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First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

Cairns, Australia
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First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

We are travelling from Australia and will be in DC for a week in late December!

We (2A & 2C) have a booking at the Hampton Inn DC/Convention Centre which appears to be reasonably close to all the tourist attractions and public transport nearby.

We want to see all the usual tourist attractions - White House, Pentagon, Smithsonian Museums, Zoo and have just discovered Mt Vernon on a website. We would also like to take public transport and spend the day there as it looks absolutely gorgeous (but probably very cold in Dec!).

What else is a must see while we are there? Our kids are aged 8 & 13.

Also, I know there was a blizzard in DC last year. Are they forecasting or are you expecting to have snow in late December this year?

Thanks for helping us to make our trip one to remember

Washington DC...
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1. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

No hotel is near all the usual tourist sights. It isn't physically possible. But that Hampton Inn is close to good transportation and within a reasonable walking distance of quite a few things.

One thing you mention I would forget about. The Pentagon is a large office building and unless you are a fan of large office buildings, I would not try to schedule a tour. The memorial is open 24/7 and you do not need a tour for that. But I would make that a low priority for a foreign visitor. For other ideas of what to see, look at the Things to Do link to the left of this page. And start reading this forum for lots and lots of ideas. And the US Capitol building should be on your must-see list.

The long-range forecast for DC's weather this winter is for very little snow. But they can be wrong about that, given how weird weather can be. It is quite unlikely we will have anything like last year's snowfall within out lifetimes, one weatherman said. But it can be cold. Maybe decent. Much too early to say what you may find.

Edited: 25 November 2010, 20:07
Cairns, Australia
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2. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

Thanks for the prompt reply. We are doing so much reading into all the places that we are going in the USA to make sure we don't miss anything special. Thanks again for pointing us in the right direciton, its very much appreciated.

Australia
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3. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

Disney2007

I would consider giving the zoo a miss - if you have seen Taronga Park zoo in Sydney you will most likely be disappointed. I went to the DC zoo to see the Pandas - got a brief glimpse of them, the rest of the zoo seemed a bit tired.

Have you thought about visiting Arlington cemetery? the Spy museum might be worth a look with children, Library of Congress is an interesting place. Consider one of the tour buses like old town trolley/tourmobile - good to get a feel for the place - you can hop on/off too..

Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam war memorial and the Korean war memorial - in fact all along the Mall but bear in mind your kids with respect to walking around. Memorials, museums and monuments are aplenty in DC and are quite impressive. The National Archives where you can see the decl of independence and the bill of rights.

Just about everything noteworthy to see is free as well!.

With our dollar so strong it might be worth a visit to Potomac Mills outlet centre - clothes are so cheap in the US - you will scratch your head wondering how come we pay so much here in Australia considering everything is probably made in the same Asian factories.

If you are flying out of Dulles airport the air/space museum there is huge - a lot of planes to see incl a Concorde (well it was a few years ago).

Are you hiring a car during your stay at all? - that opens up a lot more places in the surrounding countryside too.

Be aware that you have to advance book some tours/places - the Capitol and the Holocaust museum spring to mind - I missed out on my last visit because I left it too late to book - mind you that was over Easter so it was pretty busy with cherry blossoms as well.

Hope that helps.

Salt Lake City
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4. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

Look into the International Spy Museum. Both kids and adults in my family enjoyed it a lot. It's not at all a gimmick. It was fascinating and just the right mix of informative and interactive exhibits.

Cleveland
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5. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

This IMO is a great website for visitors to Washington, D.C.

thedistrict.com/…_d.c._day_trips.cfm

If you've never been in a great cathedral, definitely consider visiting the National Cathedral, the site of the great American state funerals/memorials.

If Mount Vernon appeals to you, and it is very good, you also would likely enjoy Colonial Williamsburg, especially during its holiday celebrations. There's nothing else like it that I've seen in the U.S. Although there are other historical recreations in the U.S., none are on the scale of Williamsburg IMO.

www.history.org/visit/christmas/index.cfm

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonial_Williamsburg

I also would encourage you to visit the Lincoln Memorial after dark. It's especially magnificent at that time, and it's a great way to stretch a day after everything else is closed.

The Udvar-Hazy Center houses some of the world's most famous aircraft and spacecraft.

thedistrict.com/smithsonian_air_space_museum…

Many find the Ford Theater Museum excellent, perhaps the best place to connect with Lincoln in Washington, D.C. apart from the Lincoln Memorial, and you may even want to attend a performance there.

http://www.thedistrict.com/fords_theatre.cfm

http://www.fordstheatre.org/splash

I'm also assuming the U.S. Capitol is on your must see list.

Here's a great source for Washington, D.C., weather forecasts:

accuweather.com/us/…

Best wishes for a special holiday season journey!

Cleveland
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6. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

Witnessing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery affords one of the most memorable moments in a visit to Washington, D.C. -- not for the splendor of the ceremony, but for the solemnity of what it represents.

homeofheroes.com/gravesites/unknowns/0_unkno…

Edited: 01 December 2010, 03:54
Cleveland
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7. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

krolltravel.com/stories/Vir-Williamsburg-Chr…

Cleveland
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8. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

If you do visit Williamsburg, consider a visit to nearby Norfolk. Here, apparently for free (I've yet to do it), you can walk the deck of the U.S.S. Wisconsin. It was upgraded in the 1980s, e.g., missile launchers, advanced electronics, and actually participated in Desert Storm. Apparently, visitors aren't allowed to tour the interior of the ship. Yet it's a chance to grasp the size of arguably the greatest surviving battleship.

…wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Wisconsin_%28BB-64%29

Arlington, Virginia
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9. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

Check out the Washington Post's Kid Friendly guide. washingtonpost.com/gog/dc-kids-activities.ht…

You'll surely find some fun things to do in there.

Some ideas to add to your list, consider the time of year:

Ice skating at the Sculpture Garden, the US Botanic Garden Model Train Garden, Union Station Train Display, the Newseum... (the Newseum is quite pricey, well, by DC standards where so many things are free, but I hear there are some interactive exhibits that kids 8 and 13 might enjoy)

Also, don't forget a trip to the top of the Old Post Office Pavilion Bell Tower for a free bird's eye view of the city. There's also a food court in the building so it's a good place to go around lunch time.

Hope it helps. Have fun!

Cairns, Australia
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10. Re: First trip to DC - What are we missing in our itinerary?

Thanks for the great suggestions. We'll be sure to include some of them into our itinerary!