Inexpensive but good DC tour?

Jul 16th, 2003, 01:28 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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Inexpensive but good DC tour?

We'll be in DC for only one day. Staying at the Jurys Doyle Hotel.

Would like my wife to see the Congress Building, the White House, Ford theatre, a good mall, Arlington and a bit of the Smithsonian.

Can anyone recommend a good but inexpensive tour?
ccsc is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 04:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Well, I'm sorry I can't offer ideas on a tour, but maybe I can get you a little oriented to help your planning.

The White House, Ford's Theatre and the Capitol are all pretty close to each other - there's no need to tour to them. The "mall" where the Washington Monument and many of the Smithsonian buildings are located are also in that area. Also, Ford's Theatre is currently closed for renovations until September 30th.

By Arlington, do you mean Arlington Cemetery or something else? If you want Arlington Cemetery, you can take a metro on the Blue Line from Farragut West near the White House to the Cemetery. It takes about 10 minutes and is very easy.

By "mall" you mean a shopping mall? There aren't any in downtown DC. You could metro to Pentagon City, which has a pretty good mall. It's also on the Blue Line and only a few more stops past the Cemetery.

I hope this helps some. If you have more specific questions, or different ones, please ask.

kaudrey is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 04:31 AM
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Hi again,

I found this website that may interest you. I have never used these, so I can't comment on their worth, except to say that they seem kind of expensive to me - you can walk and metro for MUCH cheaper!
kaudrey is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 04:44 AM
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The Tourmobile is a great way to hit all the highlights. We did the American Heritage tour. Here is a link to their site:
CMills is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 05:05 AM
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Whew, that is a LOT of ground to cover in one day. IMO, you won't be able to do all of it, esp if you want to spend any time in one of the various Smithsonian museums, or the two art museums on the mall.

For organized tours, take a look at the options (including a hop-on-hop off bus that may be a good option) take a look at I don't believe any of these would take you inside any building, and none would include any tours of the Smithsonian museums.

If you want to tour yourself, I would start at the US Capitol. After you have seen this as well as the Supreme Court Building and any of the other buildings (Library of Congress, various House and Senate office buildings) you can take the metro to the White House area. As noted above the White House and Ford's theatre are within walking distance of each other. A stroll down to the mall to go to the top of the Washington Monument and look down to the Lincoln Memorial can be added. You can also walk over to the Jefferson Memorial, a bit further away.

Getting to Arlington National Cemetery will take a good chunk of time out of your day. I think you would have to give up the Smithsonian to do this, assuming you wanted to hit the White House, Capital and the major monuments on the mall. If not, then go to Arlington instead of some of the above.

There is an indoor mall and food hall in the Old Post Office Building at 12th and Pennsylvania Ave, NW, a few blocks from the White House. The shops are mainly souvenir stalls, but it as a pretty good spot for lunch. The best and really only true mall in DC is Georgetown Park, on M Street (corner of Wisconsin Ave) in Georgetown. However, IMO one mall is pretty much like another and there is nothing special here or in any of the malls in the suburbs that would make it worth giving up seeing the White House, Capitol or the major monuments. Take a look at Again, if you are in the neighbourhood, it is good for lunch, although IMO there are a lot nicer restaurants in Georgetown itself along Wisconsin and M Street.

As of a few months ago, all White House tours and tours of the US Capital are suspended. Check with your Representative about tours of Congress, here are some websites that you should also take a look at: - click on History and Tours ? main website for the Smithsonian Museums ? National Park Service, they operate the Washington Monument and most other monuments in DC. ? Click on Visitor's Centre
You can still go to the viewing galleries of the House and Senate during times when they are in session. You can get viewing gallery passes from your Senator or Represenative. Although not the same as a tour, you will get a glimpse of the buidling going in and out, and will see the chambers, which are a large part of the tour anyway. (The other large part is the Rotunda.)

Cicerone is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 06:03 AM
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I take my visitors on the Trolley Tour. Leaves Union Station (though you can board and pay at some other stops too), and goes by all the major sights (except Arlington cemetery) but does go past all the Embassies and up to National Cathedral. It has a lot of stops (including Georgetown), and you can get on and off as often as you like to see what interests you. The trolley operators provide a running narration of everything you see. I think it is about $24 for the day.
Mich55 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 06:53 AM
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In addition to the comments made by "Cicerone" about the Old Postoffice Building, theres a free tour of the clock tower, which offers a pretty good view of the city.

