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Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

Yorkshire, United...
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Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

Hi there,

We're visiting the USA from the UK in a few weeks and are staying a few nights in Boston and a few nights in New York. After some serious thought we decided to just opt for a (long!) day trip to Washington from New York and try to squeeze in as much as we can.

Our train arrives at 10.40am and we leave at 8.45pm.

The main sights we want to see in order are:

The White House

The Lincoln Memorial

Capitol Hill

Washington Monument

A short visit to the National Air and Space Museum and/or The National Museum of American History

Ford's Theatre

Arlington Cemetry (I know we may need transport here and it's a long walk round)

There are other things we'd love to squeeze in but I know it won't be possible to do all of the above.

Could anyone suggest a sensible order to see these in and anything else we should see in the same area. Also could we walk most of this or should we hire bikes/do a tour. We're in our thirties and in good health so could walk say up to 12 miles in a day without being exhausted.

I realise there's no way we'll get the true flavour of the place in a day and hopefully we'll return in the future but as we were so near we decided to give a day trip a go on this occasion!

Any advice would be great, thank you!

Groton, Connecticut
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1. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

First off, I would cross out Arlington Cemetery given the tight time frame. I would propose heading straight to the Smithsonian Museum that you want to see (either Air and Space or American History). Spend a couple of hours maximum there then head to the White House and see the exterior. Then cab it to the Lincoln Memorial and walk the Monuments from there ending with a walk-by of the Washington Monument then either walk / cab / Metro to the Capitol and see the exterior.

I am struggling with fitting Ford's Theatre or Arlington Cemetery into this. I guess one could start the Monuments at the walkby of Washington Monument and end at Lincoln, depending on what time it is, then you could walk over the bridge to Arlington Cemetery but that is usually at least a 3 hour visit.

It really depends on what is more important to you - a museum or Arlington Cemetery. Both are definitely worth it.

Yorkshire, United...
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2. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

That's perfect advice thanks so much for that.

That's ok am fine with leaving out Ford's Theatre and it almost feels inappropriate to try and rush Arlington Cemetery so I think we'll stick to the plan you suggested.

So do you think it's possible to walk the rest? Is the cab/metro to save our legs a little?!

Baltimore, Maryland
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3. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

If you can fit in the changing of the guard, then trip to Arlington is worth it. Most everything is along the Mall and suggest that you have goals instead of an itinerary and enjoy each place you visit. don't worry about lunch and grab something in a museum cafe or at a food truck. There is an outdoor cafe by National Gallery of Art which gives you some ambiance while being quick to get you on your way. http://www.nga.gov/dining but I would not plan my day around food and just eat where ever you may be at that time.

Edited: 20 March 2013, 16:55
Groton, Connecticut
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4. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

The Cab / Metro was to also save some time to spend it where its better served. I agree with the previous poster to use this as a guide and just go with the flow when you get here. If something else seems worthwhile, go with it.

Its definitely possible to walk all of it but it would be more of a rush. The more I think about what I had posted, the more I would start at Arlington Cemetery and work my way back towards Union Station for when you do the Monuments. Maybe do the museum then get to the Cemetery and start working back from there.

Arlington, Virginia
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5. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

First, spend some time with this National Park Service Map of the Mall area. All sites you've listed appear on it, with the cemetery at the lower left edge, and Union Station at the upper right edge: nps.gov/nama/…NACCmap1.pdf For scale, the walk from Arlington National Cemetery Metro (near the main entrance) back to Union Station is 3.6 miles if you take the shortest route.

Given that the Smithsonian museums close before you need to catch your train, but the monuments do not, I'd walk from Union Station to Air & Space on arrival, by way of Capitol Hill (I don't think you have time to tour the building). Then I'd walk the five minutes to Natural History.

After you finish at the Museums, depending on time I'd either catch another taxi to the cemetery to see the changing of the guard, or go to the Lincoln Memorial. From there I'd walk to the White House, by way of as many of the monuments / memorials as interest you (e.g. Lincoln, Vietnam War, Korean War, Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, WW II, Washington). Once you get to the White House, hop a short cab back to Union Station, or if time permits walk past the FBI and Ford's Theater on your way back to the station.

washington dc
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6. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

Since you arrive at Union Station I would walk to the Capitol first, since it is right next door. I'd also add the Library of Congress - if the security line to enter isn't too long. It is unique and amazing and you can get a good appreciation in as little as 20 min. Then go to A&S. You don't need to walk all that close to the Washington Monument to see/appreciate it. Then American History - White House.

Then cab it to Lincoln - see nearby Vietnam memorial. I would also recommend FDR, but it is a bit more of a walk. I'd skip Arlington Cemetery.

Actually, I'd knock a day off Boston and spend 2 in DC.

Washington DC...
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7. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

I like Victoria's suggestion about adding a day to DC. I also vote for skipping Arlington Cemetery and Ford's theater because...i have lived here for many years and haven't seen either yet, so maybe i just don't know what i'm missing. :)

I would try to squeeze in an early dinner somewhere cute in Capitol Hill, you should at least see some of the real DC, not just the monuments and museums.

Yorkshire, United...
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8. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

Thanks everyone, there's a lot to mull over there but it's all good! I think having thought about it we'll skip Arlington Cemetry and hopefully do it justice another time and also make the day less rushed.

Love food trucks so think that's a great idea and maybe finding somewhere in Capitol Hill near the end of the day before our train would be nice.

Will have a look and see if we can fit in some of the other things mentioned (FBI, Library of Congress etc).

But we are tied to just a day in Washington I'm afraid...but we'll try and make the most of it and come back one day!

Arlington, Virginia
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9. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

You can't tour the FBI -- my comment was just pointing out that you could walk past it. I would not go out of my way more than a block to see it.

Yorkshire, United...
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10. Re: Day Trip from NYC - best plan for things we want to see

Ha ha yeah I guessed that. Would be good to see out of interest if it turned out to be on the way though.