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Siteseeing in Washington DC

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Apr 11th, 2012, 08:43 AM
  #1
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Siteseeing in Washington DC

My family and I are going to Gordonsville VA in July. DC is only 90 miles away so we want to visit it while there. Can anyone give us advise on the best way to do that? I'm trying to find a cheap tour. The best I found was $31.50. Is it possible to park our car and walk to the main attractions? Is public transporation possible? Thanks for any tips/advise/etc.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 08:47 AM
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I take it you will have a car so I would drive into DC and park in a parking garage.

www.bestparking.com will be helpful to you for finding a garage

http://www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvisi...d/NACCmap1.pdf is a map of the National Mall and downtown areas

www.wmata.com is the website for Metrorail and Metrobus which you might find yourself using also.

Not sure what kind of tour you are referring to but I would not personally waste my money on one. Most things in DC are free
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Apr 11th, 2012, 09:06 AM
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If you did not want to drive into the city, you could drive to the Franconia/Springfield station and park there free or cheap and take the Metro Blue Line all the way into the city.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Yes, we will have our own car that we will drive to DC. I've read that parking is terrible and we don't want to drive in the city. We want to go to the Smithsonian Museum buildings,Memorials, etc. It looks like most of them are within walking distance. We don't mind a lot of walking but want to get the "highlights" of DC. Thanks.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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Parking is "terrible" if you try to park on the street. Park in a garage.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 09:25 AM
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Here's the deal on parking at Franconia Springfield at the end of the Blue line- http://www.wmata.com/rail/parking/pa...cfm?station=95
$4.50 plus the fares into the city sounds like a deal to me.
Weekends and federal holidays have free parking.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 09:52 AM
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Thanks for the link to the Metro. Money wise that sounds like the way to go. For $9 we can get a all day pass. Can we get off and on all day? Will it take us to the Museums?
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Apr 11th, 2012, 10:22 AM
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Here is a rail map

http://www.wmata.com/rail/maps/map.cfm

If you look at the National Mall/Downtown map I gave you above, you can see the Metrorail stations on it. White M in a black box.


http://www.wmata.com/fares/purchase/passes.cfm#rail
One Day Pass $9
Pass is valid for one day of unlimited Metrorail travel on weekdays after 9:30 a.m. or all day on Saturdays, Sundays, and some federal holidays (unlimited Metrorail travel begins after 9:30 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day). Pass expires at the end of the operating day: 3 a.m. on weekends, midnight on weeknights.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 10:45 AM
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How many days do you want to spend in DC? It sort of sounds like just one. In that case, you need to decide what you really, really want to do. Many of the museums deserve more time than a quick walk-through.

One thing you might try in order to visit the monuments is renting bikes from Capital Bikeshare www.capitalbikeshare.com There are stations all over town, and you can get around quicker than walking.

Lee Ann
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Apr 11th, 2012, 11:59 AM
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We will only be there one day. I've been researching and have been noting where we want to go. We would be happy going by the monuments and not going into them. I want to be prepared so we can see as much as possible.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 05:28 PM
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In one long day in DC you can see a few of the monuments and 1 or 2 of the Smithsonian Museums. To see all of the monuments and museums as well as othe ajor sights - white house (advance tickets requried through represenatie), Capitol, Supreme Court, Library of Congress etc will take about a week.

Suggest you do a lot of work online to pickthe few places you will have to see i a day. (And yes, several of the memorials and museum are around the mall - but it's a couple of miles long and would be a hell of a lot of walking.)
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Apr 11th, 2012, 05:48 PM
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I would NOT recommend trying to park at one of the Metro station parking lots, e.g. Franconia-Springfield, on a weekday. These lots are generally full by morning with commuter cars and you would probably have to get there very early (perhaps 6:30 am) in order to snag a spot. Spots are generally avaiable on weekends, so you could park there then if you chose.

