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  1. #1
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    Default Please help with Washington DC

    I am overwhelmed with all there is to do. I want to do it all!! Is there a Smithsonian Museum similar to the one in Night at the Museum? And please help me with touring plans that involve places close together. One last thing...we LOVE Linclon. We MUST see everything Lincoln, no matter how small.
    thanks!!

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  3. #2
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    Post Dc

    I'm sure all the people in that area will give better suggestions, but here are mine. You can pretty much walk up and down the mall to see all the Smithsonian museums. The Museum of American History is my favorite - probably what you are thinking of. There is also the Air and Space and the Natural History museums which are fun. I like visiting the National Archives (in the same general area) because you can see the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It might be boring for kids, but it is very cool. On the mall are several war memorials worth seeing (WWII, Korea, Vietnam). And of course Lincoln is at the end opposite the Capitol. Parking is a pain - we always park outside the mall area and ride the Metro. Weekday traffic is a mess. Locals may give better advice on this. Have fun - it's a cool place.

  4. #3
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    Post Dc

    One more thing - they sell these laminated, folding tourist maps that look like cartoon drawings, but actually are really detailed and have lots of information. Get one of those if you can - I always find it very helpful especially for restaurants or obscure sightseeing places.

  5. #4
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    You're in for a good time!!! The area with the majority of the Smithsonians is called the MALL, as was previously mentioned. Please get a map, as was suggested, and you'll be able to see the layout perfectly.

    Since you love Lincoln, I recommend checking out Lincoln's Cabin (the presidents summer home) in DC.... it's not near the mall though, you would need transportation, whether your own or cab..... no metro service there.

    Definitely check out the Lincoln's Cabin website, as well as the Smithsonian website.

    I highly recommend seeing the monuments at night... there are night tours available, (bus tours)...

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  6. #5
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    Try to get a tour of the Federal Bureau of Printing and Engraving. The highlight of our last visit was watching them print the money.

  7. #6
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    Okay, I saw the Mall area...and now I have just added the history museum...LOL!! Thanks for that info!!
    Is it safe to see the monuments at night without the tour? We have 7 to pay for...equals alot of money!! I think it sounds really neat though and want to do it!
    And is the Engraving and Printing hard to get tickets for? I notice that they don't allow internet pre-orders.
    Anyone go to the spy museum?
    Thanks guys!! GREAT info!!

  8. #7
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    Don't miss Ford's Theatre, and the tour used to (maybe still does) take you across the street (I think, it has been a long time) to see the bed where Lincoln succumbed to his wound. Just checked- they have a website and they give walking tours covering the Lincoln Assassination from March through October.
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  9. #8
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    i grew up in the dc area and spent many hours walking the mall and going thru the museums...they ususally close at 5:30 so you wont have to worry about going at night..if you are planning to go to the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorials or the Arlington Cememetary, the Tourmobile is the way to go as you can hop on or off at all the different sights....its a Looong walk from the museum side of the mall to the linclon memorial- it looks close until you start walking!....the spy museum is nice but pretty expensive- its not free like the smithsonian...if you are looking for Lincolns "cabin", its in Illinois....what you can see in DC is Lincolns "cottage"..just wanted to point that out as the web sites are different. FYI- Fords Theatre is right around the corner from the Spy Museum and both are only a few blocks from the History Museum...hope this helps !!
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  10. #9
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    for Ford's theatre, check their web site--as a Lincoln fan you will probably want to schedule a tour time in advance (small convenience fee) making sure to get a tour that includes both the theatre and the museum in the basement.

  11. #10
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    We did the Spy Museum b/c my DD (10 at the time) was really into spy stuff. We found it interesting, but it was so crowded you couldn't get to a number of the more interesting (interactive) displays. There was a lot of reading, not the most kid friendly displays, the gift shop was fun. You could spend more than a week just doing the museums, they are all fantastic, kids faves are Air and Space and American and Natural History. If you have time, you can write to your local state representative and get an amazing tour of the Capitol Building (plan early AM thru lunch) it is worth the time! Arlington is very powerful, and don't forget the National Zoo! The Bureau of Engraving is a don't miss as well. We typically spend a week there and manage to get most things done. Using the Metro from an outer point is the way to go, other than getting to Zoo. Be prepared to walk a ton, it feels like even more than WDW to me and it gets very hot in a hurry because of all of the cement. have a blast!
    P.S. I got Metro info prior to going so I could plan our forays into the city, it helped to have a plan going in vs. getting overwhelmed walking into the terminals. If you've never used lightrails/subway systems it can be intimidating.
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  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by momof3+twins View Post
    Okay, I saw the Mall area...and now I have just added the history museum...LOL!! Thanks for that info!!
    Is it safe to see the monuments at night without the tour? We have 7 to pay for...equals alot of money!! I think it sounds really neat though and want to do it!
    And is the Engraving and Printing hard to get tickets for? I notice that they don't allow internet pre-orders.
    Anyone go to the spy museum?
    Thanks guys!! GREAT info!!
    The last time we were in DC, we walked the monuments at 11pm! It was an AWESOME time. The pathways can be a little dark, so of course you need to keep an eye out, but there were other tourists out and about enjoying Lincoln all lit up. It was an experience I'll never forget - totally recommend seeing them at night!!!
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  13. #12
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    I'm not sure about the specifics but parking is free at certain times. We arrived early on a Sunday morning (free parking) and parked next to the Washington Monument. We worked our way down to the Lincoln Memorial (we were practically the only ones there-it was FANTASTIC) and then back.

