Solo Trip 2012: Ideas?

Old Jun 19th, 2011, 04:02 PM
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Solo Trip 2012: Ideas?

Good afternoon to you all!

For starters, I'm a young, 23 year old male who would like to revisit Washington DC. Haven't been there since 1999 for a school trip, and I would like to go back. My questions are:

1. In terms of Transportation, what would be the best option? I'm from Durham, NC. I have my own car, but i'm open to Taking the bus or train, if possible..

2. hat would be the best time to go, yearwise? I have June-August as when I would like to go, but no specific dates. I would like to stay for at least a week.

3. In regards to hotels, I know that prices rise and fall, so there is no specific prices. But can anybody recommend some places where I wouldn't spend over $110 a night?
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 04:24 PM
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June - August will be hot regardless but you may get periods of less hunidity. I would avoid the 4th of July as its obviously the most crowded. Towards the end of August, schools are going back so crowds may be lower.

I am coming in August and have found the Americana Hotel in Crystal City to be a great deal. Its a barebones hotel meaning no extra amenities but it gets great reviews and is near a Metro Station. I have it for around $60 per night plus taxes.

I am taking Amtrak for CT and is a great ride. Not sure how it is from Durham. You do not want a car in DC as parking charges are quite high. Americana does have free parking but why drive?

Here is my trip report from last time
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-sox-games.cfm

Here is my current itinerary for an example
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-in-august.cfm

Biggest thing I found is no matter what map you look at - everything looks close but they are more spread apart than you may think and its a lot of walking. Take time to plan an itinerary and grouping things. Obviously the monuments are a must see. For museums, definitely go to the Holocaust Museum and whichever Smithsonians appeal to you. I would highly recommend the Portrait Gallery. May not jump out at you but it was phenomenal. I really like Nationals Park for baseball games and will be going again.

There are a lot of great threads here about DC so make sure to do a thorough search.
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 04:47 PM
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For a solo traveler, the HI hostel is a good cheap choice.
http://www.hiwashingtondc.org/rates.shtml
The Amtrak fare to/from Durham is between $49 and $64.
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 04:52 PM
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About the americana hotel: I don't know if you're a member of Tripadvisor, but I am and a lot of people have recommended that specific hotel, that is if you aren't that big on hotels and need a budget place. I think that will be my choice as well.

As far as museums, i want to devote at least one of my days to just museums. I want to see the Air & Space as well as the National Zoo.

I was putting imaginary dates in the amtrak website, and the train would leave durham around 9:42 AM, and would arrive at Union Station around 4:00 PM. So that's pretty reasonable for me..
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 05:04 PM
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You cannot do the Zoo and Air & Space in a day realistically without too much rushing through them. The Zoo is isolated North of the Mall and takes time to get back. I spent a full day at each for example.You could do the Zoo during the day then maybe a night tour of something. This would give you downtime in between but there wouldnt be enough time to do both. Then the next day, do the Air & Space in conjunction with a museum that is nearby with whatever time you have left. This is why I said that you have to carefully lay everything out.

Given that it will be summer when you are there, there are night tours of the monuments that will free up a lot of your time and allow more museums.

Don't stack your itinerary so that it is so full you are on a time limit and have to run between. This isn't Amazing Race.
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 05:22 PM
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Good point. wouldn't want to overdo it.

Besides the 2 already mention, are there any other Smithsonian Museums that you would recommend?
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 05:33 PM
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And also, are their any hotels that would be ideal for someone my age, 23?
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 05:41 PM
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Yes, you should see Air & Space and the American History Museum, for starters. If it interests you, the Natural History Museum. As Tchoiniere said, the National Portrait Gallery is phenomenal - give it at least a few hours, preferably more.

You will also want to see all the monuments - Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, FDR, Korea , Vietnam, etc. These are spread out so take some time to see ( I think the mall is 2 miles from one end to the other?)

Take a tour of the Capitol. Visit the Supreme Court (although it won't be in session in summer), and of course, walk by the White House. If you have time, visit Mount Vernon and Georgetown.

And wander the neighborhoods - Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, Chinatown, Georgetown, The U Street Corridor.

