Washington DC in February

Nov 30th, 2003, 11:23 AM
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Washington DC in February

As a Valentine's treat, my husband is bringing me back to Washington DC.which I love. We visited 2 summers ago with our 5yr. old, but this time it's grown ups only - for three nights (Sat-Mon).
Loved it in the summer - what will the weather be like in Feb?
Done child friendly stuff eg Tourmobile, Air and Space-Smithsonian.
This time, would love to go to the Capitol, and what else do you suggest? (We're culture vultures, not shoppers!)
You were all a fantastic help planning the first trip, so fingers crossed again.
MRS_AR is offline  
Nov 30th, 2003, 12:37 PM
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Try the Building Museum, immediately across the street from Judiciary Sq Metro stop. They request, but don't enforce, a $5 donation. If possible, go on a guided tour of the building - it's design & history are both fascinating.

The Postal Museum, next door to Union Station, is fascinating to many kids and adults. The Postal Pavilion building (at the Federal Triangle Metro stop) also has an interesting history, and you can take the free ride/tour of the clock tower for one of the better views of DC (but it will be chilly on a windy day).

Without your 5yr old, this might be a good time to visit the Holocaust Museum. BTW, weather can be real "iffy" in Feb. Suggest some sort of weather-proof footwear -- many sidewalks are inadequatly shoveled, end even when they are there can be a lot of "run-off" from nearby piles of snow. Gloves & some sort of scarf, warm socks won't hurt either. Enjoy! I visited in Feb 2000 -- a quieter time for sure.
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Nov 30th, 2003, 06:55 PM
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Last Feb, we had over a foot of snow in one snowfall, so weather can get pretty dicey that time of year. On the other hand, the year before, I was able to run around in a sweater instead of a coat. To see? Add to the above the spy museum, and check out what's at the art museums and Kennedy Ctr at that time. I'd recommend the Freer and Phillips art museums. The National Geographic can often have interesting displays as well.
crys is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 06:22 AM
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I would suggest visiting the new mammal exhibit at the Natural History museum. It opened about a month ago, and it is unbelieveable. Also I would try to visit the Library of Congress, which is simply a gorgeous building (behind the Capital - visit the Jefferson
poorgradstudent is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 06:24 AM
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ooops - that was visit the Jefferson building of the LOC. Also, a frequently overlooked treasure is the Botanical Gardens, also just down the street from the Capital.
February weather can be harsh - dress warm, in layers, and ditto on the weatherproof shoes.
poorgradstudent is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 10:23 AM
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Thanks all.
Are there queues for the Capital? How do we get tickets?
Is there anything I would need to, or could, book via the internet to save time on our visit?
Sorry, poorgradstudent, but what's the Jefferson building of the LOC?
(Maybe should have told you that I'm a Brit?)
Staying in a hotel behind the Smithsonian buildings (the l'enfant?)so can anyone recommend good places for breakfast/dinner?
Thanks again.
MRS_AR is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 10:38 AM
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MrsAR: You can get tickets in advance for the Washington Monument and for the Holocaust Museum ... I'm sure you could find the url by doing a search. We've never had much problem standing in line at Holocaust Museum & getting tickets (free) for an earlier hour .. but have never managed to get Washington Monument tix. There doesn't seem to be much in DC area for "breakfast" places, altho I do recall some Dupont Circle restaurants mentioned awhile back ("Kramers"?). You also might want to see what's playing at Kennedy Center & get tickets in advance. The audience-participation, "who-dun-it", "Shear Madness" is fun & hilarious. There's always some sort of music performances happening there too. Welcome back to the U.S.
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 12:18 PM
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The Library of Congress has three buildings (its the biggest library in the world I believe), Jefferson, Adams and Madison (I think). The Jefferson Building is the nicest of the three, with a beautiful reading room, copies of a Gutenberg Bible, and other stuff I can't remember off the top of my head. Visit www.loc.gov for more info.
The Washington Post website (www.washingtonpost.com) has a great Food section with restaurant info and reviews. I would check that out for good eats. The Post's food guy hosts a chat every Wed @ 11am EST, you might try submitting a question.
poorgradstudent is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 06:22 PM
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Do you already have your rooms at the L'Enfant? It is a beautiful hotel, but a bit off the beat. Did you check prices at the Willard Intercontinental for that time? They sometimes have deals over the weekend in the winter, and it is BY FAR the most wonderful hotel in DC. Spectacular - romantic - and very close to the White House.

Ask your Senator or Representative to get you into the White House. If you ask far enough in advance, you can get on the tours, unless security has blocked that.

Definitely go to Kennedy Center, if only to walk through. Performances there are great. If you are a church goer, take a cab to the National Cathedral. It is beautiful.

The Holocaust Museum is very moving - it is huge and takes quite some time. we took in a play at the Ford's Theater, which I thought was quite fun and interesting. The Smithsonian American History Museum is also fun. Get a look at the Hope Diamond at the Natural History museum.

If you get to the Willard, go to the Round Robin Bar and say hello to Sean from Linda in Minnesota. I haven't been there for a few years.