    Mount Vernon was an awesome side trip (Washington's home on the Potomac). I highly recommend it if you can swing it.

    The Smithsonian museums were extremely crowded, however I agree the Air & Space museum was well worth the crowds.

    We didn't make it to the Federal Bureau of Printing and Engraving because we didn't plan well enough. I believe you have to be there bright and early.

    I too recommend the National Archives.

    It's a trip I would repeat in a heartbeat. I hope to do so in a couple of years.
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  14. #13
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    How long are you going for? We have visited 3 different times and stayed for a week each time and still didn't see and do everthing in a week.

    I agree, the monuments "look" like they are close together, but once you start walking you find out how far apart they really are. If you are towing a bunch of kids with you I also recommend the "tourmobile". I like this company because you can get on and off as many times as you like in that day. Other companies only give you one loop around the city. We use the tourmobile for our "monument day" and also for our "Arlington Day". Walking DC is no comparision to walking Disney. My legs ach after a long day in DC. No kidding.

    I suggest staying at the Le'fant Plaza Hotel (which used to be a Loew's Hotel) because it is a four star hotel but the price isn't bad for DC. It is one block from the mall so you don't need transportation for most of the Smithsonians or the National Achieves.

    For kids and adults alike I suggest The Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, the Space & Air Museum. Fords Theater is a must do. IMO a hidden treasure is the "Old Post Office". It's not far from Fords Theater. The bottom floor has a food court, but you can take a free elevator ride up to the top and get a great view of the whole city. It is opened air, but has safety cables (my description). It beats the lines for the Washington Monument. Just my opinion but skip the White House tour. You can walk by the White House and get great pictures instead of spending time on the inside tour.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  15. #14
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    Re. driving vs. metro. Here is a pretty exhaustive pro/con that I wrote on here a couple of years ago, which may help.

    I have commuted into the city - both driving and on Metro - for 13 years.

    http://intercot.com/discussion/showt...54#post1858254
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  16. #15
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    Default DC Circulator

    Another affordable travel option, is the DC Circulator buses. Their website has info about passes, routes, etc. They come every 10 minutes or so, and should cover pretty much everywhere you'll want to go. Looking forward to having you join us!
    Last edited by NJGIRL; 03-19-2011 at 11:31 AM. Reason: outside links in allowed
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  17. #16
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    Since we're on the subject, my family is going to DC in the latter part of May and I have a question about the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. I know that they start handing out tickets for tours at 8 a.m., but at that time of year how early should we be in line to ensure that we get a ticket for one of the first tours of the day?
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  18. #17
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    Not to coin a phrase, but the bottom dollar is I'd put my money on getting there early. Things can change quickly, but spending a quarter of your time making early morning arrangmements can pay off in the end. If you offered a penny for my thoughts I'd stop on a dime and give them, but as I've never done this tour before, they don't necessarily have much currency.

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  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendelson View Post
    Not to coin a phrase, but the bottom dollar is I'd put my money on getting there early. Things can change quickly, but spending a quarter of your time making early morning arrangmements can pay off in the end. If you offered a penny for my thoughts I'd stop on a dime and give them, but as I've never done this tour before, they don't necessarily have much currency.

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    Okay, your post made me laugh, even if it only vaguely answered my question!
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  20. #19
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    A couple of other tips. If you want a tour of the Capitol Building or the White House, you have to contact your congressman or senator for tickets. White House tix are tough, so you may have to keep your options open.

    Another tip-- if you have a car there is plenty of parking but its metered and you have to go back and plug a lot. There is a white rock lot about a block south of the Holocaust Museum that is $10 a day and you can walk about everywhere from there. Good luck.
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  21. #20
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    We did this a couple of years ago and had a BLAST. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Alexandria VA (it was much cheaper than staying in Washington. The Smithsonian Natural History and the Smithsonian Aviation were the same used in the second "Night Museum". They are pretty much an all day affair. Well at least the Natural History on is.

    The Hampton was a lovely hotel and it provided a free shuttle directly to the Metro. The Metro is an easy solution to tour. There is SOOOOO much to see that it's impossible to do it in a couple of days time. My son rather enjoyed the Libray of Congress...then he saw "National Treasure"...I was amused as he picked out "flaws". Just like in "Night Museum 2" (trust me...there'll be no running from the Aviation Museum to the Lincoln Memorial in a couple of minutes without a bead of sweat...unless perhaps you were an Olympian)

    They have the Circular (or something like that)...when you get off the Metro...there's a bus that only "seemed" expensive at the time but...I look back and think now it would have been worth it...(we cheaped out and didn't use it...I might have been an inch taller today if I hadn't worn out my feet)...This bus gives you a ticket and will take you to the differnt sights. It's continueous so you tour at your pace...then get back on and go to the next one. For those places a bit further away...the Metro sells an ALL day ticket.

    It's a WONDERFUL trip. DO get a hot dog at one of the local stands. There's something cool about getting a "street dog".
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