Washington DC and Thanksgiving day

Jul 28th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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Washington DC and Thanksgiving day

When we visit our DD and SIL in NYC in November, we thought we would do a side trip to Washington DC. As we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, and most people will be where they want to be on that day, I thought traveling that day might be a good idea. We will have a van. Just wondering though if sight-seeing attractions such as the Smithsonian etc will be open on Thanksgiving. Thought we could travel back on the Saturday.

Does this sound like a dumb idea!!!. Please be nice.
nelsonian is online now  
Jul 28th, 2012, 02:06 PM
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Hi nelsonian, I (and a couple of others) responded to you in the Lounge!
obxgirl is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 03:15 PM
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Why not take the train? You don't need a car in DC anyway, and you'd save the parking charges.
NewbE is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 03:19 PM
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I am looking at a hotel with free parking, but train or bus could be an option.
nelsonian is online now  
Jul 28th, 2012, 03:34 PM
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Well, it would save you any concern about traffic. As others have said on your other thread, it's hard to say how busy the roads will be on those days, but it is the busiest travel weekend of the year in the US.

In general, though, I think that's a fine weekend to be in DC, I hope you enjoy it! (Just avoid stores and malls on Friday, avoid them like the plague!)
NewbE is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 04:04 PM
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Coming back on Sat or Sun is likely to put you into a lot of other people traveling - doesn;t matter if road, rail or air.

Also - avoid stores and malls at all cost on Friday (black friday the day stores in the US are expected to start turning a profit) and Sat - which are two of the busiest shopping days of the year - and the days stores and malls start expanded shopping hours (often from 8 am to 11 pm).
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 09:57 PM
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The Smithsonian museums are open Thanksgiving Day. Of course, the monuments are outdoors, so no "hours" per se. There are also a couple of terrific outdoor sculpture gardens on the mall.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 02:21 AM
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Yes, the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the two busiest travel days of the year in the US. If you leave for DC on Thursday morning and return on Saturday, you will be fine.

The trains are an easy way to get there. If you are fortunate enough to be over 62, AMTRAK is laughably cheap. My wife and I go to concerts in DC when we are in Richmond, and the train is the same as the cost of parking overnight in the District. But the trains will be packed on Sunday as well,
Ackislander is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 04:00 AM
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The Smithsonian museums will be open on Thanksgiving, and they're generally pretty busy from morning through early-afternoon; I've sent visiting friends and family to the museums on Thanksgiving morning while I collect myself and plan for dinner that day--it works very well.

Twice we made the mistake of taking family in the car to NYC on the day after Thanksgiving with a Saturday return. Big. Mistake. Traffic galore in both directions. I would agree that Amtrak might be better.
fourfortravel is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 06:07 AM
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I agree that the train is a good option. However if you decide to make the side trip to DC, don't wait long to purchase tickets, especially your return ticket on Saturday. Trains do sell out over major holidays weekends.
obxgirl is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 09:20 AM
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Agree that trains do sell out - esp around holidays and summer fri afternoons and late sun nights or mon ams. I have come from DC back to NYC and people getting on after DC had to sit on their luggage at the end of the car since all seats were full.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 09:36 AM
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Penn Station will be a madhouse on Thanksgiving Day from about 11AM until later in the afternoon, filled with masses of people who don't usually ride trains who have come to the city to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade, which ends virtually across the street from Penn Station. Two different subway lines and three different train services (Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak) service the station and once the parade ends at noon, the masses of people can be oppressive.

Because many of these visitors will use the commuter railroads to LI and NJ rather than Amtrak, riding Amtrak will not be as crazy, though you will have to pass through the crowds for the other lines. Buy a ticket well ahead. You might also score a discount for buying at least two weeks ahead. You can probably avoid most of the craziness by making an early departure. Before 10 AM, all the people in the station will be arriving and heading to the parade route, so the station will be busy, but there won't be a lot of people waiting around yet.
ellenem is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 10:20 AM
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Definitely take Amtrak & as mentioned above, get your tickets online as soon as possible. Fares are based on availability so lower fares the further out you book. You can get fares as low as $49 each way. If you cant get a $49 ticket look at the discounts they offer to see if you qualify for any.
DC is pretty quirt on Thanksgiving day - museums may be crowded, but not bad in my experience. Friday is insane in the vicinity of any shopping so avoid those areas which you should be able to do if you stick to the museums and various sites.
yestravel is offline  
Sep 20th, 2012, 05:58 PM
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I lived in DC off and on for 13 years. As others have pointed out, ALL Smithsonian museums in Washington are open on Thanksgiving. The only time museums in the Smithsonian network are closed is Christmas Day, or if there is a blizzard and I believe they are closed every 4 yrs on Inaugural Day in January. Private museums are a different story. So if interested in say the National Building Museum, The Newseum, Museum of Crime and Punishment etc....you will have to check their websites or call them to see if they are open or not. The Mall and monuments are open 24 hrs but National Park Rangers are only available during regular working hours.

The city is very quiet on Thanksgiving and for the entire weekend really. Washington is actually very quiet between Thanksgiving and into January. Whenever universities are closed and Congress is not in session - the city is very quiet.

Hotel parking in Washington is very expensive but you may be able to find a good deal with a hotel in Alexandria, Crystal City, Arlington - all Virginia suburbs. Or you can check Silver Spring, Chevy Chase and Bethesda - all suburbs in Maryland. More than likely you will find more affordable room rates and parking as well.

Another alternative is Airbnb where you can rent an entire house, apartment or rent a guest room in a private home, apartment or you can find a traditional bed & breakfast. www.airbnb.com

One issue you may find is that many restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving Day in Washington and the surrounding areas. However, if you like Asian food - almost all the Asian restaurants remain open.

Have fun!
Takoma_DC is offline  
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