Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Washington D.C. Is this a good Plan for 3 days? Hotel?

Washington D.C. Is this a good Plan for 3 days? Hotel?

Feb 14th, 2010, 03:46 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 12
Washington D.C. Is this a good Plan for 3 days? Hotel?

My husband and I will be in D.C. for three days. Night of April 15- April 18. We will have a car. We found a Marriott close to the East Falls Church Metro station (orange line), but haven't booked yet. Is that area okay. Hotel reviews were all good. How long does the metro take to get into D.C. from that location?
Here is my tentative itinerary. Any suggestions?
Friday: Capital Tour 10:00 (what other buildings are close and interesting by it?) We would like to see the Federal Bureau of Engravings and printing is that near by?
After lunch; Ford's Theater. Is it better to book the ranger show or the one act play? Then hopefully start on museum of Natural History. I have a reservation at 5:30 for National Archives.
Saturday: Drive to Mount Vernon. After lunch visit Arlington. That evening we would like to take a water tour from Alexandria to Georgetown. I found one website: Potomac River Boat Company. Any other ideas?
Sunday: We have reservations for the Washington monument at 10:30 and the Holocaust museum at 11:30. Then we want to finish checking out the other monuments and hit the space museum.

I also wondered about the National Cathedral. I have read good things about the newseum and the spy museum. Is it worth trying to see them or is our schedule full. We also requested to tour the White House through our Congressman. They said we might now know until 2 weeks before we leave. That would change our schedule. Does anyone know if they still give a few day of tour tickets for the white house?
Thanks for all your help. We are so excited for this trip!!
djaak is offline  
Feb 14th, 2010, 04:37 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,881
Which Marriott are you staying at? There's a TownePlace near East Falls Church, but it isn't really convenient. You also can't expect to be able to park at the Metro during the week. I'd try to find something closer to a Metro station.

You have a lot planned. The National Cathedral is beautiful, but off the tourist path. If you take a tourbus, some of them stop there.
MikeT is offline  
Feb 14th, 2010, 05:55 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 124
Are you staying at a Marriott near Tysons Corner? It will be difficult to get Metro station parking. Does your hotel offer a shuttle to the metro stop? If so, would make things easier.

I would recommend you tour Mt. Vernon rather than just drive there.
The Newseum is great and I enjoyed my tour there.

I think you have too much on your agenda on the day you are trying to see the Capitol. I would suggest focusing on the Capitol, lunch and then your National Archives.
jasmine3 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 07:28 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 620
The tours of the Capitol building are nothing like they used to be. Ten years ago we got a tour of the Capitol through our congressman that consisted of three couples led by one of our congressman's aides. He took us from their office in the Cannon House Office Building, down through the underground tunnels into the Capitol. He took us all over, including the crypt, rotunda, statuary hall, old senate chamber, hall of columns, Brumidi corridors, and the floors & galleries of both the Senate and House - all while regaling us with the history and little known tidbits about the place.

Last year we went on another Capitol tour through our Senator. At 0900 we joined a group of about 250 others at the new Capitol Visitor's Center for a 20 minute movie, then were divided into 5 groups of about 50, given RF headsets and led into the Capitol where we saw and were told (through our headsets) about the Crypt, Rotunda, and Statuary Hall......done.

About 75 minutes total, including the movie and being parceled into groups. We were walking down Capitol Hill to the National Gallery of Art by 1100.

By the time you finish your Capitol tour it will be close to noon. Depending upon what time you need to be at Ford's Theater, you now have to get yourself lunch and get to the theater. Both the Supreme Court and Library of Congress are directly across 1st street from the Capitol Visitor Center. You could visit one or both of those if you have the time, but my inclination is that you won't. At that time on a Friday, restaurants may be crowded and you may have to wait for a table.

If you intend to walk from the Capitol to Ford's Theater (and on a nice day that's what I'd do), I'd suggest finding a place to have lunch somewhere along the way, and after leaving the Capitol Visitor Center, taking one of the various walkways around the north side of the Capitol Building to the west side of the Capitol and then head up Pennsylvania Ave., past the National Gallery of Art's East Building, and the Navy Memorial area toward Ford's theater. If you don't want to walk that far, then head north from the Capitol along either Delaware Ave or 1st St to Union Station and catch the red metro train to either the Chinatown or the Metro Center station. An expansive food court inside Union Station could do you for lunch, or restaurants in the Chinatown area could be had. The Metro Center station is about 2 blocks closer to Ford's Theater than the Chinatown station.

I've not seen "One Destiny", the one act play about Lincoln's assassination, but I have very much enjoyed the Ranger program and the museum. Looking at the schedule for April 16, the ranger-led programs are the only ones offered in the afternoon anyhow.

The Bureau of Engraving & Printing is not near Ford's Theater, and will be out of your way on this day.

