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Old 03-25-2012, 05:09 PM   #1
glassslipper2004
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Where are you going this year?

I'd love to hear where everyone is going this year, via Disney or otherwise. We are doing a trip to Washington DC soon, and I'd appreciate any tips people might have. One thing I discovered is that while many museums are free, some attractions required timed tickets, which seems to be sold out weeks/months in advance in some cases.
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Old 03-25-2012, 07:24 PM   #2
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We're going to Washington the first week of April. A friend who grew up there recommended the tour at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, so we're doing that and the White House tour, along with museums, monuments, etc. If you go to your representatives website you can request VIP tickets for those two tours and also the Library of Congress and the Capitol.

Besides the DC trip, we are taking a Danube River Cruise with Tauck Bridges this summer and fall break in Oahu (at Aulani) and Kauai. If the dates work out, I was tentatively planning the ABD Peru trip for spring break 2013, but with the new Southeast Asia trip I may have to rethink that. This is a big travel year for us and so was 2011. We may be eating nothing but Ramen Noodles soon. But I want to spend some quality time and enjoy and educate my kid while he can still stand to be around me.
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Old 03-25-2012, 07:40 PM   #3
jlou
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I took my daughter for a 3 day trip to DC. It was great.

The first day (after a 6 hour drive), we went to the zoo. I was kind of disappointed in the zoo. My childhood memories had it much nicer than it was when we were there. However, it was a few years ago, and it was a bit under construction, so it might be much nicer now.

The second day, we took the DC trolley tour, which is a hop on hop off tour.

http://www.trolleytours.com/washington-dc/

The driver was very informative, and it was a lot better than just seeing things on our own. Plus, it got us up and down the mall very quickly.

We also took advantage of their monuments at night tour, which I would also recommend.

Of course, there are all the museums. We had a wonderful time in the national gallery, and the sculpture garden. Also, the Air and Space museum. All the Smithsoneans are wonderful, so you just have to see what you're interested in. I would not recommend having lunch at the Air and Space museum, not much to choose from, but there is a very nice cafeteria at the Natural History museum I believe. Also near the Natural History museum is the Old Post Office, which has the clock tower (free to go up) with wonderful views of the city. Ben & Jerry's at the Post Office is a nice treat.

Union station was a good place to go with a group for a quick meal, as there are lots of different food vendors to please even the pickiest traveler.

I would highly recommend the trolley tours as it's a very inexpensive way to get around, and also get a bit of a tour, with someone telling you things about the sights that you would otherwise not know.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:09 PM   #4
glassslipper2004
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Bobo12 - you got the White House tour - lucky you! We did request this through our representative, but were told there is a lottery, and we don't know yet if we'll get in. I'm hoping we do - I visited with a friend years ago, but I would love my kids to see it. And good for you for trying out Tauck, I'm curious to hear how you like it. I totally understand about wanting to do things with your kid while you still can. I'm in the same position.

Jlou - thanks for the tips, especially the trolley tour. We did one in Philadelphia last spring and really enjoyed it. Plus it does seem like a good way to get around. What was the monuments at night tour like - do they just drive you around, or is it also an on/off kind of thing?

Thanks!
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:30 PM   #5
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I'm going to Maui for 2 weeks. Renting a timeshare from a friend, condo on the beach. I'm still planning; doing some snorkeling, a luau or 2, Road to Hana and Haleakala for sunrise. Trying to relax!

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Old 03-25-2012, 08:38 PM   #6
jlou
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The monuments at night tour was meant to be a tour that you stayed on for the whole thing. (In other words, not a hop on hop off). But, you did stop at various monuments and get to walk around for a bit and see and learn about the various monuments.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:38 PM   #7
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To tell you the truth, I had just about given up on the White House tour. I requested the tour back in February and hadn't heard a word. But last week I got an email saying we are in. It was a very pleasant surprise. I also bought tickets to see the musical 1776 at the Ford's theater one evening. Thought it would be cool to see a show there. And we're in DC on Easter Sunday, so I got passes to the Easter Service at the National Cathedral.

Jlou, I was also planning on taking the monuments at night tour, so I'm very glad to see you recommend it.

This is our second Tauck Bridges tour. Since this one is a river cruise I expect it to be quite different. I'm not a big cruise liner person, but we so much enjoyed being on the smaller ship in the Galapagos last year that I thought this might be fun. The number of guests is small enough so you can actually get to know your fellow travelers. Not having to pack and unpack every time you change locations is nice. And DS likes the never-ending supply of snacks.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:41 PM   #8
jlou
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobo912 View Post
And DS likes the never-ending supply of snacks.


nothin' wrong with snacks!
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:51 AM   #9
Bobo912
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlou View Post
I took my daughter for a 3 day trip to DC. It was great.

The first day (after a 6 hour drive), we went to the zoo. I was kind of disappointed in the zoo. My childhood memories had it much nicer than it was when we were there. However, it was a few years ago, and it was a bit under construction, so it might be much nicer now.