So much to see - so little time. Have fun!
LLKlein is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 07:03 PM
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February in DC is usually COLD! BRRRR! Even if you hit a day when it is relatively warm, when the sun goes down it is usually really cold. Best thing would be to check the weather channel or weather.com right before you come so you will know what to pack. Great place for very good and inexpensive breakfast & lunch is Reeve's Bakery at 1306 G Street NW. I eat there at least once whenever I am in DC on business. Go to www.reevesbakery.com There are quite a few moderately priced restaurants at Union Station also. Have a great time!
JoyinVirginia is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 11:15 AM
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Thanks Linda - although as a Brit, I don't have a Senator or Representative to get me into the White House, but I'd love a tour. Does anyone know another way?
rb - sorry, but we got tickets for the Washington Monument on our first visit (with an early morning queue). It was our first experience of park rangers(?) and the flags were flying low due to the recent death of one of their colleagues.
Thanks everyone for all the website links - will try them out and let you know, and I'm definately packing my thermal underwear!
Any other ideas or advice gratefully recieved!
MRS_AR is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 01:30 PM
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My favorite places to take out of town guests recently are the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress. They are simply gorgeous places with wonderful exhibits.
try www.cultural-alliance.org/tickets
to see what's playing. There are some great concerts and plays in unusual venues around the city. It's a grand place for culture-vultures!
uhoh_busted is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 09:01 PM
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The hotel at L'Enfant is not charming or memorable in itself, but just fine. The good thing about that location is you can walk right to the Smithsonian and National Mall area, with (at varying distances, but still within easy walking) everything from the Holocaust Museum, Washington Monument, National Gallery of Art, and Capitol Hill. If you want to grab coffee and pastry on the go, there's an underground shopping area with cheap takeout restaurants right where the hotel is -- but it closes in the evening. In fact, in the evening I'd recommend hopping on the metro and going to a livelier area. Two stops away at Metro Center are several good choices for a nice dinner: Red Sage, Finemundo, Butterfield 9, Oceanaire. There are lots of other areas with different types of offerings -- this is just what I'm most familiar with.

Eljay is offline  
Dec 6th, 2003, 07:03 AM
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I used to work across the street from that hotel and am down there now and again and there aren't hardly any restaurants around there. It's not really a city feel to that area. I don't care for the area, but if you aren't big on going out at night or wanting to walk around your hotel, it won't matter so much and is a nice hotel and convenient enough.

As for breakfast, I would just have it in the hotel myself. I do not like to travel far for breakfast, however, and find it convenient to go back to a hotel room to get stuff I want to carry for the day. If you do want to leave, that underground mall would be closest and fine if you don't want a real restaurant. THe only other place I can think of nearby is a French cafe right at the L'Enfant Plaza metro exit, but at the Maryland Ave exit, not where the hotel is (that metro stop extends quite a bit underground). That is Vie de France. There is also a French deli in that underground mall, Au Bon Pain, and you could find something to eat there, I imagine, but the atmosphere is not like a regular restaurant.

I'm pretty sure the public can eat in the cafeterias at a couple of the govt. buildings nearby, and that could be an okay place for breakfast, such as the Dept. of Ag. cafeteria (Independence ave between 12th and 13th St) and the Dept. of Energy cafeteria at 1000 Independence Avenue which is very near L'Enfant Plaza promenade.

As I said, unless the cost is really outrageous, I'd just eat breakfast in the hotel. I've eaten there in both the nice restaurant and the lower level more casual one, and they are fine. Both that mall and the govt. buildings may not be open on the weekend, though. I don't know. I know that mall closed down really early in the evenings so is not a good possibility for dinner, even if you did want pizza.

Christina is offline  
Dec 6th, 2003, 11:07 AM
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Try contacting your congressman for a private tour of the capital from one of his/her staff. They should also be able to get you other tickets as well. The International Spy Museum and the Mint are also worthwhile.

Have a great time and stay warm!
kahplayground is offline  
Dec 6th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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Washington DC doesn't have a mint, though they do have the Bureau of Printing and engraving, which makes dollar bills. The tour of this place gets VERY mixed reviews; it's on the very top or bottom of many lists.

We thought the Spy Museum was expensive, campy/corny and lots of fun.
Anonymous is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 08:06 AM
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There are still ways to get into the Capitol for a tour if you don't have representation in Congress, but they're not as convenient. There's a line that forms in the morning on the East side of the Capitol, and you can get a red jacket tour from a tour guide. The groups are usually bigger, but the tour guides are good since that's their full time job. (Congressional tours are given by Congressional staff.)

If you have friends who live in the states, you may want to see if they can get you tickets through their Congressman. I used to work for Congress, and we had people from other countries come in from time to time who were able to get a tour through friends. The benefits of getting a tour from a member of congress are (1) you don't have to wait outside for your tour to start (2) your tour group is usually smaller - it may be just the two of you with your guide (3) Congressional staff can take people on the House and Senate floor when the Congress is not in session. You won't get to go on the floor with a red jacket tour. (4) you get to see a Congressional office firsthand, which can be interesting.

That being said, staff is not around on weekends, so you may want to go the red jacket route regardless.

Hope this helps!
amyvt98 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2003, 04:49 AM
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Amy - thanks. Very useful information.
Good food tips from you others, too.
A friend has just returned from New York (with lots of snow)and she got to see Simon and Garfunkle! I don't suppose they're playing anywhere near Washington in that February weekend?
AR is offline  
Dec 14th, 2003, 05:21 AM
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Go see the National Art Gallery. That's definitely a museum that adults get more out of than kids!

I also agree about the Holocaust Museum. It's a must-see, even though it is disturbing.

If you're a JFK fan, go to Arlington National Cemetery and see the eternal flame at his grave. Also, the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns is neat to see. And Arlington is just beautiful, any time of year!
ChristieP is offline  
Dec 14th, 2003, 05:36 AM
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Oh, AR, I'm sorry to say that S&G are playing in DC tonight and tomorrow!

Mrs AR described you all as culture vulures...can you be more specific about your interests and I'll bet we can come up with some of the off the beaten track things to see.
obxgirl is offline  

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