Over the last two road trips I traversed, I was blessed to be able too visit Washington D.C. on each. I fell in love with the history, the patriotism, and the overall city. I was truly hooked. So when Craig and I discussed what we could travel too before our next chapter, we decided on D.C. so that he and Emily could experience it for themselves. Thus the planning began. And since all I have done since 2011 is move across the County 4 times with my family and no real vacation with them, it was exciting to plan a joint venture together.
D.C. isn’t Disney….obviously…but I hadn’t planned anything like it since my move and Mickey trips. So I decided to make a list of everything I had enjoyed, and everything I hadn’t done yet. Then I had Craig and Emily each make their lists and that was the base of the planning. I had been fortunate enough to have a dear friend live near DC that I had been driven in and out both trips, so doing it on our own was going to be a challenge. There is so much information out there, like a Disney vacation, that it did become overwhelming. I didn’t know what areas were safe, or the best play to stay or heck even whether to use LYFT or UBER. So, here’s the real of it – we winged most of it.
If you want to do things like the Holocaust Museum, the Capital, the White House, and specialty Museums, tickets need to be reserved/purchased well before you head there. We planned around 60 days out, and I mean REAL planning, and we lost out on getting into several places because the tickets were already sold out. Some places you can check the day of your touring to see if tickets are available, as some are offered the day of. I am sure this is more of a summer issue, as this is the busiest time. So pick your week, book the tickets, and then work around those times. Those times are in stone so you can find what is located near those places and tour them each day in blocks, so you aren’t running across town wasting time and energy.
So this is what worked out for us, we had our locked in times for certain things and then just toured around that. For transportation, we parked at Arlington every day and walked in and took LYFT back to the car. It was easier doing this because you stay out of the busier traffic from the city in this area, on and off the highway nearby, and the parking was reasonably priced. A LYFT ride back to Arlington from the Mall area usually was around $8-$10- well worth it when it feels like your feet are about to fall off.
We did a week in DC and it was plenty of time. Spending 2-3 hours per Smithsonian, we took our time. The popular Natural and American History ones were over run with school groups, so it was difficult to really enjoy those, whereas the African-American, Art, and others were quieter and you could actually read and enjoy the calmness. The Spy Museum took about 3 hours and was worth EVERY PENNY! We filled a backpack every day full of snacks and drinks, something you will want to do if you are out and about touring for 6-7 straight days. Bottled water and drinks are available in most gift shops and food trucks, but there are “Dollar Guys” on most corners who are selling bottled water and Gatorade for $1. We went that route when our drinks were gone, or we tried to save our bottles and refill them at drinking fountains. Food trucks offer a large variety of foods, and we found they were mostly there on the weekends only. Many offered samples, so ask to try something if you aren’t sure.
I don’t think there really is a “bad way” to do D.C. I think there is so much to see that you truly do need a plan so that you don’t miss anything, but we did so much more than we had hoped. It is set up in a way that on your way (by foot) you come across something else, and so on. I HIGHLY recommend walking it (if possible) because you just get to feel the city so much more. One of my favorite days was walking Constitution Avenue on my own and just enjoying the sights and sounds. My favorite building by far was the Library of Congress- soooo beautiful- like being in a Castle. I can’t say anything was really a negative, as much as a disappointment was that the reflection pool was being cleaned so it was empty and the National Cathedral had a commencement so they only gave us certain angles to see it. Stick to the Avenues to stay in the shade, walking around the bottom of the Washington Monument is awesome the first time, but it is incredibly hot and in zero shade of anything to walk past more than once. Scooters and bikes are left all around the Mall to use to get around as well- we didn’t use them. LYFT worked 3 out of 4 rides. The last ride she got lost taking us back to Arlington and winding up near the Pentagon, so we are disputing the charges since we were about a mile from Arlington and a ride of about $8 wound up being $22 because SHE got lost. Seems shady so we shall see what happens with that dispute. One driver actually told us she doesn’t know the city at all…. WHY would you tell your riders this? She was super kind and did wind up getting us where we needed to go, but I was shocked she said it.
I don’t know if we will ever go back, as we have some big things coming up next year, but I am happy we had this family trip together, although we missed our Kyra very much. I highly recommend a visit!
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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!