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Suggestions for family tour of D.C.

Suggestions for family tour of D.C.

Old May 24, 11, 6:52 pm
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Suggestions for family tour of D.C.

Beginning to do some advance planning for next spring/summer trip to the D.C. Area. Want a mix of fun and educational. Will not be during a major holiday.

2 adults and 2 girls 12 & 14.

Want to spend 7-8 nights.

Must see/do?

Overrated?

Recommended hotels in the $150 range?

I'm thinking the budget ought to be somewhere in the $4k range plus airfare. Is that reasonable?

Thanks in advance!
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Old May 24, 11, 7:45 pm
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Moving thread to the FT Washington, D.C. Forum.
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Old May 24, 11, 9:28 pm
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Thanks. I didn't even know this forum existed;
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Old May 24, 11, 10:16 pm
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Spending all the time in DC? Planning to have a car? What are the kids interests? Yours?

Museums and monuments are all over, there is the zoo, Arlington cemetery, shopping out the wazoo, botanical gardens .... Really, there is a bit of everything available but more info is needed.
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Old May 25, 11, 12:29 am
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Originally Posted by GoingAway View Post
Spending all the time in DC? Planning to have a car? What are the kids interests? Yours?

Museums and monuments are all over, there is the zoo, Arlington cemetery, shopping out the wazoo, botanical gardens .... Really, there is a bit of everything available but more info is needed.
We will be renting a car. Museums and historical sites would be the main focus. Driving to Battlefields and other sites would definitely be a possibility. Maybe a drive to Philly.

Shopping, not so much.

I wouldn't have thought about the zoo. The girls really like the San Diego zoo.

Hopefully, this is enough to get some ideas.

Thanks!
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Old May 25, 11, 5:21 am
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I would rethink the car idea. It's more of a hindrance in Washington. You can always rent one for a day or two if you have trips planned for outside the city. If you rent a car you almost always have to factor in $20-$40 per day to park at your hotel depending on where you're staying.
Most visitors find it much easier to navigate the popular tourist sites using Metro (subway) or the Circulator bus.

$150 per night for the hotel budget might not buy a whole lot if your visit is anywhere near the cherry blossom festival. You may want to try to avoid those dates if you can.
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Old May 25, 11, 7:09 am
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Hotels - look in the crystal city/courthouse/ballston areas and you may get lucky. This is outside the city where 150 may not buy you much. they are easy metro rides into town. Look at renting a car only for the time you need to go outside the city, it is crazy stupid to park downtown right now with meters in effect everyday but Sunday until I think 9 or 10pm. It's not cheap, either

Annapolis and Baltimore are good side trips, Annapolis with a car, Baltimore can be reached via train if you didn't want to bother driving. Philly is a three day trip it's own, min, IMO esp with kids along. It's a destination in it's own right with a ton to see, and 95 is a very boring ride to get there

In your plans for DC, I recommend the Archives and botanical gardens as places often missed. I like Hillwood museum, but not sure if the kids will enjoy it as much as your wife would. Rent a paddle boat outside the Jefferson memorial for an activity, depending on your hotel, they may have bikes to rent/use for the day, as well. There is the manassas battlefields (driving), the air and space near Dulles (drive with pricey parking, but free admission), harpers ferry (drive)

Contact your congressman early to request tickets for the white house .... Really, those are just the beginning of a brain dump. There is just sommuch available in the area
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Old May 25, 11, 8:31 am
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the tourmobile takes 2 days, or 3 days. our guests really like the thing.

http://www.tourmobile.com/faq.php

mt vernon is nice. take the potomac cruise boat down and back for lunch. makes a good rest day.

you from san fransisco? where you stay and park downtown for 4 for $150?

be careful about the outlying hotels that are cheap. the ones near where i live are cheap. you do not want to go there. you would also want to be near subway, although taxi for 4 into town may cost no more than 4x subway tickets.
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Old May 25, 11, 10:10 am
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Thanks for the suggestions. Lots of good info so far. Looks like I need to up the hotel budget a bit. Rethink the car rental.

I'm from San Diego where it isn't too difficult to find hotels in that price range depending on holidays, etc.

Thanksnfor all the ideas. Keep em coming.
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Old May 25, 11, 10:42 am
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Originally Posted by CalVol View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. Lots of good info so far. Looks like I need to up the hotel budget a bit. Rethink the car rental.

I'm from San Diego where it isn't too difficult to find hotels in that price range depending on holidays, etc.

Thanksnfor all the ideas. Keep em coming.
National Zoo is a piece of @rap compared to San Diego Zoo.

Stay in Virginia suburbs - close to a Metro - either Ballston or Crystal City. Alexandria is also a choice (my parents always stayed at the Alexandria Hilton on King St. and loved it).

There is tons to do. Unlike San Diego, most of the museums (and the zoo) are all free - everything on the Mall is essentially free. There are also many paid museums worth visiting - Spy Museum, Newseum, etc.

Honestly, there isn't much in the way of "battlefields" anymore unless you go south to Fredericksburg. Manassas, sadly, is a mess now.

