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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 15th, 2010, 07:15 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 243
Hi djaak. As a govt employee, I've been to DC many times on business. After my first trip, I was hooked and vowed to take my family (DH,DD) there on vacation to experience our nation's capital and history. We had 4 days and hit all of our "musts" but you have to decide which is more important to you because the sights are endless. This is what I would recommend for your 3 days based on our experience.

First, yes it is worth going to Mt Vernon and you can do that and Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. Stay on the Virginia side near a metro (park your car except for Saturday) and drive to Mt. Vernon early, buying your tickets beforehand as recommended. Get in line for the house first(the line will not get shorter) and then afterward choose what you want to see and how long you want to stay. You should be able to tour the house, see the grounds, see the views over the Potomac and feel a great sense of the era in 3 or 4 hours. You don't have to see every exhibit to appreciate Mount Vernon. Then drive to Arlington Natl Cemetery. We used the tour mobile; the guide points out things and makes stops along the way. You will have a stop at the Tomb of the Unknown and President Kennedy's gravesite and the Lee Mansion among others. Note their closing time as they closed gates at 4 pm when we were there in the fall.

I would recommend the night tour of the monuments Saturday night rather than the boat tour. We took Gray Line and it gave you time to get out at Lincoln, VietNam area and Jefferson on the other side. It also started with a drive around the Capital and a stop to go inside the Library of Congress. It was about 3 hours, a little pricey but we felt very worth the money. If you see them at night, then if you don't have time on Sunday to visit all of them, at least you will have seen them. Washington is beautiful at night.

The hop-on tour is great if you had more time. We took it and did spend time at the National Cathederal and it is lovely but I'd save it and the hop-on for another time since you already have a plan.

On Friday, after your Capital tour, Supreme Court Bldg is nearby and also Union Station. I would definitely go to Ford's Theatre and do the tour and museum. Our trip was before the renovations and even then the small museum impacted us as much as any we visited. This should give you time to make your Archives appointment. If there is extra time in between, you can start National History but it is large--pick and choose there. Same with the Air & Space museum, you could spend hours there. We also really enjoyed the Museum of American History.

If you do get passes to the White House, I would definitely say adjust your schedule and go. Though it would be hard to eliminate any of the places discussed, we would say the Capital, White House(if tickets), Arlington National Cemetery, and the memorials are the absolute musts.

I love DC and understand your excitement about visiting. I wish all Americans could go at least once. It really makes you feel such a sense of pride and patriotism as you visit these wonderful symbols of our history and liberty. Take in as much as you can and enjoy it and don't worry about the things you don't have time to see--all of it is special. Have a great time!
texasjo is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 07:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 620

I'm going to change my avatar for the next 3 days...

Just for you!!!
furledleader is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 07:42 PM
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The Marriotts in Crystal City are right next to the Metro. They would definitely be my choice.
MikeT is offline  
Feb 15th, 2010, 07:46 PM
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Well, WTF....

I tried.

Doesn't seem to change though.

furledleader is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 03:17 AM
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I'll chime back in with a yes for Mt. Vernon. It's just that there's sooo much to see. But it is definitely worthwhile - just an extra effort to get to.
Don't skip the Holocaust Museum.
althom1122 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 04:57 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Thoughts to add to the great advice above:

DC's sights are mostly daytime, so I think the nighttime tour of the monuments is an excellent idea to stretch your day. Which leads me to...

Consider switching your day to visit Arlington Cemetery in the morning and Mount Vernon in the afternoon. Then you can visit and dine in Old Town Alexandria (as Washington did) after Mount Vernon. Crowds will be bigger at Mount Vernon but the only place that will matter is the line to tour the house itself.

The Cathedral is lovely (don't miss the Bishop's Garden if you go) but it is off the beaten path and will consume a chunk of your limited time to visit (but not as much as Mount Vernon). If you do visit the Cathedral you can eat at nearby Two Amys pizza, or go down into nearby Georgetown.

The DC Circulator bus can be useful and is sometimes overlooked: http://www.dccirculator.com/DCCirculator.html#systemMap

I'm writing from Bethesda and the Residence Inn here is just across the street from the Bethesda Metro stop (Red Line). Very convenient to get downtown to many sights, plenty of restaurants and plenty safe to walk around at night. But, a longer drive to Mount Vernon and Arlington.

Holocaust Museum is very well done but requires a significant time commitment. It is right next door to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, but I wouldn't struggle to keep the Bureau on your list.

Getting an individual or small group tour through your Congressman or Senator may still be possible, but even if you do it is a hit or miss prospect. It may be fabulous like furledleader's past experience, or you may just get an intern who isn't really knowledgeable. I'd go with the tours through the Capitol Visitor's Center. If you are interested you could supplement that perhaps with gallery passes from your Congressman/Senator.

An evening water tour may be nice, but again I wouldn't struggle to fit this into your schedule. Washington is not really oriented around the river the way that, for example, Paris is.

There is a free performance each evening at the Kennedy Center: http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium/ and the view from the roof is wonderful.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 05:13 AM
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Either the Courtyard in Chevy Chase or the Residence Inn in Bethesda. I believe the latter is a bit closer to the Metro, but the Courtyard is not too far. The Residence Inn in Bethesda is closer to lots of restaurants....
artsbabe is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 05:20 AM
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Concur about the boat ride. It's a pleasant ride, but not really part of the DC experience, if you have 3 days.

