Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Washington DC Travel Tips

Washington DC - this will be a revolving and continually updated post!!

There are so many things to see and do - here are our favorite and suggestions

Since my family lives there, we don't need a hotel. However, a big suggestion if you are looking for a hotel, get one close to/within walking distance for a metro stop. This will make touring the city so much easier!

Take the metro everywhere. Seriously, parking is a nightmare and not really possible in many cases. Take the metro and walk

Months before you leave, contact your Senator or representative and get a tour of both the White House and the Capitol. You will love visiting the White House and the Capitol Tour is MUCH better and you get to see so much more than if you were to just do the walk-up tour that you get at the Capitol.

Everything is FREE! At least all the things we go to are FREE - there are museums that you can pay for, but why when there is so much to do at no cost!

Archives - don't miss seeing the original documents that made our country what it is!

Old Post Office Pavilion - if you can't get tickets to the Washington Monument, this will give you are great view with no wait!

The Botanical gardens next to the Capitol are beautiful, but not great with allergies :P

The FDR memorial is a great memorial, but is often forgotten because it is off the beaten path. It is beautiful, and the kids thought it s was great. Truly a great hidden gem among all the monuments.

You might consider seeing all the monuments at night - they are beautiful in the night

You almost need to drive to the Jefferson Memorial - it is a VERY long walk from everything else :P

The tour for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a fun tour to see how they make and print the money. We have never had to get tickets, but apparently during the busy time of the year, you do.

The Holocaust museum is haunting and moving. I haven't been in years because it is too intense for kids! It is, however, and incredible museum and I doubt you can get through it without crying. Must see, but not for children

Arlington National Cemetery - If you want to see the sites here, I would strongly suggest paying for the tour. It is VERY hilly and I would not do it with a stroller or kids without the tour, unless you are in much better shape or like hiking up hills more than me. You get a great view of the city from Arlington House


Where to start with this? There are SO MANY, you could take weeks checking them all out. We always see the Air and Space and the Natural History. I actually think the American History one was better before they remodeled it, but you must go see Old Glory! The American Indian Museum is a great stop and has one of the best buildings and food (and GREAT elevators!!!).
Make sure to walk through the sculpture garden.
The Hirshorn has odd "art" in it. I am not sure if I would go out of my way to go here, however, our trips here have always garnered the most conversation and things to talk about here (like Jonathan touching a painting, the Chair installation that we all thought was a place to sit, but it was art and luckily we realized the before we sat down, or the paining that was just black). I is an "interesting" place
The Freer and Sackler have some awesome pieces, especially if you like Asian art
The Portrait Gallery is interesting and had some interesting art to see. We went and saw special exhibit there
Of course, the Zoo is a great must see for those with kids. It is Free and the kids love it - the Pandas as so cute :) The Gorillas are always doing something nasty when we are there though :P Make sure to take the Cleveland park stop on the Metro, NOT the zoo stop (otherwise you'll be walking uphill!)

Our favorite side trip is going to Lancaster and Hershey Pa. There is lots of shopping a GREAT food in Lancaster. The Lancaster Central Market has the BEST donuts and cheese danishes (I am drooling just thinking about it - it is worth the 3000 mile trip alone!). My kids ADORE the ride at the Hershey Visitor Center - I think I have ridden that ride 30-40 times (not and exaggeration - they ride it like 10 times per trip!) and at Christmas, the Hershey Candy Cane Lane cannot be beat! It is AWESOME!!! and at $11 a piece, it is a bargain. We LOVED it! WE have also visited the park in the summer and it was a lot of fun. I will be doing the Hershey Spa this summer and I will tell you about it :)

If you are a History Buff, Gettysburg is a must see. If you are not, then it is rather boring - it is after all, just a bunch of fields :P We did find a great monument last time we were there where we could climb to the top and see a fantastic view (I can't remember what state monument it was off-hand... I want to say Florida...) IT was gorgeous at sunset! There is a big new visitor center, but it had been closed the last couple of times we went.

Fort McHenry is a Great place to see where the Star Spangled Banner was inspired - the kids can run around and you get a great view of the Baltimore inner Harbor - another great place to walk around and visit :)

I will have more to add on to this! I will update this same post :) If you have suggestions or ideas of what you would like to see or have me talk about leave a comment! Or if you have been and have a great tip (I know many friends that have been often) that I can add, let me know!

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