

08-04-2011, 12:51 PM
We'll be visiting my parents in the Baltimore/Washington area in middle to late September and we'd like to incorporate some trips to living history sites.

For those of you who live (or have lived) in the area, can you recommend your top sites? My kids are 6 1/2 and 3 1/2. We were planning to go to the Smithsonian for sure. We've considered Colonial Williamsburg (our timing coincides with their homeschool week) but we've heard it's pretty touristy - would we enjoy Jamestown better? Also, there is Amish country in PA, but I'd need to see what would be interesting for the kids vs something to touristy. I'm not sure that Gettysburg would be engaging for them at this age. My 6 1/2 yo daughter enjoys learning how people lived and so I'm thinking sites with demonstrations/hands on experiences would be great.

Enough of my rambling! If you have suggestions I'd love to hear them!

08-04-2011, 03:16 PM
We really love Great Falls - on the Maryland side it's actually just part of the C&O Canal National Park. It's beautiful, so that's nice - and the walk to see the falls is just long enough to feel like you got moving, but flat along the towpath and the island so it's a very short hike (there are much longer, awesome hikes there too). Plus, you can also take a canal boat ride, pulled by a mule, staffed by re-enactors, where you get to actually see them fill the lock. It's pretty cheap and totally worth it. Some weekends they have more reenactors out for various programming. Having two "Great Falls" parks can be a little confusing - the Maryland one is the one with the history. From the Virginia side of the falls, there's a bigger nature center and a quicker view of the falls instead - no hike needed.

For a totally different view of the canal, alternately you can do the same canal boat ride in Georgetown - also with the locks and the reenactors. It's fun. And, of course, there are lots of historic sites in Georgetown - Dumbarton House, Tudor House and the Old Stone House. Tudor House has great homeschool programs a couple times a month and lovely gardens. If you wanted to do a morning or afternoon in Georgetown, then you could easily get lunch, window shop, do the canal boat ride and see one of the historic houses.

Also, you can do Ford's Theater and Peterson House for the Lincoln assassination. And Lincoln's Cottage up in northwest.

Mount Vernon is worth the trip as well. It's really not that far south of DC. The drive is nice too. The Potomac is pretty along there. The programs and the tour are always good. I highly recommend doing that.

Everything else I could suggest is farther afield. We haven't done the civil war sites yet, but I've heard they have good kid friendly programming. Monticello is worth it, but not really in your path.

08-04-2011, 05:01 PM
Thanks for all the great suggestions Farrar! I have a feeling our biggest problem will be deciding what not to do :)

09-09-2011, 12:45 PM
Gettysburg is good but I would skip the battlesites and do Explore and More which is a children's museum in Gettysburg. It is very small but great for your age group. Jamestown is better than Williamsburg IMHO. We did both last year and my kids (6+8) enjoyed it much more.

American History Museum is wonderful as is the National Gallery of Art. I believe thay have an exhibit about childhood in art or something maybe the ABCs of art? But they had 1800 clothes to dress up in, a 1 room school house demo that the kids could interact with. It was wonderful!! We saw it years ago (maybe 4?) so I don't know if it is still there.


09-09-2011, 08:22 PM
Just saw this. Harpers Ferry, maybe? And I know they're not exactly living history, but the Maryland Science Center and the National Aquarium in Baltimore at the harbor are both great stops. But especially for the aquarium, get tickets ahead of time to be sure you can get in. At this time of year it should be okay, but I've never tried in Sept. so you never know. The Science Center is actually doing some homeschool events during Sept. which you can check out here (http://www.mdsci.org/programs/Homeschoolers/Main.html).