Also, if you're going to tour VA, you should stay there, rather than on the MD side. You'll save a lot of time. The last time I went to Mt. Vernon, we got stuck in traffic and took nearly 2 hours coming back to College Park.
E_M is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 06:07 AM
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Last June I took the OnBoard Monument Night Tour. Definitely a great tour and we really enjoyed it. It took us to the Capitol, Jefferson, Vietnam, Korean, Lincoln, Iwo Jima, WW2 and the White House.
tchoiniere is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 08:39 AM
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We might have time to do the tour Thursday night, it depends on traffic. We get into Baltimore around 4:00. Leave airport by 5:00. Then how long is that commute during rush hour? I guess we may have to see how that one plays out when we get there.
Parking rates seem to drop on Sunday so I think we could check out of our hotel and park in D.C. for the day. That way Friday will really be the only day we need to take the metro. Saturday we will do Mt.Vernon and Arlington on our own. Thanks again. Great advice on everything.
djaak is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 08:53 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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"Sorry boss, but that wasn't me said anything about a tour.
That was 321go."

Well anyone could have made that mistake - we look so much alike.

djaak, I've done the Tourmobile night tour. It's approximately 3 hours with stops at the Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln (stop is longer there so that you can visit the Vietnam Veterans and Korean War memorials), and WWII memorials. I found the guide to be very informative (he was a retired actor - had been on Broadway - and really knew how to hold an audience's attention).
321go is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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Could take an hour or more to get from BWI to DC. Why are u renting a car at BWI instead of taking the train into DC or wheever u stay and then just pickiing up a car for the days u need it?
yestravel is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 09:12 AM
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If you are trying to get from BWI to your hotel and then to somewhere (Union Station) to catch the nighttime monuments tour that will be tough (plus ya gotta eat sometime). You might, however, consider driving into DC on Thursday evening (after dinner), parking near the FDR memorial and walking through the FDR Memorial, around the Tidal Basin (with lovely views across to the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument) and across Independence Ave to the WWII Memorial, then along the Reflecting Pool to the Vietnam, Lincoln and Korean Memorials (in that order) and then back across Independence Ave back to your car. A bit of walking but quite pleasant. There is usually parking available near the FDR (including along Ohio Drive along the river), and there are restrooms at FDR, WWII and Lincoln Memorials.

Coming into BWI at that time (running smack into rush hour) you might also consider the option of taking the train from BWI to Union Station and then Metro to your hotel, and then renting a car near your hotel when/if you need it. Also your arrival time and the fact that you are coming into (and presumably leaving from) BYI means the Bethesda/Chevy Chase hotel options are attractive for your arrival and departure.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Feb 16th, 2010, 05:29 PM
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Agree re skipping Bureau of Engraving. Not a highlight compared to some of the other stuff on your list.
althom1122 is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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I think we are going to stay at the Courtyard in Alexandria. That way we can get to Mount Vernon easier and earlier. Thanks for the monument suggestions. We would enjoy walking that after flying and driving all day. Would it be best to go right into D.C. and then to our hotel after we walk the monuments? Has anyone done the National Treasure tour at Mount Vernon?
djaak is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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You certainly could drive to the monuments before the hotel, but that would make you fairly late arriving at the hotel; you'd probably want to eat dinner along the way.

One option--some of the best crabcakes at G&M, which is close to BWI:


Alternatively, you could take northern route around the Beltway and stop in Bethesda to eat. Plenty of places to choose from not that far from the Beltway.

If you stay on the Beltway, continue across the Potomac at the American Legion Bridge and take the first exit, the George Washington Parkway, and continue down into town, it's a very nice way to come into the city. Or if you dine in Bethesda you can continue down Wisconsin Avenue past the National Cathedral then left on Massachusetts, which will take you take you past the Vice President's house and several embassies.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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Ooh - G&M - that's in my neck of the woods. Have eaten there often. Yes, great crab cakes and close to BWI.
althom1122 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2010, 05:34 AM
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I will be honest....I have never had a crab cake. I guess It is time to try one.
djaak is offline  
Feb 19th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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In that case don't miss G&M-the best
yestravel is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2010, 01:52 PM
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Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions. Here is our almost finished schedule.

Thursday, April 15 Fly into Baltimore around 4:00. Eat Crab cakes at G&M. Drive to D.C. Park around Lincoln Memorial and walk around monuments and memorials. Hotel in Alexandria.

Friday: Take Metro into D.C. Tour Capital 10:00 set up with congressman. Visit Library of Congress and Supreme Court. Hopefully, Space and Air Museum. 5:30 National Archives.

Saturday: Mt Vernon and Arlington Cemetery with our car.

Sunday: Check out of hotel. Drive and park in D.C.

9:00 Ford's Theater

10:30 Washington Monument

11:30 Holocaust Museum

Museum of American History and Natural History Museum

Drive back to Baltimore Sunday night. It will be tight. If we miss the Washington Monument time we will try to go up the Old Post Office. We are also still waiting on White House Tour, which could change our schedule.
djaak is offline  

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