Week in Washington DC

Old Jan 14th, 2020, 12:48 PM
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Week in Washington DC

Working on plans for a March trip to Washington DC with hubby and kids (ages 12 and 14). Staying in an Airbnb in the Capital Hill area. Will have a vehicle, although will plan to use public transportation when possible. We have narrowed activities down to the following. Does this seem logical and do-able based on location, time, etc? These days are in no particular order as we will have to wait (7-14 days before trip)and see if/when White House tour is scheduled.

Day 1 - Museum of Natural History, American History Museum, National Archives
Day 2 - White House, Monuments
Day 3 - National Cathedral, Georgetown, Kennedy Center
Day 4 - Capital, Air & Space Museum, Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Day 5 - Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Alexandria
Day 6 - National Postal Museum, Fords Theater, National Portrait Gallery
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 01:12 PM
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Welcome dougieshoney.

Day 1 will be impossible! Smithsonians are huge. Day 5 also looks crowded. Mt. Vernon tour will tire out everyone. It depends on how deeply you intend to go though.

Do you have a tour lined up for the White House? Archives could be bumped to Day 2.

DH and I loved the B of Printing.

Do Google the circulator bus routes so you won't need a car in D.C. proper.

Please report back!



Last edited by TDudette; Jan 14th, 2020 at 01:21 PM.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 02:24 PM
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Ditto on everything Dudette said. Day 1 and Day 5 are massive over-reaching.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 02:34 PM
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Mt. Vernon was an all-day excursion for us. There is a lot to see and learn beyond the house. We used train and bus to get there and came back on a Potomac cruise boat. With a car, your plan may be possible, but I think you'd have to seriously limit your time in Arlington and Mt. Vernon and perhaps only see Alexandria as a dinner stop.

The National Archives can be another time-eater, and I'm quite sure you couldn't "do" all you mention that day. I would definitely prioritize the Archives over the museums and get timed entry tickets as soon as you know your dates.

We love the Portrait Gallery and re-visit it every time we're in D.C., but I'm not sure younger teens would enjoy it as much. You know your kids, so....
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 07:49 PM
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I agree that days 1 and 5 are overbooked. I would leave Mount Vernon for another trip. As Jean mentioned, I would get a timed entry and tour for the Archives on day 1. You can enjoy one of the other museum on that day as well. Depending on how quickly you go through you may get a little time in the second museum but most likely will have to bump it to day 2. If I remember correctly, The American History Museum is opened until 7 a few days. The White House tour, including going through security is roughly 2 hour. Most of the time is in a security line. I would also get a timed ticket for the Capital tour or contact your representative. They may be able to get you a personal tour.

The Postal Museum and Ford Theatre did not take me very long to go through. Personally, I would skip both. One place that I do not see on your list that I found fascinating was a tour of the Pentagon. Just as for the White House, you must apply for a tour. My tour was at 2. I arrived at 1:30 and was out before 5. It is a guided tour so they don't let you linger.

Enjoy your visit. Public transportation is your friend.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 04:14 AM
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I agree with the other comments that the itinerary is overambitious. Also, you might want to group your sights geographically (e.g. the Postal Museum is near the Capitol) to reduce backtracking. Try to queue early for the museums to save time, as well.

Having lived in D.C. for many years; and spending this past summer there again (relocating from overseas), our DD (18) and I were able to leisurely explore. With that caveat I might suggest dropping Georgetown (absent specific visits to Dumbarton or Tudor House if those are your preferences) for Alexandria. Old Town Alexandria is more compact so you can shop, eat and enjoy the architecture more easily. Though personally I would skip both.

I would also pass on Engraving & Printing. You have to queue for timed-entry tickets before 0800, with most tickets gone by 0830. Plus, while sort of informative, the tour isn't all that interesting. I might also save Mount Vernon for another trip, especially if you are set on the museums; it really does take the better part of a day.

Our DD is presently in D.C., visiting with her brother (he lives and works there) and some friends before heading back to university. Not quite the same age as your children, but she and her friends have prioritized for their three days: American Art (open late); the "Big 3" (Natural History, American History, Air & Space); a quick duck into the Peacock Room (Freer Gallery) before the American Indian museum, and Archives.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 09:36 AM
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Geographically, I think it's fine, some of these places aren't that far apart or could go either way. The Postal Museum, for example, is fine grouped with Fords theater and the Portrait gallery given your itinerary as the day you have the Capitol, you have Air and Space which is the complete other side of the Mall.

