Itinerary suggestion needed for DC


Jul 17th, 2014, 09:33 AM
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Itinerary suggestion needed for DC

I plan to drive to DC from new York next week. I will be traveling with 2 kids 5 and 8 years. My plan is to leave from Plainview, NY around 6 am (or early to beat the traffic) and arrive DC . Spend the night in DC and drive back the following day evening after the traffic dies down(when would that be in DC?)

I want to hit all the highlights - FDR, Lincon, Jefferson memorial, white house, Washington monument, the capitol, WWII memorial, veterens and Korean war memorials. Did I leave any? When I plugged in all theses, it is about a 6 mile walking trip. Is walking and seeing the best way or are there other options. I have ruled out the taketours/gotobus tours as they are time bound. Is there a better way to split up?

What is the nearest subway/bus station that is accessible from a decent hotel 3 or 4 star hotel? Hotel recommendation is appreciated as well.
sarov is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 09:59 AM
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Walking is indeed the best way to see the things on your list. Smithsonian Air & Space Museum would be interesting for your children and is right on the Mall so you could easily see that as well.

As to your hotel, I'd use Tripadvisor to find a hotel in your price range, then plot it on the map feature to see where the nearest metro station is. When you use the map feature, you'll be able to see other hotels that may be nearer to a station and which you can then check out on the main Tripadvisor and finally triangulate on the one that would be best for you.

Can't help you with DC traffic as I don't live there.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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DC traffic at rush hour is similar to NYC - horrenduos.

And it seems like you will just be looking at th eoutside of things (you need reservations far in advance for the White House) - which would be a lot of walking with little kids (parking neat major sites is not an option).

I would try to do at least one of the Smithsonian museums that might interest them (Air and Space, Natural History?).

This is a really long drive to do just there and back with one night - I would never do DC without staying at least 3 nighs - esp with kids.
nytraveler is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 10:56 AM
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That's walkable but your children are rather young to appreciate some of your planned sites--WWII, Vietnam and Korea memorials in particular are places that people usually want to reflect. They aren't especially quiet or anti-kid but neither is there anything at them that would interest a child. Actually, a lot of your choices are like that.

I'd stick to the things they might recognize like the Washington Monument, the White House (look from outside, as noted, the tours are booked months out), maybe Capitol Building or Lincoln Memorial.

Then I would choose the Natural History Museum as a fun place for them to see some cool stuff that will appeal to them. It was my favorite museum as a kid. The Air and Space museum is also interesting.

It's great that you want to expose these kids to history and the nation's capital but you'll wear them out just walking around the mall looking at "boring" buildings.

Washington D.C. traffic is indeed like NYC traffic. So if you leave on a weekday you need to return either in the early afternoon or closer to 7 p.m.
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Jul 17th, 2014, 11:26 AM
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Regarding hotels: you're better off staying outside DC proper, leaving your car at the hotel, and taking metro to the Mall. Driving is miserable, and parking is even worse. When searching for a hotel, look for one that offers free parking and is within walking distance of a metro station. Try to search for hotels within your price range and for amenities you need.

I have been to DC with children, and the above three posters offer sound advice. Your itinerary would probably work for an ambitious adult, but with young children, that much walking (especially if you plan on going during the brutal heat of summer) is going to be daunting at best. Most children will not appreciate being trapped in a car for that long only to be taken on a march through DC to see things that will probably not interest them. When my then six year old daughter stood at Jefferson's feet (after two days of non-stop sightseeing), she rolled her eyes and muttered, "Great. ANOTHER statue........." The history and the significance of many of the monuments were lost on her.

The Natural History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, or even The Museum of American History would most likely be more appealing to children than speed walking the Mall to see the monuments.
tenthumbs is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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Good advice re: "forced march" of the monuments.

Hotels in D.C. (and many in the close suburbs) are going to charge for parking. Here are 3 hotels in Arlington, Virgina (just across the Potomac from D.C.) which are within walking distance of a Metro station and which do not charge for parking. In alphabetical order, they are: Americana Hotel, Best Western Iwo Jima and Holiday Inn Rosslyn @Key Bridge. (The last two hotels have an indoor pool which may be a "plus" with the kids.)
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Jul 17th, 2014, 12:10 PM
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I've never done it because I live in DC, but the National Zoo has "panda packages" with area hotels that your kids might enjoy:
The zoo is a fun stop for the kids.

Good advice above about the forced march to the monuments. As a kid I liked the Lincoln Monument and my friends' kids enjoy FDR- especially his dog statue and the fountains. I also have very fond memories of paddle-boating around the Tidal Basin:

If it were me, I would pay to park at a hotel on the metro a short trip from the Mall/monuments so you can make a quick mid-day trip back to the room for a dip in the pool (if there is a pool) or some down-time for the kids.

Another nice way to rest and cool off is to duck into one of the many IMAX theaters at the Smithsonian. Not only will the Air and Space or Natural History museums be interesting for the kids, they are also air conditioned. We are having a few days of lovely weather right now but it typically can be very muggy and hot so planning some indoor time will make the day easier on everyone.

Crystal City has lots of hotels and family-friendly dining, as does Bethesda (and you wouldn't have to drive all the way into DC if you stayed in Maryland).

Traffic on 95 or 295 into and out of the city will be very slow at rush hour. It once took us 7 hours to get to mid-town Manhattan from DC on a Thursday evening and most of that time was just spent sitting on 295 between DC and Baltimore. If the train is in the budget, that would be a fun way to avoid traffic too.

