Family Vacation: Williamsburg, VA, and Washington, DC

Forgive me if this post is not exhaustive in detail about our five-day family vacation. We returned Sunday evening after an action-packed string of days, and I am still recovering! I did want to highlight favorite moments of the trip before I forget about them. I hope Nora and I can compile a photo album this summer capturing the family fun. She took many of the pictures, which was an exciting new interest for her.


We began our journey at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. We decided staying in a kid-friendly, swim-oriented hotel would balance the more adult portion of the trip — Colonial Williamsburg. We ventured to the colonial section of town on two separate occasions, dining at the King’s Arms Tavern, scoping out the trade shops and historical replicas, and even training to be in the local militia (circa 1780 or so).


Nora and Carson both got hats and accessories during our visits to Colonial Williamsburg, which made for adorable photos. As a generous mother to a boy, I even allowed Carson to buy a wooden sword.


Our time at Great Wolf Lodge brought us closer together as a family. Nora went on most of the water slides and Carson was a good sport about just about every pool — even the wave pool! We enjoyed being active with our little ones as well as having entertainment for the kids. Both Nora and Carson enjoyed the nightly good-night show in the lobby.


After three nights in Williamsburg, we began our trek up north, stopping in Washington, DC, for a night to catch up with beloved friends and see some sites. The friends we stayed with have kids too, so Nora and Carson were in heaven playing with their toys and running around the house. The weather was a bit of a monsoon that day, so we were happy to have some rambunctious company!


Our last day of vacation involved visiting two Smithsonian museums. The crappy weather the day before cleared and we had a gorgeous, non-humid day in the nation’s capital. We took the kids to the Natural History and Air and Space museums. Both kids enjoyed the displays as well as the souvenir machines that smash pennies. That was probably the highlight of their trip.


The final stop on this epic vacation included a visit with college besties, who live in the city limits. We dined on a wonderful meal and caught up with them. I was grateful the kids were well behaved and still hanging in there despite the time away from home.

A few vacation notes:

  • It was so fun to drive to our vacation destination. While I love plane travel for visiting my family out West, it was enjoyable to pop in and out of the car as needed to reassemble.
  • We divided our drive back home in half by stopping in DC. That was a fantastic idea.
  • I am exhausted from our trip. The kids’ schedules are the same as ours right now, so there’s not a lot of “down” time. Everyone is struggling with tiredness this week as we recover from the vacation and re-enter our daily routine.
  • I am not sure how to mix the right amount of formal and informal meals on vacations. The kids will either eat nothing or eat everything, so we tried to limit the number of sit-down meals while away and stocked up on lots of snacks to eat throughout the day. Some days this worked and on others it didn’t. I miss frequent restaurant meals because that’s what a vacation is to me, but I don’t want to spend that kind of money to feed four people three times a day. The good news is that we all love Chipotle, so I should just consider eating there for every meal.
  • I love traveling with my kids. They are cool people and absorb so much of what we do. While they don’t know much about U.S. history at this stage in their lives, I felt confident that we created a base layer for their knowledge. I loved watching them touch the rocks in the geology section of the Smithsonian’s Natural History museum and pointing out some of the beautiful landmarks of Washington, DC. It was a super-cool feeling as a parent to be giving my kids the gift of travel and curiosity.

2 thoughts on “Family Vacation: Williamsburg, VA, and Washington, DC”

  1. Well done Natalie, on the post and the vacation itself, of course! If I say so myself (and I hope you agree) this is a family tradition that I know I can thank my folks for instilling in me. It was interesting visiting Crater Lake, OR earlier this month – still on my “adult bucket list” after visiting as a kid. Its incredible beauty and fun hiking opportunities really are more adult-oriented, and I realized – in retrospect – why my family (and M’s too) didn’t stay very long on that one previous visit. As a family, we were more excited with other stops like Oregon Caves, which was more hands-on and therefore more kid appeal.

    And good call on the sword! 🙂

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