Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page > A Wonderful and Much Needed trip to DC for a week of fun
Notices

A Wonderful and Much Needed trip to DC for a week of fun

Reply

Aug 20th, 2011, 09:44 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
A Wonderful and Much Needed trip to DC for a week of fun

Our trip to DC started last Monday (8/15) (finally). Friend of mine (John) and his wife had actually traveled down to DC from Hartford last week via Amtrak. They spent a couple of days here then went into Virginia for a wedding. My friend’s brother (Mark) and I decided to come down and meet up with them for 5 nights (friend’s wife headed back on Tuesday). We had been to DC previously but he had a broken leg and mobility was limited. Our motive this week was for fun, baseball and beer...

Mark and I got on the train at 6:25 Monday morning in Windsor, CT. Train was busier than I expected it to be as it was Monday morning. We got seats next to each other thankfully. Each enjoyed an Irish Coffee on the way down. Train got delayed for a while in Baltimore due to water in the tunnel from a downpour. They pulled everybody off of the MARC train and put them on our train as they were down to 1 track and alternating trains. We got into DC about an hour late so it could have been much worse. Got to Union Station and bought our Metro farecards for the week.

Our hotel is the Americana hotel in Arlington. It was chosen in an effort to save money as we got a very cheap rate. We got off of the Metro at Crystal City and promptly walked to the wrong end of the shops in the adjacent mall. Rather than walk back to the correct end, we jumped in a taxi and got to the hotel. Rooms are definitely very small but are clean and quiet so far. Each room has a refrigerator. Showers are extremely small and do not have a tub - just a walk-in. Not sure if this is every room.

We met up with John and his wife. Our intentions were to walk the monuments but due to the rain and clouds, we decided to head to the Portrait Gallery. We had been here on our previous trip and really enjoyed it. Knowing that there was a portrait of Pedro Martinez donated to the museum, a return trip was a must. We walked in and the portrait was the first one that we saw. Great portrait. We spent a couple of hours going back through the museum and enjoyed it as much as we did the first time. This museum should be a must for anyone heading to DC.

After leaving the Portrait Gallery, we opted to skip the adjacent Art Museum and hope to come back later in the week. We headed to RFD for dinner. Come to find out its DC Beer Week and there are special events throughout the week so we are keeping an eye on that site. RFD had $4.00 pints for a few local IPAs that we each enjoyed. It was also half price burgers. I went with the Hawaiian burger which came with pineapple and ham on it. Really enjoyed it as it was cooked the way I wanted it and the fries were good. All of us really enjoyed this dinner.After dinner, we stopped at the Irish Pub next door for a drink as well as Hooters across the street for their typical overpriced beer. We then headed to the DC Chophouse for a couple of their beers. Really enjoy this restaurant for its original beers. After this, we headed back to our hotel as we were ready to crash. Day 2 will be Arlington Cemetery, the Monuments and a Nationals game...
tchoiniere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 20th, 2011, 02:00 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 13,859
Sounds like fun!
cmcfong is online now  
Reply With Quote
Aug 20th, 2011, 03:51 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
Day 2
We got up grogilly and ate breakfast at the hotel. Thankfully, the weather decided it was going to cooperate with our plans today. Sunny at decent temps with very little humidity until late afternoon when it has gotten hot. But there is a great breeze. Got to Arlington Cemetery at 8:30 and spent a lot of time here. Took the tourmobile for this portion of the day. Definitely saved a ton of walking. Spent a good amount of time at each stop within the cemetery. It was amazing how big it was. The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers was great. Unbelievable how precise it was. Gutwrenching at the same time. Went into the Arlington House even though it is being renovated. Still worth it. Its 1 of the best views of DC if not the best. One of the Ultimate Ironies in US History with it being formerly Robert E Lee’s Plantation (him being the Executor) and it turned into a Union cemetery. Really enjoyed this tour. Saw a couple of funeral processions. Even got a picture of General Abner Doubleday’s grave - who is credited with creating baseball (but highly debatable.) When we left, we took the Metro to L’Enfant Plaza and cabbed it to Jefferson Memorial to save some walking. Really enjoyed this monument even with a good amount of construction going on around it. Then we walked over to the FDR Monument. I had just finished reading FDR’s biography by Jean Edward Smith so we spent a lot of time walking through here and talking about his impact. Walked from here to the Korean Memorial to Lincoln and then to Vietnam and World War 2 Memorials. We took our time walking through each as they were mesmerizing in their own way. I need to get back to Chesterwood where Lincoln’s statue was carved. I haven’t been there since 4th grade or so in Stockbridge, MA. The Vietnam Wall still brings me to tears with the amount of names inscribed on it. Also, enjoyed the WW2 Memorial as both my grandparents are registered on it. By this time, my feet were ready to fall off and were screaming at me..We were quickly reminded how spread apart everything is even though they may appear to be close. Cabbed it back to the Smithsonian Metro Station and took off to the Nationals Ballpark for a few beers at the Red Porch before the game. Great beer selection at typical ballpark prices. We were either drinking YuengLing or Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager. Both are really good beers. Really enjoy this ballpark. Definitely take the Metro as there is not much parking around here and very expensive. We are sitting straight away CF 3 rows off of the field (just below the Red Porch). Thought it was a genius move on my friends part to limit our walking after our long walking day today...Good game as the Nationals won 6-4 in a very quick game (2.5 hours - being a Red Sox fan I am used to 3-4 hour marathons). Took 45 minutes from game end to get back to our hotel rooms.

