Another Great DC Trip

Old Oct 20th, 2017, 07:58 AM
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Another Great DC Trip

A friend of mine (John) wanted to take his 10 year old twin boys to DC for a long weekend. But didn’t want to do it alone (his wife is in the military and on deployment). He invited me to go with him and offered to pay for my hotel room (hired me as their tour guide). Free trip to DC for me! A friend of mine that lives in VA met up with us for the long weekend (3 of us went to college together).

John initially was thinking of driving to DC from CT. I talked him into taking the train. We left on Thursday and came home Tuesday. He let me do all the planning and the itinerary with the agreement that I wasn’t going to do everything with the 3 of them. I took input from him and his kids on what they wanted to see – his twins are direct opposites in interests! One is interested in art, the other one sports and aviation…We knew this was going to be a challenge.

We got into DC around 1 and straight to the hotel (Marriott Metro Center). Quickly checked in and headed out. We spent the afternoon at the Museum of American History. Everybody really enjoyed this museum and we were here for around 3 hours. We then took Uber to Gordon Biersch Brewery near the ballpark) for dinner (friends choice but it worked very well – kids enjoyed their food, decent beer). After dinner, we walked around the outside of the stadium for a little while and then Ubered it to Lincoln Memorial. We spent a lot of time here then walked through the Korean Memorial to Vietnam and the WW2 Memorial. Each kid has to write a report and include a lot of pictures from this trip (missing 4 days of school) so we were talking a lot of history with them at each memorial. They were very interested. I had come up with a list of things for them to find at each one (CT pillar at WW2, Kilroy there). We did struggle a little to keep the discussion at a 5th grade level…We finished up outside the White House and then took Uber back to our hotel.

We managed to get 3 adjoining rooms so the twins went back to their room and were watching a movie while the 3 of us sat and watched a movie and hung out next door. Worked great all weekend.

All were up early the next morning (part of our agreement was no haggling about getting out early – I think they were up earlier than me every day). We went to the zoo very early and spent 4 hours walking around. We got some great pics of the elephants and pandas. Took the Red Line back to downtown and had lunch (some place quick, easy and good but I forget where). John took one son to the National Art Gallery while I took the other one to the Air & Space Museum. We were there until close and then met back up and headed to Jefferson and FDR Memorials before it got too dark (Really think those need to be seen during the day).
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 08:01 AM
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On Saturday, we split up first thing. I headed to Udvar-Hazy with one son and John and his other son headed back to the National Gallery and a few other art galleries on the Mall. Easy ride out there and we were among the first into the museum. I made sure that we walked into the hangars at the SR-71 Blackbird with the Space Shuttle lined up behind it. You would have thought it was Christmas with the look on his face. He didn’t know which way to look. We spent a lot of time in the military hangar going through everything. He took a ton of pictures and notes on stuff. The last plane we got to on that side was the Enola Gay intentionally. We took a break and had lunch (I had grabbed a few premade sandwiches at the hotel in lieu of the overpriced McDonalds). Quick lunch then we enjoyed the Space Hangar and then went through the Commercial Hangar and Restoration Hangars. He was mesmerized. Then he found the Gift Shop…He bought a few things for himself and a model for his brother. I also bought him a few things. We then headed back into the city. He was quite amped up and I knew he wouldn’t be able to sit though the movies (was our intention to go to the movies at this point). Turns out his brother was amped up too! We went to a Sushi restaurant and really enjoyed this meal. Kids ate a lot more sushi than I was expecting. Really just walked around that night more than really seeing anything. We did end up back at the WW2 Memorial and spent a lot time talking there about WW2. Both seem very interested in it and were asking great questions.

The next morning, we went to PAUL for breakfast and then Arlington Cemetery. John was nervous about bringing his kids to a Cemetery but they really enjoyed it as we did the tram tour. But we walked around at each stop too. Again, we had given them a checklist of sites to find. We got to the Challenger / Columbia Memorials and talked to them about each. Then the Mast of the USS Maine to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They were in tears for the Ceremony then asked to see it a second time so we hung around and saw it again. Both were flabbergasted on how we couldn’t identify their identities so we talked about that for a while. Up to the Arlington House and went through it. They were in complete shock about how it was General Robert E Lee’s plantation. We spent nearly 4 hours going through the Cemetery (admittedly at a slow pace).

We then walked over to the Lincoln Memorial and just kept talking about stuff. That’s when we showed them the spot where MLK stood for his I have a Dream speech. We spent a lot of time at the Vietnam Wall then to the MLK Memorial. They were not as interested here but probably a little exhaustion hitting too). We knew we needed to do something different at this point…We ended up bowling for a few hours before heading to Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant. All of us really enjoyed this meal. Kids were very intrigued at it.
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 08:02 AM
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Got up on Sunday and had brunch early at the hotel. Wasn’t cheap but everybody enjoyed it. We had afternoon tickets for Ford’s Theater. We ended up going to Lincoln’s Cottage. It was tne of their highlights of the trip. Then we went back into downtown and enjoyed the tour of Ford’s theater (Museum, theater and the Peterson House). Then we went to the Hard Rock Café for a couple of appetizers and a few beers. After this, it was back to the hotel for an early night.

