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Family4Travelling to Washington DC - will this itinerary work?

Family4Travelling to Washington DC - will this itinerary work?

Old Nov 29th, 2006, 07:39 PM
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jgg
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Family4Travelling to Washington DC - will this itinerary work?

We are planning a trip to Williamsburg, D.C. and NYC for this June. Our kids will be 11 and 15. Before I purchase my plane tickets I want to be sure I have allocated enough time in each location. Right now I am planning on 6 nights in D.C. which would give us 5 full days.

This is how I have allocated the days so far, does it look doable? I have tried to limit it to one BIG museum a day. I have listed them as Day #1, etc. but they will not necessarily be in this order.

Day #1 - International Spy Museum
Ford's Theater
National Archives

Day #2 - Holocaust Museum
Bureau of Engraving
Old Post Office (see view from top - will
probably skip going to top of WA
monument)

Day #3 - Capitol (hope to get an inside tour)
Supreme Court
Library of Congress
White House (just walk outside)
Natural History Museum

Day #4 - Arlington Cemetery
Georgetown (shopping time)

Day #5 - Air & Space Museum
See the Memorials at night (start at Vietnam
Memorial while it is still light out.)

Any suggestions, recommendations are appreciated. Thanks!

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Old Nov 29th, 2006, 08:01 PM
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Just some observations...I am NOT a pro, though I do live in the area.

#1: Capital, Library of Congress and Supreme Court are a good grouping...very close together.

#2: I would move the Natural History Museum to the day you see the Air & Space Museum...proximity, again.

#3: Day 1 & 2 look ok to me.

#4: Use the Tourmobile (I will attach the link if I can find it) one day and hop on and off; maybe the day you go to Arlington Cemetery. That is a very good way to get there, though there is parking at the Cemetery as I remember. On the day you use the Tourmobile, you can get off near the White House and amble between it and the Wash Monument, looking up and down the Mall (The National Mall, that is; not the shopping mall!) You can also get off near the Lincoln Memorial which is in easy walking distance to the Viet Nam Memorial.

#5: Day 3 is very full.

Tourmobile:

http://www.tourmobile.com/
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Old Nov 29th, 2006, 09:48 PM
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I live in the area, so I've been to most of these places many times. If you decide you have to leave something out, I suggest the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. If you can squeeze something else in, I have two suggestions:

1) The new American Indian Museum. It is located between the Air and Space Museum and the Capitol, so you might be able to fit it in on day three. Move the Museum of Natural History to another day. I have heard that the Indian Museum has a great cafeteria.

2) The FDR Memorial. It's open with lots of water features as well as inspiring quotations engraved on the walls. It's a bit hard to get to, but from there you can walk around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial.

Personally I'd leave out the shopping, but that may be something your kids especially want to do. Have a great trip!
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 12:27 AM
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I believe you can get to the FDR if you use the Tourmobile; you could also use the Metro to get to Arlington Cemetery since it has its own dedicated Metro stop.

Tourmobile (or Old Town Trolley) are good ways to get around the area.

You might also consider the Korean War Memorial and the WW II (although I like the FDR better than the latter); you can walk between several of these if you really want to.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 02:09 AM
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We took our kids to Washington DC when they were about your kids' ages. They really had a good time. The most fun time they had, though, was when we took a side trip to Mt. Vernon. You can walk through the property, take a hay ride, etc. Maybe you could look into that on the day you visit Arlington Cemetery.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 04:02 AM
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The Old Post Office would also fit into Day 1. It's closer to these sites, so it would be easy. I would recommend playing it by ear and doing it on Day 1 if the weather is good. You could then do Air & Space on Day 2.

Also, the new Air & Space museum at Dulles is very good. It's a drive or a shuttle bus from the Mall museum, but if you're interested in looking at planes and spacecraft, it's definitely worth the trip.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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jgg,

Your itinerary looks just fine. The minor tweaking suggested by others above all has their merits but are not relevant this early on. After all you’re just getting plane tix and the trip is 6 months out.

