Is a car useful in Washington DC?
Replies: 41 - Last Post: Mar 6, 2013 6:45 AM Last Post By: Fudgy_the_Whale
Feb 15, 2013 10:46 PM
15p.s.: If your heart sinks at the prospect of seeing all the same old crap again, try this: One reason why kids (at least at their best) are so great is that, if you take the time to stop and think, they give you the chance to see it all over again for the first time. The entertainment won't be seeing the Lincoln Memorial again. It will be watching your daughter see it for the first time. Please don't get jaded and deprive her of that thrill.
Okay, end of lecture!
HAVE A GREAT TRIP
Feb 16, 2013 5:02 AM
16Yes, Willy SR, I think you're right about the beaten track. I remember doing a lot of oohing & aahing on my first trip to DC (by bicycle, not minivan from Massachusetts) and look forward to my kids' reactions as well as the thrill of seeing the great American icons again.
Now, I hear there's a great oyster place on 14th...though I'm more of a Mexican fan.
Feb 16, 2013 5:15 AM
Feb 16, 2013 11:37 AM
18I'm way out of touch about D.C. restaurants. By the way, as far as the sights go, Union Station is magnificent. One of the most beautiful buildings in Washington; has a big food court; is on the Metro red line; and is about three blocks from the Capitol. And make sure to get to the Library of Congress reading room, which is across the street from the back side of the Capitol.
HAVE A GREAT TRIP
Feb 16, 2013 11:39 AM
19Another thing to do, and the kids will love this: They rent paddle boats on the tidal basin. Great view of the Jefferson Memorial. The rental place is located on the Washington Memorial side of the tidal basin. It's a great way to relax after you've been walking around for a few hours.
Feb 16, 2013 3:09 PM
20Bring the minivan down. Where do your friends live? If you can walk or bus to Metro, then you will save on parking--which is not too cheap (check my link). There are places to see that aren't Metro-friendly--Mount Vernon, the Blue Ridge/Shenandoah, Great Falls, the National Arboretum, Annapolis...
Make sure you buy your Metro SmartTrip cards for each of you ahead of time. Don't use the paper cards--they now carry a $1 per trip/per person surcharge. SmartTrip cards are $10 with $5 in rides already on there--and if you register the card online (which you should do--if you lose a card, you can just transfer the balance to another), you'll see a $3 rebate added to the card.
Spring and summer sees tons of clueless tourists trying to buy paper cards and not doing well, and then clogging up the entry points because they can't figure out that the little card is going to come out the top and needs to be taken out.
You can also pay for Metro parking with a SmartTrip card.
On escalators, STAND RIGHT, MOVE LEFT!!!!!! or face the wrath and heavy sighs of locals who are trying to move quickly up or down the escalator when people are blocking the entire thing.
Since you will have your minivan, you can drive down to Mount Vernon, G. Washington's home on the Potomac, 16 miles south of Arlington. Sometimes there are special events. Check online. Also a beautiful trip by boat from Old Town Alexandria.
Great Falls is beautiful--Maryland or Virginia side. You can park along the road on the Md. side and walk in, or pay the NPS fee to get in on the Va side where the visitors' center is.
Smithsonian museums to check out--Native American, National Gallery of Art, Hirschhorn, Portrait Gallery, Air and Space, American History...(really, do your research here because you won't have enough time to see it all, and they're not all close together).
Newseum, Spy, and Crime and Punishment are private museums, and thus not free. Personally, I would skip Spy--or have one adult take the little one. I think the Newseum is worthwhile--but sign up for LivingSocial and Groupon first to see if you can get discounts for anything like this. It's not cheap. I saw Crime and Punishment for half-price (10) and wouldn't pay more for it than that. Art museums that aren't free or are only sometimes but are good---the Phillips Collection and Corcoran. Again, check what's on to see if there are exhibits you'd like to see.
Feb 16, 2013 4:09 PM
Feb 19, 2013 11:29 AM
22With respect to #20's ideas, I'd say this: First do the beaten track, i.e. the Capitol building, Air & Space, Library of Congress reading room (takes half an hour, right across the street from the back of the Capitol), National Archives, American History Museum, National Gallery (west wing, the big concrete-domed one), Smithsonian Castle, Lincoln & Jefferson memorials, Vietnam memorial (right next to the Lincoln), maybe the White House if the line's not too long.
Only if you have time should you consider anything else, and that "anything" should start with Arlington Nat'l Cemetery. It's not that I have anything against the other ones in #20's list, but as I pointed out earlier, Job #1 ought to be to show the biggies to that daughter. Only when you've hit the major stuff, which I just listed above, should you think about the lesser-known stuff.
This is a time to resist the typical TT interest in the unusual, the obscure, the off-the-beaten-track. I'm usually pretty receptive to the road less traveled, but there are exceptions. This is one of them.
I have nothing
Feb 19, 2013 11:31 AM
Feb 19, 2013 11:54 AM
You either look at it from the outside, or sign up for a tour well in advance via your Congressman.
Feb 19, 2013 12:54 PM
Feb 19, 2013 1:17 PM
Feb 19, 2013 6:06 PM
Feb 22, 2013 9:12 AM
Thank you for the great input. We took the trip, leaving at 4:30 on Sunday morning and made it in a personal best time of sevenish hours (with an uneventful stop to eat our yogurt, sandwiches and buy some less-than stellar Starbucks coffee).
I had 'stay on the beaten track' running through my mind, and we generally hit all the biggies on our list. The Smithsonian portrait gallery stands out, esp. with its atrium as a fatigue buster, and more, better coffee. Next time will search for the perfect cup...
We stayed with a friend in NW, and got a temporary parking pass from the local police precinct-recommended and free for 14 days. This enabled us to use the Metro most days. We discovered that parking opens up after 6:30 for those sunset visits to the memorials on the Mall, also that there is decent street parking south of the MLK along the river.
It was a great trip, and we realize that it isn't daunting. Next time, we should bring the bicycles, as the city seems even more bike friendly than I remember from my earliest trip.
Again, thank you for all the tips--your advice was great!
Feb 22, 2013 6:49 PM
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