Washington D.C. Questions

Old Feb 18th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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JJ5
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Washington D.C. Questions

What is your favorite venue in Washington D.C. (Smithsonian, public buildings, outdoor areas, theatre etc.) and what do you think is a do not miss on the Museum scene?

All favorites, opinions, and "walk" path out of the way habits/ details are welcome.
Thanks. I do have a tour of the Capitol building set up. We are not foodies, but do have one reservation. But if you have a real favorite or not on the tourist track idea, please do tell.

Leaving soon for 7 days and I'll be at The Quincy at 1823 L Street. We are going to the zoo, Mt.Vernon, Alexandria also- for sure.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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The Spy and Holocaust Museums, Arlington Cemetery, WW 2 Memorial.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 07:41 AM
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I did not know about the Spy at all. We are going to Arlington Cemetary on Sunday morning too, for sure. But you reminded me that I should probably print a little map of Arlington, as my companion is a Vet and wants to do it slow and not attached to the tour, for the most part. He would love the Spy.

Thanks, clueless.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 08:00 AM
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The National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of American Art recently re-opened, after a closure of several years, to rave reviews about both the collections and the architecture.

Other than that, have you searched for other Washington, D.C. posts here? There are several recent ones addressing similar questions . . .
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 08:10 AM
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Yes, I did, and I have some really good options for pouring rain days etc., but I just wondered about the absolute favorites of people who lived there or visited frequently, and not just the regular White House, Capitol, etc. stops.

And I hadn't heard about the National Portrait Gallery before. I'll do some googling on it. Thanks!
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Also, the search function on Fodors is not a good one. You need to omit Washington or you get 100s of Washington state answers. I finally found STW's good trip review I was looking for and it sure wasn't easy.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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We live in the DC area and would recommend (especially since you are traveling with a veteran)taking the DC Ducks tour which uses authentic amphibious military vehicles that tour the monuments/sights in the Mall area and then take the plunge for a short tour in the Potomac River. You have the Vietnam Wall, Lincoln Memorial and moving Korean War Memorials all within a short walk of each other.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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The Lincoln Memorial - if you can do only one thing in Washington. It's so moving it's unbelievable.

And not only for the memorial itself but for the other events that have occurred there - most notably one of the first events in the modern civil rights movement: Marian Anderson's 1939 Easter Sunday concert - after she had been denied use of Constitution Hall by the DAR solely because she was African American.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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JJ5, I recommend you spend at least one evening at the Kennedy Center. They have a free one-hour performance every night of the week at the Millennium Stage. The type of performance changes all the time. This site lists the schedule:

http://www.kennedy-center.org/progra.../schedule.html

You won't be able to reserve a seat, but get there by 5:15 for the 6:00 performance and you should be okay. If you want to make an evening of it, there is a restaurant on the top floor of the building. Be sure to take a walk out to the terrace and check out the view of the Potomac.

You can get to the Kennedy Center by taking the Metro to the Foggy Bottom station and catching a shuttle from there.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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The Lincoln Memorial is far and away my favorite memorial too.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 09:24 PM
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Welcome to my part of the world, JJ5!

Here are a few of the things I do when we have guests from out-of-town. Of course, just pick and choose please which ones will suit you and your companion.

Although my mother-in-law found it a snoozer, the Smithsonian Air and Space is still a hit with me. If you have a car, there’s also its extension, Udvar-Hazy Center, close to the Dulles Int’l Airport in Chantilly. It houses the B-29 Enola Gay.

This may sound silly to many, I know, but if you have a car, some of our visitors really enjoy just driving down the Massachusetts Avenue and looking at all the embassies and identifying the flags. Like old biddies, my mother and I would get a kick out of analyzing the location of the embassy vis-à-vis its country’s perceived importance or conjecturing how such an impoverished nation-state would have such a big chancellery.

For your companion who’s a veteran, the International Spy Museum might indeed be a must-see. Would you also like to check the websites of the Navy Museum (located in the Washington Navy Yard) and the National Museum of the Marine Corps (this one is way down I-95)? I can’t really recommend them but just be informed that we have them here, too.

As for the Holocaust Museum, I find that it appeals only to certain type of people. I find it emotionally draining and I usually need a calm, solitary afternoon afterwards. I think of all the guests we’ve had, I was only able to convince a historian, then a microbiologist – people who can “detach” themselves -- to go with me. Evil can be hard to confront….

The National Gallery of Arts, West and East Wings, isn’t really part of the Smithsonian complex but it’s free as well. The West Wing contains the Old Masters and the East Wing has contemporary art, although when my child’s class had a field trip there about two months ago, I noticed that the East Wing had an exhibit of small French paintings. The West Wing is proud to own the only Leonardo in this hemisphere, the Ginevra de’Benci. The underground concourse between the two wings has a good restaurant for lunch. Oh! I know you won’t carry a backpack but yes, like in other art museums, the guards will tell you to check-in your backpacks, just because patrons sometimes inadvertently scratch works of arts when they’re standing too close to one.

The Archives is near the National Gallery, if you wish to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We take the Archives metro stop to get to the National Gallery, anyway.

If you have time to venture out of the Smithsonian complex, the other art museums I’d recommend are the Phillips (on 21st St.) for 19th century art and Corcoran Gallery of Arts (on 17th St) for American paintings. Please check their websites, too. I haven’t been to the National Portrait since it reopened so I might be unfairly biased. Both the Freer and Sackler Galleries in the Smithsonian have an impressive collection of Asian art, if you’re interested.

