If you follow me on Instagram (@setarrra), then you may have peeped Charles and I in major babysitting mode one particular weekend this past holiday season. My little sister, Gigi, came over to hang except that she’s not so little anymore. She’s officially in kindergarten, much taller and is waaaaay too smart/observant for her age.
Charles and I always make sure we have a full weekend planned for Gigi whenever we have her over because if there’s anything we’ve learned from our previous experiences babysitting my sister, it’s this: “Wear her out before she wears you out.” So it only made sense for us to take her to our local indoor jungle known as the U.S. Botanic Garden and let her run wild. Our mode of transportation? The D.C. Metro of course because Gigi loves trains.
We took the Orange line all the way down to the Federal Center stop. From there, the U.S. Botanic Garden was supposed to be a 5 minute walk away. Of course, it took us more like 10-15 minutes to get there because Gigi became strangely fascinated with hopping up the stairs in a particular area during our walk. She was determined to hop up each step at a time like a bunny until she got to the top…
^^ Charles was not impressed haha.
Eventually, we made it to our final stop. The best part about walking into the Botanic Garden atrium on a 35 degree day? The distinct climate change. It was so nice and warm and humid and green with flora and fauna inside the main atrium; a welcome respite from the outdoor chill.
^^ The U.S. Capitol Building
During the holidays, the U.S. Botanic Garden displays its annual “Seasons Greetings” exhibit featuring mini replicas of D.C.’s most notable buildings and monuments that are made out of (wait for it) real plant materials. I was really impressed by the craftsmanship of these little buildings. I would have never thought they were made out of plant materials if the display signs hadn’t said so. As a part of this exhibit, there is also a section dedicated to model trains but we’ll get to that later. Keep those fingers scrolling down…
^^ My absolute favorite photo from this day.
^^ Lincoln Memorial
^^ The Washington Monument
^^ Jefferson Memorial
I’m really glad we stopped by the information desk before we went off exploring because one of the representatives suggested that we take the scavenger hunt pamphlet with us. It was the most awesome recommendation ever because we now had an actual mission to accomplish and Gigi was game to play.
The Objective: Explore all the different themed gardens while looking for the specific plants listed on the pamphlet. Each plant we were looking for had a booth located near it with a stamp for us to mark our pamphlet. So into the jungle we went to get our stamps.
^^ She Got All Her Stamps!!
After we were done exploring the gardens, we got in line to see the train exhibit. The whole time Charles and I thought we were going to see classic trains dating back to the Industrial Revolution and there were a few of those… But we were in for a surprise with a special guest appearance from our childhood memories.
^^ Yeap, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. It’s Thomas
! And don’t worry, his friends were there too!
^^ Waiting “patiently” for James to make his entrance…
^^ Gigi: “Look it’s James! That train’s name is James!”
Me: “I know Gigi. I knew about Thomas and James before you were even born.” Gigi: “No you didn’t.”
^^ This is right when we were preparing to leave and as you see, Gigi wasn’t ready to go. But it was lunchtime and we were hunnnnnngry which meant we were leaving whether she liked it or not. We walked across the street to Capitol Reflecting Pool
(not to be confused with the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
) and watched the seagulls fly around before heading back to the metro station.
^^ Not bad for a 5 year old right?
The minute we got on the train, Gigi pulled her hat down over her eyes and promptly fell asleep. Charles and I looked at each other and gave each other an air five for wearing her out which meant we would have a little “peace” for a couple of hours. I swear babysitting is the best form of birth control. Charles and I love having my sister over to visit but we also enjoy the fact that we can give her back to my dad when the weekend is over.
If you’re ever in the D.C. area, I highly recommend visiting the U.S. Botanic Garden (preferably in the winter because I never understood why anyone would want to visit a hot, enclosed garden in the summer during high peak tourist season). Their scavenger hunt is perfect for those who have kids and it’s a nice little oasis for those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
100 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20024