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NYC and Washington DC in a week with 4yr old and 6yr old

NYC and Washington DC in a week with 4yr old and 6yr old

Dec 18th, 2008, 08:59 PM
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NYC and Washington DC in a week with 4yr old and 6yr old

I'm working on Spring Break planning and running into the constraints of using frequent flyer miles. We can fly into NYC on a Friday nite and out of Washington DC on Saturday (one week later). I am wondering if this is crazy to attempt this much in a week.

I looked at the Amtrak site and it doesn't look too bad to travel by train between the two cities.

What would you do with 3 1/2 days in each city? Or would you split it differently?

My 6yr old daughter is very interested in "learning" things and my 4yr old is very active -- which makes for a challenging combination.

julieh is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 02:56 AM
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This sounds like a great trip. You won;t find any lack of things to learn - or to do in either city. You may want to consider splitting up a couple of times - so the older one can learn more and the younger one can do a little more running around.

Both cities have tons to do that kids will love - and plenty of places to run around (from Central Park and it's playgrounds to the huge open spaces of the Mall).

Major sights:

Top of the Rock
Museum of Nat'l Hist
(free) Staten Island ferry
Central Park (with small zoo, kids zoo, carousel and several playgrounds)

Large zoo
Air/space museum
Many outdoor momuments
Mt Vernon

There are so many things to do you could spend at least a week in each - but 3/4 days in eachwill give a good taste.

Not sure if Amtrak is the best way between them for a family of 4 - check on kids fares. Renting a car may be cheaper - but kids might enjoy the train more.

nytraveler is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 05:01 AM
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If you don't mind riding a bus with your children, it's a very economical way to travel between NYC and D.C. There are two fairly new companies, Bolt Bus and MegaBus, which are getting good reviews here in D.C. If you book early, the fares are incredibly cheap. Check their websites for details.
longhorn55 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Vamoose is another such bus service, and I agree they are getting great reviews.

nytraveler's lists are good, although Mount Vernon is somewhat hard to get to without a car. I'd add the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum (dinosaurs, bug zoo, Hope Diamond, a neat mammal exhibit and a new oceans exhibit). Natural History and Air and Space have IMAX theaters and you can buy timed tickets in advance for those on-line.

The National Zoo is a good place for both learning and stretching legs. So are the monuments, including the often-overlooked FDR Memorial. I'd also go to the Ellipse to see the White House. Go in the daytime when the little visitor's center there (and its restroom) are open very limited hours for some reason. Restrooms at the Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial and FDR Memorial are open late (or perhaps even 24 hours).

If you go to the Washington Monument, be sure to get timed tickets in advance on-line. But I wouldn't consider going up the monument essential.

There is a brand-new visitor's center for the Capitol:


DancingBearMD is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 05:55 AM
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For your 4 yr old, note there are several playgrounds in Central Park, some of which are fairly ordinary and others are more interesting:


If the weather is good, the kids would probably also enjoy rowing on the Lake, and watching the model boats in Conservatory Water. Next to Conservatory Water is a neat statue of Alice in Wonderland (and another of Hans Christian Anderson); also kids like the Balto statue which is near the Children's Zoo.


DancingBearMD is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 06:38 AM
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For the DC portion, I'd add the pedal boats on tidal basin near the Jefferson Memorial. Most kids love that even if the parents mostly do the work!

Mount Vernon is a lovely place to visit and if it's a nice day it would be a good place for the kids to run around (although there are lots of free places in DC for kids to run). "Learning" wise MV doesn't have much for the 6 and under set. The Smithsonian musuems do a much better job of that.
obxgirl is online now  
Dec 19th, 2008, 07:14 AM
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If I took kids that age to NYC, I'd have to go to Toys R Us (indoor ferris wheel!) and maybe FAO Swarz.
Anonymous is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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We did a trip like this when our kids were 6 and 8 and it was fantastic. Just a warning, bear in mind that Spring Break in DC is absolutely overrun with 8th graders from all over the country on "field trips".

I would do ONE Natural History Museum (not both), and personally I would skip the zoo except maybe to see the pandas at the Washington zoo. Where are you coming from (have they been to a zoo before?)

In NY, take a walk through Times Square (and include Toys R Us in your walk). It's not on nytraveler's list because she hates Times Square LOL!