Trip to Baltimore might be worth it - Inner Harbor is an interesting diversion from DC.
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Old May 25, 11, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by ITRADE View Post
National Zoo is a piece of @rap compared to San Diego Zoo.
Sure, San Diego Zoo is better than the National Zoo...but what will be nice for her/him and for ANYONE is for a family of four to save $160 by going to the latter.

The Zoo is a great option, as is some of the dining in Cleveland Park and Woodley Park and depending on your kids ability to walk - going down to Dupont Circle will be nice as well....

My advice is to stay in the city or in the close-in Virginia suburbs and forego the car as well. Driving in town on the weekend will be fine, but otherwise you'll have a lot of traffic, the roads won't be familiar and of course the parking fees are expensive (same as New York).

Other suggestions - eat a lot, especially ethnic, walk a lot, explore a bunch of neighborhoods and do as much as possible for free/cheap: Air Force Memorial (in summer - check for free concerts), Navy Memorial (same for concerts), Kennedy Center (Millenium Stage at 18h00 for free concerts), art museums (Hirshorn, NGA, Portrait Gallery), etc.

What's overrated is the Metro - way too expensive, especially for a family of four anywhere close to rush hour (not even including the stupid peak-of-the-peak crap)...and for a family of four if half of your activities are in town, you'll more than save the money by getting a hotel room in the city and NOT taking the subway to a bunch of places!

-jeremy
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Old May 25, 11, 1:26 pm
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Originally Posted by kmfdm91 View Post
Sure, San Diego Zoo is better than the National Zoo...but what will be nice for her/him and for ANYONE is for a family of four to save $160 by going to the latter.

The Zoo is a great option, as is some of the dining in Cleveland Park and Woodley Park and depending on your kids ability to walk - going down to Dupont Circle will be nice as well....

My advice is to stay in the city or in the close-in Virginia suburbs and forego the car as well. Driving in town on the weekend will be fine, but otherwise you'll have a lot of traffic, the roads won't be familiar and of course the parking fees are expensive (same as New York).

Other suggestions - eat a lot, especially ethnic, walk a lot, explore a bunch of neighborhoods and do as much as possible for free/cheap: Air Force Memorial (in summer - check for free concerts), Navy Memorial (same for concerts), Kennedy Center (Millenium Stage at 18h00 for free concerts), art museums (Hirshorn, NGA, Portrait Gallery), etc.

What's overrated is the Metro - way too expensive, especially for a family of four anywhere close to rush hour (not even including the stupid peak-of-the-peak crap)...and for a family of four if half of your activities are in town, you'll more than save the money by getting a hotel room in the city and NOT taking the subway to a bunch of places!

-jeremy
Metro is indeed expensive. $9.00 for a day pass. It may work on certain days, but it has gotten quite pricey. When the day pass was $5.00 or $6.00 it was worth it.
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Old May 25, 11, 7:04 pm
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Originally Posted by ITRADE View Post
Honestly, there isn't much in the way of "battlefields" anymore unless you go south to Fredericksburg. Manassas, sadly, is a mess now.
I go out and walk the First Manassas Trail at the Manassas Battlefield National Park at least a few times a year. I'm not particularly interested in the Civil War, but it is one of the nicest, most peaceful trails close-in to the area. Most people don't seem to bother to walk more than 20 feet from the visitor center, so may ot even realize it is there. I particularly recommend it in autumn.
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Old May 25, 11, 10:02 pm
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Depending on where/if you want a car, you could rent one to get you around locally, there is are a few embassy suites in NoVA, one on Leesburg Pike, which isn't bad, it's good for families, close to the mall (if the girls like shopping) food etc...you could drive to either Dunn Loring Metro or Vienna (Sat/Sun free parking). Every single time I've been to the zoo the animals were sleeping/non existent, plus it's quite a walk from the metro. My favorite museum by far around here is the Udvar Hazy Air and Space museum, blows the Air and Space that's in DC away. You should probably book a trip up the Washington Monument now online (http://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm), you can also look into getting a tour of the Capitol. I think 7-8 days in DC would be pushing it really, I wouldn't know what to do with someone if they came here for 8 days.
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Old May 26, 11, 8:34 am
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Originally Posted by macdonaldj2 View Post
Depending on where/if you want a car, you could rent one to get you around locally, there is are a few embassy suites in NoVA, one on Leesburg Pike, which isn't bad, it's good for families, close to the mall (if the girls like shopping) food etc...you could drive to either Dunn Loring Metro or Vienna (Sat/Sun free parking). Every single time I've been to the zoo the animals were sleeping/non existent, plus it's quite a walk from the metro. My favorite museum by far around here is the Udvar Hazy Air and Space museum, blows the Air and Space that's in DC away. You should probably book a trip up the Washington Monument now online (http://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm), you can also look into getting a tour of the Capitol. I think 7-8 days in DC would be pushing it really, I wouldn't know what to do with someone if they came here for 8 days.
The advantage of the Tysons Embassy Suite is that it is usually VERY cheap. Often no more than about $125 a night.
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