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Brits have 3 days in DC in Oct.04 - need to know what to do...

Brits have 3 days in DC in Oct.04 - need to know what to do...

Old Aug 28th, 2004, 06:49 PM
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Brits have 3 days in DC in Oct.04 - need to know what to do...

Husband and I are coming over from the UK to do a quick visit to DC in Oct . We will have 3 1/2 days !! We arrive on a Wednesday eve. and leave to go home the following Sunday evening .This will be my first visit and I want to try and cram as much as possible into our very short time in your Nation's Capital. We are staying with friends who live somewhere in Arlington - they will be working during the day but our evenings will be spent with them . We want to go sightseeing for two days and go shopping on the third ( the exchange rate is so good and everything in the USA is really cheap for us ! )
For the 2 day sightseeing I thought we should get a 2 day pass with "tourmobile" - any one any thoughts on that please ? This would enable us to hop on and hop off and their tours seem to cover all the major attractions. Is it worth doing a river cruise at night? Where is the best place for seafood ? - is the Waterfront area worth a visit for a seafood meal ? And for our shoping day we want to go to Potomac Mills . We will be leaving for the UK on the Sunday afternoon - catching the flight from Dulles at 1730. I understand the thing to do in DC on Sundays is to go for "Brunch" can anyone suggest somewhere that would be en route to the airport ?? And finally - what clothes to bring - will it be hot or cold at that time of the year?
Many thanks for any advice PS How do we go about bookng a tour of the White House - can you do that via the internet and how long in advance do you need to book ?
Chrissie_Novelle is offline  
Old Aug 28th, 2004, 09:48 PM
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My opinion is that the Tourmobile is GREAT for getting to the various monuments, and around within Arlington Cemetary -- but all that can be done in a single day. Tourmobile will also loop down around/near the Capitol, around the Whitehouse, and Union Station. After you see the monuments and get oriented to where things are, I think the Metro would be adequate for day #2.

A problem we've had with Tourmobile is buses absolutely full passing us by as no room for more passengers ... things like that could eat into your limited time.

I don't know if you'll be able to visit the White House, as I understand that even Americans have trouble getting in, and we have to go thru our congressmen. Whether your embassy can help, I don't know. I hope your friends are driving you to Potomac Mills, as I beleive public transportation to there is rather limited. Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 01:53 AM
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Several posts here on those from UK wanting to visit White House. Issue is US citizens must get tickets from Representative (Comgressman/woman) and you obviously do not have one of those. If you do a search above on "White House" + "Embassy" a lot of these posts come up and may have some useful suggestions.

October can be an odd temperature month. Make sure you bring a light jacket and some sort of rain gear and you will be fine.

You will likely want to spend some time in the Museums of the Smithsonian - there are actually several main museums and more smaller ones - try to do soome research before as you can not see all of it in 3 weeks much less 3 days - and decide what you are interested in (Air and Space, Art, Natural History, etc.)
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 04:59 AM
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For weather, in Oct DC islikely to be quite a bit warmer than the UK (still Indian summer) - but bring a light jacket just in case.

the Tourmobile can take you to the various monuments - but you'll do better with Metro/walking to actually see any of the museums or sights - Capitol, Supreme Court, Library of congress etc.

For the Smithsonian museums I suggst going to the web site to see which will interest you most - otherwise you can spend a week just there. You might want to focus on the ones you can;t get in the UK (like Air and Space - don;t miss the moon rock- and American History - rather than art or Natural History).
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 05:22 AM
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For sightseeing, look at the Fodor's miniguide, in particlar check their "Best in 3 days itinerary":

I would just get a 1 day tourmobile pass, if even that. Plan your itinerary first (see above) , then figure out if the touribile makes sense for you.

The river cruise at night is a tourist trap, IMO. Especially a bad deal since the food is so bad.

The waterfront restaurants are the worst place to get a good seafood dinner. Here are some great seafood choices (not on the water though). Call to reserve.

Johnny's Half Shell (Dupont Circle) http://www.johnnyshalfshell.net

Sea Catch Restaurant (Georgetown)
1054 31st St. NW, Washington, DC 202-337-8855

Pesce (Dupont Circle)
2016 P St. NW
Washington, DC

Cafe Atlantico (Penn Quarter - close to Nat'l Mall)
405 Eighth St. NW, Washington,DC

Not sure about great brunch places between Arlington and Dulles airport. I assume you want something right off Rt. 66 or the Dulles access road. Any Virginians out there????
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 05:24 AM
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Actually, Sea Catch has a canal-side setting (not riverside). Any of the above four places would be a great seafod dinner or lunch.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 06:39 AM
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For a classic brunch, perhaps Clydes (Tyson's Corner or Reston Town Center). Another choice (and it would be mine) would be a couple of margaritas and some great tex-mex at Anita's (Vienna) or the Rio Grande Cafe (Reston Town Center).

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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 08:54 AM
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I'd like to second the advice about limiting the tourmobile to just one day, completely avoiding the night-time river cruise, and that the best seafood in the DC area is not necessarily found at the waterfront. For the latter, I'd add that you might consider Kinkead's, although it is fairly expensive. A night-time automobile tour of the DC sights is something we always do for our out-of-town guests, so perhaps your hosts could be persuaded to give you a quick drive through the city.

