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U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

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New England
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U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

My husband and I and our 14 year old daughter are going to DC in April. It will be the first time for my husband and daughter. I'm booking anything that can be booked ahead of time and already our days are filling up. If it ends up that I can either fit in a tour of the U.S. Capitol (basic tour, not through state representative) OR the Ford's Theatre tour....which would you recommend ? And should I make it a priority to get to Arlington Cemetery ? Thank you.

Washington, DC
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1. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

Capitol and do go to Arlington

Cary, North Carolina
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2. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

That's like comparing an apple to an orange! (pardon the cliche) I am a huge fan of Ford's Theatre, BUT if you can only go to one, I am patriotic enough to point you to the US Capitol. The dome is breathtaking and the tour guides are great! And Arlington is a must if you have the time. The changing of the guard would be my MUST SEE if you have limited time.

Arlington, Virginia
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3. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

I think Arlington National Cemetery should be a priority for anyone visiting Washington, D.C.

There are so many different options for visiting Ford's Theatre, so the "worthwhile-ness" of a visit depends, I think, on what is offered. A recommendation over the U.S. Capitol tours also depends on your interest in Civil War history and the history of the Lincoln assassination. I would say that if your only interest is being able to walk inside Ford's Theatre itself, then I would skip going there. The theatre does look similar to what it did on the night Lincoln died, but beyond that, it's just a small theatre. (Also, if you want to see the theatre, you could always get tickets for the current production, "Hello, Dolly". )

I think that the best thing about going to Ford's Theatre is seeing the museum, which is excellent. You could (and I did) spend at least 2 hours just looking at the exhibits on Lincoln, his "Team of Rivals", the events leading up to the assassination and information of the conspirators. The website suggests 30 - 45 minutes to tour the museum, but it deserves much more time than that. The least interesting thing for me was the Ranger Talk in the museum, but I'm sure that's because our ranger spoke in a monotonous voice and because I've read lots of books such as "Manhunt" by James L. Swanson so I'm already familiar with the events of April 14, 1865.

I very much enjoyed touring the U.S. Capitol, but I did it through the office of my congressman. However, I have only heard good things about the tours offered through the Capitol. So, I would much rather visit the Capitol than go to Ford's Theatre if I had no particular interest in Lincoln. Also, going to the Capitol gives you some idea of what goes on in the legislative branch of the U.S. government. This would be especially good if you can get Gallery Passes from the office of your Senator or Representative. (You just have to ask their office to send you some.).

Washington DC...
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4. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

The US Capitol is an iconic landmark of the USA. Ford's Theater is a place a President was assassinated. It is no contest to me: the Capitol tour.

Washington DC...
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5. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

You can't call it a trip to DC without a stop at the Capitol. The 13 minute movie you watch before tour is actually very good.

Washington DC...
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6. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

Oh, the Capitol! It is surprisingly beautiful. Plus you can pop into the Library of Congress and see the reading room, very lovely. http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/

For what it's worth, I have never been to Arlington Cemetery. Vietnam Memorial, yes, but not cemeteries.

Herndon, Virginia
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7. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

Definitely do the Capitol. But it leads me to ask: why wouldn't you go through your senator or representative's office? I used to give tours for a member of congress, and I always felt sorry for the people on the basic tours because they couldn't ask questions, had to wear headsets to hear the guide, and were with 50 of their closest (new) friends - as opposed to just going in a private group with someone who could discuss what you were personally interested in. There is always the possibility of meeting congressional members that way too, in hallways and such that aren't on the basic tour route. It will also give you some time flexibility because if you need to rush, you can. They'll work with your schedule.

naperville, illinois
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8. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

I agree with Ashley regarding the tour of the Capitol - through the senator/representative office. However, I just learned from a friend who is going in two weeks, and their tour they had arranged through the senator's office had been cancelled - no reason given. (Sequester? Not enough participants? ??) So she is hoping to book the 'generic' tour through the visitor's center.

Perhaps the OP could verify with their senator/reps office to make sure their tour will be held.

But, the smaller group is definitey the best way - hands down!

Washington DC...
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9. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

I agree with everyone, but would like to ask...have you thought about going to Ford's Theatre for a show? I believe that you also get to go to the museum. I like seeing shows at Ford's because you can get the feel of what it was like. The Lincoln box is there for all to view. In April Ford's is doing a co-production of Hello Dolly with Signature Theatre (Signature Theatre is known for it's musicals). So, you get evening entertainment, a hands-on learning experience and can still go to the Capitol. Here's some links:

http://culturecapital.com/event.php?id=23106

culturecapital.com/organization.php?id=279

And, Enjoy!

10. Re: U.S. Capitol or Ford's Theatre ?

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