DC Tours for Our Family Trip

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Apr 27th, 2012, 07:18 PM
  #1
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DC Tours for Our Family Trip

I am not finding recent posting about tours.

We arrive Sunday afternoon 5/27 and will stay a week and have kids 11,8, and 5. Our first real trip to DC.

I had thought we'd do the hop on and off tour as a way to get the overview of the city.

We're not big tour bus folks, used to independent travel but I like the idea of an overview and getting our bearings. I also think that the Duc tour sounds neat but also the night time tour.

I'd be willing to 2 but all three sounds like a lot!

Duc and Day on and off...but then no night?

Night and Duc?

Thanks for any thoughts
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Apr 27th, 2012, 08:12 PM
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With kids, I'd do the Day on and off. The best tours are at night but think more for Adults...

You might find the 911 Pentagon Memorial facinating and while teh kids might not get the importance..it is eqally stunning in day and night.

Alot of tourist places are accesible with the underground rail...
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Apr 27th, 2012, 08:29 PM
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Each of those tours is going to cost your family of 5 around $150.00 and they are all going to overlap somewhat. Personally, I think that you can see a great deal of the city on your own with a good map, a good pair of shoes and a Metro farecard.

However, if your budget will handle these fees and it's something you really want to do, I would rank the tours in this order:

1. Old Town Trolley Tour (if only because it will take you up to the National Cathedral area). If you do any HOHO tour, do NOT get off to see anything until you have done a complete loop. Once you get off, the waits for another bus with available seats can be quite long--especially over the holiday weekend.

2. D.C. Ducks--While I have not done this tour, I have read a lot of comments that kids love it. And I have seen a lot of happy people on the Ducks when I've been driving around D.C.

3. Monuments by Moonlight Tour--This is one that is especially easy to do on your own so I wouldn't pay to go on a tour. Basically, do it in two groups: 1)WWII-Korean War-Vietnam War-Lincoln Memorial and then 2) Jefferson Memorial-FDR-MLK Jr. There are park rangers at all of these sites to answer your questions. There's no need to go to the Washington Monument as it is closed due to the earthquake damage last year.

Finally, since you will be here during the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally, in addition to the Memorial Day weekend, be prepared for huge crowds.
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Apr 27th, 2012, 10:37 PM
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We did an evening walking tour of the monuments with DC by Foot http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/dc/ in October 2011. It is tip-based, so you pay what you feel it's worth. Our guide, Chris, was excellent - knowledgeable and had a good sense of humor. There were families there with younger kids, so yours should fit in fine.

Lee Ann
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Apr 28th, 2012, 04:17 AM
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Thanks for replies. I might do the Duc tour for the fun and novelty and then see if we want to do the hop on and off. Doing the night time touring on our own.

Crowds!!! We are there for a cousin wedding and then added a week. Our school ends early so we were hoping it would be less crowded that first week of June than later in the Summer....or Spring Break.

Any tips on which things to do on which days to minimize crowds. Looks like the HOHO tour is not running Monday due to rolling thunder.

my original thought had been to start our week with that to get an overview
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Apr 28th, 2012, 05:29 PM
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Rolling thunder disrupts travel but only on the weekend. It will be crowded then, but you are right about Tuesday onward--it is early in the season for family travel and school group travel drops off as end-of-term stuff keeps them home.
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May 9th, 2012, 05:45 AM
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Any thoughts on timing to avoid crowds? Which museums to do early or evening?
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May 9th, 2012, 07:23 AM
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The three most popular Smithsonian museums are the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum. They are going to be packed and I'd recommend seeing them early or late in the day to avoid the majority of the crowds.
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May 18th, 2012, 11:24 AM
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I have been to DC a few times in the last few years. My most valuable tool was a map of DC printed by Map Easy. You can get them online or at any bookstore.

It is sort of cartoon based so the kids will find it fun. I liked it because it has everything on it on you can get a feel for where places are in relation to other places. The monuments, museums, restaurants, hotels and most importantly, Metro stops and a map of the Metro. For the restaurants it gives you and idea of cost.

I agree that you can do the night tour on your own. The night tours last until 10 or 11 at night and involve a bit of waiting for everyone to get back on the bus at every stop. Breaking it up into 2 nights as longhorn55 suggested is a great idea.

