I had the good fortune to be able
to visit our nation's capitol for Mother's Day weekend in
May, 2001. I loved the trip and would highly recommend this for anyone.
so much to see and do and almost everything is free.
I do have a few tips for those who have never been there. One thing for
sure. Do not stay
at the Sheraton National in Arlington, VA. That is enough on that subject,
just trust me.
First of all I would try to fly into National Airport rather than Dulles, it is
much closer, but
is usually expensive. Check the prices to Baltimore Airport it was $400
cheaper when I
I would suggest National because
you may be able to avoid renting a car if you fly into
National airport, Baltimore is a little farther out and it is hard to get
shuttles to your
hotel. Depending on the number of people going, I would say the airline
override, by a lot, the cost of a rental car.
The most important tip of this
article is this: STAY ON THE MALL. Get a hotel near or
on the Washington DC Mall. This is where everything is located. You
will do lots of
walking and will need a midday rest unless you are very young. Kids really
rest in the middle of the day. If you are staying outside of DC it takes
too long to
get back and forth on public transportation and most of the attractions close
early. Also if you want to visit the White House, you have to get to the
Visitors Center at the crack of dawn and this is hard to do if you are staying
Washington is covered with stairs, lots and lots of stairs. You will be
really tired so
do stay on the mall, there is a fairly nice Holiday Inn
1 block away from the Smithsonian
Air and Space Museum.
You are perfectly safe riding on
the Metro in DC. I was a little nervous about getting on
a "subway" but it was clean and well policed. It is also really
inexpensive and you can
take this to Arlington National Cemetery if you like. The changing of the
guard at the tomb
of the unknown soldier was really something to see. The young service men
(I didn't see
any service women) were the most polite young men I have ever met.
The other very nice convenience in
Washington is the
For $18 per day
(when I was there) the
tourmobile drives all over DC, stopping at all points of interest
would be great for one day when you want to go to
Arlington or to the FBI
building. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about DC
and are a good
source of information.
I do recommend that you fully
enjoy the places you have time to visit and not try to
cram in all of the sites without enjoying them fully. It would take weeks
to see everything.
My favorites from my visit were The Library of Congress, The National Art
Holocaust Museum (not for little kids) and The
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
I saw the Hope Diamond at the Natural History Museum, it was pretty impressive.
Also both the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum have IMAX
They show BIG screen movie shorts on a bunch of great subjects. There is
charge for these, but they are worth it. Some parts of the Holocaust Museum
tickets, but they are free. This just helps keep the number of people
limited in some parts
of the museum. If you want to see the whole thing, go there first and get
tickets for the
time you want to attend.
There are a bunch of great
restaurants in DC, but I was tired and did not get to
try some of the more popular ones. I suggest you go to
Yelp and check out the
reviews. They are conducted by regular people. Leave a few of your
own reviews for
people visiting your town. There are
sidewalk vendors everywhere so you can get an ice
cream, hot dog or a beverage just about
Sometimes this is a good choice if you just want something quick and don't want
interrupt your day by going to a regular restaurant. The restaurants inside the
Museums are terribly expensive and the food is pretty bad.
If you can't decide where to take
your next vacation, I strongly suggest Washington, DC.
As a native Californian, who had never been on the east coast, I completely
vacation. All the people I met were friendly and helpful, I almost
don't mind paying taxes
anymore. I met a real General and he was a sweetie, not at all what I had in
General Steve and his friend helped me find a Safeway in Arlington. She
worked at the
Pentagon and gave me some passes for the Capitol gallery.
If you live near DC, go see your
sites, if you have already been to DC, come to California!