Tour Ideas, Part I: A ‘Constitutional’ Field Trip to Washington DC
Updated January 2020
By Randy Julian
One of the most popular types of trips we help plan at Julian Tours is the one-day spring field trip. A good spring field trip allows students (and teachers) to get out of the classroom, breathe some fresh air and have fun. And yes, it allows them to learn a little, too.
We’ve put together enough of these trips that we have a few ideas on what works well. This post and the others in the series (click here to see all five posts) provide details on what we think are our best ideas.
This entry in the series is ‘Constitutional D.C.’ — ideas for a trip to Washington, D.C. that focus on the nation’s foundational documents, because what city is better when it comes to that than D.C.?
Washington, of course, is an easy day trip for schools in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Pick two or three of the venues listed below and you’re sure to have an fascinating and enriching trip.
1. The National Archives
The Archives are home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and much more. There are hands-on activities and programs available as well as a short educational film at the McGowan Theater.
An important note, though: The Archives Museum requires school groups to make reservations before visiting, with a service fee of $1 per visitor. And those reservation slots fill up quickly. You — or your tour operator — need to act quickly once you have picked out your trip dates. Read more on the Archives museum site.
2. The U.S. Supreme Court
There are no guided tours of the Supreme Court building, but groups are encouraged to explore on their own and take advantage of the other learning opportunities at the Court. There are courtroom lectures — unless Court is in session — every hour on the half-hour, generally from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., as well as a visitors’ film and other exhibitions.
3. Jefferson Memorial
The author of the Declaration of Independence is honored at this iconic memorial. Enough said.
4. George Mason Memorial
The memorial honoring this lesser-known Founding Father is a short walk from the Jefferson Memorial. Why visit? It’s well-positioned near the scenic Tidal Basin, and Mason was a key figure behind the Bill of Rights. He authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights (a model for the national Bill of Rights) and refused to sign the U.S. Constitution because it did not contain a similar bill.
There are several good food courts in D.C. — the Reagan Building has one, for instance — but the best move on a Washington day trip is to enjoy an on-the-go box lunch so you can stretch your D.C. touring time.
Did You Know?
The National Archives Museum also holds the 1297 copy of the Magna Carta, signed by Edward I of England, and the Emancipation Proclamation.
All the best,