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Vacation Itinerary Help

Pflugerville, Texas
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Vacation Itinerary Help

My family of 5 is visiting DC June 30th to July 7th. I have three girls ages 16, 12 and 8. Please advise what are the must do's. Also any advice on the Harbor are on the river, activities to do there etc. What tours are the best to take etc? Any help is greatly appreciated.


D.C. Ducks
Sightseeing Tours, City Tours, Duck Tours
Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington
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1. Re: Vacation Itinerary Help

I recommend you begin your D.C. trip planning by reading the Top Questions to the right of the page, doing a search of the forum for topics that interest you and even picking up a guidebook at your local library or bookstore.

You will be here for the 4th of July activities, so you might want to focus some of your forum search on that topic. There are lots of threads about what to see and do during the July 4th weekend and hints on where to go to watch the fireworks. My personal recommendation would be to spend some time at the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival, attend the dress rehearsal of the "A Capitol Fourth" concert on July 3rd and plan to hang around at least an hour after the fireworks display in order to avoid the crush on Metro.

A lot of "must do's" require advance or timed tickets. See the Top Question to the right of this page entitled "What attractions require/offer timed or advance tickets?" for info on how to obtain the tickets and start ordering them now.

I don't recommend guided tours other than the Segway tour and I recommend that one just because it's so fun. (But your younger two children are too young for the Segway tour.) The HO/HO bus tours are expensive and once you get off the bus to see something you are likely to spend a lot of time waiting around for another bus with available seats. For those people who really want to take a HO/HO tour, I highly recommend staying on the bus for all the route(s) and then go around again if you want to get off somewhere. I'd recommend just using Metro, taxis and your own two feet to get around the sites. Some folks enjoy the evening walking tours of the monuments. Again, this is something that you can easily do on your own and it's safe. You and thousands of other visitors will be doing the same thing.

If you are asking advice about National Harbor, I can only say that I hope you aren't planning to stay there during your D.C. vacation. It's a very inconvenient location for a family planning to sightsee in D.C.

Finally, since you are fellow Texans, I have to suggest you eat at least one meal at Hill Country BBQ. It's about as close to real Texas BBQ as you can get in D.C. They have a restaurant on 7th Street NW in the Penn Quarter section of D.C. Also, they have just begun their summer outdoor service on the grounds of the National Building Museum (Wed - Sun).

Lakeland, TN
Destination Expert
for Tennessee, Memphis
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2. Re: Vacation Itinerary Help

There are a lot of private tours in D.C. You might search a referral group like Tours By Locals to see if you see a good match for your family out of the guides listed there. Tell them what you want to experience and you might be more focused on the attractions for which you are looking.

Falls Church...
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3. Re: Vacation Itinerary Help

I took a nice monuments boat tour from the Georgetown waterfront with my parents. IIRC it was 14$ for adults and was about an hour. Even I learned some things and I'm a local. There are also opportunities to rent kayaks or paddleboards. Beyond that there isn't much in DC proper and it's about the same in both Old Town Alexandria or National Harbor. DC just isn't much of a river town as it could be.

BUT, if you will have access to a car then take a trip to Great Falls. That's the real charm of the Potomac is how powerful it is just a few miles away from the Capital. It's also a national park site and has a lot of trails and even an old ghost town back when they dug a canal there.

If you do 4th of July on the mall (and it is a neat experience) I'd suggest getting there early and setting up a base camp. Then split your girls between your spouse and yourself and do some activities on or off the mall. The fireworks themselves won't start until probably after 9pm since it needs to be dark. Also, bet on there being some sort of thunderstorm. When its hot and humid it's more likely to happen than not. Unless the mall is evacuated just stay put and get a little wet. By the time you gather up your stuff and find a roof to hide under the rain may have stopped.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Vacation Itinerary Help

There is absolutely no reason to get to The Mall real early to see the fireworks. Good viewing is available only a few minutes before they start at about 9:15 PM.

Falls Church...
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5. Re: Vacation Itinerary Help

I'll amend. You can see the fireworks from almost anywhere. If you want a good spot on the mall I've always found it best to get there early because it starts to get really crowded. Especially if you want to see the stage where they have music and stuff. If you're just out and about then you can just look up when it's time.

One year we went to the top of the parking deck at Huntington Metro and got a fabulous show as well.

Tacoma, Washington
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for Road Trips
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6. Re: Vacation Itinerary Help

Just about anywhere you can see the top of the Washington monument you can see the fireworks.

For the 4ththe mall in DC is rather crazy. You should see the national symphony orchestra perform. On the 4 th it starts at 8m then around 9:10 is when fireworks start in conjunction with the concert. They have a rehearsal on July 3 that is at the same area.

On the mall smithsonian does a cultural festival.

Museums...visit American, natural history, air and space, and native American.

At this time, tours are likely to be difficult to get tickets for.

Since you are there for 6 days...look into taking some day trip outside ofDC.....Udvar-hazy air and space at Dulles which has one of the space shuttles. Mt Vernon..home of George Washington. Monticello in Charlottesville home of Jefferson, Gettysburg and a few other area civil war sites, Baltimore inner harbor and aquarium, you could also do a trip to a beach on the Chesapeake bay or go to ocean city, md for an overnight.

7. Re: Vacation Itinerary Help

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