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Seniors need help with itinerary for grandkids!

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Nov 27th, 2013, 05:01 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Mar 2004
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Seniors need help with itinerary for grandkids!

My husband and I (70 years old each but regularly walk 2 to 3 miles or more) are taking our granddaughter and girlfriend (12 years old) to DC, arriving Saturday 12/28 for 2 nights and leaving Monday 12/30. It's about a 3-1/2 to 4 hour drive for us. We are looking at places to stay: Marriot Courtyard Washington Convention Center at 900 F Street NW; Washington Marriot at Metro Center at 775 12th Street NW; and Embassy Suites Washington DC Convention Center at 900 10th Street NW. I really like the Courtyard Marriot the best because of the reviews and location, but I think the Embassy Suites is a better choice for us since it is a suite and will give us and the girls more privacy. What is your opinion on the location of these hotels and our choice of Embassy Suites.

This is the itinerary we put together so far (can move things around depending on time available):

Sat 12/28 arriving DC around 12:30 pm, check in hotel and valet our car. Then Museum of Natural History and Air & Space Museums.

Sun 12/29 – American History Museum, Holocaust Museum and Spy Museum, maybe dinner in Chinatown, then evening Memorial Tour. (If we can’t fit all this in that day, will do the Spy Museum next day)

Monday 12/30 – Spy Museum if we didn’t see it Sunday. National Zoo doesn’t excite us. Any other attractions you could recommend. Maybe drive (?) to Georgetown and then head home.

What is your recommendation for the evening tour. Have looked at OnBoard and Old Town Trolley Monuments by Moonlight Night Tour (doesn’t include WWII Memorial which I had really want to see).

Any recommendations on hotel, itinerary and other attractions are appreciated. Also what is best way to get from Embassy Suites to the Mall?

ALL HELP APPRECIATED!!!
jamamac is offline  
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Nov 28th, 2013, 02:55 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Have you asked the girls what interests them? At that age , I definitely would have enjoyed a visit to an art museum. Why not introduce them to the websites of the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art? They may have some preferences...I do think Natural History, American History, and Holocaust museums are excellent choices. We have never been to the Spy Museum so cannot comment. We recommend the Newseum to all our friends.

Have fun!
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Nov 28th, 2013, 05:51 AM
  #3
 
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If there is the threat of a snowstorm at that time, consider parking at an Amtrak station with free parking and take a train into WAS. The two of you get senior discount (15%) off adult fare and the kids are 50% off.
You could get to DC with the car and get stuck there for NYE.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 10:09 AM
  #4
 
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We stayed at that particular Embassy Suites a few years ago. It was quite nice. We walked to the Mall several times -- maybe a mile or a little more. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for you.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 10:28 AM
  #5
 
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The Museum of the American Indian is pretty interesting. Lots of exhibits and artifacts on display. The cafeteria there, Mitsitam, is fantastic. They have food from all over the Americas. It's a bit pricey- my husband and I paid about $40 for lunch for two. If you do eat there, be sure to go to the full cafeteria, not the cafe- that's just prepared foods and coffee and such.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 10:52 AM
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Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the contiguous Portrait Gallery are wonderful, in my opinion. Google what's showing. It's near Spy Museum (which I thought was more geared to older folks.) Comcast Center near there also__see if there's anything going on. The Botanic Gardens (across street from Indian Museum) has little trains set up. Have a great time.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 10:56 AM
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I would make a point of seeing the monuments during the day at that time of year - rather than at night. It can be very cold then - with the possibility of sleet/snow - and I'm not sure running around monuments is the best use of time when it's dark and cold.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 05:15 PM
  #8
 
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When our daughter was that age, the Air and Space Museum was her least favorite. It meant more to DH and I since we remember the Gemini and Apollo missions and the moon landing. Surprisingly, she was very interested in the Archives and Ford's Theater. We loved Mt. Vernon. It also had great shopping.
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Nov 29th, 2013, 06:33 AM
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If you select Embassy Suits, you are but a two or three short block walk to the Metro at McPherson Square, and both the lines running through that station will get you to the Smithsonian Mall stop easily.

