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Psychodisney
03-17-2008, 09:34 PM
I made reservations today for a DC/ Virginia Beach vacation:cool1: . I know you guys have had some great suggestions to other people-Can you help me too? We're going to stay on points at the Mandarin Oriental. We want to hit the major sites-monuments, museums, Arlington Cemetery...The kids are 14, 12 and 9. Thanks for the help!

eliza61
03-18-2008, 07:18 AM
I made reservations today for a DC/ Virginia Beach vacation:cool1: . I know you guys have had some great suggestions to other people-Can you help me too? We're going to stay on points at the Mandarin Oriental. We want to hit the major sites-monuments, museums, Arlington Cemetery...The kids are 14, 12 and 9. Thanks for the help!


We did this two years ago, It was great. The Mandarin Oriental is a 10 minute walk from "the mall" which is where a lot of the museums are. We also walked to the Vietnam, Korean war memorials and the Lincoln Memorial. The one problem we had was that we didn't find any inexpensive place to eat breakfast nearby. The restuarant in the hotel was very pricey. Also they did have a $10/day parking fee.

hsmamato2
03-18-2008, 07:31 AM
we have a very short time coming up..we plan to hit either the zoo or natural history museum,then wander the cherry trees and some monuments the first day,possibly the money engraving tour the next a.m before we have to leave.....

MCazer
03-18-2008, 08:28 AM
we did DC last year with then 11, and 9 year old. We did the engraving tour (make sure you get there early to pick up your tour tickets for the day before they are all gone. Go early, get tickets for later, then come back.

We also called our congressman's office and had a private tour of the Capitol! This was a highlight! You meet in a building across the street, and they take you over (actually under) in their little subway train, and you come up inside the capitol.

We also went early because we didn't know where it was, so early we figured we would eat something close by. No such luck, nothing around. However, they let us into the cafeteria for Govt workers in the basement, and it was the best /cheapest meal, and made to order! Breakfast for 4 of us cost about $12, and my husband got egss toast, hashbrowns, grits, coffee. I had a similar meal, as well as my daughter, and my son had lots of fruit and cereal!

Definately do Lincoln Memorial in the day, and at night. We also walked from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial one night. Very deceiving, we kept walking, and it seemed so close, but holy cow. We ended up taking a cab back!

We did all the museums, and the spy museum on our trip prior to this one. That one costs alot of money. I love that the museums are free.

We also ate at the food court in Union Station. Something for everyone.

Oh, and don't forget, the Nationals play baseball, and it is very close.

MiniGirl
03-18-2008, 08:39 AM
we have a very short time coming up..we plan to hit either the zoo or natural history museum,then wander the cherry trees and some monuments the first day,possibly the money engraving tour the next a.m before we have to leave.....

We went to DC this past summer, and the thing I wanted to do most was the Mint. Apparently, things have changed a lot since I was last there. Now, you have to get in line EARLY in the morning for a ticket (which is still free). Then you come back at your appointed time for your tour. The tickets go fast, too -- like in a hour or so, and that is it till the next day. You can hang around to see if someone "no shows" for a tour, but that is a very rare occurrance.

We never did get to do it, so just look into this before you go.

One thing we did that our entire family enjoyed (dds are 8 and 5) was the spy museum. It is a private museum, so it does cost money. We had a great time though.

mikehn
03-18-2008, 09:37 AM
Not sure when you will be coming or how long you will be here, but generally, the Mandarin is a great location, close to most attractions and Metrorail. Use the Metrorail system to get around the DC area. www.wmata.com.

The Smithsonian museums, National Zoo, Arlington Cemetary, Pentagon, and other attractions are all right on the metrorail lines. Refer to the website for details. If you're coming during summer, prepare for dreadful heat and humidity.

