Washington DC Trip Report with Kids

Old Aug 25th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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Washington DC Trip Report with Kids

I wanted to report back on our trip to Washington DC that began July 24, driving up from Birmingham, Al. My husband and I, two boys 10 and 6 and 21 yr old daughter. We stayed four full days in D.C, then moved on to Williamsburg, Va.(See separate trip report.) We arrived Sunday mid-morning and had lunch before driving into the city. Then we went to our hotel first, the Radisson Barcelo, to check in. Got a great room as has been posted here, very large, big marble bathroom, etc. Very comfortable!! Terrific location as well. Then we left and drove to the National Cathedral first thing. A great Sunday thing for us to do. We found parking there easily (surprisingly) and took the tour offered. Such a beautiful place, I had no idea it was so large. Impressive. THen we left and drove to Arlington Cemetary, via Georgetown. Love Georgetown!! Found parking in Arlington and got in line for tickets for Tourmobile tour. We enjoyed the Arlington tour and also did a lot of walking. My boys favorite thing was the changing of the guard. Love the military ritual and what it stands for. We stayed a long time there. Enjoyed seeing the graves and all the memorials there. Next, we drove across the bridge to the Tidal Basin and parked, fairly easily (for a Sunday). We went to all the memorials and they were very moving. By then it was getting late and we were starving. No food in the area of Arlington or the memorials. So we left and drove back to the hotel (parked the car) and went to dinner at Pizza Paradiso. Wonderful pizza!

Monday, had reserved tickets (Senator) to Bureau of Printing and Engraving at 8:15. Neat tour and everyone enjoyed it. Then, on to Air and Space. Had to wait a bit til it opened at 10:00. Loved it, ate lunch at food court, and saw as much as everybody wanted. Then we left and walked down the Mall to the Capitol. Lots of construction going on as they are building a new Capitol visitors center. Just so neat to see things I have always heard about! We let the boys play around the fountain, took pictures and headed back to American History museum. Along with way, went through the Sculpture Garden and stopped for popcorn from a vendor. I LOVED the American History museum the best! Didnt get through it all as kids were bored and went on the Natural History museum. They were more entertained there and it was neat. The Natural History museum was open until 7:00 during the summer, so we saw most of it. THat evening, we retrieved our car and drove to Needwood, MD (25 min) to have dinner with friends. This was a nice break after our busy day.

Tuesday, we had tickets to tour White House(Senator)at 10:30. My husband left the hotel at 8:00 to go get tickets for Wash Monument for afternoon. No line when he got there and lots of free available tickets. (You can get these online if you plan early. I waited too late.)He got the 4:30 time slot and met us at the WH Visitor Center by 10:15. Visitor center was very informative. Somehow, our reserved tour of the WH was not booked, and as luck would have it, the Senate was on break and the aide that booked it on vacation. However, lucky for us, the Secret Service believed our story (we had a confirmation letter)and took all our security information and went through everything to check us out! Very frustrating for us to have this happen after such careful planning. However, they were very nice. Also, we were worried because White House tours ended at 11:30. It took the full hour for them to scramble to get us through security, but finally we were able to go through. Did I mention it was raining lightly outside?? Anyway, the tour was well worth the wait. We were told to take nothing with us but drivers license and money. However, they were letting folks in with umbrellas, cameras (no picture taking), camcorders,etc. I was upset I had not taken mine as I couldnt take any pictures as we were walking at all that morning. After the tour, went to Old Post Office Tower for lunch and purchased a disposable camera. Lunch there was very reasonably priced and good. Loved the tour, great for kids and wonderful views. THen we walked over to Ford's theater and listened to the guide tell the story of that fateful night. Was very real the way it was told sitting there looking at the seat where Abe was sitting. The museum down below is not to be missed. Wonderful items on display. (After this tour, my daughter and I took Metro back to hotel to get real camera, camcorder, snacks, water, etc., while husband and boys went on to Washington Monument). WE met back up and loved the view from the monument. THey were working around the grounds, but thankfully, it was not closed. I think it is closing sometime in Sept for work. After that, we went back to WWII Memorial and stayed for a while. This was my husband's favorite memorial. (Now, I can see why people put there feet in the water) The quotes on the walls around the fountain were very meaningful and tastefully done. Then, back to the hotel. Tonight, boys ate at Subway and daughter and I ate at the D.C. Cafe next door. We both enjoyed our meal there, took back to hotel to eat and get off our feet!

Wednesday was our last day. Not much planned, a go-back day for things we wanted to see again, after our Capitol tour. Took Metro this time to Union Station. Such beautiful architecture everywhere. We met an aide at the Senate office and they took us on a very informative tour of the Capitol bldg. We all enjoyed the underground train. The Capitol was very beautiful inside, particularly, the Senate side. The Rotunda, especially. So much neat history tucked away. Such a fun tour! We had lunch in the Senate cafeteria in the Dirkson bldg. Very inexpensive and good food. Then we walked over to the Supreme Court to take a look (not in session), back to the Natural History/American History museum to finish up seeing everything (we split up). The hotel had allowed us to check out of our room and leave everything in our car, valet it for free until 4:00. That was so nice of them. SO we were back by 3:00, drove through Georgetown again, and went to the zoo. I wish we had more time there. The zoo was lovely and different than our zoo at home. It was a perfect attraction for my boys. The zoo will be a higher priority next time we return. However, we did get there in time to see the Pandas. Neato!

As you can tell, we didnt waste a lot of time. We were up and out early. The Metro was very efficient, still tons of walking. But I am glad we saw what we did and four days was enough for my young sons. The rest of us could have done more. The weather was unusually cool and nice.Thanks so much for the helpful hints and info from everyone at Fodors. I had read everything I could (this was planned since Jan)back a year or so. It felt so familiar when we got to D.C. My advice?? Good walking shoes, no sandals, bring water, take lots of pictures, and get the best map of the mall and capitol area you can to understand your way around. The Capitol maps were available in the Senate office and I wish I had them prior to my trip. Also, the best book I read for advice and maps was the Unofficial Guild to Washington D.C. Very concise, easy to read. Used a lot in my planning. I loved D.C. and wish I could budget a trip again sooner, but so much to see in the USA and we are just starting to take bigger vacations, it will be a few years before we get back.
mommybryant is offline  
Old Aug 26th, 2004, 07:19 AM
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Sounds like a great trip. I am a 35 year old female with no kids, and I go to the zoo with friends several times a year. I love it there.

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