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First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

Fort Worth, Texas
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First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

I booked a trip to come to DC for the first time over Labor Day weekend. I'm so excited as DC has been on my list for a while. I am in my early 30s and there are 4 other friends coming as well all in late 20s-early 30s. I've been reading the forum and looking online to decide exactly what I want to see/do. There are so many things!!! Below is my list....can anyone tell me if this is doable for 5 days? I know some places are going to be more photo ops...but the Smithsonian will take more time. Any other suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated as well.

National Mall - Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WW II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Koren War Memorial (I think these are all close to each other)

Jefferson Memorial

FDR Memorial

Smithsonian - Air & Space Museum, Natural History and American History. (those can be condensed or narrowed down)

White House (I am waiting to hear back from a Congressman on a tour)

Capital Building

Arlington National Cemetery

Georgetown

Washington National Cathedral (picture)

Fords Theatre - where Lincoln was shot

? President Lincoln's cottage

I've also been looking into the Old Town Trolley or the Hop-on/Hop-off Double Decker Bus Tours. Both of those seem to cover a lot of what I want to see. I know I have done the Double Decker Tours in other major cities (London, NYC, Chicago) and gotten a lot of information from them that I wouldn't have known touring myself.

We have not gotten our hotel yet. We are planning on Pricelining that. We were told to stay in Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Alexandria or Alrington areas.

Thanks again for any tips or suggestions!

Washington DC...
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1. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

Staying in Georgetown can be OK. Or it can be somewhat inconvenient for touring, due to the lack of Metro train access. And really, for a group your age, staying near the Penn Quarter could be better than your other choices.

Washington DC...
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2. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

If you can swing it, Dupont or Penn Quarter are the best hotel spots. Georgetown is fun to visit, but since there's no Metro, hard to tour from. Arlington and Alexandria offer good deals, but if you're visiting DC, it's best to stay in DC proper in my opinion.

Check out the Dupont Hotel--they have been running some appealing specials and the location can't be beat.

Washington DC
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3. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

All should be doable in 5 days, and you're doing the right thing watching this forum first - the same questions you'll want answered get asked again and again (and again and again!).

I'll 'third' the idea of not staying in GTown, though you'll definitely want to visit there. Bus tours are a great idea too, especially on the first day (I haven't done any in DC though).

Try to get your representative to get you Capitol Tour tickets - you'll see more.

President Lincoln's Cottage is interesting, especially if you're a fan, but it's far from the Mall - requires a taxi trip or some such - and after touring I'd say its a good thing to do on your 2nd or 3rd trip to DC - you can safely skip it the first time around.

Its always good to get off-Mall every other day or so to get a different taste of DC - the Nat'l Cathedral (already mentioned), Mt. Vernon or the 'other' Air and Space Museum near Dulles are possibilities.

If you to to the National Cathedral - recommended - be sure to take the free but donations suggested tour - you'll get a lot more out of it.

Definitely try to see the free Labor Day Concert in front of the Capitol, either on the official Sunday night or the rehearsal the night before.

…about.com/od/concerts/a/LaborDayConcert.htm

Arlington, Virginia
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4. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

Definitely sounds doable. Consider a Monuments by Moonlight tour in the evening. I agree that staying in the city is your best bet if you can find something affordable, especially Dupont or Penn Quarter. Going out in the U Street area one night is also a good suggestion.

Arlington, Virginia
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5. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

Your group might find a Segway tour a fun evening activity. They offer the tours all during the day, but we did the evening tour last August and were glad we did it that time of day. No only is it cooler outside, but there are fewer folks on the sidewalks (making the Segway more fun to ride). We had evening stops in front of the White House and the Capitol and our tour guide was happy to take photos of our group with our cameras. The pictures turned out great!

Note: You do not get to ride by the monuments (e.g. Lincoln Memorial) because of National Park Service restrictions, so you may want to do a Monuments by Moonlight tour or, at least, walk around the monuments after dark (which is what we do with our guests).

Nashville, TN
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6. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

Ford's Theater requires timed entry tickets now and can be reserved on the website thru Ticketmaster, and different times offer different types of tours, so you may want to take that into consideration in your planning.

rykarunner
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7. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

You might also want to check out Bike the Sites. We did the night tours with them. We preferred the Monuments at Night. On that tour, you have a few minutes to hop off your bikes to briefly explore the memorials or monuments. Capital Sites at Nights is more of a riding tour.

Arlington, Virginia
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8. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

I definitely recommend the double-decker bus tour. This is the one we use everytime relatives come for a visit and want to see the sites: www.dctours.us/tours/tourDetail.cfm…

Good luck!

Fort Worth, Texas
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9. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

Thank you everyone for some great tips and suggestions. I am awaiting word from one of my Congressman on Capital Tour Tickets. Is it true that after Sept. 11th, no one can take tours of the White House with tickets from one of your Congressman? Someone told me that, but I wasn't sure if they were right or not.

Thanks for the tip on the Lincoln's cottage. I'll probably save that for another trip too and obviously anything not in the city or in the vicinity of each other will probably be done another time too.

I'll definitely recommend staying in Dupont Cirlc, Penn Quarter or somewhere else suggested rather than Georgetown. We can just go to Georgetown one day for lunch/dinner and shopping.

I love Tripadvisor and this website is always a very useful tool when planning all of my trips. I don't know what I ever did before I started using it years ago. :)

Arlington, Virginia
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10. Re: First Time Visitor - Labor Day Weekend

What you heard about the White House is incorrect. The ONLY way to tour the White House is with tickets from your Representative or Senator. You should request them along with the Capitol Tour. Your Rep or Sen can get you tickets to other place also, some you may care to take, others not. Request whatever they can offer, then if you get the offer for tickets, just let them know yes or no on what's offered.