Washington DC Suggestions

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    Watusi's Avatar
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    Washington DC Suggestions

    I'm planning on taking a 3 or 4 day trip to DC with the wife and kids.

    I've never been but I have always wanted to. I need suggestions on what to do and what to skip. I know there are a ton of things to do/see.

    Also, I'm considering taking the Amtrak to get there from Charleston WV. That seems like a lot of fun. But I don't know if I do that if I should plan to rent a car on the other end or take the subway/bus where we want to go. How driver friendly is DC?

    Thanks in advance, any tips, about anything DC will be appreciated.
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    The subway system in DC I found to be user friendly.
    There is so much to see, that I believe you should take look at a list of sites and choose which ones you want to see based on your personal interests.
    Remember that the Smithsonian is actually 5 or 6 different museums.
    I cannot think of anything that I would not say to visit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bballfamily View Post
    The subway system in DC I found to be user friendly.
    There is so much to see, that I believe you should take look at a list of sites and choose which ones you want to see based on your personal interests.
    Remember that the Smithsonian is actually 5 or 6 different museums.
    I cannot think of anything that I would not say to visit.
    bball is right: Go Metro. Be prepared to walk but there is no better way to get around IMO.

    Check and see if any of the Smithsonian Museums are closed for renovation so you won't be disappointed when you get there. Went again a couple of years ago and the US history was closed for renovation as was Ford's Theater. Helps to prepare for that.

    Contact Your Representative to secure passes to the White House. Best planning you can do and that tour is worth it IMO. You can pretty much self guide your way through the Capitol.

    Arlington is a must. Kennedy's, Tomb of the Unknown are things every American should visit. JFK's is the most famous but Bobby is nearby and his is marked by simplicity with a cross and an opposite walkway monument.

    If your family is up to it, it is a real "downer" but also powerful understanding of the Holocaust at that museum. (A few blocks from Smithsonian Mall) Vietnam Wall is powerful to anyone who even grew up in that era as a kid. If you have family or family friends whose names are on the wall, look them up and do the etching. I did that for a family friend of my parents and it was pretty powerful. Take time to read the notes and items left there. Gut wrenching but a reminder of the sacrifice.

    WW II monument is impressive in its marble (across reflecting pool from Lincoln) but not as "moving" IMO. If you've got a rental car and have the time a drive out to Mount Vernon and George Washington's place is pretty cool. Great view of the plantation and farm he ran there. If you're driving that way, old towne Alexandria used to have some nice old shops and things.

    There's a lot to see and do but prepared to wait, walk and watch. It's worth it IMO. BTW, there are tour buses that you can get some package stuff to that will take you to like Alexandria, the Mall and some off sites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Watusi View Post
    I'm planning on taking a 3 or 4 day trip to DC with the wife and kids.

    I've never been but I have always wanted to. I need suggestions on what to do and what to skip. I know there are a ton of things to do/see.

    Also, I'm considering taking the Amtrak to get there from Charleston WV. That seems like a lot of fun. But I don't know if I do that if I should plan to rent a car on the other end or take the subway/bus where we want to go. How driver friendly is DC?
    Thanks in advance, any tips, about anything DC will be appreciated.
    I know I responded already but to answer your above question: I hated driving in DC the couple of times I did. The Metro was THE only way I go now when I go.

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    Driving (parking) can be a problem. Take public transportation to places you can. Your time frame won't be long enough so do plan what you want to see, especially at the Smithsonian. Walk the mall for the monuments. Arlington is sombering. You need advance tickets for somethings. Have a good time.

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    United States Holocaust Museum

    A very powerful experience. Out of all the things in DC this is the one I will never forget.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formerkywrestler View Post
    United States Holocaust Museum

    A very powerful experience. Out of all the things in DC this is the one I will never forget.
    I believe that the Holocaust Museum is an absolute must, no question about it. You'll need to get there early in the morning to secure tickets unless you are friends with someone important out there. But, you will not regret going there at all. I've been there twice now.

