July 15th, 2009

Ford’s Theater-Washington, DC

This is part three of four of my mid-atlantic travel series, which I am now re-naming “How to crank out as many travel reviews as possible from one vacation”.  

Ford’s theater is the famed location of President Lincoln’s assassination.   The theater is a National Park site, so there is no admission fee, but an advance entrance reservation is recommended, and this does require a small ticket fee.   Generally speaking historic stops can be a hit or miss for kids; it’s hard to muster up sentiment for a place when your idea of history is remembering a time when Miley and Selena used to be friends.  However, since our kids are a little older, we thought we’d take our chances.  

After waiting in line for our appointed entrance time, we were ushered into the theater with hundreds of other people.  We had a good view of the Presidential Box, which, I have to admit, moved me.  About ¼ of the audience seating does not have a clear line of sight of the historic spot (tip – get there early).  I would have been disappointed had we been in the  section without the view, because sitting, looking and feeling moved is the majority of the experience.  

When everyone was seated, a National Park Ranger came out and told us the story of the events the night Lincoln was shot.  Our ranger was a very engaging speaker and the kids were compelled by the story (which lasted about 15 minutes).  Once the lecture was over we were ushered out to make room for the next group.   Our ticket also included entry into the home across the street where Lincoln died.  It’s a long wait to get inside and once inside, the line of people moves pretty quickly, so there’s not much room for “taking it all in”.  Again, profound in it’s own way, but long for the kids.

While I was certainly moved merely by the experience, I was disappointed that there is no actual “tour”.  Activities for kids are minimal—there is an activity sheet for a Junior Ranger Program, which reads like a comic book in which kids answer questions, fill in pictures and put themselves in the story.  Our kids didn’t take much of an interest in this.   Perhaps this is because the story encourages them to imagine they were the young man who held John Wilkes Booth’s horse while he was in the theater.  My son suggested that if he just let the horse go, the whole manhunt thing would have gone a lot faster. 

In general this is probably a better stop to make if you’re traveling with older kids (maybe 8 and up)—or even, dare one dream, without kids.

More from this Author

Momicillin on Facebook

This Weeks Tip

Leave the beach at the beach

Kids covered from head to toe in sticky sand? Reach in your diaper bag for the Baby Powder, give them a good shake-down (with the powder, that is) and “Poof!” they’ll be clean as a whistle (and smelling powder fresh to boot!)