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Old 05-29-2012, 09:27 PM   #1
sayhello
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Pennsylvania, District of Columbia & Virginia: Spirit of America Meets Thread

Please post here if you would like to talk with anyone else who has signed up to travel to the Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania, DC & Virginia) with ABD.

You can also share information/ask questions about the Pennsylvania, DC & Virginia Spirit of America ABD.

Please try and keep this thread on topic to discussion and questions about the Mid-Atlantic ABD. Off topic posts will be deleted or moved.

Thanks!
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Roll Call:

Previous:
  • Jun 29 - Jul 6, 2012 - preedymtnwest, DSs (14 & 11)
  • May 24 - 31, 2013
    • - Erika (EDuke98080) & family
    • - Mary Jo & friend (Brenda)

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Old 06-06-2012, 12:54 AM   #2
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Mid-Atlantic 6/29-7-6, 2012

This is our first ABD and we're excited. I'm originally from PA and also lived in Arlington before moving "out west" in 1971 when I was 9, so I'm looking forward to showing my DSs (14 and 11) where I "started." They've both had some American History in school by now, so it's also going to be great for them to experience the real places.

We're arriving a couple of days early and hope to drive to Harrisburg (where I was born) and maybe take in Hershey Park (a fave when I was really little). We're also staying 5 days after the tour, to have more time to do DC and Williamsburg (since that's not on this year's itinerary).

Anyone else going to be on our trip?
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:37 AM   #3
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Not on your trip but had to say 'Hi.' I grew up about an hour north of Harrisburg in Shamokin and now have been living for many years in Reston Va which is about 15 miles outside of DC. We usually visit Williamsburg about once a year.

Have a wonderful time 'coming home' and sharing it with your children! Happy to answer any questions about the area.
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info offer, vakamalua! I do have a couple of questions (which can probably be answered by our guides when we get there, but I like to plan ahead... ).

I'm mostly concerned about safety, especially when we are "on our own" during and after the tour. We live 30 miles SE of Seattle, and go "into town" only occasionally with the boys, so they lead a pretty sheltered life as far as being aware of their surroundings, and as cities go, Seattle is pretty tame.

We do plan to have a car after the tour is over (even though it's $45/night to park at the Mayflower!! ) but I'd like to ride the subway in DC if we choose to go much farther than a mile or two. We have tix to the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks on Friday night; would it be safe to ride the subway there and back, or should we take the car? I know we'll look like tourists no matter what, but I don't want to take any unnecessary risks.

Also, I requested White House Tour tix many months ago, but just found out we didn't get our request (which isn't too unbelievable as it was for the Saturday after the 4th of July ). The "you didn't make it" email had info about a White House Tour Center, or something like that - do you recommend we spend the time to go there instead?

And speaking of the 4th, I'm hoping that Disney has something special planned for us, if only finding a great place for us to watch some fireworks; if they leave us "on our own" as we're supposed to be that night, what do you suggest? My kids are so bummed that they won't be home to shoot off bottle rockets and I keep telling them "what could be better than to be in Washington DC on the 4th???"

So any info along those lines would be much appreciated! Thanks!!!

We leave in 5 days - lots to do to get ready!!
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by preedymtnwest View Post
Thanks for the info offer, vakamalua! I do have a couple of questions (which can probably be answered by our guides when we get there, but I like to plan ahead... ).

I'm mostly concerned about safety, especially when we are "on our own" during and after the tour. We live 30 miles SE of Seattle, and go "into town" only occasionally with the boys, so they lead a pretty sheltered life as far as being aware of their surroundings, and as cities go, Seattle is pretty tame.

Just use common sense as you would in any big city--be aware of your surroundings, don't carry around any valuables you don't need and secure your wallet/bag especially when in a crowd or people are close to you (elevators, Metro, cross walks, etc).