In Washingon, don't skip the newly-reopened Museum of American History, even if just to see the flag about which the Star Spangled Banner was written (meaning the one flying over Ft. McHenry at the time).
sf7307 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 08:53 AM
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Oh, sorry, I would skip the big zoo -- I would do the Central Park Zoo (much more manageable and pleasant) on your day in Central Park).
sf7307 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 09:48 AM
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The Central Park Zoo and the Children's Zoo right next door is very nice for your age kids but if you aren't able to get that into your NYC schedule I'd still consider the National Zoo. The pandas, Amazonia and the farm animals are hits with our little ones. One tip--the National Zoo starts out high on Wisconsin Ave and ends down in the Rock Creek valley--it can be a hard walk back up the hill! During busy times though they run a shuttle bus that picks up at the bottom of the hill (near the farm animals) and takes you back up to near the top).
DancingBearMD is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 01:40 PM
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The train/Amtrak is much faster (about 3+/hrs) than any bus.
sandi is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Also, the train leaves from downtown NYC and arrives in downtown DC. It would be a great trip for the kids.

Sure, an adult could easily spend a whole week in both places, but with two young kids, I think this will be an ideal trip for the whole family. They'll see the iconic sights of each city and forever remember "The first time I saw ________ I was just a little kid...."
uhoh_busted is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 02:07 PM
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julieh, I don't know if you are coming from another big city or not, but if you don't have a good Children's Museum in your town, the one in NYC is perfect for 4-6 year olds. It's close to the museum of Natural History and Central Park and in a neighborhood with lots of kid-friendly places to eat.

Top of the Rock is great for adults but I would skip it with little kids. It's pricey (Adult $20.00 ,
Child (6-12) $13.00 ) and while not as busy as the Empire State building, may still have lines at that time of the year (what exact dates?)
The kids that age that I know would either be bored or scared of the heights.

Depending on when you are coming:
If you want to show them some kind of a view, the rooftop at the Metropolitan Museum overlooking Central Park and a lot of tall buildings might suffice.
Yes, there's even fun stuff for little kids to see at that museum, and you can just go for a short one hour visit if you like.
nyer is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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Amtrak's Northeast Regional is scheduled at 3 hours, 20-25 minutes (and is often late). The Acela is faster but significantly more expensive.

MegaBus leaves from Penn Station, just like Amtrak, and arrives at 9th and G Streets, which is certainly downtown DC, scheduled at 4 1/2 hours.

Check the prices and make your choice. Don't do it based on scenery, as I wouldn't say that Amtrak line is all that interesting.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 04:58 PM
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No - but if the kids get antsy it's a lot esaier to deal with on a train - where you can walk around - than on a bus.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 20th, 2008, 11:20 AM
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In NYC I would second the suggestions for FAO Schwarts/ Toys R Us / times square, central park for zoo and playground, and children's museum. I would add the ferry to Statue of Liberty (get off and walk around there) and Ellis Island (stay on ferry), and try to see a matinee off-broadway show. If the Blue Man Group is playing kids would love that -- music, colors, and silly string-- or another show you think they'd know and like. Make sure to get a hot dog from a cart, and a pizza from Ray's. Chinatown is fun for souvenirs and Little Italy is nearby for great kid friendly food. I take my 4yo son to any kind of museum... MOMA would be great. We play 'I Spy' with the art around us, keep the visit to about half an hour, and make a stop at the gift shop at the end for a postcard or small gift.

For DC, I would second the National zoo and Smithsonian museums... the Natural History has dinosaurs and is very cool, the Air & Space museum has some really fun interactive exhibits. I actually wrote a post about DC including restaurant picks,
and a reader of mine posted her favorites for the Virginia area
The gift shop at the Library of Congress is very cool... souvenir copies of historical documents that may come in handy as they get older. Seeing how huge Abe Lincoln is was cool, plus it's a great view of the mall from the top of the steps (we watched the 4th of July fireworks from there one year).

Two GREAT cities!!! Have fun!!
travellingmom is offline  
Dec 20th, 2008, 06:45 PM
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Thanks for all the responses and great ideas. We live in Montana so all BIG city stuff is fun to do.

We have decided to head to San Diego this spring break -- I think my 4 year old will like it (including Legoland, SeaWorld, Zoo, etc) and probably enjoy NYC/Wash DC a bit more in a year or two. Plus, we have family in the area to visit and stay with.

I'll keep all this info for our next trip! Thanks.

julieh is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 05:50 PM
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mbkbcb is offline  
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