For the sake of convenience, maybe combine Natural History and American History; they are adjacent to one another on the mall.

Perhaps combine Air & Space with the Botanical Garden (they have a delightful display of prominent DC buildings made entirely of natural materials), as they are nearer to each other. Time permitting, the Holocaust Museum is on that side of the mall, as well.

The Spy Museum requires a lot of reading, and a lot of explaining to younger visitors.

If the weather is pleasant, the ice skating rink at the Sculpture Garden would be a fun diversion; that might be combined with a visit across the street to Archives (there's more than the documents to see).

Unless your granddaughter and her friend do not live near a major shopping mall, I wouldn't make the extra effort for Georgetown to go shopping. There are beautiful historical residences to visit (Dumbarton Oaks, Tudor House), but the shopping is mostly ordinary.
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Nov 29th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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Definitely forgo the shopping. They can do that anywhere. Have a great time.
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Nov 29th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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My kids were definitely interested in the Ford's theatre. Be sure to go downstairs to see the display of Lincoln's clothes there.

How about a tour of the Capitol?
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Nov 29th, 2013, 08:01 PM
  #12
 
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Almost forgot, have you considered trying to get into a White House tour?
http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events
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Nov 29th, 2013, 10:20 PM
  #13
 
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Several years ago, the small basement museum at Ford's Theatre was expanded to a larger museum which includes much more than the clothes Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated. It's an excellent museum and should be toured in conjuction with a visit to the theatre. However, if you plan to visit during the holiday season, I highly recommend ordering tickets in advance.

Also, there's no point in trying to arrange a White House tour at this late date. Even if you were lucky enough to get a tour, you won't be here on the days/times they are offered unless you are getting to D.C. very early on Saturday the 28th.

Tours for the Capitol, however, are available for Saturday and Monday.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 01:15 PM
  #14
 
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You have to schedule a White House tour at least 21 days in advance, but at this late date you may not get one. It's worth a try, though. We enjoyed our tour, and I imagine the Christmas decorations would be lovely.

Contact your Congressman right away, since that's the only way you can schedule a tour.

We (Mr. Pickle, our 16yo son, and I) enjoyed the Spy Museum in 2011. I would include the National Gallery of Art.

Lee Ann
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Nov 30th, 2013, 01:46 PM
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I would have them visit the site for the Holocaust museum to see if they want to go. I was a big history buff at 12 and knew lots. But when I saw the museum in my 30s, I was quite overwhelmed. I would not count on more than 2 museums a day--depends on if you zip through them or not. And i would definitely ask them what they want to see--that can be a picky age
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Nov 30th, 2013, 10:17 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Are your granddaughter and her friend museum buffs? If not, your museum-heavy itinerary is going to be a snooze fest for them.

Strongly recommend asking them what they want to see and including them in the planning process.
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Dec 1st, 2013, 06:55 AM
  #17
 
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Hotels. Any you mentioned are well located, however, there's no question that the Courtyard is better placed for your itinerary than the others. You are a 10 minute walk down 9th Street to the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Art. As well as being a 5 minute walk equidistant between two Metro stations. Hotel rates should be dirt cheap that week -- the Courtyard has suites and/or adjoining rooms.

For any of the hotels you've named, walk south down the numbered streets toward Constitution Avenue to get to the National Mall.

Holocaust Museum. I agree I'd ask the girls to look at the website and gauge their interest and maturity level for the subject matter. They are at the young end of the age the museum recommends for visitors. Have you visited before? For myself, I found I needed an hour or so after visiting to decompress.

Monument Tours at Night. Ignore the advice that said not to do this. The buses/trolleys are heated. The monuments are lit and open after dark, some of them staffed until well into the evening. Wouldn't be much fun in sub freezing weather but it could be quite temperate.

WWII Memorial. This memorial is beautiful during the day but even more stunning at dusk and after dark. Depending on your stamina, you can walk to this memorial after seeing the Natural History Museum, about 15 minutes walking past the Washington Monument. You could then walk up 17th Street past the National Christmas tree and do a walk by of the White House which is also quite impressive at night. That'll be another 15 minutes. Maybe then a cab back to the hotel.