I would not skip Fords Theatre (assuming you are interested in history and that includes the hosue across the street re Lincoln), the Postal Museum is free and has a few interesting exhibits, it's interesting if you have the time, sure.

I think it's too much but I would never do two major museums in one day myself. If I had to drop anything, I'd drop the national Cathedral which is a big ho hum to me if you've been to Europe, and it's not near anything else. I'd also drop Georgetown if pressed, most of it isn't interesting at all but main streets full of chain stores and expensive shops. You have to do research if you have another reason for going there other than you've heard about it. Unless you have a performance at the Kennedy Ctr I would never go there just to see it. It's just a performance space and not even that attractive IMO.

I'd just play it by ear as to how tired out you get.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 11:23 AM
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We just returned from three nights in DC where we showed DC to our Dutch friend - we have been many tines before. You don't have the Supreme Court or the Library of Congress on your agenda, both very cool to see. I too would drop Georgetown as it is the least special and unique place on your list. The Anderson House is lovely and different than your other stops plus it is very historic as now being the headquarters for the Society of the Cincinnati. The Kennedy Center is really nothing to see either and as mentioned, the national cathedral is beautiful but if you have been to Europe, it's not all the impressive.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 12:38 PM
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Thanks for all of the responses! I really appreciate the help. To answer some of your questions -
Yes, we have completed the application request for White House Tour, but had to give three possible dates and won't find out if our request has been granted until 7-14 days prior to the trip. Ugh - makes it hard to plan! We have also contacted our representative about a Capital tour, which it sounds like will be granted, but also won't know until much closer to the trip.

Someone had mentioned that the National Portrait Gallery might not be interesting to the kids - that is the one stop on the itinerary that is for me.

I talked to the family about ditching Mount Vernon, but the kids were pretty insistent that we keep that included. I think seeing the musical Hamilton makes them feel like they personally know George. LOL

I have added the Library of Congress to the itinerary as DD came home from school and said that we had to add it to the trip. Do you think it is do-able in the same day as the Capital and the Air and Space Museum?

Per your suggestions we have taken out the Museum of Natural History, National Cathedral, and Georgetown.

Here's the updated itinerary. It's still a work in progress, so I appreciate any feedback.

Day 1 - American History Museum, National Archives
Day 2 - Arlington National Cemetery
Day 3 - White House, Monuments, Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Day 4 - Capital, Library of Congress, Air & Space Museum
Day 5 - Mount Vernon, Alexandria
Day 6 - National Postal Museum, Fords Theater (possibly for a show in addition to tour), National Portrait Gallery
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 01:53 PM
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"Day 4 - Capital, Library of Congress, Air & Space Museum"

We toured the Capitol this summer on a "regular" tour without a representative's invitation. Is your proposed tour something different?

Perhaps because one of my best friends is a librarian there, the Library of Congress is one of my favorite places. If you add this to your Capitol and Air&Space day it will be a very full day. (Maybe you could drop in to the American Indian Museum for lunch; the food options are excellent.)
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fourfortravel View Post
"Day 4 - Capital, Library of Congress, Air & Space Museum"

We toured the Capitol this summer on a "regular" tour without a representative's invitation. Is your proposed tour something different?

Perhaps because one of my best friends is a librarian there, the Library of Congress is one of my favorite places. If you add this to your Capitol and Air&Space day it will be a very full day. (Maybe you could drop in to the American Indian Museum for lunch; the food options are excellent.)
The Capital tour will be a personal tour given by one of our Congressman's staff members.

Do you think the Library of Congress would fit better on a different day? Maybe the afternoon of Arlington National Cemetery? or do it on same day as Capital and move Air & Space?
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 03:53 AM
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I think Day 4 is fine, just full. I can't imagine that even a private tour of the Capitol will take more than an hour? You could fit LoC around it if the timing is awkward; it's adjacent to the Capitol.

Also, I might move Alexandria to the Arlington Cemetery Day 2; Old Town is just 15 minutes on Metro's Blue Line.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by fourfortravel View Post
I think

Also, I might move Alexandria to the Arlington Cemetery Day 2; Old Town is just 15 minutes on Metro's Blue Line.
I like this idea. Then maybe we can take the Potomac boat ride to Mt. Vernon. Thanks!
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by dougieshoney View Post
I like this idea. Then maybe we can take the Potomac boat ride to Mt. Vernon. Thanks!
Possibly not practical. The boat to Mt Vernon is pretty much an all day affair. It leaves late in the morning, takes 90 min each way, plus 4 hours at MV. That doesn't leave you much time seeing Alexandria. The drive to MV from Alex is only 15-20 and is one of the few times a car is helpful on a visit to DC.

