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DC - How would you map out your visit???

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Mar 19th, 2013, 10:49 AM
  #1
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DC - How would you map out your visit???

We are going next week and I am just wondering what is the most efficient way to see everything in 4 days. What attractions are near each other that can be grouped together? Or, how would you group everything to make the most of your trip? For ex, day 1 could be Lincoln monument and archives. We would like to see all of the touristy stuff... plus Fords theater, archives, arlington cemetery, etc... I appreciate any direction you can offer!! Any other must see's.. please let me know.

Also, is it best to just ride the Metro vs. driving a personal car and then parking it?
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Mar 19th, 2013, 10:59 AM
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The DC metro system is great and like most busy cities, driving a car would probably be more trouble than it's worth. So I'd definitely use the metro.

And DC is a pretty walkable city and you'll probably walk your feet off to most attractions. I do whenever I go.

Check out a map of the city online to give yourself an idea of how to plan your itinerary. There's so much to see in DC that wherever you walk in the city center, you'll come upon something of interest.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Consider doing a tour on something like Old Town trolley tours which allows you to hop on and hop off. Arlington cemetery is probably the furthest "out" you'll go; you can actually walk to that from its Metro station

The Lincoln, VietNam, FDR memorials are some what close together if you don't mind walking.

The Smithsonians, Air and Space, etc., located along the Mall

You can use a good map and a Metro map

I would do RESEARCH about the various possibilities FIRST. For example, Ford's is basically a totally re-constructed space; there may be some of the museums that a lot of people don't always mention that you would be, in fact, interested in such as the Renwick.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 11:10 AM
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"What attractions are near each other that can be grouped together?"

The map I linked in your other thread can help you with this. That map might say that the National Portrait Gallery and Museum of American Art (both Smithsonian museums) in the Penn Quarter are closed, but they are not.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 11:15 AM
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Don't drive. DC is a very walkable city and as already noted has good and relatively easy to follow subway system. Also consider using The Circulator, a truncated bus system (your Metro SmarTrip card will work on the buses) which goes to and from many of the more heavily touristed sites.

http://www.dccirculator.com

If you have a smart phone two good apps for using public transport or deciding if walking will take less time are Hop Stop and Find A Metro DC
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Mar 19th, 2013, 11:43 AM
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You have two threads on this. To find your other thread, click on your name.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 12:06 PM
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Thanks for the help. Sorry about posting 2 threads. I dont have a smartphone... ugh!
Where are the places I can get same day tours?? We really want to see the Archives (but how do you get advanced tix??),bureau of engraving and capitol which all require tix, right? Can you feel my panic???? lol
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Mar 19th, 2013, 12:09 PM
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You are panicking over NOTHING. I responded to your question about the Archives in the other thread. You can just walk up and wait there and at the Capitol you can go to see if there are availabel tours also. You will have to check the Bureau and Engraving website for info about that.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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I would NOT recommend doing a Hop On/Hop Off bus (aka trolley) tour especially next week when the Cherry Blossoms are predicted to be in full bloom. The reason is that these buses get very full and once you get off, you might have to wait a VERY long time until another bus comes by that has available seating. If your goal is just to ride around the entire loop and look at things from the window of a bus, then these tours are OK, if a bit pricey. Otherwise, I can't recommend them.

The one exception is the bus tour of Arlington Cemetery. If you have the time and don't mind some hilly walks, you can walk to all the major sites in the cemetery on your own. But, if you have mobility problems or just want to hear a guided tour of the cemetery, then the HO/HO tour works pretty well. They make only 3 stops--Kennedy Gravesites, Arlington House and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Finally, Metro is generally the best way to get to and around D.C., but if you are traveling with a large group (e.g. more than 4 people) from a distance, Metro may cost you more than driving and parking. Street parking is difficult to find and expensive (except on Sundays when meters are not enforced), so you'd have to pay for parking in a garage. About the best prices for parking can be found at Union Station or at the Ronald Reagan Building. Rates and locations of other parking garages can be found on the Best Parking website.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 09:23 AM
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Our family (kids 5 & 8) are going to D.C. in three weeks and this is how I grouped together. Anyone, feel free to critique as I created our itinerary through Internet research.

