My husband and I just got back from a 4 night-5 day trip to DC. We had a wonderful experience! We loved everything about the city. It is so rich in history it is awe inspiring.
I have a few suggestions for anyone thinking of traveling to DC.
1. Make sure you book a hotel that is close to a Metro station. It's a very inexpensive way to get around, and it's clean and safe too.
2. Research and plan your trip ahead of time. There is so much to see and do that you need a plan in advance.
3. If your an avid photograper, please be advised that none of the Smithsonians allow you to use a tripod, and they are not allowed on the Capital grounds without a permit. We were also told not to use one in Lafayette Square, which is behind the White House, for security reasons. When in doubt, ask before you use one. We were allowed to use one at all the monuments except the Washington Monument.
4. Get tickets in advance for anything you want to see, if possible. Contact your Congressman for tickets to the Capital, purchase Washington Monument tickets in advance for a small processing fee, and get tix to the Holocaust Museum on-line also. This will at least guarantee you your tickets and you won't have to get up very early to get in line at those places.
If you don't get tickets in advance be prepared to be in line at least by 730am for Capital and Washington Monument tickets.
5. Take a boat tour to Mount Vernon. It's a very relaxing trip and Mount Vernon is a must see. This tour can be purchased on-line ahead of time.
6. Think about taking a guided trolley tour through the city. I would recommend the Monuments At Night Tour. It was very informative and the monuments are beautiful at night. These tours can be puchased on line.
7. Schedule some down time. Go back to your hotel, swim, relax, or even take a nap!! You'll be surprised at how tired you can get in just a few hours of sightseeing.
We researched ahead of time and had an Itinerary all typed out for us. Here is what we were able to accomplish in our vacation:
Day 1- Visited the National Cathedral(must see), Went up to the top of the Old Post Office Tower which has great views of the city, stopped by the Ronald Reagen building, and visited the National Archives. Then ist was off to the hotel to rest and get dinner until our Monuments At Night Tour. The Night tour took us to all of the memorials, by the Capital, The White House, Arlington, and the Iwo Jima memorial. It was worth the 27.00 ticket price.
Day 2- First stop was the White House. We didn't have a tour, so we had to settle for some pictures, but we were satisfied anyway. The best view is from behind the White House. You get much closer there. Next we were off to the Washington Monument We had advance tickets so we didn't have to be there until 1030am. The views from the top are awesome. Then it was off to the Holocaust Museum. This museum is a MUST see. Please be advised that the exhibits and images you see are pretty graphic, and I left the museum in tears. It is an experience that I will never forget. After the museum we needed something to lift our spirits so we walked through the Sculpture Garden, and then spent 2 hours at the Air and Space Museum. What a fun place! After learning alot at the museum it was off to dinner and then we spent the rest of the day walking to all of the memorials. It's a long walk, but my husband and I enjoyed the exercise.
Day 3- We took a boat cruise up the Potomac to Mount Vernon. The cruise was relaxing and Mount Vernon was absolutely beautiful. The trip lasts about 7 hours and is well worth it. For dinner that evening we went to Chinatown, and then relaxed for the rest of the evening.
Day 4(Fourth of July)- We got in line around 730 am for tickets to the Capital. The architecture of that building is so amazing. Another must see in our book. After our tour we grabbed some lunch and than headed off to Arlington National Cemetary. It is such a beautiful resting place for our Nation's veterans. Many times my husband and I had to wipe tears from our eyes. The images of the white crosses stretching as far as the eyes can see will never leave me. It was so hot that day that we went back to the hotel to swim, relax, and grab some dinner. We then went to Lafayette park to watch the fireworks. Perfect spot behind the White House, and we didn't have to deal with the crowds. We were back at our hotel 5 minutes after they ended.
Day5- We started off today by seeing the Supreme Court. Court wasn't in session so there really wasn't much too see, but it is a beautiful building. After the Supreme Court we took in the Library Of Congress. OMG, that place is absolutely gorgeous!! My pictures don't even do it justice. I wish we had more time there, but we had to be at the airport at 2pm.
I'm so glad that we researched and planned ahead of time. It enabled us to see everything we wanted to see. Of course there is a whole lot more to see, and we'll save that for next time.
One last thing, I used this forum alot in my planning stages. Thanks alot for all of the info everyone gave, it made my trip fantastic.