Advice for Washington DC

Old Mar 1st, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Advice for Washington DC

My wife and I are planning a trip to DC in late May. We're trying to find out what is a good/ safe place to stay. We've looked at hotels in the Foggy bottom area, and Dupont Circle area. We would be interested in B&B's too in the right location and price range. So far, the State Plaza hotel in Foggy Bottom looks the most promising. About $129/night.

We would appriciate any advice on getting around the city, best way to travel to Baltimore
for a day trip, and things to see within about an hour..... so we can rent a car for a day and see a few of the surrounding sites.
A little off topic, but we had planned a few nights in Philadelphia too, but we're finding most people have nothing good to say about it. Is it worth staying a few nights, or should we just see Independance hall, Liberty Bell, and get the heck out of there?

Thanks in advance for the feedback!

Ruckus
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 05:09 PM
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I'm glad you mentioned the State Plaza- we last stayed there about four years ago but it is always very reasonable- and the rooms from what I recall are all suites. We stayed there every time we visited our kids who were in college in D.C. and were not disappointed. It is within walking distance to the metro as well as to most of the memorials and sights you would want to take in. Also, because it is in the area close to the White House, you have the Secret Service police, D.C. police as well as George Washington University police all patroling the streets you will use to walk to the metro or sightseeing. You will feel very safe. If I were you, I'd call and lock in that price you were quoted before the season gets too busy and the rates go up. Have a great time- we truly miss the many weekends we spent visiting our college kids and taking in all the wonderful things D.C. offers.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 04:40 AM
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I stayed at a B&B called the Do Little B&B; not sure if it still exists. The B&B was located right outside the begnning of the mall, walking distance to Union Station. I felt safe and would not hesitate to stay in that area again.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 05:10 AM
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I think Foggy Bottom is a good place to stay and that sounds like a great hotel rate. DuPont circle is a great location, but not sure u wil get that good of a rate. The best way to get around the city is to walk or take the metro. Here's the metro website. Your stop would be Foggy Bottom. http://www.wmata.com/

A lot of people enjoy spending a day in Annapolis -- about 45 mins or so from DC. It has a nice waterfront, cafes and shops. Lots of boating and the Naval Academy is there. Best accessible with a rental car.

If u prefer going towards the mountains, Harpers Ferry, WVA is a nice destination. Or u could take a drive into the VA countryside, Culpeper is a cute little town about 1+ hour from DC. If u do a search on this site there was a thread recently where someone gave a lot of sites and drives that one could take into the VA countryside.

U can easily get to Baltimore by taking the metro to Union Station and taking the Amtrak
or take the Marc train also from Union Station http://www.mtamaryland.com/services/marc/

Have Fun!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 05:17 AM
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The State Plaza is fine, but there are not a lot of restaurants right around the hotel. Because it is at the edge of GW's campus, there are student-oriented "restaurants." But for that rate in May, I would take it.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 05:38 AM
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Two points:

1. When I was in college 5-10 years ago, the State Plaza was used by GW to house students. I assume (or at least hope) that it has been upgraded since then.

2. Before writing off Philadelphia as a place to see and flee, try reading some of the links and information on this board and on ushistory.org and gophia.com.

The "tourist areas" of Philadelphia are safe and friendly. Hotel rooms and restaurant choices are plentiful on all but a few weekends of the year. Center City is completely walkable or accessible by plentiful cabs or public transportation.

Philadelphia is also more than just Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and the Constitution Center. For example, just this week alone there is the world class Flower Show and a Cezanne exhibit is opening at the Art Museum that is getting international attention. If I'm not mistaken, beer week is also coming up, which shows off Philadelphia's great local brews and amazing gastropub cuisine.

You didn't mention any specific interests, but if you are "art and culture" types, think about visiting the PMA, the PAFA, the ICA or the Barnes, and be sure to stop in to the Curtis Center to see Maxfield Parish and Louis Comfort Tiffany's stunning Dream Garden. Or, take the road less traveled and check out the Magic Garden on South Street, an amazing collection of public art everywhere throughout the city, or take the the Mural Arts trolley tour.

If you have other interests, let us know and we can recommend other things to do and places to see in Philadelphia that may be more to your liking.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 06:38 AM
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We recently stayed at the Swann House B&B near Dupont Circle in Washington and really enjoyed it, but it might be out of your price range. I have heard good things about the American Guest House, also in the Kalorama/Dupont Circle area, and their rates are more in the range of the State Plaza.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 07:44 AM
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I visited Dc with my family earlier this month and stayed at the Renaissance on 9th Street near Penn Quarter for a great price of $89 a night, I used priceline!!! Go to www.biddingfortravel.com and read up on how to successfully bid!! Pick the neighborhood and pick the star level and bid. I have had a lot of successes on PL. You just need to do your research first, because once your bis is accepted - your credit is charged.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 09:33 AM
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Philadelphia is a fine place to visit with plenty to see and do. We were just there over the Valentine's weekend and had a wonderful time - we plan to go back soon since it is only a 2 hour drive for us and there is still so much to see. We stayed at the Omni hotel, right in the heart of the historical center and will stay there again next trip. Don't let the high rack rate put you off- the Omni seems to be heavily discounted by the usual on-line suspects. We found a fantastic rate at hotels.com that was far lower than any of the competition.

