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looking for input on trip itinerary

Iowa City, Iowa
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looking for input on trip itinerary

Hi - I've been reading the forum for a few months off and on, and as our trip is about a month away now, I decided I need to begin making some firmer plans. I'd love some input! We'll be in DC in mid-July for 7.5 days. We requested a White House tour months ago and of course haven't heard yet if it's been approved. We do have a tour set at the Capitol as well as tickets to the Holocaust Museum. I'd like to begin purchasing some other timed entry passes but am overwhelmed. I'm going to list the places we'd like to visit, and I would love for others to chime in on what may be most do-able. My husband and I have 5 children who are ages 2, 7, 9, 12, and 15. We're going to have to split up some to keep the toddler happy, and that's ok. Our kids are experienced travelers, and we're a pretty active family that does a lot of walking/running... and we've gone to Disney World twice in June so we "get" what hot/humid feels like. ;)

So... we'll arrive on a Thursday (driving). What do you think about stopping by Arlington on our way into the city that afternoon?

Friday is possibly our White House tour day. Saturday - open. Sunday - church in the morning, Holocaust Museum at 1:30 (myself and the eldest two children). Monday - Capitol tour at 10. Tues-Thurs - open.

In addition we'd like to hit:

Mount Vernon

the monuments/memorials

Museum of American History

Museum of Natural History

Air & Space Museum

National Gallery of Art (just daughter and eldest son)

International Spy Museum (husband will take two eldest)

National Archives

Ford's Theatre/Petersen House

Union Station


Maybe a stroll through Georgetown?

How would you attack this? What will I need to ax?

I'd especially be interested in backup plans for when the toddler is d.o.n.e. Like - I can take a ball and play around on the Mall I think, right? And there's a carousel located somewhere? Any other ideas would be welcomed.

Thank you in advance.

Washington DC...
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1. Re: looking for input on trip itinerary

No point in going out of your way to visit Union Station, in my opinion. It's just a train station and there is no real reason to go there unless you are catching a train to somewhere. If you're visiting the Capitol and want a quick, cheap place to get some food, there is a food court in Union Station, but it's just the same kind of generic food court you can find in any mall in America.

Iowa City, Iowa
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2. Re: looking for input on trip itinerary

Thanks, Matt! I wondered about that, because the photos I saw looked very mall-ish. :)

Washington DC...
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3. Re: looking for input on trip itinerary

Just a few ideas:

1. After your Capitol tour, head for the nearby Air and Space Museum on the south side of the mall. (Alternatively, National Art Museum on north side of the mall.) If you're hungry, you can eat at the Museum of the American Indian (which has a pretty good cafeteria) on the way to Air and Space. (The Art Museum has a decent cafeteria on the ground floor.)

2. See the Natural History and American History museums in succession, they are next to each other. (The Natl Hist museum has a decent cafe when you get hungry.) Unfortunately the dinosaur hall at the Natl History museum is now closed for renovation until 2019.

3. Perhaps take the younger children to the zoo or carousel while the older ones are touring the Holocaust museum, Art Gallery or Spy museum. The carousel is on the south side of the mall.

4. Have dinner in Georgetown one evening and walk around a bit after. Save business hours for tours.

There really aren't many places to eat on the mall itself. You either have to walk a couple of blocks away from the Mall, eat in the museum cafe, or pack enough food for yourself.

Arlington, Virginia
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4. Re: looking for input on trip itinerary

And a few more ideas:

1. Pre-book tickets to see Ford's Theatre/Petersen House. There's are a lot of choices available and there are different choices for different times. Ex: Museum and Walk-Through of Theatre, Museum Only, Museum and Ranger Talk, Audio Tour, No Audio Tour, etc. Check various times to find the option you want. (Definitely choose one that offers the museum.)


2. Pre-book tickets if you want to go to the top of the Washington Monument. It recently re-opened after nearly 3 years of reconstruction due to an earthquake, so it's especially popular to visit these days.


3. Those who are planning to go to the Spy Museum might want to pre-book their tickets too because the lines to buy tickets can get really long and you waste a lot of time just waiting to buy a ticket. If possible, arrange to go first thing in the morning. The Spy Museum is not that big and it gets more and more crowded as the day goes by, making for a not-so-great experience by mid-day. Discount admission tickets are often available on Groupon, Living Social or Goldstar. (Goldstar currently has tickets available for a total of $14 each--$10 + $4 service fee) for select dates this summer.)

4. Visit the monuments and memorials after dark. It's especially nice to see them all lit up and this frees you to visit museums during the daytime.

4. Plan to spend at least 3 - 4 hours at Mount Vernon. In addition to the mansion and the excellent museum, there are some good tours, some of which are free (e.g. the Slave Life Tour) and some of which are an additional fee (e.g. National Treasures Tour).

Iowa City, Iowa
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5. Re: looking for input on trip itinerary

Nodedet - Thank you especially for #1 and 2. I welcome any suggestions on lumping these places together, so that was a great help. I also appreciate the suggestion to enjoy a late afternoon/evening in Georgetown and focus on museums during the day.

Longhorn74 - I've been dragging my feet on purchasing the timed entry passes because I just don't know which thing(s) to do which day(s). Is any particular day of the week best for any of the attractions we want to visit? I love the idea of watching for deals on Groupon, etc. and hadn't thought to do that. Also, should we try to get to Mount Vernon right when it opens in the morning?

Thanks so much, again.

6. Re: looking for input on trip itinerary

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