Don't miss the zoo. Go in the morning before it gets too warm. Woodley Park is a great place for lunch. Many options.
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May 18th, 2012, 12:10 PM
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I've been to DC with my daughter, my niece and my nephew. My daughter has gone every year from age 10 to 16. My niece and nephew went with me last year at ages 7 and 9. What they liked best (in no particular order) was the American History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the zoo, and the Duck Tour.

If you want to avoid crowds, try the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum (part of the Smithsonian) near Dulles. You can get there using public transportation (combo Metro/bus), takes a while to get there, but it's much less crowded and has some very interesting exhibits.
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May 18th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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Try to get out to Mt. Vernon on your own so you can take your time and enjoy a truly beautiful spot. There is a way to do this by public transport. Well worth the effort. Our daughter was 11 at the time and also fascinated with the Archives and Arlington.
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May 19th, 2012, 08:53 AM
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I'm pretty sure you can get to Mt. vernon by boat.
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May 24th, 2012, 01:22 PM
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As a DC Resident, here are a few tips:
-Take the metro for easy getting around (and stand on the right side of the escalators to placate anxious businesspeople who walk on the left)
-Capital Bikeshare has stations all around DC, even around the National Mall ($7/day but make sure to check it in the rack every 30 minutes to not get charged extra!)
-Plan a walk around the Tidal Basin (prettiest walk in DC probably, wraps around a small body of water and includes the Jefferson, FDR, MLK Memorials). You could also double this with a free, tips-appreciated tour with DC Walkabout. http://dcwalkabout.com (they have a tour around the tidal basin that is basically led by a historian, as well as a Capitol Hill tour)
-For the best views of the city, try the following:
1) The Taft Bridge is a section of Connecticut Avenue between Dupont Circle and Woodley Park, and offers a wide vista into what DC used to look like, easily one of my favorite spots.
2) Take a ride up the Old Post Office Pavilion Tower. (12th & Pennsylvania avenue NW) This is operated by the park service (NPS) and is free, as well as the only way to get a birds eye view of DC right now, since the Washington Monument is currently closed for repair.
-Go to the Iwo Jima Memorial or Arlington Cemetery, and then turn around and look across the Potomac at DC. You will thank me when you get back home and realize how good the picture came out.
-If going to the Capitol Building, make sure to go to the East front, as you can get much closer to the building and there is far more detail on that side. Plus, in the mornings, the sun will be in your eyes on the west side, and only on the east side can you stand on the capitol steps.
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May 28th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Hi, I am also appreciating everyone's answers here. My kids are a bit older--16, 14 and 11. Some people have told us to do the monuments by bike and others have told us to do them at night. I am guessing I cannot rent bikes at night, so which do you think would be more enjoyable? I am leaning toward the night approach.
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May 28th, 2012, 03:51 PM
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A few reasons to do the monuments at night as opposed to the bike tour: 1) the days can be hot and humid and not pleasant for a long bike ride, 2) you don't have to worry about riding around all the pedestrians, 3) the monuments look really nice in the evening when they are all lit up.

Since your kids are old enough to walk to all the monuments, you might just want to do a night time tour on your own rather than paying for an organized bus tour. (We do a self-guided walking tour when we have guests visiting us.) All the monuments are easy to find with a decent map; there are park rangers available to answer any questions you might have; and you'll save a lot of money.
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May 29th, 2012, 12:20 AM
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Thank you! We do like to bike at home but your thoughts all make more sense and where I was leaning. Some people have talked about splitting them up over two nights, but I don't entirely see how we would do that if we are taking the Metro (Smithsonian stop?) to get there at night?

It appears to me that once we get there, most of them surround the long Reflecting Pool. The one that appears to be a real outlier is the FDR monument--is it worth the extra trek?
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May 29th, 2012, 05:49 AM
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There are 3 monuments that are found around the Tidal Basin--the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. They are all worth the extra trek.
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May 29th, 2012, 09:06 AM
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FDR memorial is my favorite in DC, but all r worth c'ing.
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May 29th, 2012, 10:04 AM
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The monuments have a different look and feel at night. The Korean War Memorial is almost eerie at night, and I find the WWII Memorial more majestic at night.

Keep in mind that the Mall is almost 2 miles long, from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial......
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May 29th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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I thought the Korean War Mem. was more dramatic at night, but the Vietnam was difficult to appreciate in the dark since I wanted to look for a local man's name.
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