As for shopping, I want to make sure you realize that Potomac Mills is an outlet mall. I'm not sure if there is a UK equivalent, but the stores in these malls carry mostly second-quality and/or discontinued items, although I imagine some very good bargains can be the reward. For a more traditional shopping experience, I'd suggest perhaps splitting the day with Tysons Corner Center, not far from Arlington, which is a very large and very nice more traditional shopping mall.

Finally, the brunch issue. If the flight doesn't depart until 17:30, might you consider a brunch destination that is not necessarily en route to Dulles? I ask that in part because the brunch options that have been posted thus far are fine, but not terribly exciting. One that I would highly recommend is the Sunday Gospel Brunch at Sweet Georgia Brown's in downtwon Washington, which on a Sunday morning, may be only a 15 minute drive from many parts of Arlington. It has very good food, live entertainment, and I think you might find it a very uniquely American experience.

Hope you have a wonderful trip.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 09:01 AM
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Great suggestions listed above. I agree that you should definitely take in the American History museum and Air & Space. Also, you can book the Washington Monuement online and ahead of time. Otherwise, in order to go up to the top, you would have to get their early to wait in line. You will have a great visit. I am so excited for you. We just got back from our first trip a few weeks ago. A word about White House tours: We reserved on through our Senator five months in advance and only found out we could go four weeks before our trip. They are very cautious about letting folks go in. (Our tour was reserved under the name of a school, though we were clearly a family). Also, there is a minimum of 10 people to book a tour. So check with your Embassy, but that tour probably wont be possible for you. Another suggestion would be to have your friends try and book the tour through their Senator, though they will have to inform him you are from U.K.Just maybe something will work out. Have a great time!
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 09:57 AM
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Another enthusiastic endorsement for Anthony Pitch's Georgetown tour, particularly for visitors from the UK. Especially if you are interested in history and in celebrities. You'll even see the home of Kitty Kelley, the author of "The Royals," as well as several John and Jacqueline Kennedy homes, and no doubt these days, the Washington homes of John Kerry and John Edwards, which are about a block apart along the tour route.

If you want brunch on the way to Dulles and you want to sample a really lavish, very highly reviewed version of this U.S. tradition, you can do so at two hotels within 10 minutes of your route: the Ritz-Carlton at Tysons Corner, near the intersection of highways 66 and 495, for a more modern, business area ambience; or the Marriott Westfields in Chantilly, just south of the airport, for a old Virginia country estate ambience. Either of these will be very expensive--my estimate would be at least $50US per person--but they will be among the best restaurant brunches you can get in the U.S.

Obxgirl has given you some excellent choices at more moderate prices, all also 10 minutes or less off your route. I've enjoyed all of them. If you do want to moderate expense rather than go lavish, Anita's, which you probably won't find recommended in any guidebooks, and where you'll probably be the only tourists, is quite inexpensive but still is spacious, clean and pleasant, usually not crowded or with a wait(which can often be the case at Rio Grande Cafe,)and has some specifically breakfast, distinctively New Mexican items on its menu which are different from what you'll find at other Mexican restaurants.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 10:45 AM
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my stance on potomac mills. having lived in the DC area for 26 years and made over 10 trips there...it's a waste of time. you spend so much time to find so little. it really doesn't add up in the end...false economy. but it is big. i'll give it that. go to Pentagon City mall and hope for some sales...it's so close to DC as well.

as for restaurants go to:

and check out everything to your hearts content. i think the Fish Market in Old Towne Alexandria is a great place and a great evening in Old Towne.

as for museums, target 1 or 2 you'd like to see. they are so big and it's virtually impossible to see it all.

in georgetowne there's a great deli: booeymongers. it's near Georgetowne University (which a great campus to walk around) and has unique sandwhich's for a lunch.

i also agree about skipping the tourmobile...it's like taking the double decker tour bus in london. you see a lot, but i prefer a quality over quantity. i still go in to DC and still find stuff i have never seen or done. oh...watergate bakery is really good as well.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 10:45 AM
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I've done flying visits to DC myself when I was in the mid-Atlantic--once for vacation, and once on a conference.

Doing the tourmobile is great, but a bit of a waste of time IMHO. The initial overview of the mall area was a great intro, but if you have a car and don't mind walking, you can kind of do it yourself. The only bit that required a car was driving by the Jefferson Memorial and Arlington Cemetery. All the other points on the mall can be accessed by walking because it takes too long to wait for the tourmobile to get to you.

Regarding what I remembered from my visits to DC--Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, Congress--a tour would have been nice but didn't get to do that, the Aerospace Museum, the old wing of the National Gallery, which has the same sort of feel as the British Museum, but not as extensive or amazing. (I hope I'm not offending anyone here, but IMHO the DC National Gallery seems a bit more extensive than the London National Gallery.)

Things that I didn't get to see but wanted to see included the Smithsonian, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving? where they print out the currency, and the Jefferson Memorial. When I was on vacation, I also went to the Potomac Mills and it may be I'm not a shopper, but I wasn not impressed. It's just a mall....

I also liked Mt. Vernon, but I thought Williamsburg (which we saw on the same trip) was more impressive. I would have liked to have gone to Monticello.

I hope you'll have a great time in DC--it's a great place to visit....

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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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Check the weather conditions in DC before leaving the UK so you'll pack appropriate clothing. DC can still be downright hot for early October, mid 70's to low 80's Fahrenheit. That's not typical weather for that time of year but it's not unusual either. The Air & Space museum is a must and if you have the time, visit the National Zoo - it's free.
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