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lynni Oct 6th, 2015 07:09 PM

Family Trip- 4 Nights- DC & Richmond
My boyfriend and I took my 14 year old son on a whirlwind birthday trip to Washington D.C. and Richmond Virginia spending two nights in each city. It can be done! Here's an overview and some impressions... happy to answer specific questions.

LAX to Washington D.C. on a non stop flight arrived around 8:30 EST and drove straight to the Americana Hotel (recommended by many posters here as a good choice for a budget hotel), which was easy to find and had a quick check in. We walked to the nearest Metro stop and headed for the National Mall. I love the monuments at night and my son did too! We took our time and walked from the Washington Memorial, to the WWII, Vietnam, Korean and Lincoln. We talked about past history and more current political events as we walked. He was most interested in the WWII and Lincoln monuments but thought that the Korean was the "coolest."

In the morning we headed to the Pentagon 9-11 -2001 Memorial and used the app that takes you on a 20 minute tour of the grounds. It was very moving and brought the history to life. We were the only people there that morning and were able to concentrate and remember. (My son was a newborn then and our visit was in late August just a few weeks before the anniversary of the terrorist attack. He has seen the news images his whole life and to see the dark concrete of the Pentagon and the actual spot was very sobering.) This memorial is incredibly well done and every single thing has meaning... such a comprehensive tribute to those who lost their lives and to those who helped save lives on that day.

We returned to the hotel about 2:00 AM EST and called it a night.

lynni Oct 6th, 2015 07:41 PM

Ooops... got interrupted!

After the Pentagon Memorial, we had reservations at Lincoln's Cottage. We loved seeing the grounds and found the information about President Lincoln and his family to be very interesting and a wonderful addition to the "usual information" one learns in school. We were very glad that we took the tour. ( Thanks Fodors!)

A visit to Arlington National Cemetery was next and we looked at tombstones, watched the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, saw President Kennedy's tomb and those of his family members and the museum areas. A tour might be the best was to see all of the highlights and memorials that the cemetery has to offer.

We intended to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum but we got there quite late in the day and the floors were already closed for tours. We did spend some time in the Hall of Remembrance and were deeply moved by the quotes and the sight and feeling of the space. Again, a wonderful time of deep conversation about history and current politics. We would like to go back in the future to spend the proper amount of time here.

We went back to the hotel for a quick nap and to freshen up before leaving for the ballpark! Washington Nationals against the Milwaukee Brewers! ( The Nationals lost the game but we had a wonderful time and my son was happy to add another ballpark to his "visited" list!

A bit about the Americana Hotel: The Americana Hotel was a good fit for us this trip. My boyfriend had a king room and my son and I shared a room with two double beds. I felt safe with a man along but I would not have wanted to be there on my own or on my own with children. The area is right off of a major freeway and the streets you walk to the metro are not busy or very populated. The continental breakfast and wifi was adequate, and it seems some rooms have been upgraded and some have not. We had hot water and a bed and I feel like we got exactly what we paid for... as others have stated.

lynni Oct 6th, 2015 08:00 PM

We had a 9:00 am reservation for Ford's Theater and the Petersen House, where President Lincoln died. This was very impressive and we learned so much. It was quite amazing to be in the place where it all actually took place! We were so glad we chose to see it all. To tie in the Lincoln Memorial, Lincoln's Cottage and this museum all in a few days time was just a super way to concentrate some learning and my son loved it, so did I.

Mount Vernon is amazing... I think we could've spent all day there. My son declared this his favorite experience of the entire trip. If you have children or a strong interest in President Washington, I suggest you just go ahead and plan for a full day here... one of the best museums of its kind and so much to see in the outbuildings, the gardens, etc.

Wanting to see a civil war battlefield, we chose Manassas where the first battle of Bull Run happened. Standing there in the twilight, looking at the cannons and walking over the ground where soldiers lost their lives, and learning about the methods of warfare that were so cutting edge at the time was very educational and we were only sorry it was getting late and we didn't have the time to see the whole park... especially the building where the surrender was signed.

lynni Oct 6th, 2015 08:16 PM

We checked into the Westin Richmond and walked to the Mexican restaurant across the parking lot ( forgive me, I didn't note the name) for a fabulous 14th birthday dinner! Long day... but so worth it!

On the third morning, I hit a wall. I was exhausted and tired of reading maps and walking and thinking. I told Jack we needed to go back to sleep until we woke up without an alarm. We work up at noon! I felt so much better and we were ready for another day out on the town.

We drove into downtown and parked at 12th and Clay in the VMC parking lot. We walked to the Capitol and enjoyed the incredible tour ( free!) and soaked up the history and graciousness of the grand buildings and artwork. We then drove to St. John's Church, Monument Avenue and saw the Richmond Battlefield.

Dinner wasn't so hot... my son had never been to Cracker Barrel and wanted to try it. We did... he liked the burger he ordered and liked the rocking chairs out front. ( We don't have Cracker Barrel on the Central Coast of California!)

In the morning we headed out on scenic Route 5 to see Jamestown and Yorktown and enjoyed every moment. SO much to do and see there and I want to go back and have the time to take a plantation tour or two or three... was sorry to have to drive past.

We made our Six o'clock flight home and can't wait to go back. So much to do and see. My son already has his list made out for his next visit!

longhorn55 Oct 7th, 2015 09:19 PM

Wow, what a fabulous trip! You certainly saw a lot of good stuff in a short amount of time.

Just a couple of notes--The house where the surrender was signed is at Appomattox Court House, not at Manassas Battlefield. You are probably confusing the two because there is a house on the grounds of Manassas Battlefield which was owned by the McLean family. This family later moved to Appomattox Court House and the McLean house there was where Lee surrendered to Grant.

Also, while the area around the Americana Hotel may be quiet, it is a very safe area. In fact, all of Arlington is a safe, low-crime city.

lynni Oct 8th, 2015 07:17 AM

Longhorn55: Thank you... I had misremembered that... The surrender!

Yes, I had heard that Arlignton and the area there is safe. I just wouldn't have wanted to be there alone or a woman alone with children. I think it's important to convey that because the hotel is often recommended on this board.

obxgirl Oct 8th, 2015 11:32 AM

Really enjoyed hearing about your DC and Richmond/Jamestown experience. You all packed a lot in to your short time but it sounds as if you got to see the things that were important to you.

Did you fly out of Richmond? It's a sweet airport -- very easy to navigate and generally not super busy.

I'm certainly not going to dispute your feelings about staying in Crystal City at the Americana Hotel but I would be interested in knowing if there was something specific that happened to you there that made you feel that it would be unsafe to be there alone or alone with children.

If I recall you said you all were flying into DC on a Friday night? CC certainly has its share of actual residents but it is primarily a work/business environment so it's not surprising that you would find it a bit empty. I think you would have found it a lot more active day & evening if you'd been there during the week.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback on your trip -- sounds like you'll be back!

pinehurstn Oct 12th, 2015 05:06 AM

I am new sing up and very nice topic and thanks for sharing all of you.

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