Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (https://www.fodors.com/community/)
-   United States (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/)
-   -   Small group to DC in May - itinerary suggestions (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/small-group-to-dc-in-may-itinerary-suggestions-611286/)

tmcv Apr 27th, 2006 08:40 PM

Small group to DC in May - itinerary suggestions
 
I'd like to thank everyone who has posted to this site for their great advice and insight for those of us visiting DC. Our small school decided to pass on the organized tour arrangement (just not financially worth it, plus we didn't feel like being herded around such a great city) so I was put in charge of organizing a tour for a small group of 7th and 8th graders (12 students). We will be travelling to DC May 30 to June 2 and are staying at the Comfort Inn Convention Center (which I visited while in VA during the winter break). I've posted our itinerary below, and would appreciate any comments or suggestions anyone might have on our timing/choices/etc.

Tues May 30
5:00 PM Arrive at Comfort Inn at the Convention Center
6:15 PM Leave for Conv Ctr Metro Station (4 blocks) to Waterfront Metro
7:00-10:00 PM Spirit of Potomac Moonlight cruise (students last year really enjoyed this - would have preferred to do on the last night but this was only avail time)

Wed May 31
9:00-4:00 PM Old Town Trolley
(we're still planning this day, but plan on the Nat'l Cathedral - possible gargoyle tour, DAR Museum has very unusual exhibit, 1-2 Smithsonians)
5:15 PM Cab to Union Station for dinner
5:30 PM Dinner at Union Station
7:00 - 10:00 PM Tourmobile Washington by Night (pick-up at Union Station)

Thurs June 1
8:3010:30 AM Tourmobile to Arlington National Cemetery
11:00 AM Holocaust Museum (Story of Daniel) then walk around tidal basin
1:00 PM Metro to Capitol building (lunch nearby?)
2:00 PM Meet with Rep Charles Bass
5:00 PM Dinner at Hard Rock Café
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM International Spy Museum

Fri June 2
8:3012:30 PM Tourmobil to Mt Vernon
12:30 PM lunch near hotel
1:00 PM departure from hotel

So here are my questions...

1. With the limited time we have, do you think that Mount Vernon is worth it or should we plan other things downtown? Pros - one of the few things I've found that starts early in the am, was told students last year really enjoyed it. Cons - takes up quite a chunk of time
2. Is Tony Cheng's suitable for a small group and would it be more interesting than Hard Rock?
3. About how long will it take to travel via Trolley from downtown to the National Cathedral?
4. Are there any suggested places for lunch near the Capitol building?

Thanks for your help!

bardo1 Apr 28th, 2006 07:23 AM

Pretty good, but a few comments:

1) 2 hours is VERY little time to see the Holocaust Memorial Museum. If you do go, you MUST have advance tickets so as not to spend an hour or more in line.

2) The kids and you will like the Union Sation food court. YOU should not miss the Italian pastries/goodies at Vaccaro's at the far west end of the food court (either for dessert or carry out).

3) Thursday lunch: Go to The Rayburn House Office building cafeteria (basement level). This is the same building as Rep. Bass' office and has great, varied, food at prices subsidized by your tax dollars. Good place for people spotting too. It's huge and will have plenty of seating for your group. Allow a little time for getting through security/metal detector's when enteringt the building.

4) Thursday dinner: Take a poll of your group on Tuesday. Both are suitible for a group of 12 youth but you'll need a reservation either way.

5) I would pass on Mt. Vernon tour and allow group to visit at least one Smithsonian museum on their trip to DC instead on Friday morning.

6) I am not sure sure about the exact route/stops of the trolley from downtown to National Cathedral. However, if you were to drive directly there from your hotel it's about 20 minutes (taking Mass Ave all the way).

kayd Apr 28th, 2006 09:10 AM

For Arlington National cemetery, do not use Tourmobile to get there. Take Metro and use Tourmobile only for the tour within the cemetery.

You may find it handy to have purchased Metro tickets in advance. Here's how
http://www.wmata.com/riding/visitors/visitors.cfm#tour
Also, check out the new Downtown Circulator buses, fare $1 http://www.dccirculator.com/about_the_circulator/

Advice for visitors about using Metro:
1. Single file, standing to the right on escalators so others can walk on the left.
2. Do not spread out across all the farecard vending machines reading the instructions. Gather your group around one or two machines and leave the rest available for passengers who are in more of a hurry than you are.
3. Look around and observe what the regulars are doing; follow their lead.

Your agenda looks very ambitious, but I'm sure you'll have a great time.

rb_travelerxATyahoo Apr 28th, 2006 10:10 AM

If you're only goint to see "Story of Daniel" at the Holocaust Museum, or other temporary exhibits, you will NOT need the advance tickets. The advance tix are only for the permenent exhibit, which took me all day and I still didn't see all.

Agree on using Metro to Arlington. Go to McPherson Sq station: from the C.I., make L out of door, go about 3 blocks down 13th and you'll see Franklin Park taking up an entire city block on the right side of street. Walk diagnally across the park & across the street is Metro entrance.

I love Mt Vernon, but think you can get more bang for your limited time by staying in DC. I've stayed a couple of times at the C.I. and while not the most centralized location isn't too bad. Good breakfast anyway.

We took Metrobus from Dupont Circle to the National Cathedral, and it took no time at all.

beanweb24 Apr 28th, 2006 10:28 AM

Oh goodness...Vaccaro's. I just had a cannoli from V's about 2 weeks ago -- simply the BEST!

tmcv May 17th, 2006 07:15 PM

Thanks for your responses - sorry for the delay in getting back to this!

bardo1 - Thanks for your detailed input and letting me know about Vacarro's...I used to live in Boston and sadly miss the Italian pastries!

kayd - I had planned on a Metro pass but hadn't thought about buses - thanks for the link.

rb traveler - The rates at the CI are decent and you confirmed what I had read about the breakfast.

The advantage of doing the tours of Arlington and Mt Vernon are that they both start early in the AM, which helps us to maximize our time in DC. If I leave out Mt Vernon, can you suggest anything else that opens early? I can't seem to find anything before 10. Or perhaps we should just give the students the morning to sleep in!

Tracey





Anonymous May 17th, 2006 07:34 PM

How about the zoo? The buildings don't open until 9 or 10, but the grounds open much earlier (6 AM in summer, IIRC). This is when the animals are most active, and feeding. Unlike silly humans, they rest during the hottest part of the day.

The Woodley Park stop is the official stop for the zoo, but if you get off at the next stop, Cleveland Park, it's about the same distance from the zoo and the walk is downhill. Then when you leave the zoo, turn left out of the exit and wlk downhill to Woodley Park station.

jnathan May 18th, 2006 02:25 AM

While in the Tidal basin area,it's a long walk but fun, try Hain's point. It's on the tip of the Potomac Park peninsula. There's a statue the kids can climb on.
Jaleo's is a fun restuarant right near the Spy Museum. The kids order a number of things and share. A great way to introduce Tapas.
I'd prefer waling around teh waterfront in Old Town Alexandria for your age group then Mt Vernon.
Also, to get the kids exercise, I'd let them off near the WWII memorial and WALK towards Lincoln Memorial. On the Way: Memorial to signers of Declaration of Independence, Vietnam Memorial, Korean memorial. Then circle back to the left and visit the FDR Memorial. A great way to burn off energy and see the sights.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:01 AM.