From Ford's Theater, head south on 10th St for 2 1/2 blocks to the Natural History Museum. There is an entrance to the museum right there at the foot of 10th St. - you'll be on the lower (basement) floor of the museum here and have to take an escalator or elevator up to the main floor.

Your Saturday sounds busy.... but doable. Mount Vernon opens at 0800 and I'd suggest being there at that time (or no later than 0900) - there is a lot to see.

I think the National Cathedral is absolutely beautiful, and attending one of the Sunday services in the Nave of the cathedral is inspiring. The Nave is the main body of the cathedral, and what most people concentrate their visit exploring. The cathedral is not easily accessible via the metro, and I'd suggest taking your car. Underground parking (entrance off of Wisconsin Ave.) is FREE on Sunday. You could visit the cathedral early Sunday morning before your Washington Monument tour, but it might be pushing it, and you'd have the added dilemma of what to do with your car for the rest of the day. If you intend to visit without partaking in a service, then I'd suggest checking their website schedule and planning your visit so that you can explore the Nave during a time when no services are being held there.

The Holocaust Museum can take from 1-4 hours depending upon the depths to which you want to experience it. The Air & Space Museum is only open until 5:30, and needs at least 2 hours to explore in any kind of depth. That leaves you from 1130 to 3:30 to visit the Holocaust museum and the monuments, and get all the way over to the Air & Space Museum. If you intend on leaving the Holocaust museum and circling down to the Jefferson Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War, Lincoln, Vietnam and WWII memorials, then you are in for a long walk and a lot of time - time you may not have if you want to also see the Air & Space Museum. Metro stations do not access the "memorials" section of the National Mall, so plan on hoofing it.

If you find you can spend only an hour in the Air & Space Museum, then I'd suggest spending it exploring the various craft decorating the floor and ceiling of the main lobby, and walking through the Wright Brothers exhibit on the second floor.

You're in for a busy 3 days.

Have fun & enjoy.
furledleader is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 07:37 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 528
Just to chime in about the Cathedral...while it is not on Metro, it is easily accessible by bus either up Wisconsin to Massachusetts or up Massachusetts to Wisconsin.
artsbabe is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 08:00 AM
  #6  
E_M
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 303
I don't think Mt. Vernon in the morning and Arlington after lunch is possible. In the last few years, Mt. Vernon has expanded considerably beyond the main house; they have a phenomenal education center and outbuildings that have been recently restored, all to give the participant an experience in the workings of a plantation. This takes more than a few hours. Plus, you need to account for traffic in NoVa. You should probably pick one activity to do in the evening, either Arlington or a boat ride, but not both.
E_M is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 10:51 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
1. The Metro's website is www.wmata.com There's a lot of useful information there, including a Trip Planner so you can see how long it takes to get from place to place, what subway (or bus) to take, and how much it costs.
2. Furledleader gave you a good description of the possible tours through the Capitol. We did a tour through our Congressman's office just last year and it was a small group led by an intern. I think each Senator and Representative handles these tours differently, so if you arranged this with a Member of Congress, you may want to ask their office what to expect.
3. Besides the tour of Ford's Theatre, there is an excellent new musuem in the basement. I'd allow at least 1 hour to see this.
4. You should be able to see both Mt. Vernon and Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday but I would urge you to get to Mt. Vernon early as Furledleader suggested. If you are sure you are going that day, you can buy your tickets in advance from the Mt. Vernon website. These tickets allow you to bypass the ticket line, but they do not allow you to bypass the line to get into the mansion. Plan on spending anywhere up to 45 minutes or 1 hour in line to enter the mansion depending on what time you get to Mt. Vernon. Also, as E_M mentioned, there's a lot going on at Mt. Vernon these days--the new education center and lots of other free tours ( e.g. of the outbuildings or gardens). I would plan on spending a minimum of 4 hours at Mt. Vernon, not including lunch.
5. It's a quick trip on the Parkway to Arlington National Cemetery. It's open late in April, so you should have plenty of time to visit. You can walk the sites yourself or take a Tourmobile tour. The cemetery is rather hilly in case you have any mobility issues.
6. I've been to both the Newseum, which I thought was great, and the Spy Museum, which I less crazy about because it was too crowded. The ticket for the Newseum is good for two consecutive days and I spent 4 hours on each of two days to see it all (for a total of 8 hours). The Spy Museum took about 2 hours to see. I'm not sure you have time in your schedule for either museum on this visit.
7. There are no "day of tour" tickets for the White House tours.
longhorn55 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 10:53 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 620
<>


E_M may be right, but....

that depends upon what you (djaak) intend to gain from each experience.

Three days is not much time to explore the D.C. area in anything but a whirlwind fashion. If your intent is to simply touch upon as much as possible in order to gain a familiarity, then I think doing Mount Vernon and Arlington in one day is possible. Be very selective about what you want to see & do at each. I've been to both places 3 times, with the first at each being much like your intent may be - rather quick, and simply touching upon the highlights. One need not immerse themselves entirely within the experience of either place to come away with a modicum of satisfaction. Learn well about each place before you go though, and that satisfaction can be manifest to a greater degree even with a visit of brevity.