The second day, we took the DC trolley tour, which is a hop on hop off tour.

http://www.trolleytours.com/washington-dc/

The driver was very informative, and it was a lot better than just seeing things on our own. Plus, it got us up and down the mall very quickly.

We also took advantage of their monuments at night tour, which I would also recommend.

Of course, there are all the museums. We had a wonderful time in the national gallery, and the sculpture garden. Also, the Air and Space museum. All the Smithsoneans are wonderful, so you just have to see what you're interested in. I would not recommend having lunch at the Air and Space museum, not much to choose from, but there is a very nice cafeteria at the Natural History museum I believe. Also near the Natural History museum is the Old Post Office, which has the clock tower (free to go up) with wonderful views of the city. Ben & Jerry's at the Post Office is a nice treat.

Union station was a good place to go with a group for a quick meal, as there are lots of different food vendors to please even the pickiest traveler.

I would highly recommend the trolley tours as it's a very inexpensive way to get around, and also get a bit of a tour, with someone telling you things about the sights that you would otherwise not know.

Jlou, did you book the Monuments at Night tour online in advance? Thanks.
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:26 AM   #10
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Jlou, did you book the Monuments at Night tour online in advance? Thanks.
Yes, we got our tickets for the regular daytime hop on hop off, as well as the Monuments at Night tour ahead of time online. I like to do that when I can.

It really was a nice thing to do at night. I'm trying to think what else we did at night time, but the main thing was a sort of late dinner, and the Monuments at Night. Our hotel had a pool, and the girls loved swimming, so that was something else we did at night. I would suggest, if you don't have a pool, to plan dinner to be a bit later than usual, and then have a quiet rest-of-the-evening reading and relaxing in the room. We were very tired at night from all the walking around, so I certainly don't remember feeling bored.
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:28 AM   #11
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Jlou, did you book the Monuments at Night tour online in advance? Thanks.
Hi Bobo912--one I didn't see mentioned that is pretty cool, although it is not free, is the crime museum. I think they took alot of the exhibits that used to be in the FBI tour and put them here, along with many other exhibits and interactive things to do.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:18 PM   #12
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First my Washington DC advice:
-If you can't get timed tix, please contact your local Congress person, they can often arrange something...if not White House at least the Capitol building, and possibly a hand shake with them ( which is cool for your kids!)

-consider "Bike the Sites" http://www.bikeandroll.com/washingtondc/
We did their biking the monuments at night, it was fabulous! DC is flat as a board, so even if you are not expert bikers ( like me) it's easy, and since the monuments are one of the few things "open" at night, it maximizes your time for the day things and they are just magnificent lit up at night. You get time to stop and wander around the monuments , then the guide rolls you to the next, very easy, one of our favorite experiences!

- arrive at the major line attractions early ( I mean early!) You know the attraction where you need to go see this one famous thing that will take 10 minutes, but the line will be 2 hours by 10 Am? It takes a while to wake, dress, feed and bus all those 8 th graders to places like the National Archive, while they are doing that, you get there before 9 AM and see the whole thing in 20 minutes or so. As you head out the door, those bus tours are just starting to roll up. Plan one major "line attraction" for every morning and get there before it opens. Then head to the places where you are likely to spend more time poking, like a museum.

- if you plan to do the the zoo, get up early( are you seeing a trend here? ) like WDW, ( which don't we all love or wouldn't be here) it's better to go early and nap mid afternoon, than wait 2 hours to look at the constitution in the Archives for 10 minutes! Back to the zoo: go early, right at opening. Start with the Asian exhibit ( the pandas are there, but so are lots of other great animals) it will be gridlocked by 11 AM, so start there and move elsewhere once people start arriving. Plan to leave right around lunch time to save your sanity.

- chunk your daily itinerary into sections...so go to a "line builder attraction" early, then see the museums and other attractions in that area, the next day hit another area, this minimizes walking!

-prioritize...like WDW you can't do it all in one visit, so pick and choose, we decided to tour the whitehouse since we could get tix, but just visited the Court and Capitol buildings. We did Air and Space and one of the Art museums (taking in the sculpture garden as part of our walk from one end to another) because that was what interested each of our kids. We did the monuments at night to maximize the day hours and forgot about the bonus of how gorgeous they'd be!

Good luck! We only spent 2 full days, so we had to power tour...you might have a more relaxed schedule...but I'm gonna go with go early and plan well!

Oh, and where are we going, you ask? Most immediately to western NY and Philadelphia to check out design colleges, ( maybe run up the Rocky steps) then on an ABD to Ecuador and the Galapagos in August, on a cruise from Tahiti through French Polynesia in October, and next April taking the kids on the worlds largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas! In between I'll be chill axing in my favorite place in the world...Maine!
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:05 PM   #13
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Going on the Central Italy ABD on 6/17, followed by 5 days in Rome.

Others are the Atlantis in the Bahamas in April and Vermont in October.
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Old 05-18-2012, 04:34 PM   #14
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I'm about to go to Universal in a few days and then Columbia, South Carolina to visit some family! Can't wait!!!
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:15 PM   #15
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Washington,DC trip in July, Epcot Food & Wine/ Universal Florida in October!
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