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Historical sightseeing trip for homeschooler Washington to Boston

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Traveling to DC on Amtrak (a mom traveling with 11 year old) from West Coast 11-4-10 need advice on where to stay in DC, easy transportation (cab?) so we do not waste time waiting. This is a homeschooling trip to see the historical sites of our country. Costs are a concern but safety in more. Never been to DC before. Looking for a safe clean hotel under $200 a night and transportation around DC mainly to Zoo, Smithsonian museums, John Paul II Cultural Center, White House ( a drive-by is fine), Lincoln Memorial and a few others, any ideas? would like to see sites at night.
We will also be traveling to and from Newport News Virginia. But we are not sure how we should get to and from there yet either (train, or bus). WE arrive from California by Amtrak November 2nd in Washington around 1:30PM. We need to continue on to NewPort News, Virginia to stay with aunt we plan to start our historical sightseeing trip from Virginia. After we have done Virginia my aunt will drive us back to DC early in the morning were we can spend two days and 2 nights, leaving early morning for Philadelphia (need advice on what to see in Philadelphia and easy transportation but not time consuming (concerned about safety and time).
From Philadelphia (leaving early morning) we will go to New Hampshire to visit my 25 year old daughter. Later in the week she will take us to Boston for the day before heading back home on the 16th of November via plane. Any advice on any part of our trip would be helpful. Total time for sight seeing from Virginia to New York will be 5 days (not much). WE would consider skipping NEw York to make the other cities tours not rushed.

Historical time periods we are most interested in is the time periods before the 1850's.

A recap: Arrive in DC by Amtrak 1:30PM continue on to Virginia, Newport News (what should I take bus or train?).
11-5-10 Arrive early morning in DC spend 2 days sightseeing. That makes 2 nights in DC (need advice on decently priced hotels under $200 and transportation).
11-7-10 Arrive early morning to Philadelphia and New York (or not NY) Need advice on safe transportation in city and what is a historical or not "must see" in either Philadelphia or NY .
After stopping in Philadelphia and New York or just skipping NY and only going to Philadelphia I want to leave and continue on to Manchester, NH in the late afternoon or early evening of 11-7-10. I am not comfortable spending the night in either city (Philadelphia or New York) because of the bedbugs out break. Question is should I go either by train or bus to Manchester, NH. and should I just do Philadelphia and not New York. It seem like an impossible task to do both anyway without staying the night in either place.

Thanks!

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