I would probably choose to drive into D.C. and park in a parking garage based on the info from the Best Parking website. It will be more convenient than a parking/Metro option and will likely be cheaper than paying Metro fares for everyone in the family. With a good map and/or GPS, you should not have a problem navigating D.C.

Finally, street parking is free in D.C. only on Sundays.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 10:06 AM
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I was thinking to take the train from Fredrickburg to Union Station. It will cost around $30 a piece for the train and then the all day pass for the bus but we wouldn't have to worry about the drive to DC, we could enjoy a train ride. We are early risers so we wouldn't mind getting to the train station early and we want to get to DC early so we have all day there. I have another question about our stay in VA. I'm hoping there are road side vendors selling fresh seafood. When I lived in SC there were and I want some fresh seafood when we are there.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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If you can make time, do go into the Lincoln Memorial. It's so impressive inside, and there is a nice little museum downstairs that is worth seeing.

Lee Ann
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Apr 13th, 2012, 01:25 PM
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I volunteer at the Smithsonian Castle directing tourists to the sights on the Mall. You don't mention if you will have children with you or their ages, but for the young ones, we first suggest the Museum of Natural History. Air and Space is the most visited in the US with wonderful exhibits, including the Wright Brothers plane wonderfully presented. American History has an exhibit on transportation (America on the Move), the first ladies' dresses, and the Star Spangled Banner. If you get tired, Natural History and Air and Space have different films in IMAX and a chance to get off your feet.
July will be very hot and humid (maybe not, but REALLY hot and humid). If you're planning a 180 mile drive in one day, drive into the city and park at L'Enfant Plaza right across the street from the Mall. You want to minimize any energy you have to expend walking in the outdoors. You don't want to wait on train platforms. DC has lots of traffic, but it's not a foreign country. Try to avoid rush hours and you'll be fine. Too bad you'll probably only have enough time to drive past the memorials. They are beautiful no matter how you see them, but you'll have to come back again and spend more time. in the Castle or any of the museums you can buy a Smithsonian guide for $2 that will not only give you a few pages on each museum but a FLOOR PLAN, which you'll find very worthwhile. Of course, all the Smithsonian museums are free. Hope you love the city. If you decide to spend more than a day, I do have second day suggestions.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 08:29 PM
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Be careful buying seafood from a roadside vendor. Especially in July.
I agree with everyone about narrowing your focus with only 1 day. You can't possibly do it justice in 1 day, but you can wear yourself out.
You can stretch out the day (make sure to take breaks). Find out which of the museums stay open late in summer. Washington is a beautiful City night or day. And since you only have time for a drive by--see the monuments which are beautiful at night all lit up. As is the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress. As are the Embassies on Massachusetts Ave

Pick out one, maybe two museums to see. They are good and will take you hours. Schedule times to rest and eat. Be sure to drink lots of water. Then drink some more. You will need it.

Then do your drive by on the way home. And be prepared for the 90 miles to take a while.

Good luck
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Apr 14th, 2012, 05:41 AM
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Best way to visit is the old town trolley.You can get on/off at all the goodies all day.Paul
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Apr 14th, 2012, 04:59 PM
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We just did the "start at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, then Jefferson, Lincoln, etc" (ALL the memorials/monuments on the Mall). Two adults, a bit out of shape. Well, more than a bit. Anyway, exited BEP around 9:30am, finished 3 hours later.

Doable, but if you slow down, you might explore a bit more. If you do slow it down a bit, pack a lunch. Nothing to eat at that end of the Mall. I don't count the refreshments stands; didn't even bother to check prices or food, just ignored them.
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Apr 26th, 2012, 01:54 PM
  #19
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I think we are going to take the train into Union Station and take the Metro. I've been researching our "must see" places. A lot of the places are fine with driving by. Any other advise? I'm going shoe shopping this weekend. I read somewhere that they search your bags at places. So would be ok w/ a bag with water and snacks?
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Apr 26th, 2012, 01:58 PM
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I don't think you can bring water into the Capitol Building. Other than that water and snacks should be okay.
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