We do plan to have a car after the tour is over (even though it's $45/night to park at the Mayflower!! ) but I'd like to ride the subway in DC if we choose to go much farther than a mile or two. We have tix to the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks on Friday night; would it be safe to ride the subway there and back, or should we take the car? I know we'll look like tourists no matter what, but I don't want to take any unnecessary risks.

The DC Metro serves all the tourist areas very well; compared to most large cities, it is safe, clean and easy to navigate. Driving and parking in DC can be very difficult so try to take the Metro when possible. I don't think you'll have any safety problems using Metro to get to and from the Marine Barracks; it's about four blocks from the Eastern Market stop and the area is full of little shops and cafes.

There's a GREAT local place to eat on Capitol Hill that you might want to try before or after the Marine Barracks--'The Good Stuff Eatery' owned by Spike Mendelsohn (from Top Chef). The best burgers and milkshakes in town (try the Toasted Marshmallow shake-YUM). Spike also owns the place next door, 'We the Pizza' so your party can get whatever they like and still share a table in one place together (there's also limited outdoor seating). Your kids will enjoy it. It's about half way between the Eastern Market and Capitol South Metro stops so you wouldn't have to backtrack (bonus: walking by the Capitol at night).

http://www.goodstuffeatery.com/



Also, I requested White House Tour tix many months ago, but just found out we didn't get our request (which isn't too unbelievable as it was for the Saturday after the 4th of July ). The "you didn't make it" email had info about a White House Tour Center, or something like that - do you recommend we spend the time to go there instead?

I would make a last minute pleading call to your senators and congressman's office before you leave, just in case. With so much to see and do in DC, I wouldn't bother with the WH Tour Center, not much there.

And speaking of the 4th, I'm hoping that Disney has something special planned for us, if only finding a great place for us to watch some fireworks; if they leave us "on our own" as we're supposed to be that night, what do you suggest? My kids are so bummed that they won't be home to shoot off bottle rockets and I keep telling them "what could be better than to be in Washington DC on the 4th???"

I find it hard to believe that ABD would leave you on your own on the busiest night in DC, so I suggest verifying that with them before you leave. If you are indeed on your own, definitely plan to see the 'not to be missed' fireworks. Security is much higher on the Mall than it used to be so here's my suggestion: as soon as you check-in (or even email today), sit down with the hotel's Concierge and ask them to help you plan the best place to see the fireworks given your timing and the location of the hotel. Maybe the hotel even has a roof top they open for viewing.

So any info along those lines would be much appreciated! Thanks!!!

We leave in 5 days - lots to do to get ready!!
In all likelihood, it will be REALLY HOT and HUMID everywhere you visit on the east coast, even at night. So be prepared to dress lightly, sunscreen, and drink LOTS of water.

Enjoy your memories at Hershey Park and, if you get to Williamsburg, take the kids to Busch Gardens for more great roller coasters (a beautiful, shady amusement park)

Have a WONDERFUL time!
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preedymtnwest View Post

We do plan to have a car after the tour is over (even though it's $45/night to park at the Mayflower!! ) but I'd like to ride the subway in DC if we choose to go much farther than a mile or two. We have tix to the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks on Friday night; would it be safe to ride the subway there and back, or should we take the car? I know we'll look like tourists no matter what, but I don't want to take any unnecessary risks.

And speaking of the 4th, I'm hoping that Disney has something special planned for us, if only finding a great place for us to watch some fireworks; if they leave us "on our own" as we're supposed to be that night, what do you suggest? My kids are so bummed that they won't be home to shoot off bottle rockets and I keep telling them "what could be better than to be in Washington DC on the 4th???" ...
The Metro in DC is perfectly safe; just be prepared for it to be extremely crowded around holidays. Keep your kids close by.

Also, be warned that it is very common for big thunderstorms to move in during the afternoon and early evening in the DC area and many 4th of July celebrations have been cancelled here because of thunderstorms. I agree with the PP about finding a place at your hotel to view the fireworks (if possible, I'm not sure what the view is like from the Mayflower); the crowds on the National Mall are unbelievable.