DisneyDotty
03-18-2008, 09:52 AM
Not sure exactly when you're going, but if it's at least a couple months away--Our Congressman set us up with tickets to Bureau and Engraving (along with White House, Library of Congress and the Capitol Building). Call your Congressman NOW to set it up. (Note--nothing can be brought in the White House. Plan to leave your stuff in your hotel room.)
Also, be sure to order tickets to Washington Monument online--minimal charge and you won't have to wait in line. You can also get Holocaust Museum tickets ahead of time.
We really liked the Tourmobile tours of D.C.--include the Arlington Cemetery stop if you decide to do this. D.C. is HUGE and Tourmobile allows you to see just about everything without exhausting yourself.
Your kids might enjoy the Spy Museum--(there is a hefty charge). Stop by early in the day you want to do it to get your tickets.
My kids love the Ford's Theater/Peterson House. But I think the theater is closed for renovation right now.
As others have said, the Metro is VERY easy to use.
Have a great trip! :)

eliza61
03-18-2008, 12:13 PM
Make sure you get over to the Spy museum. My sons loved it.

mello
03-18-2008, 12:22 PM
We're thinking of doing DC in a year or two with the kids. From the research I've done so far, it sounds like one of the hardest things is finding places for a family to eat!

Tnkrbelle565
03-18-2008, 01:03 PM
DH and I have done DC for the past two years as our "adult weekend" get away! We LOVE it. We used the Grey Line tours both times and were very happy with them. They do hop on/hop off tours. We usually go around the complete tour one time to hear it through and then go around again to jump off where we want to stop (you'll need to start early to do this though). We also did their "Monuments By Moonlight" tour which was beautiful. Here are my tips for the Zoo. They are two Metro stops for the zoo. One is a walk downhill, one is walk uphill. So my tip is when you GO to the Zoo, get off at Cleveland Park stop and when you leave the Zoo use the Woodley Park–Zoo/Adams Morgan stop. Also, the zoo is large and built on a hill. My suggestion is to immediately go to the back of the zoo and work your way up to the front. If you start in the front, it's a long climb back to the front after you've been walking around all day!

I don't know if anyone mentioned this but if you want to go to the top of the Washington Monument, you have to also go early in the morning to get tickets. At the Holocaust Museum, you'll also need tickets to go into the main exhibit (they are free). They'll give you a time that you can enter the exhibit. This museum is fantastic...very moving. But you'll have to decide if your kids are ready for it. The images can be very disturbing to kids.

melk
03-18-2008, 03:13 PM
We also did their "Monuments By Moonlight" tour which was beautiful. Here are my tips for the Zoo. They are two Metro stops for the zoo. One is a walk downhill, one is walk uphill. So my tip is when you GO to the Zoo, get off at Cleveland Park stop and when you leave the Zoo use the Woodley Park–Zoo/Adams Morgan stop. Also, the zoo is large and built on a hill. My suggestion is to immediately go to the back of the zoo and work your way up to the front. If you start in the front, it's a long climb back to the front after you've been walking around all day!



Great tips!:thumbsup2

DisneyDotty
03-18-2008, 03:19 PM
We're thinking of doing DC in a year or two with the kids. From the research I've done so far, it sounds like one of the hardest things is finding places for a family to eat!

Actually, there are a lot of food courts in the basements (usually) of the museums and federal buildings. Some pretty decent fare to be had. (eg. Matzah ball soup in Holocaust museum...:cloud9: )

splash5
03-18-2008, 03:44 PM
We are heading to Washington DC on the 28th of this month. We also plan to visit Williamsburg. Has anyone done this before, is it better to stay in a separate hotel in Williamsburg, or commute from DC. Right now, we have a hotel in DC. Trying to figure out the best plan.

mikehn
03-18-2008, 03:47 PM
We are heading to Washington DC on the 28th of this month. We also plan to visit Williamsburg. Has anyone done this before, is it better to stay in a separate hotel in Williamsburg, or commute from DC. Right now, we have a hotel in DC. Trying to figure out the best plan.

Williamsburg is a looooong drive from DC. Stay in a seperate hotel.

kentuckywinter
03-18-2008, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the great tips everyone! We're planning a short trip later this year and your info will be so helpful.

