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President Lincoln's Washington

Highlights

  • Visit the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial

  • Spend an afternoon at President Lincoln's Cottage

  • Tour Ford's Theatre, the historic place of Lincoln's assasination

  • PRINT
Day 1
  • Morning

    Start your day at the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial. Dedicated in 1922, the 19-foot statue of the 16th president presides over the National Mall. Look for the names of the 36 states, the number that was in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death in 1865, engraved over the memorial’s 38 columns. The word “Emancipation” is engraved on the south wall and hangs over the inscription of the Gettysburg address. Underground, the memorial houses several interactive exhibits about President Lincoln.

    Walk over to the Washington Monument. The 555 feet 5 1/8 inches monument appears to be two different colors. That’s because construction halted during the Civil War when funding ran out. When it resumed in 1879, marble of a slightly different shade was imported from a different state. The monument is currently closed for repairs due to the 2011 earthquake. Stunning views of the National Mall can be seen from the top of the clock tower at the Old Post Office.

    Afternoon

    Head over to the National Museum of American History. Grab an all-American bite at the Smithsonian museum’s Stars and Stripes Café and then trip to the third floor to find Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat, which he wore the night of his assassination, April 15, 1865. The museum is also home to an exhibition about the real lives of first ladies. A silk taffeta dress worn by Mary Todd Lincoln is among the finery on display.

    Stop inside Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C. to visit the Presidents Gallery, an interactive, educational exhibition featuring life-size, 3-D models of all the presidents in fourteen thematic rooms. Be sure to stand up straight when you snap a photo with Lincoln, he was 6’4” tall.

    Evening

    Spend the rest of the afternoon at the National Archives, where the Emancipation Proclamation is one of the treasures in their permanent collection. On Jan. 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the document, which stated "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Jan. 1, 2013 is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the National Archives will mark the milestone with special events and exhibitions. The Emancipation Proclamation is too fragile for permanent display, so it is available to the public galleries on rare occasion. Visitors are treated to the original Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence in the dramatic rotunda.

    For dinner, grab a bite in the nearby Downtown/Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood, where there are a number of restaurants and bars on 7th Street.

  • Morning

    Wake up with the White House. Tours of the presidential residence are available to the public (Tours must be reserved well in advance. Visit whitehouse.gov for more details) or pose for pictures in front. Nearby, discover more about the White House, including how Lincoln spent his time there, at the White House Visitor Center (located on the White House Ellipse between 15th and 17th Streets NW).

    Learn about Lincoln’s assassination with a walking tour from DC by Foot. The two-hour tour meets in front of the White House at Lafayette Square and traces the timeline of Lincoln’s assassination.

    Afternoon

    Stop for lunch at the Café du Parc in The Willard InterContinental Hotel. This high-end hotel has hosted many statesmen, including President Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The hand-written bill for Abraham Lincoln’s pre-inauguration stay is displayed in the lobby.

    Spend the afternoon at President Lincoln’s Cottage at The Soldier’s Home. Just a few miles from The White House, in Lincoln’s time it was considered a breezy country retreat, away from the mosquito-ridden swamps of Foggy Bottom. He and his young family spent much of his time at this home during the Civil War and the president regularly commuted to the White House. Lincoln also drafted much of the Emancipation Proclamation at his cottage.

    Evening

    Visit the African American Civil War Memorial & Museum in the Arts District/U Street/Shaw neighborhood. The memorial and museum pay tribute to the 209,145 African Americans who served in the United States Troops of Color during the Civil War. Then explore the popular DC neighborhood, which offers a number of unique shopping and dining options.

  • Morning

    Spend the morning at the Ford’s Theatre complex, which includes the historic theater where Lincoln was assassinated, Petersen House and the new Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership. The National Park Service offers free, ticketed-tours of Ford’s Theatre which include views of the private box where Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated. The adjacent museum includes artifacts such as John Wilkes Booth’s revolver. Ford’s Theatre remains a working playhouse specializing in classic American plays and period favorites like “A Christmas Carol,” a story with which the Lincolns were familiar. Check the season schedule for what’s running that evening.

    Across the street, The Petersen House, the home where Lincoln was taken after he was shot and later died, is open for tours. At the Center for Education and Leadership, learn about the dramatic assassination, the hunt for assassin John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators, and the enduring legacy of President Lincoln.

    Afternoon

    Have lunch at Wok and Roll in Chinatown. The building houses a casual pan-Asian restaurant, but notice the plaque outside that commemorates the building’s historical significance. This was Mary Surrratt’s Boarding House, where the conspirators planned the Ford’s Theatre assassination.

    Explore the nearby National Portrait Gallery, the only place outside the White House that houses presidential portraits for every single American president.  The museum is also home to a painting of President Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The building was the site in March 1865 of Lincoln’s second inaugural ball.

    Evening

    Dine at Lincoln Restaurant. Dedicated to one of America’s greatest presidents, the restaurant serves up some of Lincoln’s favorite foods including oysters, chicken pot pie and gingerbread. Be sure and take note of the dining room floor, which is made of an estimated 799,997 pennies.

The Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall provides a doubling vista, and a cooling station for geese.
The Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall provides a doubling vista, and a cooling station for geese.
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