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Washington DC: 1st Family Trip for 5 nights: MIND-BOGGLED! Help!

Washington DC: 1st Family Trip for 5 nights: MIND-BOGGLED! Help!

Old Jun 9th, 2007, 01:33 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Washington DC: 1st Family Trip for 5 nights: MIND-BOGGLED! Help!

Please help! I have stuffed a huge chunk of Fodors Guidebook for Washington DC 2007 into my brain. It is SO BORING I can hardly stand reading it but I have persevered.

OH WHERE OH WHERE should we stay? After all that I read, I have no idea which area would be most convenient...Capitol Hill area? Downtown area? Foggy Bottom? Woodley Park-Zoo? Adams Morgan?

I'm travelling with my husband and son and daughters, who are all over 20 years old. We want to see the White House, the Capitol Hill Area, the Monuments, the Smithsonian Museums, Library of Congress, etc.

We like eating local foods, ethnic foods, moderately priced foods.

We like sleeping in a safe area where we could eat dinner out and walk back to our room and be safe. I also am a light sleeper and prefer to stay in a quiet room where I won't hear traffic noise, etc. We will need one double room and one triple room...Or 2 double rooms and 1 single room. Prefer moderate prices.

We plan to use public transportation.

If we stay near the Capitol, and near the Museums, maybe we could walk to a lot of sites and that would be very neat. But is that a noisy, crowded neighborhood with tall buildings?

If we stay near Woodley-Park-Zoo Metro stop, at a b&b, that looks like a more peaceful area, and you can still walk to restaurants in the Adams Morgan area...but would we regret being further away from the sites we had come to see? Is it inconvenient to have to wait for the Metro and take the Metro back to Washington DC main sites between the white house and capitol Hill?

If anybody can recommend where they enjoyed or didn't enjoy staying...in which areas...of Washington DC, that would sure help.

Thanks so much!

Melissa5 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2007, 02:31 AM
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We visited DC last September for 4 days and stayed at the Harrington hotel. It's only two blocks from either the Mall or the White house and for safety you're close to the FBI building.Lots of restaurants in the neighbourhood.Paul
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 02:34 AM
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Forgot to tell you that the best way to get a feeling of a new town isto take the Old Town trolley. You can hop-on/off all day and the drivers are excellent guides.We usually start with the trolley and the other days we visit in depth the things we liked.Paul
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 05:04 AM
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Well, there are a number of people who aren't fans of the Hotel Harrington, so just be aware of that. As to other options, I recommend staying around Dupont Circle. Lots of great restaurants and activity on the streets in the evening. I would look at Hotel Palomar or Jurys' Dupont Circle. Palomar might be quieter, but maybe not. Another option is the Tabard Inn. Woodley Park is one stop further out on the Red line. Be sure the B&B is close to the Metro stop. The Metro is not a hassle, but in the evenings and on weekends, the time between trains can sometimes be 20 minutes. Capitol Hill does not have tall buildings; in fact, DC does not have tall buildings because of height restrictions.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 05:12 AM
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Woodley Park would be very convenient. The Metro runs very regularly, so you've got easy access to downtown (I live one stop up the line). There are also two large hotels there (the Marriott Wardman Park and the Omni Shoreham) and an okay restaurant scene.

You could walk to Adams Morgan (or there's a shuttle bus from the Metro station, which is misleadingly labeled as Adams Morgan) or you could walk or Metro up to my neighborhood, Cleveland Park, where there are better restaurants (waiting to be flamed for this opinion, but it's true so bring it on!).

Dupont Circle is also nice, with more stuff right there, and there are lots of hotels there.

I recommend avoiding Capitol Hill. It;'s nice in parts, but do you know which ones?
EricH is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2007, 05:27 AM
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Unless you're talking about the Holiday Inn or the Red Roof Inn near Capitol Hill I would also recommend against staying there. The oliday Inn and Red Roof Inn are in convenient locations.

Dupont Circle has a lot going for it with lots of hotels and good restaurants plus it's convenient to Metro. Cleveland Park is a great area too but I don't remember many hotels.

