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Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

South Shore, MA
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Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

Hi!

Please bear with me. I am sure many of these questions have been answered before but I just thought I'd try!

Here are my questions:

1) We will be in DC for 3 nights 4/23-4/26. Do we stay in DC or in VA? We were thinking of staying in Pentagon City. Is that an OK idea?

2) I have made reservations for a Capitol tour through my congressman. People are now saying that that is a bad idea because the interns that will be giving the tour are not as good as the regular tour guides. Should I still keep my tour? We were already given a reservation.

3) I know the National Museum of American History is closed and that there is a small exhibit at the Air and Space museum. The information I have read said that it will close in early April. Does anyone know if it will be extended at all? (my children are really interested in this)

4) What would you consider to be the "absolutely-do-not-miss-in-DC" spots?

Thanks!

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

It is OK to stay in Pentagon City. It is a fairly short commute into the city via Metro. Not as much happening in the evenings, except for the shopping.

I doubt the small, and it is VERY small, selection of stuff from the American History Museum will be extended. The museum is going to reopen in the Fall and they are likely putting stuff back into place.

Maryland
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2. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

"I have made reservations for a Capitol tour through my congressman. People are now saying that that is a bad idea because the interns that will be giving the tour are not as good as the regular tour guides. Should I still keep my tour? "

Depends on who the people are that are telling you this - unless the advice is coming from people who have had both tours and they can offer some specifics as to why the intern tours "aren't as good", I wouldn't worry about it.

"What would you consider to be the "absolutely-do-not-miss-in-DC" spots?"

Impossible to answer, it would really depend on your family and what interests you. For example, one of MY "don't miss" things would be the Vietnam Veterans Memorial...look on tripadvisor and it's rated # 11, behind The National Postal Museum. Which I enjoyed, but wouldn't put in the Top 10.

District of Columbia
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3. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

If you can afford hotel around 16th street then its worth to stay in DC, otherwise you can get better deals at brand hotels in Arlington, Crystal City, Pentagon City. Like somebody already told you, there is not much going on at Pentagon City/Crystal City in the evening. Your better option would probably be Arlington. Very easy commute to DCA airport, metro runs thru that city, and you can enjoy some good food. Arlington has a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, bars etc.

If you stay at Arlington Marriott

marriott.com/hotels/…

you can pretty much walk everywhere. Just walk across Key bridge and you are in Georgetown right on the most popular M street. Lots of restaurants, lots of people walking around until 3-4am, and I can tell you that this area is very safe. Try to avoid North East and South East parts of DC. First of all its nothing significant at those parts of town, and secondly those are high crime areas.

There is rule of thumb - you are pretty much safe everywhere West of Capitol building :)

There are 2 or 3 nice hotels on Wisconsin Avenue (walking distance to National Cathedral and M street).

ichotelsgroup.com/h/…transportation

I've been living in DC for the past 12 years and this city never fails to amaze me.

When I have first time visitors to DC I follow my old bitten path. I usually park at the Chinatown (you can get off at the Chi-town metro station) and from there I walk them South to Capitol building. From there we walk towards DC Monument and on the way we hit museums of thier choice. One of the first museums on your left will be Air & Space (its a MUST SEE museum - if your family will enjoy it, then you should take a bus to Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum at Dulles airport). When you get to Monument you have two options:

1 - wait few hours in line to get lift tickets

2 - walk around it and then continue to Lincoln memorial

On the way to Lincoln memorial you will pass Vietnam memorial and not far from there, there is WWII memorial.

From Lincoln's memorial walk back towards Monument again but instead continuing straight take left and you will end up in front of White House. You will find it very easly, hundreds of toursists like you will be hoovering around that area :) I usually walk around it and then head back to my car in Chinatown via business/government district to show my guests that DC is not only museums.

This path which I described takes about 3 hours just to walk it, not counting time in the museums. All of my guests loved the tour so far :) Its at least 8 miles walk.

I think that "absolutely do not miss in DC" would be obviously White House, Capitol building, evening walk on the M street ending in one of the restaurants around Watergate.

Spy museum in Chinatown is cool, Kennedy center is worth a visit.

I can't tell you anything about intern tour of Capitol. Ten years ago I took public tour and I enjoyed it. Right now many places in Capitol are closed from the public and I thing that interns can take you to some of them :)

If you have more questions feel free to ask. Enjoy our beautyfull capital city!

Catlin, Illinois
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4. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

Hi swizzo and welcome to the forum!

We went on the Capital tour with a intern from our congressman's office and we enjoyed it. We found her knowledgeable about the capital and we were taken places that were not on the public tour. Saying that, on any given day there can be up to 535 of these tours being lead by congressional and senate interns. I am guessing that all are not the same.

Enjoy your trip!

South Shore, MA
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5. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

Thank you all so much for your advice! It has been really helpful. You never get this kind of information from a guide book. You have all been so knowledgeable.

Many, many thanks!

Arlington, VA
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6. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

1) We will be in DC for 3 nights 4/23-4/26. Do we stay in DC or in VA? We were thinking of staying in Pentagon City. Is that an OK idea?

Pentagon City is a good place to stay. Metro into the tourist areas is 10 - 12 minutes. You are within walking distance of 50 some odd restaurants/bars. Where in Pentagon City are you staying and I can give you some recommendations based on your preferences and kids' age.

2) I have made reservations for a Capitol tour through my congressman. People are now saying that that is a bad idea because the interns that will be giving the tour are not as good as the regular tour guides. Should I still keep my tour? We were already given a reservation.

With the intern you WILL get a tour without having to wait on who knows how long of a line. I have not heard of any intern led tours.

3) I know the National Museum of American History is closed and that there is a small exhibit at the Air and Space museum. The information I have read said that it will close in early April. Does anyone know if it will be extended at all? (my children are really interested in this)

Sorry, no info for you.

4) What would you consider to be the "absolutely-do-not-miss-in-DC" spots?

Old Post Office Pavillion Bell Tower -- best view in the city (IMHO). In case you can't get to everything, you can see everything.

http://www.oldpostofficedc.com/

Rhode Island
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7. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

Don't miss the zoo! It's free and has many wonderful animals, including the famous pandas. It is on two hills though and if any of your family have difficulty walking long distances or up hills, you may want to just visit the animals on the upper part of the hill

I recommend the Air & Space Museum, the FBI Museum, the Zoo, the Natural History Museum, for history buffs Ford's Theater and the house where Lincoln died.

I am sure your family will have lots of fun! I remember my family vacations in DC being fun and interesting. I loved it so much, I went to college there.

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

"I recommend the Air & Space Museum, the FBI Museum, the Zoo, the Natural History Museum, for history buffs Ford's Theater and the house where Lincoln died."

Two problems with that: the FBI Museum has been closed for years. And Ford's Theater is closed for renovation.

South Shore, MA
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9. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

I am still in awe with all of the great information you have given me!

We will be staying at the Residence Inn in Pentagon City. Anyone have any feedback for me about it?

We know that it is quiet there but we really don't mind that. The Metro doesn't phase us and we are not particularly night people...

Any good restaurants around there, though?

Thanks again!

South Shore, MA
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10. Re: Taking Family to DC for First Time-Lots of Questions...

Oh, and my kids ages are 12 and 7...