Chinatown. I'm not a huge fan of Chinatown proper these days. The restaurants are generally mediocre. Chinatown blends into Penn Quarter which has a much better selection of places to eat, some of them the best in the city.

The only other place I might add to the list is the ice skating rink at the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden. There's a sweet little cafe there for a drink and snack or it's a very short walk to Paul Bakery, part of the French chain of pâtisseries.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 03:50 PM
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I have to agree with rethinking the Holocaust Museum. I have never been but a friend of mine has. He indicated that there is a less graphic route inside the museum for children but I would still think that it would be too much.

On my last trip my favorite was the National Archives. There were several children you granddaughters age that were really enjoying the experience. I took a tour. It lasted about an hour and a half. You could spend more time but that was enough for me.

Paul Bakery is just across the street on Penn Ave from the archives. Great place for lunch or a snack.

I took the Greyline tour at night. However, it did not stop at the MLK Memorial and just did a drive by of the WWII Memorial and Ima Jima. Unless it is really cold and icky, I would do the night tour. I think that the Korean War Memorial is best seen at night. If you miss some you may be able to stop on your way out of town on Monday. I cannot imagine that parking would be so bad on that day.
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Dec 4th, 2013, 12:47 AM
  #19
kja
 
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I think you've gotten some GREAT advice.

I must admit that personally, I don't like the WWII Memorial by day OR night. I say that with infinite respect for all those who served in WWII (including my father and several uncles and other relatives). FWIW, no matter how many times I've seen it, I am moved beyond words by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Also: "Sat 12/28 arriving DC around 12:30 pm, check in hotel and valet our car. Then Museum of Natural History and Air & Space Museums." I think both museums close at 5:30, which means that this plan could be more rushed than you might like. You'll need time to check in and get to the 1st museum (will anyone need a break or snack first?) and then you'll need time to move between museums and possibly take a break between them. Moreover, the Air and Space Museum can take a chunk of time. You might want to set priorities with your group so that you can make a wise choice about (a) which museum to visit first, (b) how long you can stay at it without reconsidering your plan, © what exhibits are highest priority if you can't see everything all members of your group would like to see, and (d) where/when you will connect up if you decide to split up to meet differing interests.

For dinner, you might consider one of the tapas (small plate) restaurants in/near Chinatown -- the option for everyone to order a dish or two from which everyone takes a small share can be quite fun. For example, you might consider Jaleo or Zatinya, each of which has a reasonably wide menu. (I think you can check both menus on line.) Make a reservation if at all possible and have a back-up plan if not, as both are normally very busy.

You might want to have your granddaughter and friend look at the web site for the Newseum, too -- I've been surprised to see the many ages to which this museum appeals. A friend's 12-year-old daughter found it her favorite experience in DC! There are a lot of hands-on displays, there's an opportunity to be videotaped as a newscaster, etc. I'm sure it really depends on one's interests. I admit that I didn't think I would like it very much; instead, I found it unexpectedly fascinating. BUT it is more expensive than most DC museums and with a limited amount of time in the city, your other choices offer some wonderful opportunities.

FWIW, I'll admit that by the age of 12, I already had a decided interest in art, so places like the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection would have been very high on my list of priorities. I'm sure you know if art is a priority for them!

Your granddaughter and her friend are lucky to be the beneficiaries of this lovely gift and your efforts to ensure that they enjoy the experience. Kudos!

Enjoy!
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Dec 5th, 2013, 10:08 AM
  #20
 
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I think you are visiting too many museums, and nothing much else. I understand DC is good for museums, but this is a bit much (3 on one day, for example). I can't imagine most people, let alone children, wanting to do that. Of coruse, being December, there aren't some garden alternatives, unfortunately.

I'd drop the Holocaust museum unless they have shown express interest in it. Ditto the Spy Museum.

I also think the Archives would be a good addition, they have an excellent intro film there, and even kids that age should get a thrill of seeing some of those original documents. It's hard to know what to recommend without knowing what the interests of these children are. But for some variety, you could go to Mount Vernon somehow, and there is an ice skating rink right there on the mall http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/visit/ice-rink.html
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