Thursday
11am BWI to Sofitel via Super Shuttle
Metro from McPherson Sq to Smithsonian
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
4:15pm tour Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Washington Monument
Carousel by Smithsonian Castle

Friday
Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War, 56 Signers of the Declaration of Ind Memorial, WWII Memorial, MLK Memorial
Lunch at Kennedy Center
National Museum of American History
The Old Post Office Pavilion
3pm Capitol Tour
Dinner near Capitol: Good Stuff Eatery, Tortilla café, Ted’s Bulletin or Tune Inn Restaurant

Saturday
10am Cherry Blossom Parade
10:30am- 6pm Sakura Matsuri (Japanese Street Festival)
Arlington National Cemetery

Sunday
11am reservation Ford’s Theatre
Lunch: Comet Ping Pong, Bus Boys and Poets, Oohhs & Aahhs or Ben’s Chili Bowl
Achieves, Air & Space and/or Zoo

Monday
Pick up rental car
Washington National Cathedral & Bishop’s Garden
Darth Vader Gargoyle on NW tower
12:00 PM Holy Eucharist
12:30 PM Organ Demonstration

Pick one:
Old Town Alexandria
Mount Vernon estate
Inner Harbor
Gettysburg

Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport
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Mar 21st, 2013, 09:34 AM
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There is a "March for Marriage" scheduled for Tuesday 03/26 so maybe you (OP) will get to see "democracy" in action.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 09:45 AM
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Couple quick comments - Comet PingPong is not near the sites downtown and no metro close by.
Which Smithsonian are you planning to visit -- lots of them to choose from
http://www.si.edu/Museums

Might want to group FDR with the 2nd day -its near MLK.

Good Stuff Eatery and Ted's Bulletin are good.

Near the National Cathedral is Two Amy's which has good pizza and other fare.

Zoo is a few metro stops on the red line from other sites. Check WMATA site for exact information
http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/tri..._form_solo.cfm
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Mar 21st, 2013, 10:22 AM
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Great restaurant tips yestravel! I guess I was blinded after hearing guy fieri talk up comet ping pong. I think that can be missed. Any restaurant tips for U Street?

National Museum of American History is a must, but we'll have to choose on Sunday for one or two - Achieves, Air & Space or Zoo.

Which seems to be best? Old Town Alexandria, Mount Vernon, Inner Harbor or Gettysburg?
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Mar 21st, 2013, 10:33 AM
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While you're in the area near the Archives, be sure to go to the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum. It's free, it has a lovely, closed-in courtyard where you can relax (and eat), it's usually open 'til 7, and there are lots of reasonably priced food options (Potbellys, McDonalds, Fudruckers, Auntie Anne's - and Carmine's if you want something nicer) nearby. Be sure to look at the third floor; it's gorgeous! http://www.npg.si.edu/

If you like touring awesome historical houses, I would recommend the Anderson House. It's full of interesting history, it's beautiful, and you can tour it for free. It's in Dupont Circle. http://www.societyofthecincinnati.org/visit/info

One other (also free; do you notice a theme here? ) thing to check out is the Folger Shakespeare Library, just a block or two from the Capitol. The building is definitely worth touring, but even if you don't have time for a tour, they always have a free exhibit. Check their website for tour times and exhibit information. The also put on plays, which are not free, but are definitely worth seeing. http://www.folger.edu/index_sa.cfm?specaudid=4

As to the rest, Good Stuff Eatery is super good, the Ford's Theater museum is a GREAT museum (It's quite popular though, so buying advance tickets online is probably a good idea http://www.fordstheatre.org/home/plan-your-visit), and the Metro system is super easy. It's color-coded, so even directionally challenged people like me can maneuver it. "Park and ride" is the way to go. Just make sure you buy a smarttrip card (It's only 5 extra dollars), as you get charged an extra dollar every time you use a paper fare card. http://www.wmata.com/fares/smartrip/
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Mar 21st, 2013, 10:39 AM
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>>Which seems to be best? Old Town Alexandria, Mount Vernon, Inner Harbor or Gettysburg?<<

Gettysburg is a day trip in itself. Are your kids, 5 & 8, going to be interested? Mine at 5 definitely wouldn't have been. Too much driving.

Inner Harbor with the aquarium is a good choice.

Alexandria and Mount Vernon are co located. Another good choice. I'd opt for this one in good weather. Shorter drive.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 10:51 AM
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Googs, As to your day "pick one" I would vote Alexandria AND Mount Vernon. You do have time for both. We loved Mount Vernon; it was one of our favorite days.