Last edited by lost*in*cyberspace; 06-24-2012 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:58 AM   #7
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Thank you very much for the insider info! A lot of our trips lately have been to the parks, and I know what to expect there - planning is more about "which day is Magic Morning?" and "do we need to get dining reservations?".

I'm dreading the heat and humidity (I've become a weather whiner since becoming acclimated to the northwest - if it's above 75, it's too hot for me), but we'll deal with it. At least we won't need to dress up for much of anything! We've had an unseasonably (for us) cool and rainy June, so we haven't even had a chance to get used to heat yet - highs have been in the 50s and 60s mostly, so probably cooler than most nights back there! I already called ABD about water, because I drink a lot anyway, and they assured me they'll have us covered.

I'm also hoping that there will be something planned for the 4th, but great idea to talk to the concierge if there isn't.

Thanks again for all the tips!
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:20 PM   #8
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If anyone is in need of things to do in Philadelphia I'm a native Philadelphian and have some great ideas I don't think many people have thought of that I felt like sharing. If you have any questions of the area feel free to ask and I can do my best to answer them.

While the amusement parks mentioned are great keep in mind that Hershey Park while advertised here heavily is about a 2 hour drive depending on traffic to get too. It's in Hershey PA and it's closer to Lancaster than Philadelphia. There is another park called Dorney Park that has a nice Water Park comparable to Hershey and it's not as expensive. I like them both for different reasons. Dorney Park now has a front of the line access pass for their big rides while Hershey does not, both have new roller coasters this year.
The closets park to Philly is actually Sesame Place but it's mainly for little kids, same with Dutch Wonderland(which I've never been too but hear good things). If you REALLY love amusement parks and don't mind trying to find it there is Kneobels but it's more out of the way than Hershey but you don't need tickets to enter just buy tickets to ride the rides. It's a beautiful park and actually has good food.

In Center City Philadelphia one of the best Ice cream places you should look up is The Franklin Fountain in Old City, and next door is a great old candy shop called Shane's both are amazing!

For kids you should try the Please Touch Museum which changed locations and now has an indoor restored Carousel.

The Philadelphia Art Museum is one of the best in the country I think, great collection and has a lot more to offer than just a run up the steps like Rocky. The Rodan Museum recently re-opened and The Franklin Institute is always fun, though more for kids than adults.

I've done the Constitution Center only once but I enjoyed it, love the life size statues of the signers I think that's worth admission personally.

That's all I can think of at the moment if I think of anything else worth mentioning I'll try and share.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:31 PM   #9
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Thanks for the tips, LionKingRules84! I was just talking to my DSis about what we're going to do with our pre-tour days, and your Philly info will come in handy.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:51 PM   #10
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LionKingRules84, what do you suggest for an Adult, with no kids, in Philly?

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Old 06-26-2012, 05:55 PM   #11
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LionKingRules84, what do you suggest for an Adult, with no kids, in Philly?

Sayhello
Philly is a big beer city so there are a bunch of fantastic bars. My personal favorite is Eulogy Belgian Tavern in Old City and they take reservations. Great food and huge beer selection! There is also a newer Belgian bar in Fairmount called 'The Belgian Cafe' decent place but I don't think their food is as good as Eulogy. I love bars personally since you can dress in whatever you want to eat there.

I recently was gifted to do the R2L lounge which is a restaurant at the top of Liberty Place. Being a local I thought it was a bit to 'toursity' for my husband and I but the view is really great and the food was ok, not great, just ok. I warn though it's expensive and you have to dress in at least business casual to eat there but if you would like a nice view of the city and a nice dinner it's adequate . I prefer places I don't have to dress up to eat at though but that is me a lot of people like that sort of thing so I felt it worth mentioning.

Philly also has some Comedy clubs if you like that sort of thing. Helium is a big one. I know of them but never personally been to one but I hear good things. They are in the Rittenhouse Square which is a nice area of Center City with a nice park.