As far as a day trip to Baltimore is concerned, depending on where you are staying in Washington you can take the Amtrak or MARC commuter line (Camden or Penn)from Union Station or the metro to New Carollton station and switch to the Amtrak from there. You can also go Greyhound, but the Greyhound station in Baltimore is not convenient. Renting a car is always an option of course.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 02:21 PM
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MLTimes: You are correct in saying that GW housed some students at the State Plaza. We stayed there at that time and did not see a difference in the previously good service or cleanliness of the hotel.. It appeared to us at the time that separate floors were used for students and had we not been informed by our son (GW student ) we would not have known about the students. I hope at this time my advice is good to take the opportunity to stay there because it is so safe and convenient. As far as restaurants, you may be right. The GW bookstore is a great destination and if I remember correctly, lots of food choices in the building, albeit not fine dining but great for breakfast and lunch. In any case have a wonderful time.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 05:05 AM
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As to food in Foggy Bottom, Kinkead's in 2000 Penn has always been a good dining option on GW's campus. Also, I know there has been criticism of the non-le Bernardin Eric Ripert restaurants, but I have had several good meals at his places in Philadelphia and DC and would make a restaurant rec for West End Bistro, which is right across Washington Circle. Back on campus, Lindy's still serves a pretty good burger and beer, but there is so much to do/see/eat within a few blocks of GW, Foggy Bottom/Washington Circle really is the perfect central location for visitors to DC.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 05:28 AM
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I agree with ML -- Depending upon what type/price of food u are looking for, there are many restaurants within a 5-10 minutes walk. In additon to Kinkeads which is very good, there is Kaz Sushi, Circle Bistro, a couple pizza places and more.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 11:07 AM
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If you go to Annapolis, do take the Naval Academy Tour. It is excellent and definitely worth the time.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 11:28 AM
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You might want to check out The Hotel Rouge near Dupont Circle. We are staying there earlier in May and were quoted $149 a night.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 12:07 PM
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Ruckus,
We've stayed in DC several times, and try to stay as close to the White House as possible, mostly because it is so close to all the sights in the Capital. We've stayed many times at the J. W. Marriott, once at the Renaissance Mayflower (a little too far) and splurged once for the Willard. It is unbelievable to be so close to everything. Go for it if you can get a rate you can live with. You won't regret it!
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Old Mar 4th, 2009, 12:36 PM
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I second Miamibeachmomma's tip to use Priceline. Looks like most people are getting 4* hotels for under $100./night. As long as there is not some bid thing going on in town on your dates you will end up with a better hotel in a better location going the Priceline route. As for day trips we loved Mount Vernon, and also Annapolis. But then there is a ton to see in DC itself.
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Old Mar 4th, 2009, 02:18 PM
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I stayed recently in The Doubletree on Rhode Island Ave in Dupont Circle for $ 130 a night and the hotel and location were fine. I would also recommend a day trip to Annapolis. Try to get some blue point crabs the season starts in late spring I believe.
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Old Mar 8th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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UPDATE- we ended up getting the Hotel Lombardy for $132/night, and seems like a great location... just a few blocks from the White House.

Any suggestions on places to eat? We like the kind of places the locals go.... little hidden jems that tourists dont usually find. Thanks everybody!
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 07:44 AM
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ruckus,
I'm a DC Local and there's TONS of fabulous restaurants here, what type of cuisine are you looking for?
Kinkead's was mentioned earlier in the post, and I used to work for their sister restaurant (Colvin Run Tavern) which is now closed Kinkead's food and wine list is excellent, service is great, and the ambiance is great!
For good Italian, I like Teatro Goldoni on 19th and K.
There's a lot in Chinatown to choose from, Jaleo and La Tasca are great Tapas spots, Zengo is a great asian fusion place, and IndeBlu is a French/Indian fusion place with great specials on food and drinks at happy hour.
There's lots of great cafes with full menus if you're looking for something casual while out and about, there's Open City near the Zoo, and Busboys and Poets on 14th St in the U Street Corridor.
I'm a pseudo-foodie so please feel free to bug me about dining spots!
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 02:34 PM
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Ruckus - we'll be in DC in June. Any recommendations for places to eat that my twin, 13-year-old boys would like that are inexpensive. They like Mexican, Italian, Greek, and of course good old American. Thanks! We are staying at the Embassy Suites near DuPont Circle.
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