When to plan what for DC?

Mar 4th, 2008, 12:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 148
When to plan what for DC?

Ok, so I've decided to make a (first) solo trip to DC in early November for 8 days.

I've been reading several guide books in the past month, and definitely got an overload of info!

When should I be planning things, like air tickets, lodging, etc? And should I plan everything else or just wing it and do whatever I feel like doing that day?

Got a too long list of things I'd like to see, of course. But I think none of them require any advance tickets or anything like that. The big items that do, I'll just enjoy the outside for free!

So, should I get started now, or wait a month or two or later?

Any additional advice, I'd appreciate.

Thank you.
caladrius is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 03:19 AM
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The one thing you might want to do now is contact local office of your US Representative for admission tickets/tour tickets to Capitol, White House. Early November will be an unusual time in Washington since, depending on actual date, Congressmen/women will either be doing final campaigning, packing or celebrating.
gail is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 06:04 AM
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DC is a good place to "wing" it because so many things are free and not timed, as you said. November is not crowded like the summer, so you don't have to worry so much about avoiding museums on the weekends, for example.

I would group things by location and then play it by ear - with the exception being the Capitol and White House if you want to get tickets in advance.

Then, pick the nice days to walk around the monuments, the zoo, and Arlington Cemeteryy; and the colder/rainy days for the museums, the National Cathedral, Archives and other indoor things.

I would probably book flights/hotels over the summer for November, but you can always start looking around for bargains now and see how the prices fluctuate over the next few months.
kaudrey is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 06:27 AM
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Do contact soon your senator and/or rep's office. They can arrange special timed tours (no waiting in line) for the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, and Printing and Engraving. All free. I'd also go on-line and pay the convenience price for a specific time to go up the Washington Monument.

If you buy for a day a jump on jump off bus ticket, that will probably give you some structure in getting to the most important sites. I think it's better to see Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, WWII all lit up at night but that is preference rather than gospel.

Arlington Cemetery is reachable by Metro and they have their own bus with recording and 18 or so stops so you'll get to visit e.g. Kennedy and changing of guard and Lee's house.

Buy International Spy Museum tickets ahead of time -- huge number of school groups so you don't want to get behind them in line -- and with eight days, I'd certainly go to Mount Vernon. The expansion there has turned it into a must see.

gladtotravel is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 06:09 PM
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Thank you.

I've decided to skip the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court tours, and enjoy the view from the outside, at least for this trip. Already got enough to see, I think. Definitely don't want to overdo!

I would love to see Mount Vernon, but not sure if I can fit it in. Might have to see when I get there.

Though I guess i should of left off the first and last day, since those are the travel days to and from.
caladrius is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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What are your interests? I cannot imagine going to DC for 8 days and skipping the tours of the Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court. With so much time, you can easily schedule those three and be flexible with the rest of your schedule. It would be harder to fit them in on a trip where your time was more limited.

You are correct, many places don't require tickets or advance reservations. Plus, November is not a busy time, so you should have a great trip, even without a set schedule. I would highly encourage you to reconsider the government building tours and Mt. Vernon.

I have very much enjoyed two tours of the Pentagon, which can also be set up through your Congressman's office. I know it is another thing requiring tickets, but it is pretty neat. It may only be open to groups, though, not individuals.

I'd be interested to hear your specific interests!
KatieL is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 05:19 PM
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book a hotel now....you can always cancel but you don't know how the prices might be impacted in the future
denice7 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 09:44 PM
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Myself, I love history, museums, natural history, a little bit of art, animals and more that i can't think of right away. I've got such a long list of things I want to see!

I've been reading about the tours and such, and most books say that the White House tour is very short and very limited now, so I wasn't sure if it would be really "worth" it with the limited time I got. And the Capitol tour... well, with all the politics overload going on now, and I just haven't been feeling the idea much. Going in the Supreme Court hasn't really interested me much either, personally. Maybe I'm just crazy...

I think the Pentagon is just with groups, far in advance.

Hm, guess I might rethink things and just contact the congressman anyway.

denice7- Ugh, that means I gotta figure out my accommodation options now. Have no clue about that yet.
caladrius is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 04:00 AM
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Don't feel bad about your lack of interest in visiting the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court. I've had several vacations in DC, spent time there on business and visiting relatives, and still can't bother to do those things. Today I'm going to the zoo! Tomorrow, the Building Museum special Macaulay exhibit! Who wants to watch sausage being made?
Anonymous is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 04:20 AM
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No one has mentioned the Holocaust Museum.

I consider that a must see, and you should look into getting advance tickets for that. They are for timed entrances.
beentheretwice is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 10:21 PM
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Anon- Thanks, glad to know that I'm not the only one who feels like that! Though I do intend on looking at the outsides of each at least. Besides, I'm sure I can come back again sometime and see what I can if I wanted.

beentheretwice- Again, another I thought about but wasn't feeling. But if I got some time, I'll look into it.
caladrius is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 10:47 PM
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I stayed at the Tabard Inn when I went.


It's quite historical, and it might make a fun place to stay by yourself because there is a restaurant and live jazz, and is a legendary gathering place for reporters, politicos and locals.

There is free wi-fi that is essential to me, and very good meals. No elevators, and it's funky in a fun way.

If it were me, I would spend all day, every day at the Smithsonian museums. I went to the new National Museum of American Indian, and that's interesting, and has a good café with things like pumpkin seeds, that the American Indians would eat. I like eating in museum cafés when I'm by myself, too.

It's fun to check out whoever is protesting in front of the White House.

The Kennedy Center has free concerts every day at 6.


I stayed at the Willard Hotel many years ago, a splurge, but the location is fantastic, and the hotel is gorgeous.

If I would you, I would check out air fares and hotel rates now, and if you see something good, make a cancelable reservation while you do research.
Kailani is offline  
Mar 7th, 2008, 05:24 AM
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caladrius, if the Supreme Court is not in session, you can visit the building. It is worth the stop. Also the Library of Congress next door.
LoriNY1 is offline  
Mar 7th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Hi caladrius. Do rethink and request Capitol tour, you will be so glad you did. Standing in the rotunda you don't get the politics vibe at all, just a terrific sense of patriotism. If you love history, it's a must. We loved the White House tour also, but you gotta go to the Capitol!

Metro, hop-on and off trolley, and walking make winging it easy as far as visiting all the sights. Beware, however, of "it's just a couple of blocks down" when given directions. Those are lonnnnggg blocks--and, there will be 100 steps to climb up when you get there!

Hope Ford's Theater and museum is on your list. Also recommend taking one of the night monument tours, beautiful at night.
texasjo is offline  
Mar 7th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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Ford's Theatre is closed for renovations until 2009.
Anonymous is offline  
Mar 7th, 2008, 12:39 PM
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I live here (in northern Virginia) and I am also OK w/skipping the tours of the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court, although I've done them all...so much more limited in our post-911 world. I also agree with the recommendation about the Holocaust Museum...it is amazing. The Museum of the American Indian is a BEAUTIFUL building and its cafe is extraordinary, but I don't find the exhibits all that riveting. The brand new Newseum is opening April 8, so you may want to consider it...it was fascinating at its old location in Rosslyn. Seeing the monuments at night is important! Would strongly recommend you see the East and West wings of the National Gallery of Art. It's just a beautiful city; I hope you enjoy.
peggionthego is offline  

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