Things to do around D.C.


Feb 1st, 2012, 11:16 AM
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Things to do around D.C.

We need advice on things to see in and around Washington. We will have about 3 days to spend after a business trip.

We have toured the Capitol, the White House, the Holocaust Museum, seen most of the Monuments, the Spy Museum, the Smithsonian Natural Science, American History, Aeronautical, and Native American Museums, the Library of Congress, and Arlington Cemetery.

We have also been to Mt Vernon, Monticello and the Inner Harbor at Baltimore.

What have we missed that is really great?

Is Gettysburg worthwhile? Is the Mint that good? Ford's Theater? Is going up in the Washington Monument anything special? should we consider Chesapeake Bay or Richmond? If so what? Renting a car is not a problem.

So where should someone go who has already seen a lot?

akabavah is offline  
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Feb 1st, 2012, 11:29 AM
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Well, you can't go up in the Washington Monument as it is closed owing to earthquake damage.

Have you been to the Philips Collection? The Corcoran? The National Gallery? The National Portrait Gallery? The National Cathedral? The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception?

When are you coming? It will be cooler along the Chesapeake after it warms up inland. Have you been to Annapolis? Are you interested in the Civil War? Gettysburg and, closer, Frederickburg are within striking distance. Williamsburg? Jamestown? There is a lot in Richmond, but I have posted on that elsewhere.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 11:31 AM
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I have not been to Gettysburg but I've heard that it is nice.

It is not a mint, it is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). I believe you have to get online early in the a.m. the same day you plan to go or contact your congressional representative. There are instrutions on the BEP website.

Have you been to Annapolis?

In DC: Have you been to the Phillips Collection (1st modern art museum in US - closed Mondays), National Gallery of Art, The Basilica of the National Shrine, National Cathedral, Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art (same building)? There are smaller museums which are part of the Smithsonian (Renwick, for example)

You can't currently go up the Washington Monument so that is out. An alternative is the Old Post Office Pavilion tower (you can Google for more info)
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Feb 1st, 2012, 11:39 AM
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I went to DC for my third visit in 5 years so I had pretty much seen everything that interested me. New things I saw this time were the Newseum, the Portrait Gallery, the National Archives and the MLK monument. The Newseum was very interesting. It only took me a few hours but others have spent more than a day. There is a charge for the Newseum but it is well worth the cost. I took tours at the National Archives and at the Portrait Gallery and found them both very interesting as well.

I also went to Ford's Theatre to fill a little time on my last day and did not think it was worth the time or the cost. Maybe I was tired by then.

The Mint is interesting but you have to get tickets early in the morning. The tickets are fee but you must have them to enter. We toured the Mint about 40 years ago and the tour was much more extensive than it is now. But if seeing piles of printed bills stacked up sounds interesting, it may be worth your wait in line.

IF you go back to Baltimore, The American Visionary Museum is very fun. All self taught artists.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 11:44 AM
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You have see most of the traditional sites. Of course, the Washington Monument is not available for a visit due to earthquake damage. Save that on for a few years hence.

Have you done neighborhoods? DuPont Circle, Adams Morgan, Georgetown? Rock Creek Park? Union Station? Chinatown? The national zoo? Your thought of Ford's Theater is a good choice (with Chinatown nearby). Would you want to go to the National Air and Space Museum at near Dulles airport?

If you want to go further afield, Gettysburg is worthwhile, along with Antietam Battlefield and Harper's Ferry (and even Winchester, VA) in the same region. Heading for the Chesapeake Bay visit Annapolis and the Naval Academy with late-19th century American imperial power well displayed. If in Annapolis don't miss the oldest state house in the nation and a magnificent portrait of George Washington.

If you head south to Richmond you have Civil War battlefields, the Museum of the Confederacy, the Valentine Museum, the state house designed by Thomas Jefferson, the John Marshall House (Supreme Court Chief Justice), Tredegar Ironworks, the locks on the James River and a wonderful stroll across the river to Belle Isle (highly recommended). If you like cemeteries, and who doesn't, don't miss Hollywood Cemetery, final resting place of 2 presidents and 25 Confederate generals.

