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Washington, DC


About Washington, D.C.:


America's capital, a totally-planned city, is full of majestic marble monuments celebrating the ideals of "liberty and justice for all." The public area, a big park called the "Mall", is laid out in a rough cross shape, with the Washington Monument at its axis, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Capitol, and White House at each of its ends. There is a "bird’s-eye" view of the city from the 500-foot level of the Washington Monument, so you can see where everything is. During this weekend the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is usually held on the Mall.


You may go on your own at many points in the tour, but a staff member will be available to help you, when needed. Here are some of the sights we will see and a suggested itinerary: 

  • 4th of July Fireworks - celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Britain (1776)

  • Jefferson Memorial - A beautiful domed monument to the Third president of the United States, who was also an architect who loved domed structures. He was a first-class political philosopher who drafted the text for the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Our vantage point will give you a great photo foreground for the memorial.

  • White House - Presently there is not a tour inside the White House, but we will go to the best places where you can get close-up photos of the exterior. Who knows? Maybe the President will wave to you!

  • Ford’s Theater - Restored to look exactly as it looked the fateful night of April 14, 1865 when actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln while he was watching a comedy drama to relax after the Civil War ended. The House where Lincoln died is right across the street.

  • Museums of the Smithsonian Institution - A government-subsidized collection of artifacts and memorabilia founded in the 1800's which line the Mall on both sides. The 19 museums, galleries, and gardens are organized by themes or areas of interest. Here are a few which you can visit:

    • National Museum of American History - The original "Star-Spangled Banner", the actual inaugural gowns of many of the presidents’ wives, as well as exhibits on high-tech communication, Native Americans, and America’s diversity fill this large museum.

    • National Museum of Natural History - See the world’s largest diamond, dinosaur skeletons, a huge stuffed real elephant, moon rocks, and exhibits on ancient cultures.

    • National Air and Space Museum - Life-sized replicas of famous "firsts" in space exploration, the real first airplane, first lunar orbiter, and the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Excellent IMAX movies and planetarium shows are options for about $8-10 each.

  • Arlington National Cemetery - Visit John F. Kennedy’s Grave, the Arlington House (where Southern General Robert E. Lee retired so he could keep his eye on what was going on in Washington), and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with its "changing of the guard" ceremony.

  • Lincoln Memorial - The site also where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech--and where Forrest Gump jumped into the reflecting pool!

  • National Gallery of Art - Two buildings in one, with both classical and modern art in buildings that are themselves great works of art.

  • U.S. Supreme Court - We will go inside if it is open, but usually the court is not in session during this holiday weekend.

  • U.S. Capitol Building - Though Congress is seldom in session at this time, you can see where they meet, and be awed by the amazing sculptures and paintings on the inside of the dome.

Planning Your Budget:


Extra costs (not included in $150 registration fee):

  • transportation to and from Washington, D.C.

  • meals while sightseeing

  • Optional Extras: 

    • IMAX movies at National Air & Space Museum

    • Admission to most other museums, the monuments, and the national zoo is free, but a few museums charge an entrance fee.


Traveling from Columbia, SC -

Round-trip transportation from Columbia costs $125 extra.
Pay IFM a total of $275 if you ride with us (registration plus transportation).

Those traveling from other cities/states must arrange their own transportation to and from Washington, DC and the host church.




Buses and trains arrive in downtown Washington. If you are flying, come to Ronald Reagan Airport (NOT Dulles or Baltimore-Washington). Arrive before 5:00 p.m. on the Tour's opening day. You will then take local public transportation to our meeting point. (It is very convenient if you are coming by train or airplane; if you are coming by bus, it is not difficult, but do not bring heavy luggage, as you need to walk a couple of blocks.) We will send directions to meeting point after you register. Plan return departure after the morning church service on the last day of the Tour.

If you want to come on any of our Tours you must AGREE to participate in ALL Scheduled Activities. You may not make your own plans unless your schedule has been approved by IFM's director, Raj Aluri, 1 week in advance to the trip. Thank you! 



Wednesday, July 3


  • 8:00 AM - Leave Columbia (If you are not traveling with IFM, please make arrangements to get yourself to the church at the address below. If you are driving a car, we will send you a map, or email directions to you.)

  • 6:00 PM - Enjoy a picnic dinner with the host church.

  • 7:00 PM - Orientation; meet host families and go home with them.

Thursday, July 4th (Independence Day)


  • 8:00 AM - Spend the day with Host families

  • 5:00 PM - Join church for a picnic dinner and fireworks display.

Friday, July 5


  • 8:30 AM - Take Metro downtown for sightseeing (You can plan your own schedule here as long as you are at your pickup point on time)

  • 12:15 PM - Lunch in food court at Union Station, or another place of your choice

  • 1:00 PM - Visit National Gallery of Art, National Air and Space Museum, or the Museum of National History.

  • 5:00 PM - Purchase your supper. Most Museums close at 7:00 PM.

  • 8:00 PM - Meet IFM van at specified location to ride to church and go home for the evening

Saturday, July 6


  • 8:30 AM - Take Metro downtown for sightseeing (You can plan your own schedule here as long as you are at your pickup point on time)

  • 12:15 PM - Purchase your own lunch.

  • 1:00 PM - More time for sightseeing (try the National Zoo!!)

  • 5:00 PM - Purchase your own dinner.

  • 8:00 PM - Meet IFM van at specified location to ride to church and go home for the evening.

Sunday, July 7


  • 9:30 AM - Attend services at Host Church (Solid Rock Church, 5401 Good Luck Rd, Riverdale, MD 20737)

  • 12:00 PM - Lunch

  • 2:00 PM - Depart for home campuses.  For those of you not riding to Columbia with IFM, please be sure to arrange transportation to a Metro Station to get to the bus or train station or airport.

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