Day 3 will be the Zoo, the Newseum and Belgium Beer...
tchoiniere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 20th, 2011, 04:01 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 2,659
You are having a great time. I love DC so much-used to live at Dupont Circle.

Aren't those military funerals heart-breaking? I work with Military Service members and for a while there, I seriously should have bought stock in Kleenex.

I also think that view from Arlington House is the best.

Can't wait to hear about your further adventures. If anybody asks about me tell 'em I'm fine.
suewoo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 20th, 2011, 08:24 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,881
Even then the Nationals are losing, the ballpark is great. Not a bad seat. Beautiful at night.
MikeT is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 21st, 2011, 10:30 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,432
Really enjoying your trip report, tchoiniere. Lots of beer and baseball! And I really liked your description of visiting the monuments and Arlington Cemetery. Please keep it coming!
obxgirl is online now  
Reply With Quote
Aug 21st, 2011, 04:21 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
Thanks for your feedback so far. It was definitely a great trip. I do not want to go to work in the morning...Arlington Cemetery was definitely heartbreaking at its shear size and the number of graves.


Day 3 will be the Zoo, the Newseum and Belgium Beer...
We got up early yet again for another marathon day of walking. Before we left our hotel, my friend’s Sister in Law called as we were expecting her and her daughter to meet up with us on Friday on their way to Virginia Beach. That is why we had booked the Duck Tour for Friday - had online vouchers and had to go to Union Station to redeem them the day of the tour. Since they were 2 days early....we changed our plans to be the Zoo and then the 4pm Duck Tour. Good thing this happened as we would have had to run around the zoo. I took the vouchers and redeemed them. Met up with the other 2 at the zoo main entrance. Took a good part of the day to walk around. The heat forced most of the animals inside today but they were still visible. 1 of the orangutangs went up the O-Line as if to cross, got on it and then smiled as if he were just teasing us...then climbed back down and went inside. All of the Lion cubs were sleeping right next to their dad but a couple got up and started wrestling...Really enjoy this zoo and took a lot of time to walk it due to the heat and the zoo. When we looked at our watches, we realized that our original plan would never have worked due to the time spent here. Got back to Union Station just in time for our Duck Tour, meeting up with the others. Having down other duck tours this is one of the better ones and we really enjoyed it. Our guide was asking trivia questions along the way and I kept answering them:

1. Name the 5 US Territories.
2. How many signers of the Declaration of Independence.
3. Where did the music of the Star-Spangled Banner come from?

This tour lasted the 90 minutes. Good, fast way to see the outside of the Monuments and to get an overview of the city. We went to Pizzeria Unos for a couple of drinks and appetizers. My friends SIL and niece headed out after that and we went to the Dubliner (so much for Belgian Beer) for dinner and drinks. Really enjoyed this dinner. Good beer. Had the Hot Corned Beef Sandwich, which had a lot of meat on it and was very good. All of this at good prices. We left here and went next door to Kelly’s Irish Times for more drinks. Then back to the hotel for the night.