Have a great trip.
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Old Jun 19th, 2011, 10:06 PM
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> Besides the 2 already mention, are there any other Smithsonian Museums that you would recommend?

What are your interests? DC is full of wonderful museums!
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 05:57 AM
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www.si.edu is the Smithsonian website
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 06:50 AM
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KJA, I love all and any museums DC has to offer. I just do not want to overwhelm myself by trying to see every single museum. Still trying to get a rough itiniary...
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 06:53 AM
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The 3 that I did on my first trip were the Portrait Gallery, Air & Space, and the American History. Definitely wasn't overwhelming because we had spaced them out with other sights mixed in.

The other museum that I went to was the Holocaust. Not your typical museum for obvious reasons.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 08:25 AM
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1) Depends on how you define "best", price, speed or convenience. Since you likely won't need your car in Washington and it will only cost money to park, I'd say public transport is the best idea. You can fly from Raleigh for ~ $240/round trip (look on kayak.com) and the flight is an hour. A bus will cost a fraction of that (~$50 roundtrip) but take 5 hrs. Amtrak is ~ $120 but the trip will be 6+ hrs.

2) If you have interest in getting inside the White House and your dates are flexible, you might write for tickets or phone and see when they're available.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events

3) The best way to get deals on hotels is to use discount sites like Hotwire or the secret sales on quikbook.com or try bidding on Priceline or check for sales on travelzoo.com You can probably get a 4* hotel for ~ $110/night.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 02:53 PM
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I think I will do the major museums such as the Air & Space and Zoo once a day, and mix it with something else. i just have to wait until it gets closer, then I can sort of put where I would like to go in some sort of list..
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Old Jun 21st, 2011, 09:34 AM
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Darthbane2007, Since there is sooooo much to see, making a list and an itinerary is the best way to plan your trip. I plotted everything out so that I did not waste time traveling from one side of the city to the other many times in one day. I also kept the list with me because some places may not take as much time for you as for others. I travel alone and find that it takes me less time to see a museum than others.

As others have suggested, I would take a night tour of the monuments. Pretty much everything closes at 5 or 6 so unless you plan on nightlife, there is really isn't anything to do after 6pm.
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Old Jun 21st, 2011, 02:47 PM
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As a solo traveler, try using Priceline or Hotwire. If you will go to biddingfortravel.com, you can see winning hotels and the bid price. Also, I love travelzoo.com. They tend to have good deals on DC hotels.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2011, 12:19 PM
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Darthbane...I revisited as an adult in 2009 after only having been there at age 13 before. This may not be popular, but I was sort of underwhelmed by the American History Museum. You can click on my name for a trip report. However, I will say that the Newseum and the National Holocaust Museum are absolute must-sees on my list. Both are just exceptional. I liked the Newseum so much, I went back for a second day (your ticket is good for two consecutive days). I love art, so the National Gallery was a must for me also. And I agree with the above recommendations that the National Portrait Gallery is a good visit, even if you don't like art, you'll know most of the famous Americans pictured.

I disagree that you can't see the Zoo and a museum in the same day. I was in DC for another trip a couple weeks ago and got to the zoo by 9:00 (it officially "opens" at 10, but you can be there earlier seeing the animals at their most active) and I had lunch around noon, hit the National Gallery from 1-4 and stopped into the Natural History Museum just for the butterfly pavilion at 4:15. It was a full-day but if you are active and don't mind walking, it can be quite enjoyable. The zoo is quite different from a museum, so there'd be no fear really of "museuming out" and overdosing if you were to do it with something else that day.

Just my two cents... ;-)
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Old Jun 23rd, 2011, 08:05 AM
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I guess it would depend on where I decide to stay.

Personally, I really don't have to spend an entire day at the Zoo/Museum. I could view a portion of it one day, and then the next day or one of the other days i'm there, return for a second trip..
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Old Jun 23rd, 2011, 08:55 AM
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That's the great thing about the Smithsonian, it's free, so you can return again and again!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2011, 12:34 PM
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And also what makes Washington, DC a great tourist spot. Virtually everything is free to view..
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