I have a few minor comments also:

Take a walk through the Capitol Hill neighborhood in the middle of Day #3, perhaps including lunch in the Eastern Market area.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing tour bored me to death - some people here say they liked it. The "highlight" is just seeing pallets filled with uncut bills. Yaaawwwwn. You get to wait in line for the privilege as well. There are other factory tours in other cities I found much more interesting.

Doing your "shopping day" (Georgetown) on a weekday will make for a more pleasant day.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 06:35 AM
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I would also skip the Bureau of Engraving tour. From the Holocaust Museum you can walk northwest past the Washington Monument towards the White House. If you still have some more energy to walk, you can walk further west on Constitution towards 21st Street. In front of the National Academy of Sciences Building on the left behind some shrubs is a wonderful statue of Einstein. It may be touristy, but I think this is a good photo-op. You can also this at night.

I also think day 3 is full. I know you don't want 2 big museums in 1 day, but you may consider doing both the Natural History and Air and Space on the same day (proximity as someone had pointed out earlier). Maybe do one in the morning, break for lunch, and do the other in the afternoon.

Since the memorials are never really closed, you can see them at night each night that you are in town. The Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean are all in the same area. I haven't been to the new WWII yet, but I assume it's in the vicinity, too. The Park Rangers are there until 11 pm, I think.

I highly recommend the FDR, but I would allow some time as it's fairly big compared to the other memorials. I haven't done it, but I think you can walk from here to the Jefferson Memorial. Personally, I prefer to see the memorials at night. They're less crowded and more effective (esp. the Korean Memorial if the light catches the soldiers at the right angle). If you prefer to see a memorial in the daytime, then I would choose the Jefferson.

Finally, in terms of shopping, instead of Georgetown, maybe you can do that after Arlington Cemetary on day 4. A popular mall among teenagers is Pentagon City Mall. It's 2 Metro stops away from the Arlington Cemetary stop. Perhaps check out the cemetary in the morning. Then head to the mall for lunch in the food court and shop. Then rest at your hotel and head to Georgetown for dinner and maybe some more shopping. Lots of stores in Georgetown are also located at Pentagon City.

I think DC in the spring and early summer is the best time. Have fun!
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 07:21 AM
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Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. I must admit I went to the Bureau of Engraving when I was a kid and still remember being mesmerized by those big sheets of dollar bills - It must be something kids really think is neat. I guess we can play it by ear depending on how long the line is.

With a 15 yo daughter in tow, shopping is a must. Plus I think it is nice to breakup the days and have atleast one day not so focused on siteseeing all day. We are more interested in small boutique or specialty stores rather than a mall that would have a lot of stuff similar to where we live. Does Georgetown have that or is there another neighborhood good for that?

Thanks for all the recommendations about the memorials. I think doing them one evening will be the way to go. Is the tourmobile like a hop-on-hop-off bus? So we can get out to look at them? Is that the best way to do it at night?

Also, we are considering staying in DuPont Circle (possibly at Hotel Palomar). We like to be near restaurants so after a long day of siteseeing we don't have to go too far for good food. Also, I like to eat a big breakfast before starting our day, so hoping there will be good options near there for that as well. Don't need to have the nightlife bar scene, but do you think DuPont Circle will work?
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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Just reread the posts and realized pollyw already answered my question about the tourmobile and it being hop-on-hop-off - thanks!
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 07:51 AM
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Georgetown does still have some boutique stores, in addition to the major chains.

If you like boutique and specialty stores, then I would head to the new 'hip' area of town now along U Street, NW. There's a Metro stop there off of the green line (13th and U), but from Dupont Circle you can probably walk due east over or catch a crosstown bus. This area has undergone a sort of renaissance, and with it come funky stores and some good eateries as well. Check out this site:

http://www.destination360.com/north-...-u-streets.php

One of my favorite things to do in DC is Sunday brunch (French restaurant Montmartre or more casual counters) at Eastern Market (Capitol Hill area). There is a Metro stop here off of the blue/red line. Afterwards, you can browse through the flea market and outdoor crafts fair.