I’m not so wild about our zoo. I hope they have improved their exhibits. We used to be Fonz-ies (Friends of the National Zoo) but there was a time when we noticed that a lot of the “standard” exhibits were closed because animals were dead or something. We still go for the pandas but otherwise, the children wait for our summer vacations in San Diego. The San Diego Zoo has been setting the measure for all zoos we visit.

Re. your Capitol visit, just remember to answer: “Benedict Arnold.” -- I don’t know if it’s a fluke or it’s a standard talk question given by tour guides, but every time we were here, under this big painting of the Battle of Saratoga in the Rotunda, the docent would ask if we could recognize one of the generals in the painting. Most of the people wouldn’t know the answer, sadly enough.

I also second Lincoln Memorial and Kennedy Center like the other posters. But the Vietnam Memorial makes me teary-eyed, especially at dusk, when the lights at the bottom of the wall turn on. There’s something about the memorial that makes me introspective. Maybe it’s the shape, like a V for victory we wished for, or a chiseled out gash in our nation’s conscience. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the sight of dogtags or flowers in memory of a father someone never knew, or a brother or a comrade. Maybe it’s the reflection of ourselves on the granite walls – because it DOES reflect like a dim mirror -- as we’re standing there and reading the names of ACTUAL people who died for a cause. And then, to see and comprehend that the names go on and on and on…. Again, this is another place in DC that makes me grieve inward.

I hope JJ5 I’m not mistaken in assuming you’re Catholic from previous posts -- if you wish to attend church on a Sunday, there’s the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception but it is way out in northeast Washington, near Catholic University. Don’t confuse it, though, with the National Cathedral which is an Episcopal Church and the one most seen on TV. From your hotel, you might be closer to the St. Matthew’s, the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Washington. It’s at the intersection of Connecticut Ave, Rhode Island Ave, and M Street. The funeral mass for JFK was said here and I believe a mass is held here for the Supreme Court before each term begins. The 10:00 Sunday mass is the Latin mass.

Old Town, Alexandria is also charming. When I was younger, I preferred Georgetown’s busy ambiance but now I’m learning to appreciate both. Again, if you’re not pressed for time AND it’s not too cold, drop by the Torpedo Factory and watch some artisans at work. We usually stroll down King Street towards the riverfront, go in and out of the stores, esp. the ice cream parlor and turn left on Union Street to get to Torpedo Factory. You can get a cruise by the water’s edge, too.

I know there was a very informative thread in Fodors posted here by FauxSteMarie about the renovations for Mount Vernon. Just don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes because the grounds are gravelly, if I remember correctly. And there’s this steep slope if you want to go down to river and there isn’t a railing to hold on to.

Please check www.washingtonpost.com/weekend, too, for a listing of activities.

I hope you’ll have fine weather and good times.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 11:10 PM
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The "Awakening" statue down at the end of Hain's Point provides a nice break, especially for families with young children who might need to be able to run around and make a little noise. It's pretty too, with the Potomac River on all sides. You'll need a car to get there. The statue is of a huge man, buried, and trying to come up out of the ground. You can climb on it and take some fun pictures.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 01:51 AM
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Dont forget the museum of the Indian.The first one after the Capitol.Paul
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 03:58 AM
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I would also include the FDR Memorial.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 04:15 AM
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By all means check out the usual dining haunts of Dupont, Penn Quarter, etc.

However, with seven days, you also have the chance to see some other neighborhoods. Dinner hour would be the perfect opportunity.

One night take Metro to the "U St." stop. And settle in somewhere on U st. (like http://www.dukemrestaurant.com/ )
or on 14th. south of U (like http://www.saint-ex.com/ )

Another night take Metro to Eastern Market and eat somewhere on 8th st. south of Penn Ave. http://www.barracksrow.org/

For yet another dinner, take a $10 taxi to the intersection of 18th St. and Columbia Rd. and have fun choosing amoung the ENDLESS options.
http://www.adamsmorgan.net/restaurants/


If you go early, you can also explore the surrounding areas on foot while it's still daylight.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 05:32 AM
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One thing I haven't seen mentioned that you might enjoy is the National Geographic Society Headquarters at 16th and M Streets. I noticed they have an evening program on the 27th by photographer Frans Lanting that sounds very interesting.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ng...s/lanting.html
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 06:14 AM
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Oh, all you people have been just tremendous. I have lots of main days plotted out, but this is EXACTLY what I was looking for as it details some aspects of things AT the venues that I am now aware of and will seek out.

We hope to get some rainless days, but we will do ALL the outdoors ones mentioned here with umbrellas, if we have to.

I'm printing it all out to use as a guide. And we are going to Mt. Vernon and I have printed out that post. Also, we are going to Spy and Native American for sure.

And I really appreciate the info on the Church locations. And the evening options to other neighborhoods, as well.

THANK YOU ALL! I'll be off in just a few days, and now I AM starting to get excited as I didn't know for sure if it would really happen. But this weekend went well and I'm going to be off.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Try to pack a picnic of some kind for Zoo day - even if it's just sandwiches from a sandwich shop close to your hotel. There are plenty of tables available and the Zoo food is horrible.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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Oh that add on was GREAT bardo, because I think we are going to go to the zoo Thursday. We have a kitchenette, and maybe I will get some "to gos" in our neighborhood to take with us.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 07:40 AM
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It's never been crowded when I've been there, but the FDR memorial is also wonderful. It's best when the water is back (frozen right now) because of how the designer used water to help tell the TVA part of the story. It's nice around sunset as the lighting is very complimentary.
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