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dc newbies need help!

Geneva, Illinois
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dc newbies need help!

Want to plan a week's vacation to DC for July...we have never been there and am feeling overwhelmed with where to start. We have 2 boys, 15 and 9 and need some help with planning. We have always rented a condo, but don't know neighborhoods or sights to see....anybody have a good suggestions on where to go to plan this trip?? Thanks a lot!!

Washington DC...
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1. Re: dc newbies need help!

There are some topics on this forum about renting a house or condo for a weeks stay, though I'm not sure how to search for them other than to search on "condo". The place I am familiar with is VRBO. vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/district-of-co… You do have to be aware that the owners will sometimes exaggerate how convenient a place is, so come back here with an address before committing any money. There are also some scams out there, so keep that in mind. Do not go for any place that wants the money upfront and wired. The good ones take credit cards or checks.

The best neighborhoods are going to be nearly as expensive as a hotel, it has seemed to me reading this forum. Dupont Circle is great. Capitol Hill covers a lot of ground and some is good and a lot is not so good. Columbia Heights is an up and coming area that seems to have a lot of rentals, but might be a bit much for anyone not used to urban living. And start reading the forum regularly to learn a lot about what is available in DC. This site is a great place to start your planning.

Edited: 15 April 2011, 21:23
Arlington, Virginia
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2. Re: dc newbies need help!

As always, I suggest you start planning by reading some guidebooks about D.C. and the area. They will give you a good feel of what there is to see and do here, how to get around, where to stay, where to eat. etc. There are some good ones that focus on visiting D.C. with kids, so I'd include one of those in my reading. (You may not have to buy them. Our library has an extensive collection of guidebooks.) Then, of course, read the threads here for advice on things you see in the guidebooks--we know things that guidebooks may not cover.

I don't know what your family's interests are, but you may find that a week in D.C. is too much. If so, consider spending part of your time in D.C. and the other part elsewhere--e.g. Williamsburg for colonial history, Busch Gardens and Water Country or perhaps Shenandoah National Park for great outdoor activities. You won't need a car for D.C., but you can rent one to drive to your 2nd destination.

Alexandria, Virginia
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3. Re: dc newbies need help!

I would disagree that a week is too much. Each museum is easily 1 day per visit, and there are SO many good restaurants here. There is also the national zoo, all the monuments, georgetown, old town alexandria, and hidden gems like Theodore Roosevelt island.

Teaneck, NJ
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4. Re: dc newbies need help!

You can easily do a week in DC. If your kids are museum averse then you may have a problem, though.

In any case, for our trip last summer, we used vrbo.com with great results. We had about 10 people and ended up renting a house in VA, but we saw many condos for rent in DC proper, they just weren't big enough for our party.

Are you guys driving or flying? You won't need a car in DC.

I totally agree with Darrel that you should double check a condo's location here. Ideally you want to be walkable to a Metro station.

Most of the "attractions" in DC are in a compact area, and if you're confused about what to see in DC, well, I would say that the following are on 99% of first time visitor's lists:

White House (reserver ASAP through your congressman)

Tour of Capital (get tix through your congressman)

Air & Space museum

Natural History Museum

American History Musuem

The Monuments (Washington, Lincoln, WW II, Vietname, Korea)

Supreme Court and Library of Congress (they're next to each other)

National Archives (get tix through your congressman-- the lines were GIANT when we went)

Fords Theater (be sure to get the tickets that include the ranger tal)

Here's a very nice map of the National Mall www.mnh.si.edu/visit/images/MallmapWeb.pdf -- the only thing I'd add is that the Lincoln memorial (not shown on the map) is to the left of the Washington Monument 0.8 miles (and everyone walks it)

Edited: 19 April 2011, 20:04
MISSOURI
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5. Re: dc newbies need help!

capital tour is on line, has anyone done this and not went thru the congressman? also if you just want to do the WH visitor center do you need tickets for that, I think that might be good enough for us? what is the tour like of the Supreme Court, I seen its on line as well, where you can do it yourself? any thoughts??

Silver Spring...
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6. Re: dc newbies need help!

"capital tour is on line, has anyone done this and not went thru the congressman?"

I did just this past Friday.

Teaneck, NJ
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7. Re: dc newbies need help!

WH visitor center does not require tickets, but just so you understand, it's not at the WH. It's a couple of blocks away and IMO is not worh visiting unless you also see the WH itself since they don't give you anything you can't get online right now yourself. Here's what you see on the WH tour itself visitingdc.com/white-house/virtual-tour-whit…

Edited: 19 April 2011, 20:55
MISSOURI
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8. Re: dc newbies need help!

I just submitted my request to my Congressman for a tour of the WH, now i know you cant take a backpack or big bag but can you take a small fanny pack in that just holds your money and wallet and cell phone???

Is the WH tour the only one that is picky about your bags and what you can take in with you, I guess I just need to know how many times we will have to run back to our hotel room and drop stuff off and then come back cause we wasn't allowed to have a backpack? Thats usually what we carry to hold all our goodies!!!

Washington, DC
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9. Re: dc newbies need help!

You can absolutely spend an entire week in DC and still not see everything! Museums get a little old after awhile, especially for a teenager. If you are interested in the great outdoors, I recommend that you explore Jack's Boat House, which is in Georgetown and rents kayaks. That would be a really fun activity for the boys! …me.com/popovanna/…Welcome.html

A hidden treasure a few miles from DC is Great Falls (i prefer the Maryland side better, plus there is more to do on that side). You can hike, bike and check out beautiful waterfalls. There is a small fee to enter the park, but it's well worth it. If you're hungry, stop at the Old Angler's Inn for a quick bite to eat! http://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm

Mt. Vernon is a nice trip as well. If you go to DC in the summer, be sure to pack bug spray and tank tops! Enjoy our city!

Teaneck, NJ
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10. Re: dc newbies need help!

WH is the only place that's so picky about bringing stuff in. The Congress had restrictions too but I don't recall them being as picky -- I think they just searched you well. There are several threads here about what other attractions have lockers where you can store your stuff. I don't remmeber if they allow fanny packs at WH

I totally agree with DCPlanner about Great Falls -- very cool Mt. Vernon is a nice trip too and I loved it but if your kids are tired of musums then, well, Mt. Vernon is a big museum though at least you can hike around the grounds