Monday morning, we had tickets to the Capitol I had gotten off of the official site and we enjoyed this tour. I hadn’t done it since my first DC trip in 2009. After this, we went into the Library of Congress and then walked over to the Supreme Court (just on the outside). From here, we went to the Museum of the American Indian and then to the Portrait Gallery. Spent a couple of hours here (the art-interested son was in the other wing with his dad) and then we went to Jaleo for dinner. Tapas for everyone and another great meal.

Tuesday morning – we had some free time as train was at 3. 1 son wanted to go to the Natural History Museum while the other one wanted to go back to the zoo. No compromise was going to be possible…the kid that wanted the Zoo wanted to go back to the Gorilla exhibit (they were sleeping when we were there) and then the Lion Exhibit. Thankfully it was very early. I took him and hightailed it to the Zoo via Uber. We got down to the Gorilla Exhibit and they were running around. Same went for the Orangutans when we passed them. Got to the Lions and still asleep…We went out the back gate and took Uber downtown. We were out of the zoo at 9:30. Talk about a quick tour through the Zoo. But a lively one with the primates. We hightailed it to the Natural History Museum and beat the other 3 there! Lazy bums! Spent a couple of hours here. I went to the café and read after seeing a few exhibits…

Then back to the hotel and got our bags and headed to Union Station and home. Train ride was uneventful and easy. Kids each took out their laptops and started their reports (definitely have a lot to cover) on the train. All of us had a great time and hopefully they learned a lot and enjoyed it.
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 08:45 AM
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Wow, you really packed it in - what a great trip!
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 08:52 AM
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Great trip report and you did do a lot of great activities! This is a good reference for anyone who wants to take kids to DC.
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 11:41 AM
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Great trip report - we (DH, DD 15 and me) are heading to DC over Christmas break. Very interested in both the Air and Space Museum and Udvar-Hazy but I'm thinking we'll only have time for one... question is which one! DH and I are both engineers (DD is destined to be one as well) - DH is probably more into aerospace than I am... any suggestions on which to spend our time at if we only pick one?
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 11:51 AM
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Iowamom, how much time are you spending in DC? Udvar-Hazy is amazing and blows the one on the Mall away but it is 1.5 hours each way via public transportation so it really is a full day commitment (and only food is an overpriced McDonalds). But it has all the large planes (and Space Shuttle) that the Mall doesn't...
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 11:56 AM
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Fabulous report, tchoiniere! You all did some walking--none of these places could be described as small. The twins sounded very mature and appreciative.

I haven't been to Udvar-Hazy, iowamom so can't compare.
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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Probably a week in DC - and we will have a car. Just the statement that it's amazing and blows the one on the Mall away is enough to sway me!
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Old Oct 20th, 2017, 04:42 PM
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Nice trip report. Thanks!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2017, 09:28 AM
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tchoiniere -- Another amazing DC trip report! I don't know if Fodor's still gives free guide books for fodorite quotes -- but you'd be and probably are quoted for each of the DC trips you've taken and written about. If you made the experience for those three half as vibrant as you do when you report here, then they more than got their money's worth from you.

Props also to John & his two boys. 10 yo's who'll go for Ethiopian cuisine, tapas and sushi in one long weekend are adventurous kids and are destined to be excellent adult travelers.

For Iowawoman: I agree with tchoiniere that Udvar Hazy is a one of a kind experience. It's a don't miss if you have the day (or majority of it) to devote to visiting. There is a good Thai restaurant, Thai Basil, about five minutes away if you need a break and don't want to do McD's.

With a week, however, I wouldn't completely write off Air & Space on the National Mall if you are going to the myriad of other museums in proximity. One of the benefits of free entry is the ability to pop in and out to see a bit here and there as time allows.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2017, 08:14 AM
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Thanks for all the feedback.

The meals were their moms ideas instead of the hamburgs, etc they normally would have. She asked John to try to get them to try something new since they were on vacation. And they didn't complain once. John told me he filled up each of their Kindles with WW2 books as they want to keep reading on it!

I am meeting up with them this weekend at the New England Air Museum outside of Bradley Airport.

Iowamom, I did not mean to sound to not go to the location on the Mall. Even if you only have a short time, walk into the lobby. You have a rock from the moon on display and Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis hanging above you. There is also a replica of the Wright Brothers and one of Amelia Earhart's plane. Just grab a brochure and hit the highlights.
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Old Oct 27th, 2017, 04:25 PM
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I was at both aerospace museums last week. If I had to choose one, it would be the Udvar-Hazy
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Old Oct 27th, 2017, 04:27 PM
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When the boys are older, visit the Holocaust Museum, perhaps the best museum I have ever visited. They will also like the spy muesum
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Old Oct 29th, 2017, 06:36 AM
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tchoiniere - good suggestion to hit the highlights... so used to making a point to see everything at museums/sites especially when paying for admission!
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Old Oct 31st, 2017, 11:23 AM
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Iowamom, look at the website for each museum (www.si.edu) as they do a great job showing what is in each museum. Go through it with everyone so that you know what the must sees are. But make sure to see other exhibits too! My first trip (out of 7 or 8 now), our highlight was the Portrait Gallery - it was on our "maybe if we have time" list. Please don't get sucked into having a checklist to see but know what each wants to see and stay flexible. DC has a lot to offer.

Utilize the docents at each museum for questions too.
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