Day 4 - Udvar Hazy Air Museum, Belgian Beer (hopefully)
We got up early yet again and headed out to the Udvar Hazy Museum. We ended up canceling the rental car last night as none of us felt like driving. Took the Metro to Rosslyn and the 5A bus to Dulles. Got there well before the Shuttle to the Museum was running so we cabbed it for around $15 (same price as the parking). Overall, this trip took 90 minutes or so. Wasn’t a bad ride and it gave us time to read and relax. Got in the Museum and it is easily the best Air and Space Museum that I have been to. Having spent 10 years working on the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, it was great to see the prototype for this plane. It felt really good to see something that I worked on display in a museum. Spent a lot of time walking around this plane then walked around all of the displays. First time that I have seen an SR-71 Blackbird and especially the Enterprise Space Shuttle. They have a lot of planes that are the last ones existing from World War 2. Spent a great amount of time talking about the Enola Gay and its impact on the outcome of WW2. While standing here, we heard a lot of groups come by here and not even mention the history of the plane - as if it was just another airplane. We watched the IMax movie Fighter Pilot and really enjoyed it. Left here around 3 and got back to the hotel at 5. This Air Museum is definitely much better than the one on the Mall. I like the Mall one but that is just an appetizer whereas Udvar Hazy is a 5 star dinner. Anybody that has an interest in Aviation should come to this Museum while in DC.

We opted to stay nearby for dinner as we were all tired and cranky. Went to Buffalo Wild Wings Crystal City for dinner / trivia. We played Buzztime trivia for a while having some mediocre trivia games. Not sure where BWWs gets their chickens but they have to be the world’s smallest chickens. This is true for most of their restaurants. I like their sauce but their wings are tiny. Had a few beers and wings. Expensive given the size of the wings but we still had fun.
tchoiniere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:23 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
Day 5

Newseum and baseball
We got to the Newseum around 10 as we got off to a slow start. Definitely a great museum as we spent all day there. Given the amount of reading material, there is too much to cover in 1 day. About 3pm, we all had had it and called it quits due to tourist overload. This is why you really need to pace yourself and spread things out. We left the Newseum and headed to Nationals Park. Got there very early so headed straight to the Red Porch for more YuengLings and Old Scratch Ambers. Really like this bar and spent a lot of time here. Got to our seats (Section 224) on the Upper Level about 20 minutes before the game started. Crowd tonight was definitely mostly Phillies fans and 3 Red Sox fans who got a lot of second looks at our Sox hats. The Nationals take the field to AC/DCs song Thunderstruck. Just as it started blaring, a thunderstorm rolled in and it was pouring. We were shocked when the game started on time. But it wasn’t to be - after 5 minutes, the tarp was on the field for a 2 hour rain delay. We decided to wait it out and enjoy the game. Once they took the tarp off, they had to squeegie the water out of right field. This took a long time. Play resumed at 9:40. The Phillies controlled the game until the bottom of the 9th Inning when Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk off Grand Slam to end it. First time that I have ever seen a walk off homer. Mostly boos at the end. Its probably a good thing it wasn’t Jayson Werth that hit it as there may have been a riot with the Phillies fans. We got back to our hotel around 2am or so....Long but fun end to our trip.

Slowly got up this morning and checked out of the hotel to head to Union Station to hop on Amtrak to head home.

I enjoyed the Americana Hotel as it was definitely what we needed. Its definitely a barebones hotel but anybody on a limited budget should consider it. Rooms were small but clean. Only issue I had was my TV didn’t work for a couple of days but it ended up getting replaced. Wasn’t in the room long enough for it to be an issue. We generally took the shuttle to the Metro and back to limit our walking on this end. They have a free breakfast which was bagels, muffins, etc. Never had an issue with them running out as they continually replaced the food. I would definitely consider staying here in the future. It was not a bad Metro ride into DC via the Yellow Line..
tchoiniere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2012, 09:22 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
The 3 of us that went compiled our pictures into a video for a nephew's Journalism report. We slightly rearranged the pictures to make them fit the music from my trip report and we added some pics from a previous DC trip but overall its a great video trip report (little biased). Hopefully you enjoy it. 1 warning is that it is quite long...

http://youtu.be/4s-sphWB1v0
tchoiniere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2012, 11:41 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 24
Wow! What a way to talk about each and everyday fun. More than your fun I am liking your way of explaining it here. Very excited
nancy1818john is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2012, 02:40 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,683
Great video of photos. Another fun fact I learned when I was at Arlington last fall. When the cemetery closes for the day, the area becomes a military zone.
gardendiva is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2012, 03:02 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,432
tchoiniere -- Great video! Thought we might see some more baseball photo's!
obxgirl is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2012, 04:30 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
I thought about including more game photos but it was getting quite long..However, I had so much fun doing that one I am making one just using pics from baseball related sites that I have been to...

I really like the trivia question of "Name the 2 Presidents buried at Arlington." 1 is a gimme but the other is obscure and I have never had somebody answer it right away. People guess anywhere from Eisenhower (who had stated he wanted to be buried in Kansas) to Washington...
tchoiniere is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:46 PM.