Have you contacted your congressman and/or the White House to get admission into the Capitol and the White House?
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 05:29 AM
  #7  
JJ5
 
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I just went in February, and stayed right off 2 different Metro stations downtown. But if you want to read all my logistics/thoughts on this, read my long trip report. I'll bring it to the top for you.

If I had to do it again, I would stay either in Alexandria, Dupoint Circle or right by the Archives and Smithsonians. There are lots of other good choices too. I loves the Woodley Zoo neighborhood, but I would not stay there if seeing what you want to see. But's that me.

The Metro has a $22 weekly pass that is the bomb. Ask a Metro station ticket seller in the big booths to get you this as it is in a dense system pull down menu on the machines and you will miss it. We never had any problem without a vehicle getting to Arlington or any of the other 50 or so places we saw. We SAW a lot, and were really moving. ALL is convenient. Our longest Metro ride was from Arlington Cemetary to the Library of Congress and it took a whole 20 minutes. It's a no brainer and the easiest transit system I've come across in over 15 cities at least.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 05:35 AM
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Recently stayed at the Jurys Washington hotel Dupont Circle. It is within walking distance to restaurants, shopping & the metro. I felt safe there, and the rooms are nice, the staff very helpful.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 06:37 AM
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Sorry for all the typos, in a hurry. I brought it to the top. $22 in the title. Read it and get lots of detail.

If you are going in summer, do book ahead the Washington Monum. tickets' time.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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I always stay at Woodley Park Guest House which is a great B&B across from the Omni if you want more of a hotel experience. The metro is only 1/2 block away and I've always felt safe walking to the great restaurants in the evening. The B&B has different rm arrangements of beds and private vs. shared baths. The owners are wonderful, the breakfast superb, but there are no TVs or radios anywhere in the B&B which would be a deal-breaker for some. Personally, I enjoy that. Great ethnic restaurants on the next block from Asia, French, Italian, Lebanese, and Afgan. Of course, McDonald's and fast food Mexican and Asia also there. Close enough to stroll down to zoo early AM to watch the feeding of the animals before breakfast.

Agree w/ trolley tours (or some kind of tour bus) w/ on/off options for overall view of DC. Maybe schedule outside activities in AM - monuments - if cooler and museums for afternoon w/ AC. Best lunch on mall at Am. Indian Museum. Nat'l Portrait Gallery reopened last summer after 6 yr renovation. I believe the Holocaust Museum is a must, and everyone enjoys the Air & Space. Too bad the Am. Hx Museum is closed now, but the Nat'l Archives and Natural Hx Musuem are interesting. The Spy Museum is private so you have to pay AND you need reservations before going, but it is really worthwhile. You won't be able to see everything so make a list of what is most important. Ck the schedule at the Kennedy Center for a show or if you are there on a Fri/Sat go see the Capital Steps. Some people head to Mt. Vernon for the day which has a new museum. So much and not enough time, but enjoy!
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 07:59 AM
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I'd recommend Dupont Circle. There's a metro stop for easy access to all the things you want to see and there's plenty of local, ethnic restaurants. You can also easily walk to Adams Morgan which has great funky restaurants and shops.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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Just read another poster's, JJ5, extensive report of DC which would be helpful to you. So much I forgot that I love in DC - Arlington, Nat'l Gallery of Art, etc. Good luck!
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 09:16 AM
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First, when are you going? Since your children are adults, are you free of a school schedule? You may be able to save money by booking a week with fewer tourists and conventions than others. Try playing with different dates in a hotel search site and see if you can find a quiet week.

Secondly, with young adults, I would look for an area with nightlife. (You'll be ready to go to bed early, but the kids won't.) On the same theory, a place with a free breakfast buffet accommodates early and later risers.

The area that we liked is between GWU and Dupont Circle metro stops. There are a lot of suite hotels here, which may work well for you. Washington Suites Georgetown was recommended to us, as was the Embassy Suites on 22nd street. As it turned out, we stayed at the M Street Renaissance (a Marriott)on a buy two nights, get one free deal. I'd recommend that you join a frequent stay program like Marriott's or Hilton's; you can pick up some great deals during the slower times, and you'll receive a nice chunk of points from a long stay like you're describing.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 03:08 PM
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Tough question...alot based on what you like to do, etc. BUT...here's what I do.