You could also make a stop right off 95 in South Baltimore to let the kids run around at Ft McHenry (beautiful waterfront views of B-more, lots of grass and paths, and the historic fort where the Star Spangled Banner was written). Plenty of little neighborhood restaurants on Fort Ave on the way from 95 to Ft McHenry (including Chipotle and McDs if you want a chain) for an early lunch before making the rest of the trek into DC. (We do the reverse when we drive to NYC and stop in New Brunswick for pizza.)
BlueSwimmer is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 12:25 PM
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I was in DC in April with my 10 year old. She did not appreciate the monuments or all the walking. She did like the Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum and parts of the American History Museum.

You know your kids, of course, so maybe they won't mind walking and looking at monuments.
kureiff is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 12:36 PM
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Agreeing with the advice above regarding the monuments!

We took our (then) 8 yr old to DC and the things he loved best were: Lincoln Memorial, Air and Space (especially the IMAX movie), Natural History Museum, viewing the White House (esp. the guards) and walking a very short distance on the mall.

The big surprise hit was the American History Museum - he loved seeing "The Star Spangled Banner." This may have been helped by the great ice cream at the snack bar.

Honestly you'll see less than you'd like in a day but probably more than they can really absorb. We found our trip went best when we moved at a slightly faster pace than the adults would naturally pick. And we stopped for a lot of snacks!
monkeyglass is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 12:40 PM
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"After the traffic dies down" you are heading back to New York? If this is on a regular workday that traffic might have died down around 7-7:30 PM or so.

Why are you DOING this to yourself and the children? A one-day forced march and believe me, if the kids love the Air and Space plan on being there for a while.
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Jul 17th, 2014, 01:07 PM
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>you'll see less than you'd like in a day<

I saw less than I wanted to in a WEEK!! There is so much to see and do..........
tenthumbs is offline  
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Jul 17th, 2014, 09:05 PM
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Not to pile on, but your plan is way too ambitious - "forced march" is only a little bit of an exaggeration. The drive itself is onerous, will take 5-6 hours each way under good conditions. Having a car is a liability in DC due to both traffic snarls and parking hassle and cost; if at all possible, consider the train or one of the low priced bus services. For example, Megabus leaves from 34th and 11/12th near NY Penn Station and arrives at DC Union Station where you can jump on the Metro. All in it may actually be cheaper than driving given the cost of gas, tolls and parking.

In DC you will have to contend with the summer heat and humidity along with crowds. Adding at least one additional hotel night would greatly enhance your experience. And I agree with looking for a place with a pool. The Penn Quarter neighborhood would be a good choice for you and around there are family friendly laces like Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites.
Seamus is online now  
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Jul 18th, 2014, 09:15 AM
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The train from Penn Station to DC is such an easy ride and then you don't have to deal with driving, traffic, or parking in DC. You are better off taking the metro in DC which is really easy to get around instead of having a car.
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Jul 18th, 2014, 09:17 AM
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You missed the Martin Luther King Memorial. That may be the only monument that your 8 year old may be interested in. To make the Lincoln Memorial a bit more interesting for the kids, have them find the marker of where MLK stood when he gave his "I have a dream" speech. Otherwise, they may be bored out of their minds.
gardendiva is offline  
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Jul 18th, 2014, 09:19 AM
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Another tip is that there are no restaurants to stop at near the monuments. I believe that there are the hot dog carts but no real food. Restrooms are also scares. I always carry at least water and a snack.
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Jul 18th, 2014, 11:40 AM
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Good point! Especially with little ones.

I had forgotten about the zoo (probably because it seems like more of an all-day activity) but I loved it.

Paddle boats are a really good suggestion, too because they are convenient to the monuments.
schlegal1 is offline  
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Jul 18th, 2014, 12:53 PM
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If you insist on driving, I'd stay outside the district in a hotel by a metro stop. The hotel will be cheaper and the metro is pretty fun for kids (and me! Don't judge...). Parking in DC is ridiculous and expensive. I'd suggest the (air conditioned) Museum of the American Indian. The cafeteria there is quite good, also.

Frankly, this sounds like the opposite of fun and I'm a adult with an interest in American History. You know your kids better than us, though...
Hobbert is offline  
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Jul 19th, 2014, 12:44 PM
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There are actually a fair number a restroom opportunities on the Mall. In addition to all of the museum and galleries, there are facilities at the Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR Memorials as well as the little visitor building near the Washington Monument.
obxgirl is offline  
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Jul 19th, 2014, 02:27 PM
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Honestly, the kids would enjoy the Inner Harbor including the National Aquarium in Baltimore. For the history buff there is the USS Constellation and Fort McHenry.
If going into Washington, park at Greenbelt MD and ride the Metro into the city. There are hotels near the Greenbelt station.
tomfuller is offline  
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Jul 22nd, 2014, 11:37 AM
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I live in DC. I see kids like yours being dragged around the Mall and elsewhere every day. No one looks happy. It's hot and humid and the Mall is just building after building. This is a terrible idea. The car rides alone will be interminable. DC traffic is horrific. I can't fathom why anyone would plan a day like this.If I were a kid I'd remember this day as long as I lived - and not in a good way.

Save it for when you can spend a week, maybe dividing the time between DC and Baltimore. And take the train.
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