If your intent be otherwise though.....

then heed E_M's words - especially about the traffic, even on a Saturday.
furledleader is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 11:57 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 12
Thanks for all the suggestions. Would it be better to just walk around the memorials in the evenings after the museums have closed? We have a Marriott card and wanted to earn some points, so we were looking at a few different Marriott's. We aren't to picky about how nice. We just need it clean and a bed. We don't plan on spending much time in the room. Courtyard at Dunn Loring Fairfax, Residence Inn Fairfaux Merrifield, Towwsplace Suites Falls Church (this is the closest and cheapest with free parking.) They all seem to be on the orange metro line. There are other Marriots at Tyson Corner and Crystal City or Alexendria. They are a little more, but if it is closer to D.C. or easier access it would be worth it.
djaak is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 12:12 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 620
<>

That....may be a very good idea!
furledleader is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 12:33 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,408
Or if your feet are killing you after walking through museums all day, take any of the Monument by Moonlight tours offered by the tour bus companies.
321go is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 12:54 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 528
I'm not familiar with the hotels across the river from my home in Maryland, but you want to look for a hotel that is walking distance from a Metro stop. I would pick Alexandria if you have an option because it is very charming and full of great restaurants and a great place in which to walk around.
artsbabe is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 01:27 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 203
If I recall correctly, there is a cafeteria in the new Visitors Center in the Capitol......very handy to get something to eat before moving on to the next sight. Please don't leave that area without going across the street from the Visitors Center to the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, at least go inside to the main areas. Enjoy the city.
Amie is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 02:04 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,200
Maybe check out the Marriotts in Bethesda, MD (Residence Inn) or Chevy Chase, MD (Courtyard). Both are right near a red line metro stops. Chevy Chase is a touch closer to DC than Bethesda. Not sure if they charge for parking or not.

I love the Newseum-It has become one of my favorite DC musuems and it has some fabulous views from it.
yestravel is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 02:08 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 12
artsbabe could you recommend a Marriott hotel on the Maryland side that is close to D.C. and the Metro? I knew we would spend a day in Arlington and go down to Mt Vernon so, I wasn't to worried about where we stayed. We are actually flying in to Baltimore Thursday and going back to Baltimore Sunday night (my husband has a conference).
Furledleader is one tour better than another? Should we consider doing a hop off hop on during the day? Would we be able to see more that way?
Thanks everyone.
djaak is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 02:31 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,237
Your schedule is already packed, but the Star Spangled Banner in the American History Museum is really worth seeing. I've lived here for more than 20 years and just saw it a few months ago. I had no idea it was so large. And it's displayed beautifully. The museum is just down from the Natural History Museum, so I'd try to fit it in. The First Ladies' Gowns are also really interesting. And you may not think of art when you think of DC, but the National Gallery is also well worth a couple of hours.

And yes, don't miss the memorials - Vietnam is wonderful. And I really like the (relatively) new WW II memorial. Three days is so short for how much there is to see! Some friends of mine recently went to the Newseum and really liked it a lot.
althom1122 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 03:17 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 12
Thanks. Is it worth going to Mt. Vernon or would it be better to just focus on the city? I am doing the tomb of the unknown solider for sure. I currently have a little brother in the Marines who is in Afghanistan right now.
djaak is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 03:35 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,237
I nearly mentioned when I posted that unless you have a really strong desire to see Mt. Vernon that I'd consider skipping it on just a 3-day visit. It's interesting, but there's sooo much to see in the city that I'm not sure it's worth it. Others may feel differently. The grounds are beautiful for sure. The house is interesting. I don't know.

As for the Cathedral, it's worth seeing, but as already mentioned it's not easy to get to Metro.

Regarding the Spy Museum, I'd give it a miss without kids along. It's kind of fun, but I think the other sights are more worthwhile.

If you're into politics, you might want to consider going to one of the Senate or House office buildings (in the Capitol area -- Rayburn, Dirkson, etc.). You can get the schedule online of the various Committee hearings and just go in and listen to as much or little of any of the hearings you want. I did it as part of a class recently and it was really interesting. We spent an entire morning and I got a taste of about 5 different ones. I hadn't realized they were open to the public. People just come and go. Probably not worth the trouble on such a short trip, but if you happen to love politics, you might find such a thing interesting.
althom1122 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 07:09 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802

For me, these make for too long a Metro ride. Is it not possible to book a Marriott in DC?
NewbE is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 07:12 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 620
<>


Huh???.......What???


Sorry boss, but that wasn't me said anything about a tour.

That was 321go.

I've never done a bus tour of the monuments. I've just walked. But I'd really like to try one of those Monuments by Moonlight sometime.

<>

Hell yeah! It's where the most important person this country has ever known lived and died.

You go girl!
furledleader is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:03 PM.