You have loads of good choices whichever direction you select. You will not go wrong.
Renaud is offline  
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Feb 1st, 2012, 11:59 AM
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THERE IS NO MINT IN D.C. There are Mints in Denver, Philly and San Francisco.

Gettysburg is in Pennsylvania. I wouldn't call it a DC attraction.

The WWII Memorial is interesting. The MLK Memorial is hideous - looks like Stalinist art. The Air and Space Museum may have special exhibits. The National Gallery is worth a visit.
BigRuss is online now  
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Feb 1st, 2012, 12:39 PM
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Thanks. We have also been to Williamsburg and thoroughly enjoyed it. You gave us some good ideas.

Anything within 4 hours or so driving distance would be worth considering.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 01:29 PM
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Check out Lurray's caverns(~2hrs from DC), or a part of skyline drive (shenandoah national park)....
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Feb 1st, 2012, 01:30 PM
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oh, by the way what season you are going in there?
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Feb 1st, 2012, 01:47 PM
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Pentagon 911 Memorail is definately worth seeing...especially at dusk. You see it and all of it's meaning (the position of refelcting pool/chairs memorials for each individual is heart wrenching) in teh daylight and then seeing at dark with the lighting is yet another moving experience. (Fodors gave me an award for mentioning this previously.)

You can also tour the Pentagon

If you haven't doen a night tour of teh Monumnets, I's highly rec that.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 01:56 PM
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MomDDTravel is offline  
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Feb 1st, 2012, 03:11 PM
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The new branch of the Air & Space Museum is out at Chantilly near Dulles airport.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 03:57 PM
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If you like light hiking, the National Arboretum on New York Ave is a gorgeous hidden DC treasure. If you go in spring, they have a fabulous azalea collection, a huge koi pond, a very interesting bonsai collection, and great walking paths with lovely vistas and specimen trees and plants. If you aren't into a long hike/walk (not strenuous hiking at all), they even have tram tours with very interesting docents.

And you can see the original columns from the Capitol building that were replaced because of a building issue- they are a magnificent sight and a great photo op:

If you liked Williamsburg, you might enjoy a day walking around Old Town Alexandria- charming Colonial architecture, shops, restaurants, and Potomac water views. The Torpedo Factory in Old Town is an art center that you can walk around in to see studios and art for sale. Old Town has a similar vibe to Annapolis without the Naval Academy and all the many sailboats, but you can take the metro to Old Town.

The Aquarium and the Science Center in Baltimore are fun, there are many cute neighborhoods to walk around, and if you go in nice weather, you can take the water taxi around the inner harbor and even to Fort McHenry, a nicely preserved star fort and famed for the Star Spangled Banner being written there.

A 2-3 hour drive depending on traffic is the Shepherdstown/Harper's Ferry area of the WV panhandle. We like to park in Harper's Ferry, walk the tow path along the Potomac to Shepherdstown (I think it is about 5 miles?), eat lunch in Shepherdstown and stroll around, then walk back. The tow path is completely flat and a nice walk. Both towns are cute and historical.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 04:41 PM
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I'm a big fan of the Newseum (and one of those that has spent a full day there.) Note that their admission tickets are valid for 2 consecutive days.

The Crime and Punishment Museum is also pretty interesting and offers lots of hands-on activities such as a firing range trainer.

There is no charge to visit Ford's Theatre and the museum there on a walk-up basis. There is only a charge if you order tickets in advance or rent an Acoustiguide.

If you have an interest in military history, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia is well worth a visit.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 04:59 PM
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The C&O Canal near Great Falls, Md., is a sight that locals enjoy but few tourists get around to see. It's an easy drive outside the city. You can see the falls, the impressive gorge of the Potomac, and the historic canal structures. Most people who see the gorge and the falls can't believe they are so close to the big city.

Another vote for the Newseum.
edjim is online now  
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 11:05 AM
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longhorn55 - you are correct about the Ford Theatre. I did purchase advanced tickets because based on the website it looked like there were only a few left for the day I wanted to go. Depending on when the OP is going they still may need advanced tickets.
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