I forgot to mention The Philadelphia Zoo is great too but it's very popular on the weekends in the summer. It's worth it if you haven't gone, I've been a million times since a kid and I still love it personally. I've been to a lot of zoos and it's still my favorite.

My next new favorite place is Eastern State Penitentiary. I actually thought it was a castle when I first saw it. I only recently did a tour of this place about a year ago and I thought it was great, a lot of history there. Not necessarily sure kids would appreciate it but I think it's worth it and at least some of the money used for admission is for upkeep of the place but I kinda like the 'run down' look it has. They do a pretty good haunted attraction there on the weekends in October for Halloween. It's considered haunted by a lot of people. I felt a very sad feeling in the 'death row' area, very creepy. They have been introducing new interactive things there so keep an eye on the schedule of them when you get there I believe they run throughout the day. Down the street is 'The Belgian Cafe' on green street along with a bunch of other fantastic restaurants and bars. The only place that I'm not sure that takes reservations is 'The Bishops Collar' since it's smaller and basically set up as a 'local' bar more so than a restaurant but I hear good things about their turkey chili.

Don't forget to take a walk on Penns Landing at night, it's very pretty and you can usually get good views of the Ben Franklin Bridge from there. There are also some nice boats docked there.

I know there is more but I can't think of anything else at the moment. If I do I'll try to post. I hope this ends up being helpful, I don't think I'm very good at this sort of thing! At some point I'll try to post links to the restaurants and attractions but if you just search through google they should pop up.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:35 PM   #12
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Oh yeah I just thought of a few more things:

Reading Terminal Market is a must! One of the oldest and still great markets. If I had the money I'd go there more often myself(it's easier to take public transit than drive). Flying Monkey Bakery there is great especially if you like Whoopie Pies and cupcakes. A lot of the Amish markets are there wednesdays through Saturdays. Bassetts ice cream is there they have some interesting flavors. Great places to eat and shop.

Philly also has a great China Town and worth walking around in. I always try to get my Chinese Food from China Town. There are a lot of great shops and they often have shows at the trocadero theater but it's usually concerts.

South Street is fun and still has some decent shops and restaurants but it's changed a lot since I use to frequent it a few years ago. It still gets tourists though and is worth a visit. I like to go every once in awhile lots of great memories for me there personally.
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:53 PM   #13
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When we were there on the 4th, ABD did just leave us on our own! We were all shocked! However, we had two amazing guides (the same ones that preedymtnwest will have!) who took their own time and knowledge to find us a spot and watch the fireworks with us. I know Maria is looking forward to being there on the 4th, so I'm sure that even if it isn't in Disney's plans, she will definitely take care of you!

ETA: I just noticed your comment about water. Don't worry about it at all because the coach will have plenty of cold water for you.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:58 AM   #14
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Thanks, LionKingRules84! Lots of things to check out!

Quote:
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When we were there on the 4th, ABD did just leave us on our own! We were all shocked! However, we had two amazing guides (the same ones that preedymtnwest will have!) who took their own time and knowledge to find us a spot and watch the fireworks with us. I know Maria is looking forward to being there on the 4th, so I'm sure that even if it isn't in Disney's plans, she will definitely take care of you!

ETA: I just noticed your comment about water. Don't worry about it at all because the coach will have plenty of cold water for you.
From all I know about ABD Guides, this totally doesn't surprise me at all! In fact, I would have been surprised if they *hadn't* handled it this way! ABD Guides are the absolute best!

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Old 06-29-2012, 08:00 PM   #15
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We're arriving a couple of days early and hope to drive to Harrisburg (where I was born) and maybe take in Hershey Park (a fave when I was really little).
You can purchase discounted admission tickets for Hershey Park at the Giant grocery store which is located at 1250 Cocoa Avenue, Hershey. If it has been a while since you visited, you will see big changes. Many coasters now, and a small waterpark area. Be prepared to get wet if it's hot and you enjoy that sort of thing.

Have a great trip!
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