Big Country Tours welcomes your student group to Washington, DC, the heart of the American Experience.¬† Common threads and combined histories‚ÄĒmonuments to the past and aspirations for the future‚ÄĒare all on display here in Washington, DC.
Washington, DC is not only the proud home of the nation's capital, it is a sophisticated city in its own right. Big Country Tours invites you to start in the heart of the city with its well-known monuments and inspiring memorials. Then, step off the mall and journey into DC's soul.
Discover trendy and historic neighborhoods, like Georgetown and Dupont Circle. Take in a world-class or grass roots theater performance. Feel the beat of "Black Broadway" and Duke Ellington still pulsing through U Street.¬† Visit Washington, DC with Big Country Tours and craft your own American Experience!
The White House
The White House serves as the home of the President of the United States and his family.¬† It also serves as the official office for the Executive Branch of our government, whose job is to execute or carry out the laws of our nation.¬† Because the White House is HOME to our President for their term, they‚Äėre allowed to make revisions and personalize the space.¬†
Many presidents have added their own touches: John Quincy Adams had a billiard table put in; President Fillmore‚Äôs wife started the official library of the Executive Mansion; Teddy Roosevelt had the tennis courts placed on the south lawn; Franklin D. Roosevelt added a swimming pool (which was later filled in); President Truman provided three pianos; and the late President Gerald Ford had a new swimming pool put in.¬†
Many President‚Äôs wives added their decorating touches and planned renovations for their husbands, such as Jacqueline Kennedy.¬† There are 134 rooms in the White House, 32 of which are for the President‚Äôs residential/private quarters.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery sits on the land that was formally the home of General Robert E. Lee. When Lee went off to fight for the South in the Civil War, Union forces took over the land and used Lee's house as headquarters and temporary hospital. The grounds to be used as a military cemetery.¬† Arlington is the burial grounds for America's military personnel and their families.¬† There are more than 270,000 graves currently in Arlington Cemetery.¬† Each year over 5,400 burials are conducted.¬†
The Tomb of the Unknowns, where wreath-laying ceremonies typically take place, used to hold the remains of unidentified soldiers from World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam. Thanks to modern medical technologies, recently, the body of the unknown soldier who fought in Vietnam was exhumed and identified.
There are many famous people buried on the grounds of Arlington Cemetery.¬† They include:
William Howard Taft (our 27th President)
Joe Louis (World Heavyweight Boxing Champ)
Lee Marvin (actor)
Pierre Charles L'Enfant (designer of Washington, D.C.)
Admiral Robert E. Peary (explorer of the North Pole)
John and Robert Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Holocaust Museum & Daniel‚Äôs Story
In the early 1930‚Äôs, Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of Germany, began enforcing his anti-Semitic ideology. Six million Jews and millions of others were targeted in systematic, state-sponsored genocide. . "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were racially superior and that the Jews, deemed were unworthy of life.
The Holocaust Museum stands as a living memorial to the victims of the state-sponsored genocide, led by Adolf Hilter in the early 1930‚Äôs. It presents a narrative history using over 900 artifacts, videos, and eyewitness accounts. The exhibit is divided into three sections: Nazi Assault, Final Solution, and Last Chapter.
Daniel‚Äôs Story ‚Äď This special exhibit chronicles the experience of a 12-year old Jewish boy who survived the Holocaust. It guides you through Daniel‚Äôs house, to the walls of a ghetto, and finally to the fences of a concentration camp. With the help of diary entries displayed on the walls, you are able to follow the child‚Äôs thought processes through the happy, playful times to the fear of being murdered in a camp.
Bureau of Engraving & Printing
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing operates two facilities - one in Washington, DC and one in Fort Worth, TX. Tours are given at each location. Millions of dollars are printed during a tour of the BEP. The tour features the various steps of currency production, beginning with large, blank sheets of paper, and ending with wallet-ready bills.
As the U.S. Government's security printer, the BEP is responsible for the design, engraving and printing of all U.S. paper currency. Presses run 24 hours a day at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing just to keep up with the Federal Reserve‚Äôs order for new paper currency. Money isn‚Äôt the only thing that the Bureau prints. It also produces postage stamps, Treasury Notes, military certificates and special invitations to the White House.
Ford‚Äôs Theatre / Petersen House
On the evening of April 14, 1865, President and Mrs. Lincoln went to the theater to see the play ‚ÄúOur American Cousin.‚ÄĚ They were seated in Box 7, overlooking the stage.
At a little past 10:00 PM, John Wilkes Booth slipped into the hall outside the President‚Äôs box. During the third act, Booth entered the President‚Äôs box, pulled out a .44 caliber, and shot President Lincoln in the head.
Mr. Lincoln was carried across the street to William Petersen‚Äôs boarding house with mortal wounds. At 7:22 AM the following morning, Lincoln passed away on April 15th. Booth was found hiding in a barn in Virginia, where he was shot and killed. It later was revealed that Secretary of State William Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson were to be assassinated by others assassins on the same evening.
Ford's Theatre is now a live, working theatre located in downtown Washington, DC. As a national historic and cultural site welcoming visitors from across the nation, Ford's Theatre blends its rich history with performance excellence in serving as a living tribute to President Lincoln's love of the performing arts. When Ford's Theatre re-opened its doors in 1968 - after having been closed 103 years - it truly was reclaimed as a national treasure for all Americans, and those of us who work here are mindful of that legacy and grateful that Ford's Theatre once again is a vibrant showcase for the performing arts that President Lincoln so appreciated.
The Washington Monument
Clearly the most visible memorial in D.C., the Washington Monument rises 555 feet above the Mall. It is not only the tallest structure in D.C., it is the tallest stone monument in the world.
Visitors will notice that the color of the marble changes part way up. When construction resumed after the Civil War the marble was mined from a different part of the quarry.
There are 898 steps to the top of the monument, and 193 memorial stones line the inside of the monument as gifts from the 50 states and many foreign governments. The steps are closed to the public.
The Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution, with 19 museums and the National Zoo, is the world‚Äôs largest museum complex. It was established with a $500,000 gift given to the American people by James Smithson, an English scientist. It holds some 136 million artifacts and specimens, although only about three percent are displayed at any one time.
Nine of the nineteen Smithsonian Museums are located on the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument:
Museum of American History
Museum of Natural History
Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle)
Arts and Industries
National Museum of African Art
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Freer Gallery of Art
Mount Vernon was George Washington‚Äôs family home and, at one time, covered over 8,000 acres. George Washington built five complete farms and a fishery on the property; each farm had its own buildings, livestock, foremen, and workers.
Approximately 150 slaves operated the five farms, and an additional 90 took care of the main house, referred to as the Mansion. The 14 rooms in the mansion that are open for viewing have been restored to their original colors, and contain a number of the original furnishings.
You can see the large dining room, where Washington was officially notified that he had been elected the first President of the United States, and see the bed in which he died on December 14, 1799.
Click here for a proposal request or call your travel counselor toll-free, 810-542-1145!