I think the DuPont Circle area is a good and central place to stay, with lots of good restaurant choices. I highly recommend the 'restaurant' Teaism:

http://www.teaism.com/

It's specialty is tea, but the food here is also very good. For dessert, I like Afterwords Cafe, part of the independent bookstore Kramerbooks, although the food here is pretty good, too. If you go late enough, there's entertainment that usually starts around 10 pm.

Enjoy!
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:21 AM
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Hotel Palomar is a perfect choice and couldn't be more convenient - both to the Metro next door and the Dupont dining spots(especially the restaurants on P st. between 19th and 22nd) There is also a theater complex, cafes, etc. right outside the hotel.

Even if Pentegon City Mall has SOME of the same places as Georgetown, the choices are much greater in Georgetown itself. The boutiques, vibve, and ambience can't be topped for a 15yo daughter.

Don't change a thing.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:23 AM
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You've probably already been advised of this, but I would move the Natural History Museum on day 3 to day 5.

Be prepared with a few "just in case" things to do as well--if things are closed, in case of bad weather, if the kids are bored stiff in one place, etc. My DH and I went on one of the Duck tours the last time we were in DC and it was fun, especially the splash down in the Potomac. I always like to have some sort of "overview" tour on my first day anywhere, just to get started and perhaps revise my itinerary as I see changes are needed.

Your kids are the perfect age for Williamsburg. The golf club adjoining is a very good place for lunch. If you can get a table on the terrace it should be heavenly in June. Outside, the pond has many hand-fed, tame carp that are so thick at the banks ducks must walk on their backs to get out of the water! Our children loved seeing that--
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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Thanks to everyone! Especially for the shopping and restaurant tips Scout & bardo. Reading replies on Fodors always makes me so much more excited for the trip!

kswl - thanks for the suggestion about the Duck tour. I had considered a similar thing on our trip to London (through the Thames) but we didn't do it, maybe this time we will. Definitely something my 11 yo son would love.

As an aside question, since I recognize many of your names from the Europe boards. We were in London last March and saw the Holocaust Exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. It was EXCELLENT!! My husband and I have been to the Holocaust Museum in DC about 12 years ago and am definitely considering going again on this trip. However, I don't want the kids to feel as though it is a redo of what they just saw. I know the museum is much bigger in DC and I specifically remember that wall with all the striped uniforms on it - very moving.
Just wondering if any of you have been to both and if you can give some advice. Otherwise I am just going to include the Holocaust in DC as well.



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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 11:23 AM
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Don't skip the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. While I have not seen the exhibit at the Imperial War Museum, I have seen similar things in Amsterdam and elsewhere. The Holocaust Memorial Museum is just so much better and more. The Dafur exhibit alone is worth your time, but there is SO much and it is done SO well. My two cents.

http://www.ushmm.org/
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Hi, I'm not an "expert" with DC, but your post caught my eye since our family w/ an 11 & 15 year old just got back from a fabulous DC trip. These are my suggestions:

1. Read the other posts on here about DC w/ kids. Very helpful ideas

2. Get advanced tickets to what you can. For example, the Spy Museum. We got there at 10 a.m. (which it opens) and there are already an hour line, but since we had advance tickets, we could walk right in. VERY COOL!

3. We LOVED driving around & walking around the Memorials at night. If you don't have a car, I'd recommend still going down there via bus or an Old Trolley Tour, and seeing the momuments/memorials with their lights at night. BEAUTIFUL

4. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Convention Center, which was walking distance to the Mall, Spy Museum, & tons of restaurants. They served an incredible breakfast & all of their rooms are suites, which was really nice. VERy, very pleased w/ our stay there.

5. My 15 year old daughter isn't big into museums, but enjoyed all of the ones that you've mentioned.

6. Important to remember that DC is HOT & HUMID in the summer---allow time to be in AC places, plan on getting lots of bottles of water, wear cotton clothes, etc

7. Most of the museums have very cool gift shops which your daughter might enjoy.

HAVE FUN!

