How to Visit Your Congressional Representative

Washington, DC is an amazing place to visit any time of year.  Its particularly glorious in the spring because as a city, its an amazing study in horticulture and planned gardens that are truly stunning against the backdrop of monuments, museums and the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom.  Spring is also the time when middle schools nationwide will make the annual 8th grade field trip that so many have come to enjoy.  If you are planning a visit for your child or family this spring or later this year, hear are a few tips you might consider to make your trip as interactive and memorable as you can.

1.  Meet your Congressional Representative.  Visiting your lawmaker can leave a life changing impact on your children, helping them understand that lawmakers are people who care about what happens at home and work every day to make sure our country is safe and our future is bright.  Find out who your Representative is by searching with the zip code finder at www.House.gov. Visit your Representative’s website and there you’ll find pages of great information that can tell you more about his or her views and activity on the Hill.  Talk with your kids about issues they might want to learn more about and then its as simple as making a phone call to request an appointment.

2.  Plan to visit the White House. While tours of the White House are open to all and free, there are limited spaces and require tickets.  You can get tickets through your Congressional Representative’s office by simply calling to request them.  But be aware that you must get them early, as far out as 6 months, and you cannot secure them inside 30 days of your visit.  You also can’t take cameras, videos, backpacks, purse, or book bags so plan to travel light for this most amazing tour.  The White House has many seasonal events including Christmas, Easter, and the White House Kitchen Garden.  However all are ticket based and the Kitchen Garden is limited at this time to local school groups.  I can tell you that it is magical at Christmas with the National Christmas Trees, Santa on the Mall, the Parade of Trees representing all 50 states and more.   If you are traveling during Spring Break, a ticket to the Easter Egg Roll is well worth the wait ~ truly a wonderful day full of spring and hope.

3. Plan to ride.  No matter how you cut it, touring DC is a walking vacation.  It begs for you to travel its miles of wide and beautifully groomed walkways weaving you from one end of town to another, stopping by every museum and monument on the way.  But depending on the ages of your children and the weather, that single act of walking miles, literally, can ruin even the best laid plans in exchange for tired feet and whining tourists.  Enlist the help both the Metro and the Tourmobile. Both have stops near all the major landmarks that are likely on your list, such as the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery, and both give you a chance to rest your feet while you chart your next stop on the map.

I hope these tips help you make a the most powerful city in the world a manageable and memorable visit that will engage your children and inspire them to get involved.  It all starts at home…do you talk with your kids about policy and how the process works on Capitol Hill?  Have you taken them to see it first hand?

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