Visiting DC this summer... tips?

I am taking my 2 nieces (18 and 16) and my nephew (11) to DC the third week in July. I have the hotel booked. I’m renting a van for the trip up (from NC) and back. We have tickets to the Holocaust Museum and the kids are figuring out what else they want to see (White House, Air & Space Museum). We will get a metro pass for the time we’re there (less than a week).

I like to plan everything that can be planned to minimize surprises. I know it will be crowded and hot and we will be doing a lot of walking. I am renting a wheelchair for the 16-year-old as she recently ruptured her ACL and tore her meniscus (surgery tomorrow) and will likely still be in a brace.

What would be helpful to know?

The main Air & Space Museum on the mall looks stuck in the Eighties. If y’all don’t mind driving a half-hour to an hour (traffic depending) you should visit the Udvar-Hazy Annex out by Dulles.

The Udvar-Hazy Annex is fantastic, while the main Air and Space building on the Mall is being updated it is just not the same. The U-H has a freakin space shuttle, and concorde, etc. But no real public transit there yet. If you do drive out there, admission is free but parking is $15.

Metro passes, just got back from a five day visit with my family of four and depending on how you structure your days and where you are staying, you may not need Metro passes. We found that paying per trip on the smart cards was more cost effective that a one-day pass. The next increment up is a 7 day pass. Might want to visit the Metro website and do some fare calculations.

The historical talk at Ford’s theater is very good, but the line is very long and tickets may be hard to get. The line is also outside of the theater, something to consider in the heat of the summer.

We had a great time when we went a couple of years ago without ever leaving the mall. Be aware the mall is way bigger than it looks, and it’s a lot of walking.

I also really loved the Natural History museum as well as the art museum. The latter was just beautiful.

I haven’t been there, but I bet the kids would enjoy the International Spy Museum.

Definitely see the giant pandas at the National Zoo.

Note that you can’t just walk into the White House for a tour, you must submit a request via one of your Congress-persons; anyone over 14 will be vetted by the Secret Service and anyone over 18 will need to present a photo ID.

And to be perfectly honest with you, it’s actually not that interesting and there are much better ways to spend a couple of hours in DC IMO, but if you’re dead-set on seeing it, see info here:

Don’t know if your kids will be bored senseless, but the National Gallery is great. Natural History Museum (dinosaurs!). Take the metro over to Rosslyn and go see the Iwo Jima Memorial. The Vietnam Memorial is a very sobering place to visit on the Mall. All of the memorials are worth visiting, with the biggies being the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials. If you rent a car, you can drive south to see Monticello (Jefferson’s house on the Potomac). Potomac Falls is also pleasant if you have a car to get there.

It’s not free, but I’m a pretty big fan of the Newseum. I’d also second the Spy Museum.

Ehh, I was underwhelmed.

Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see any mention of how non-citizens get tickets. Since I’m visiting Washington next year’n’all.

I haven’t lived there since the 80s, so if a museum is stuck in the 80s, I wouldn’t know, but I’d definitely give the zoo a look. I was the kind of teenager-young adult who loved art museums, and I loved the galleries. I also loved the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Old Post Office is a great place to eat. It had that mall sort of 20 different kinds of fast and semi-fast food at the ready before a lot of other places did.

If you want really good ethnic food of almost any kind, go to Embassy Row.

ETA: Yes, the White House is a snore.

There have been a lot of threads on visiting DC with some good tips if you do some searching.

One note of caution: DC’s Metro has a deservedly bad reputation for accommodating people in wheel chairs, when you get here check to make sure the elevators are in service for the stations you will be using and avoid rush hour on Metro if you have someone in a wheelchair.

It’s the same process, but since you obviously don’t have a Congress-person to call your own, you can pretty much choose anyone. I hear DC’s representative, Eleanor Norton, is a good bet. There’s even a handy button right on her home page to make requests:

double post

Not anymore. Word is all the food & retail stalls closed after being bought by Trump.

Still worth visiting for the clock tower tour, though.

The entire building is being restored and converted into yet another hotel with re-opening scheduled by Inauguration Day so I guess the clock tower also closed.

Some old threads with everything you need (and probably a lot of repeated advice):

I agree with DCnDC that the White House can be skipped. The Capitol building is a much more interesting tour.


Trump actually is leasing it for one of his tacky hotels, I believe it is still closed for renovations.