Last time I was in DC, if you bought tix for the Tourmobile after 1 or 2 pm (can't remember which) you could get the entire next day as well for something like an additional $3 Look into that.

The Metro system is cheap, safe, clean, and efficient, and a good way to do your own tour. Everywhere that typical tourists would want to go is safe. I've also done some walking tours with a group called "Washington Walks" (, I think) which were good. Enjoy!
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 10:41 PM
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First if your arrival is the evening before, and then 1 full day, then here is what i would do. First evening take the monuments after dark tour ( grey line -it picks you up and drops you off at your hotel) you will get all the high points. Then the next morning hop on the tourmobile ( hop on hop off ) from your hotel or close by, it goes to all the major sites. As for museums american history 1 & 1/2 hour, Natural history 45 minutes, Space museum 45 minutes, the white house can be seen from tourmobile as well as congress ( tour is hard to do ) , and supreme court, library of congress etc. can be viewed from trolly. Then trolly will take you to georgetown ask to be dropped off at the mall next to the c&o canal ( very nice mall ) and walk arround the area 1 &1/2 hour, next stop arlington cemetery, they have a tour bus or you can walk to sites you desire 1 & 1/2 hour. There is a full 10 hour day with union station included 15-30 minutes.

Like i stated if you arrive the evening before, if not just take the tour bus ( trolly ) and hop off at any site you desire it is the best way to see the city. And if you are not to tired take the monuments after dark tour that evening, if you really have only one full day and 1 evening. total cost is about $60.00 per. person. nick
sail10 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2003, 12:07 AM
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Thanks evryone.

This is precious information for us.

I am really looking forward to this wonderful experience.

Sounds like we'll have to return and stay awhile.
ccsc is offline  
Jul 17th, 2003, 04:24 PM
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I wouldn't advise taking any of the paid tours. The Tourmobile and Trolleys are okay if you have a whole day to kill riding them or if you have trouble walking. They get stuck in traffic a lot and are not worth the money. You'd be better off getting a one day metro pass ($5) and seeing all the sites yourself. If you have time, contact your congressman's office for a tour of the capitol (about 2 hours). You can walk by the White House anytime (McPherson Square metro) and see the Ford Theatre while you're near the Capitol. Arlington Cemetary is huge and it is a good idea to take the Tourmobile here ($5.25 each), it takes about 1-1 1/2 hours depending on how long you tour each stop (Unknown Soldier, Kennedy gravesite & Lee house). I found this site especially worth it. The Smithsonians are only open 9-5 except for the Natural History which is open until 7pm I think throughout the summer. If it was me, I'd pick one museum (American History), start at 9am, out by 10:30, next White House, next Longworth building for lunch (right next to Capitol), then Capitol tour, then Arlington Cemetary. If you have time, do see the monuments at night, but don't pay, you can park close enough to them if you go after 9pm. Skip the shopping malls-all boutique tourist traps anyway. You did not mention how you were getting into town but if you are driving in or out, try to stop and see the National Cathedral, simply awesome!
jasmo is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 10:51 AM
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As to the mall, if you mean shopping mall, there is one in DC in Georgetown (called Georgetown Shops or something). It is an upscale mall, but I would also recommend taking the metro to Pentagon City as probably the best idea on that. I prefer it. There is also one up in Chevy Chase right at a metro stop. These malls are not boutique tourist traps IMO at all -- they are regular shopping malls with regular stores. A lot are chain stores available in lots of cities (eg, Nordstrom's), but that's the state of shopping malls everywhere, I guess.
Christina is offline  
Jul 20th, 2003, 02:02 PM
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If you all are early risers, one way to pack more sightseeing into your day would be to start out at Arlington Cemetery which opens at 8 am. The first tourmobile leaves at 8:30 and you can buy your ticket there. It's a cooler time of day to visit if you're headed to DC in the summer months. The cemetery is on the Metro Blue Line. Two more stops on the Blue Line will take you to Pentagon City Mall (upscale stores like Nordstom).
obxgirl is offline  

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