    Ford's Theatre is pretty cool. Arlington Cemetary is also a must. I'm a big fan of the US History Museum (part of the Smithsonian) as well.

    We had the opportunity to visit the Pentagon and the White House (both visits that you have to set up many months in advance through your state reps).

    We went around to some of the momuments at night, as well as during the day. Definitely interesting and a little more moving to see them at night, especially the Lincoln and the World War II.

    I love D.C., but that is also because I'm a huge history person. I went with my ex's girlfriends family and her father did a great job of researching some things before we went. We stayed about a 15-20 metro ride out of the city (somewhere in Virginia) and never really drove to anything. But do take some comfortable shoes, that is for sure.

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    In my 2 trips tp DC I enjoyed everything I visited. There is one place I might recommend because not everyone knows of it. The Marine Barracks at 8th and I, named for the 2 streets that it borders.
    Every Friday night the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and the Marine Silent Drill Team performs.

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    Toots, it may depend on the ages of the children as much as anything. Are they old enough to appreciate stuff like the Vietnam Memorial, Holocaust Museum, etc.? If not, the Mall Museums, National Gallery of Art, etc. might be the best way to go. I really enjoyed the National Archives last time I was there.

    If your children tend to be a bit hyper, walking to the Memorials might be a good idea to get them a little tired. Do they have cameras? Even the cheap 35mm throwaways might be a way to occupy their time; just don't let them use the whole roll of film during the first 5 minutes.

    Never, never drive in DC. Always take the Metro.

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    We will be there for the Nationals in the Academic Team Competition, so I might have a hard time scheduleing things in advance. I will do some research and try and plan some things we won't need advance reservations/tickets for. I want my kids to see things that they will remember. Arlington is a must for us and at least one of teh Smithsonian museums. Thanks for the advice keep it coming.

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    mcpapa, they are 8 and 12.

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    I have to agree that the Holocaust museum was by far the most moving thing we saw. The WWII memorial was second. When we were there, there were actual WWII vets there wearing their uniforms and talking with tourists. The Vietnam memorial was also good. The Smithsonian has something for everyone. I agree that and Arlington are a must. Make sure everyone has good walking shoes. Good luck! Let us know what you decided on, and what you thought.

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    Tu - the most moving thing I saw in DC was the Vietnam Memorial. Beautiful. Sad. Touching. Your kids will not be able to appreciate it but it's good to check out.

    If you have access to a rental drive out to Annapolis. Very cool little town.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clyde View Post
    Tu - the most moving thing I saw in DC was the Vietnam Memorial. Beautiful. Sad. Touching. Your kids will not be able to appreciate it but it's good to check out.

    If you have access to a rental drive out to Annapolis. Very cool little town.
    Annapolis and Baltimore are my old stomping grounds. My great-grandfather was a 1-term mayor of Annapolis (Maryland's capital city), 1919-1921. US Naval Academy, lots of "Colonial" attractions. Probably more geared to adults than children, though; although there is a Chesapeake Children's Museum. Lots of stuff to see in Baltimore also and more for kids - National Aquarium, Baltimore Zoo, Science Center, Children's Museum, USS Constellation, etc. Great seafood in both towns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Watusi View Post
    mcpapa, they are 8 and 12.

    Good ages for the trip. I remember taking our son when he was 10 and watching his face when we walked up the stairs to The Mall after getting off the subway. You've heard the expression "jaw-dropping".

    Make sure everybody has a camera (even if it's a cheap throwaway or two), comfortable clothes and shoes. Lots of walking will be involved.

    Think about some of these options - Newseum, Library of Congress, National Archives, National Zoo, etc. With children, however, the Smithsonian museums should be the focal point.

    Coolest thing I ever saw there - the King Tut exhibit. In 1976, the National Gallery of Art cleared out an entire wing to house the traveling exhibit.

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