We actually chose Mount Vernon and the battle of Manassas (Bull Run) which is another option. But we had kids 16, 14 and 11 so two had extensively studied the Civil War and my brother is a huge Civil War buff. We had a great ranger who was assigned there for the summer, he was a history grad student and he did a GREAT job of making the battlefield come alive with what happened where. But I still believe that battlefields may be hard for kids ages 5 and 8 to envision. They are a little young. On the other hand, it may fire them up for Civil War history.

By the way, as to your car rental, I did a quick google and there are several car rental agencies between your hotel and Dupont Circle. I would recommend you pick up your car at one of those rather than at Union Station. Signage for the car rental pickup/dropoff was really poor when we were there last summer. Despite studying maps and calling ahead, we still spent a long time finding it.

When we picked up our second rental, we used one of these outpost locations and it was far simpler. Also quicker to get out of DC over to Virginia.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 11:00 AM
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For the "Pick one," I would also choose Mt. Vernon. It is WONDERFUL! I've been twice, and I would gladly go again. So beautiful, so much good history. Definitely go there. Of course, it depends on what you like. Inner Harbor is nice, but it will be pricier (Aquarium is super expensive. Historic Ships in Baltimore is a good historical/kid-friendly option, but also expensive). If you do go to Inner Harbor, don't miss the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse (part of HSiB). It's free and is a unique piece of history. Don't stay just in Inner Harbor though; Baltimore has lots of other cool things to see, (ex - Fort McHenry).

Anyway, sorry to ramble; Mt. Vernon gets my vote hands down.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 11:20 AM
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Your Thursday schedule is challenging. Smithsonian Metro to the Jefferson Memorial is the better part of a mile's walk. Suggestion: get a cab from the Sofitel to the Jefferson or the Roosevelt memorial. It's another 15 minute walk between the Jefferson and the Roosevelt Memorial. You've got 4:15pm tickets to the BP&E. I'd suggest picking one memorial. Do check the carousel hours to make sure they are running. The main Smithsonian museums go to extended schedule this week but check on the carousel so the kids aren't disappointed.

Your Friday plan is just crazy, especially with two smaller children in tow. You won't make those check points. Pick two and hope for three. Hope you make the Museum of Natural History one of the choices. Post Office Pavilion is good for the view and fast food. I'd pass on it if you are running short of time.

>>Dinner near Capitol: Good Stuff Eatery, Tortilla café, Ted’s Bulletin or Tune Inn <<

Good choices except for the Tune Inn -- it's a dive bar with a DC Hill history. You drink there b/c you can't afford to drink elsewhere or you are reliving your Hill past.

Other U Street tips? Ben's Chili Bowl is a good choice, esp. with kids. Lots of wonderful Ethiopian restaurants if you enjoy that cuisine.

Finally, do you have timed tickets to the Archives? If yes, check to make sure that they are not cancelled by the sequestration. If no, you are visiting at a very busy time of year and will likely find yourselves in a line for entry to the Archives. Well worth it but will the kids be tolerant of the wait and interested in what there is to see? I'd opt for Zoo (opens at 8 am I think so go at the earliest point in the day for best viewing) or Air and Space.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 12:14 PM
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If you are going to drive the Inner Harbor aquarium as suggested above is a great choice The ages of your kids is perfect for it. Alternately you could easily spend half a day to a full day at Mt. Vernon.

Some of the suggestions above are good, but not necessarily for kids at 5 & 8. Can't see them enjoying the Folger or Anderson house.

Not sure why you are going to the Old Post Office pavilion. I think its mostly shops and restaurants.

Most kids enjoy the Air & Space museum -- they have lots of goings on for kids as well as the exhibits seem to be something kids like.
The National Museum of Natural History http://www.mnh.si.edu is also popular with kids. I would check the websites of the various museums and look to see what they offer for children.
And of course the Zoo is always good for kids and you can easily get to on the Metro.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 12:42 PM
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obxgirl did a great job breaking down your itinerary. (She also helped us on our trip last summer, which was very appreciated.) Her comments about Archives reminded me that while I really enjoyed them, my 11 year old was frustrated.

When we went last summer, there was no line, where you went past single file. They just let a group in at a time, and people shoved their way in, like when we visited Italy. It was hard for him to get close enough to see with all the taller people. I figured it out part way through and tried to help slip him toward the front. You will each want a kid with you and help advocate for them from the start.
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