For anyone who went/goes in the summer, is is extremely hot? Also, where did you stay? I saw the OP said they're staying in the Mandarin Orinetal, is this the best place?

Thanks again for all the info!
Have a great day!:goodvibes

Kimmumum
03-18-2008, 06:18 PM
Thanks for the info. We leave on Saturday (the 22nd). We have never been there before.

I have a question about the Holocaust Museum. I think I was told that you need a ticket to go into a certain part of the museum but that the main part of the museum is "ticketless". Is this correct or do we need a ticket regardless of which part of the museum we are going into. My DS#2 is 10 so we don't want to go into the part where you find out if you live or die.

DisneyDotty
03-18-2008, 06:57 PM
You can go through the exhibit "Daniel's Story" without a ticket. The rest of the museum requires a ticket, which can be ordered online ahead of time for a nominal charge. Check out their website http://www.ushmm.org/
And "the part where you live or die" is a booklet about an actual holocaust victim--it says at the end of the booklet whether you lived or died. You receive that booklet when you enter the ticketed part of the museum.

VAgal76
03-18-2008, 08:35 PM
Our family adores spending long weekends in DC. Yes, it is spread out so make sure you look up which monuments and museums you're going to see. You must plan your transportation and how long it will take you to get to the different places to make the best use of your time. Go to Mandarin's web site to see where the closest metro is and compare it to where the museum/monuments are. Metro tickets are super cheap. The bus system is pretty extensive and worth a look at, too.

Don't eat at the hotel exclusively. You're staying in an upscale hotel so prices on food/beverage is going to be up there. Do some research about good joints to eat at that is either a close walk or at least conveniently located from the Metro. There are some great dining places at reasonable prices.

Side note - DC cabs are all flat rate by zone. :thumbsup2

We typically focus on one or two things. Last time it was the zoo and a few of the memorials. This time we're doing the Spy Museum and the National Mall. I'm staying near the mall to be within walking distance. I found good reviews on a burger & shake joint I believe it's called Bens Chili Bowl is near my hotel plus a couple of others. We probably will just eat at our hotel for breakfast. I'm still searching for a good italian joint for us. Otherwise, we're going to hop on the Metro and go back to the great restaurant we found near the Omni Shoreham (Woodley Park/Zoo area).

To the other poster who inquired about staying in Williamsburg but commuting to DC. It's got to be at least 2 1/2 hours with NO traffic. You will be stuck in rush hour traffic if you attempt to make your way up there in the morning. It's a nightmare. Yes, you should absolutely plan to get a room in DC. Plan to leave in the afternoon from Williamsburg to head up to DC. Stay overnight then get up and start your day. By coming up in the evening you're going against the traffic - everyone is headed southbound to get home. ;)

Psychodisney
03-18-2008, 09:23 PM
Thanks for all the help. I'm not familiar with the engraving-what does this involve? We're going in late July-hot I know. We'll have three and 1/2 days-not enough for everything. I'll definitely get on contacting our congressman. Is there a website for the Washingotn Monument tickets?

Psychodisney
03-18-2008, 09:26 PM
As far as the Mandarin being the "best" hotel....we're staying on DVC points which is why we are staying there. Otherwise it is very expensive-you might do better price wise somewhere else.

Janet Hill
03-18-2008, 09:34 PM
Side note - DC cabs are all flat rate by zone. :thumbsup2


Not for long....

The base rate for any trip will be $3, and once in the cab, passengers will pay 25 cents for each one-sixth of a mile. The meter will start on the second one-sixth of a mile, and passengers will be charged 25 cents for each minute stopped in traffic or traveling slower than 10 miles per hour. The additional passenger surcharge will also be eliminated. The new rates go into effect April 6.

kathie859
03-18-2008, 09:37 PM
I haven't been in a few years, but the lower level of the National Portrait Gallery had a decent/inexpensive cafe. I just checked their website and they list two food options. If you check out the websites for the places you intend to visit, you should be able to find what food options are available.