Day 1 - American History Museum, National Archives - Definitely get the above mentioned timed tickets for entry to the Archives and don't wait too long to get them. Some of the days during the Cherry Blossom festival are already closed out. March in DC will be bustling with visitors and the untimed entry line will be enormous. Also anticipate some wait in lines to go through security to enter most of the places you're visiting.

Day 2 - Arlington National Cemetery - This won't take you all day. Maybe keep it open for spill over from the rest of your itinerary?

Day 3 - White House, Monuments, Bureau of Engraving and Printing - Consider doing a monument tour at night which is a very popular thing to do. There really is a different vibe at night. Or splitting them into a couple of visits.

Day 4 - Capital, Library of Congress, Air & Space Museum - This is certainly doable unless someone has a particular interest in Air & Space in which case they might feel shorted on time there. It is always super busy.

Sounds like a fun trip! Hope you enjoy your time in DC.

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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 08:03 PM
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For heavenís sake, itís the CapitOl!

i think the National Cathedral is worth seeing and quite impressive.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by tom_mn View Post
For heavenís sake, itís the CapitOl!

i think the National Cathedral is worth seeing and quite impressive.
I agree about the National Cathedral - both DH and I have been there a few times. I love the rose window. Too much going on in this trip with the kids, so I think we'll pass this time.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by obxgirl View Post
Possibly not practical. The boat to Mt Vernon is pretty much an all day affair. It leaves late in the morning, takes 90 min each way, plus 4 hours at MV. That doesn't leave you much time seeing Alexandria. The drive to MV from Alex is only 15-20 and is one of the few times a car is helpful on a visit to DC.

Day 1 - American History Museum, National Archives - Definitely get the above mentioned timed tickets for entry to the Archives and don't wait too long to get them. Some of the days during the Cherry Blossom festival are already closed out. March in DC will be bustling with visitors and the untimed entry line will be enormous. Also anticipate some wait in lines to go through security to enter most of the places you're visiting.

Day 2 - Arlington National Cemetery - This won't take you all day. Maybe keep it open for spill over from the rest of your itinerary?

Day 3 - White House, Monuments, Bureau of Engraving and Printing - Consider doing a monument tour at night which is a very popular thing to do. There really is a different vibe at night. Or splitting them into a couple of visits.

Day 4 - Capital, Library of Congress, Air & Space Museum - This is certainly doable unless someone has a particular interest in Air & Space in which case they might feel shorted on time there. It is always super busy.

Sounds like a fun trip! Hope you enjoy your time in DC.
I think the idea of taking the Mt.Vernon cruise is if we change Alexandria to be on a different day - probably the same day as Arlington. That sounds like a good idea to me. It does seem that time at Mt. Vernon would be limited, though. Has anyone done that who can speak to whether you felt rushed or not?

I have thought about the Monuments at night tour - thanks for the reminder. Do you think that gives adequate time at each monument, or is it better for a precursor and then go back and visit again in the daylight?

I'll work on getting the timed entry tix to Archives.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 10:40 AM
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"I have thought about the Monuments at night tour - thanks for the reminder. Do you think that gives adequate time at each monument, or is it better for a precursor and then go back and visit again in the daylight? "

I think this all depends on what "Monuments" you want to see. Our DD is in D.C. right now with a friend, and they walked around the exterior of pretty much every monument on and around the Mall, including the White House, in the twilight hours each evening and rather enjoyed the experience. They were able to take photos at their leisure and otherwise proceed at their own pace. Only you know your family's travel style, though.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dougieshoney View Post
I have thought about the Monuments at night tour.... Do you think that gives adequate time at each monument, or is it better for a precursor and then go back and visit again in the daylight?
I think it depends on both the monument and your preferences. To me, the night tour is a delight because the monuments look gorgeous when illuminated against the evening / night sky. And some monuments, particularly for a short trip, might be best as drive-by destinations. On the hand, there may be monuments of particular interest or significance to you and that you would want to more time to see during the day. You might want to consider making the evening tour a part of one of your first few days so you can decide whether you want to add or skip visits to specific monuments to your later itinerary.
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Old Jan 18th, 2020, 05:50 AM
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You have said your trip will be in March but I don't think you specified what time in the month. If it is at the end of March you could be there for the Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 to April 12). We were there last spring over the last weekend in March which turned out to be the peak time for the blossoms. The Tidal Basin area with the monuments along it was really crowded. There is a big kite festival on the grounds of the Washington Monument on March 28.
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