~~Mandie
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 01:01 PM
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We visited DC in June 2004 for the same number of days, when our kids were just about the same ages. I copied our trip report here for your consideration. I will be happy to answer specific questions.

Rich

Just got back from 6 nights in DC, along with a raft trip in Tennessee, a ballgame in Baltimore and two days in the Outer Banks.

Background first: we are a Dad, Mom, Son 14, and Daughter 11 from Arkansas. We stayed at the DoubleTree Suites on New Hampshire Avenue, a 5 minute walk from the Foggy Bottom Metro station. We had a bedroom with two queen beds, a living room with sofa bed, and kitchen with full size refrigerator, dishwasher and stove. Cost was $149 a night plus $20 parking. I would definitely stay there again.

Monday was Memorial Day and rainy. Visited the National Gallery of Art and the American History Museum. After supper we went to the National Archives which was not crowded at all in the evening.

Tuesday we started in Arlington National Cemetery. Took the Tourmobile to the Kennedy Graves and the Tomb of the Unknowns. The ceremony at the Tomb was very moving and one of the best things we saw all week. From Arlington we took the metro to the Smithsonian station and started walking the memorials. Passed by the Washington Monument, then to WWII, Vietnam, Lincoln, Korean, FDR, Jefferson, and back to the Smithsonian metro. We walked about four miles that day.

Wednesday we had prearranged tours of the White House and Capital. Our White House tour time was 9:30, but they let us in as soon as we got there, about 20 minutes early. The whole walk through took less than a half hour, but at least we can say we've been there. We had to go back to the hotel for our cameras and then headed to our Congressman's office for our staff led tour of the Capital. We were able to see both the Senate and House in session. While we were in the neighborhood we also visited the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and ate supper in Union Station.

Thursday we started in the Air and Space Museum where we took a docent led tour and then explored on our own. The second part of the day was spent at the Natural History Museum. After supper we got the car out for the only time all week and drove to the west side of the Capital (plenty of parking), to the Ellipse for pictures of the White House (very little parking) and then to as close to the Vietnam Memorial as I could park. We walked to the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials to see them lit at night.

Friday we went to the Spy Museum, then to Ford's Theater and the Old Post Office Tower for a great view of the city.

On the way home we took a family poll to rank the attractions. We saw so many things, we split them into categories: Memorials, Museums and Other. I hope this might help others decide what to see in limited time.

Here they are ranked from most to least favorite:
Memorials: WWII, Vietnam, Lincoln, FDR, Korean, Jefferson
Museums: Air and Space, Natural History, National Gallery of Art, Spy, American History
Other: National Archives, Capital, Arlington Cemetery, White House, Library of Congress, Ford's Theater, Supreme Court

As you can see it was a busy week. We took the Metro all over (we had 7-day passes), but still walked A LOT. The activities we could do each day were limited more by aching feet than by time. I will be glad to answer any and all questions. Hope it wasn't too long.

Rich
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 03:51 PM
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bardo - thanks for your two cents, I won't skip the Holcaust Museum.

Mandavilla & Rich - Thanks so much for all your tips. It is always good to hear from other families. Rich - What was the ceremony at the Unknown Tomb? Does it happen daily, at what time? Those are the kind of experiences I love!

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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 05:37 PM
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The ceremony we saw was the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unkowns in Arlington Cemetery. I beleive they do it every hour. Should not be missed.
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 10:47 PM
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Sounds like you'll have a great trip and I think you've alloted a good amount of time. I think we spent just about the same amount of time on our visit a couple of years ago.

You probably have already heard this, but it is a good idea to check your senator or congressperson's website or contact their offices as they can arrange several tours for you. We really enjoyed our Capitol tour arranged through our senator's office as we got to tour with a very small group and didn't have to wait in any lines. If you're interested in trying for a White House tour, you need to apply through those offices (worth a shot and it's free.)

Have a great time!
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