Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tips for Visiting Washington D.C.

After spending 5 days in Washington D.C. over the 4th of July there are a lot of things that we would do differently. We had a blast, but even with all the planning that we did, we were not prepared as well as we thought. So here are some useful tips that come from our trip:

  • Months before your trip contact more than one Representative of your state. We contacted only one and his staff dropped the ball. We ended up with empty promises, but he is a politician so I guess it should have been expected.

  • Do one of the tours (we recommend the D.C. Ducks) that goes around the city first. We did the Ducks on our last full day and learned of places that we did not think to visit and tried to fit as many in on our last day before heading to the airport.

  • Check the museums out online that you want to visit. There are so many around D.C. that it is common for a few to be under renovation and closed to the public at any given time. While disappointed that the Smithsonian's Museum of American History was closed this past weekend we can only blame ourselves for not knowing before hand.

  • Don't assume that the book you bought has current information. Things change fast and we learned to adapt on the fly.

  • When it comes to getting tickets for tours, whatever time you heard/read is best to get into line, get there 15 minutes to a half hour earlier then that. We lined up for Capital tour tickets at 8 am with the ticket kiosk opening at 9. There were already 160 people ahead of us. It only took 15 minutes from the time the kiosk opened until the ticket allotment for that day was gone.

  • Don't let size full you. Everyone marvels at the size of the monuments, but there are a few museums that get overlooked (even on a 4th of July holiday weekend) because they look small, only to find out otherwise. We went into a small 25 foot round 1 floor museum called the Ripley Center which led to a 4 story underground art gallery.

  • Be prepared to walk a lot. Just about everything is within walking distance. And those that are not are just a short subway ride away and once inside the museums are huge.

  • No matter how long you plan to stay, don't be surprised or upset when you learn that you can't fit everything in. There is just to much to do. We are already thinking of when we may be able to plan our next trip back to get in many of the things we missed.

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