I stay in Crystal City....close to National Airport...5 minutes or so away. ((hotels have shuttles to airport and to metro stops.

So transportation not a problem.)) (You can catch the metro into DC from airport)

Not far to Alexandria(metro)...can walk downtown and there are lots of places to eat.

Union Station downstairs has food pavillion, and upstairs some nice sit down places.

Try the food at the Indian Museum...the pumpkin soup is wonderful.

You can also go to Mt. Vernon on public transportation....metro/bus.
((Annapolis via public transportation...now that's another story!!))
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 05:28 PM
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Mount Vernon is difficult on public transportation. The buses do not run very often and/or are keyed into the rush hour for commuters (which is the reverse direction from what tourists are going).

The Hotel Harrington is a good basic hotel that is a little shabby at the edges, but a lot cheaper than some other places that have been mentioned on this thread--any of which would be fine.

Dupont Circle and the Penn Quarter have a lot of restaurants and some "action" in the evening.

No hotel is right on The Mall. You will be using Metro to get around.

You could also look at Embassy Suites, which provide you with two rooms and could put another bed in one of the rooms to cram you all in and avoid paying for two rooms.

If you have specific questions, just ask. I am a licensed guide in DC and tour with people (mostly groups) but am free with answers on message boards as well.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 05:59 PM
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To: TauxSteMarie

I certainly wouldn't question your knowlege of the DC area, and attractions. But would like to respond to the difficulty getting to Mt. Vernon.

Take the yellow line to Huntington Station...go outside and catch the #101 Fairfax Connector...go to website for times.

I did this without any undue delays and it was very doable. Yes, it took a little research to get the connections correct, but these are posted on the Mt. Vernon website.

Again...I thought Mt. Vernon was worth the effort to see.....the guides are most knowledgable and helpful.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 06:11 PM
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I agree that you can get to Mount Vernon via public bus, but it takes time. Most tourists will minimize confusion by just taking a bus tour with one of the tour companies or renting a car for the day.

I had to get to Mount Vernon two weeks ago to meet a group at 8:30am. They were staying 10 minutes away. I live in Northern Virginia. Sure, I could have gotten there via public transportation but the logistics (my Metro stop is West Falls Church, to give you an idea). I drove to meet them. Fortunately, Mount Vernon was my last stop with them at the end of a 3 day tour (so I thought). I ended up getting them into the Cathedral for a noon service (Lutheran School group) and had to follow them up there in my car. Not the best, but I got them in and that is all that counted.

I do agree that Mount Vernon is well worth seeing. However, for the average tourist staying 2-3 days in DC (the average amount of time, by the way), it does not have the easiest logistics. The only problem with bus tours is they only give you 2-3 hours at Mount Vernon and you do not have enough time to go over to the education center and museum--which are well worth it.

When I take groups into MV, we skip the film and make a beeline for the house line. Then we go to the tombs after taking photos of the view. IF there is time, we go back to the orientation film. We never have time to go to the other things--a shame, but people have limited time.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 07:15 PM
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We recently stayed at the Washington Suites Georgetown. It isn't fancy. In fact, it is dated but we got a very good price (their website). It enjoys a very good location in what appeared to be a safe neighborhood near Georgetown. Our room was clean, non-smoking, and huge. It was actually two rooms and a bath. A light breakfast was included. They have parking if you need it. You can check other travelers comments on tripadvisor.com
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Old Jun 11th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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I always stay with my mother in Georgetown but think that a great area for a tourist is "West End" between Georgetown, Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle. Hotels might be expensive during the week, though, but cheaper on the weekends. Streets are M, N, 25th to 22 or so. It's near both the Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle Metro stops, and walking distance to Georgetown, all of which have many restaurants. Dupont Circle area is fun and lively, and you can always request a quiet room away from the street. You're a good traveler and should be in the city, not in the suburbs!
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Old Jun 11th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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We've stayed multiple times at the Doubletree on New Hampshire Avenue, about a half block from the Foggy Bottom metro stop. Once you get on the Metro, getting around DC is very easy.
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