NPS.gov will give you info on all the monuments/sites overseen by the National Parks Service. This may give you some help planning reasonably priced meals.

Enjoy your trip...I LOVE DC:goodvibes

juliana_sd
03-18-2008, 09:39 PM
I'm not familiar with the engraving-what does this involve?

I went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Jan. It was neat! Younger kids would be bored though. I didn't need a ticket since it was the off-season, I just had to line up at a door. Turned out there was no line anyway since it was about 20 degrees out and sane people stayed home :laughing:

You watch a short video and then you go on a tour of the actual "money factory" - you see real money being printed, the whole process from beginning to end. The whole thing took just under an hour.

HTH!

BBGirl
03-18-2008, 10:12 PM
There are very affordable options for food. Trust me the people who live there don't pay tourist prices for food. We go to some of the off the beaten track places. One place I recommend to everyone for food the Old Post Office Pallivion. It's got everything and last time I was there it was tourist reasonable. There is also an elevator that will take you to the top that is a one of a kind view of DC. I also walk down 4th street past the capitol for some diner type food if I'm staying for awhile (Tune Inn is always good and friendly). By the Zoo I try to hit The 4P's pub and there I believe it's called Grady's but I'm sure someone will correct me there on that walk from the Metro stop to the bus. My BIL used to work at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing so I have done that tour a few times. I think in the 26 years that I lived there I might have seen it all, there really is that much to see.
HTH

splash5
03-19-2008, 10:22 AM
Thanks so much for the info. We are going to stay in Williamsburg for a couple of nights. We thought we would drive from DC to Monticello and then over to Williamsburg. How is traffic leaving DC in the morning?

BBGirl
03-19-2008, 10:40 AM
Thanks so much for the info. We are going to stay in Williamsburg for a couple of nights. We thought we would drive from DC to Monticello and then over to Williamsburg. How is traffic leaving DC in the morning?

If you leave before (early early) or after (Dad says after 9:00 I say after 8:00) rush hour it's OK but still busy. Rush hour is stopped traffic alot of the time. That's going to be a 2-3 hour drive just to let ya' know. I know Williamsburg is about 2-3 hours. I haven't driven to Monticello is so long I don't remember.
HTH

eliza61
03-19-2008, 11:56 AM
For anyone with a military bent, go check out the marines Friday evening sunset parade. It is at the Marine Barracks in Washington DC and features the Marine silent drill team. Totally free but you have to request tickets.
http://www.mbw.usmc.mil/parade_eveningdefault.asp

BBGirl
03-19-2008, 02:32 PM
For anyone with a military bent, go check out the marines Friday evening sunset parade. It is at the Marine Barracks in Washington DC and features the Marine silent drill team. Totally free but you have to request tickets.
http://www.mbw.usmc.mil/parade_eveningdefault.asp

My DH used to do that. It's a really moving show for those who are interested. Get there early tho if you don;t have VIP tickets. The lines can get long and you may not get in.

Tnkrbelle565
03-19-2008, 07:28 PM
Thanks for the info. We leave on Saturday (the 22nd). We have never been there before.

I have a question about the Holocaust Museum. I think I was told that you need a ticket to go into a certain part of the museum but that the main part of the museum is "ticketless". Is this correct or do we need a ticket regardless of which part of the museum we are going into. My DS#2 is 10 so we don't want to go into the part where you find out if you live or die.

You might want to skip this museum with a 10 year old. The images in the main exhibit are very disturbing. They could be upsetting for a child if he doesn't really understand what happened during the Holocaust. As another poster mentioned, you will be given a biography of an actual person who went through the Holocaust. Males get male biographies, females get females. Some are adults, some are children. They do say at the end if "your person" survived. If you want further info on the museum (and don't mind me "ruining" the experience for you so you can tell if you want to bring your child)...you can PM and I'll try to explain what you will see.