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Don't know where to start...????

MISSOURI
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Don't know where to start...????

I don't know where to start, we (husband and I) have talked about going to DC for years, well this is the year!! I have so many questions, I'll try to make this less confusing so I get good answers..

August or September---which is cheaper and less crowded

5 days---enough time for most tourist attractions

backpacks----do most of the attractions let you have them,I love picture taking and will be lost without it, plus if your walking around the city where are you supposed to put all your stuff, will they let you in if you have a backpack

metro----is it possible to park our car and never use it again till we leave and see EVERYTHING, we would buy a pass of course

well this is a start, I am so confused, it seems like there is to much stuff to see and I don't know where to start.

Thanks in advance

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Washington DC...
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1. Re: Don't know where to start...????

The best advice is to read as much of this forum as you can. Some topics you can obviously skip, but many will have helpful advice you can use.

September will be less crowded and likely have nicer weather. I think five days is about right for a first-time, unrushed visit to DC. You are better off without a car unless you stay out in the suburbs where there are no near-by places to eat. Most places let you in with a backpack, but it will slow you down at the security check points and you might have to check it.

MISSOURI
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2. Re: Don't know where to start...????

Thanks for the quick reply!!

Is there any places that don't allow photo's at all?

We are from a small town and never used a Metro before so we will have fun trying to figure out where we are going!! We dont mind walking so I'm hoping that a lot of the stuff is next to each other, with in reason, then we can just walk to it!!

If we stayed in Arlington, rather than DC is there a bridge that we can walk or is it serviced by Metro? Would it make a impact on our sightseeing, meaning we would see less if we stayed outside the city?

I will keep reading this forum, and taking notes!!!

Washington DC...
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3. Re: Don't know where to start...????

The places not in DC you will see mentioned here most will not impact your sightseeing that much. In general, the areas in Arlington where the hotels are located are a long walk from the sights. The exception is Rosslyn, which is close to a few things. But none of the hotels in Virginia are close enough that you would want to walk to the Smithsonian, for instance.

MISSOURI
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4. Re: Don't know where to start...????

Well I guess I need to narrow it done to a few hotels, I work for the Post Office(Gov employee) are there any hotels that would give me a discount? Doesn't hurt to ask!!!

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Don't know where to start...????

If you are not visiting on official business, I doubt there is any sort of government employee discount. AAA, AARP and a few other such groups often have a discount possible. If there are only 2 of you, one of the bidding sites like Priceline would work. But all I know about hotel prices I read here on this forum.

Getting a DC guidebook at the library, or buying one, is a good investment. You can get a lot of ideas about where things are located and what things you can do in a compact package.

Edited: 08 February 2010, 02:09
Arlington, Virginia
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6. Re: Don't know where to start...????

1. Definitely come in September rather than August. The weather will be better and there are fewer crowds because the summer visitors have gone and the school groups haven't started coming yet. And 5 days would be just about right to see the sights.

2. The only restriction that comes to mind on backpacks is that you are not allowed to carry them on your back in the National Gallery of Art. You will, of course, have to submit them for inspection at every museum, government building, etc. Also, from the NGA website: "Photography for personal use is permitted except in special exhibitions and where specifically prohibited. Monopods and Tripods are not permitted."

3. Definitely use Metro--you don't want to be driving in D.C. I don't see any reason not to stay in Virginia (Arlington or Alexandria) as long as you are close to a Metro station. The closest areas for Virginia would be the Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Ballston and Crystal City areas, all of which are in Arlington. It only takes 10 mintues from the Rosslyn Metro to the Smithsonian Metro and the other stations are all less than 18 minutes to the Smithsonian Metro. I don't think that's an unreasonable commute time, especially if you get a good hotel rate.

3.

Baltimore, Maryland
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7. Re: Don't know where to start...????

Many places will make you check a back pack. Pictures are not allowed in certain well marked areas, but you can carry the camera, just not use it.

Too many tourists to refuse entry to folks with a camera and since every phone is also one...

It is possible to park car and not use, but that is just up to you. For instance, you may prefer to drive to Alexandria or Mt Vernon or you may take a tour bus or Metro (not to Mt Vernon).

And don't worry, DC is a great place to be confused in. All our legislators already are and they have no problem finding a good restaurant!!

MISSOURI
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8. Re: Don't know where to start...????

Thanks everyone, I can't wait!!!!

I have a few months so I can really research stuff, like I know we will only be interested in two of the Smithsonian museums, I'm just worried we'll run out of time and not get to see everything I want us too!!! We will be driving from Missouri so once we park I don't want to have to drive around, would love to find a place with free parking!!!!

I'm sure as its gets closer I will have lots more questions!!!

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Missouri
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9. Re: Don't know where to start...????

For free parking you are going to be staying so far outside DC you will have a MUCH longer commute (and more eEtro fare). I suggest a place near Crystal City or Ballston with parking. Ballston has several hotels ranging from Comfort Inn to Holiday Inn to Hilton to Westin, all either a block or few from the Orange line metro. Some have shuttles also but if you are fit it is easier to walk. Ballston is a short 15 minute ride to Farragut West, 30 to Capitol South.

If youn think about how much you are paying to be in DC, if you spend hours commuting to save on parking, the opportunity time of the "free" parking may be costly.

September is better.

Can you get your camera in your pocket? A travel vest with pockets can hold a wallet and camera and be less troublesome than a backpack. If you wear the backpack, please remember not to hit people in the face with it as you turn and move around on Metro and in crowds (happens ALL the time!). You CANNOT take a backpack into the Capitol Visitor Center.

Indianapolis, IN
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10. Re: Don't know where to start...????

I suggest staying in Alexandria. Very walkable, cobblestone streets, and there is a hotel directly across from the King St. Metro station. You can walk to the station, then walk down the street to all the shops and restaurants in Alexandria.

I've been in DC in late August, right before Labor Day, and the place was pretty dead. No lines anywhere. It was very hot, but all buildings will be cool.

I carried a backpack through the city and you will have to lay it on the conveyor belt to have them look it over (just like at the airport) but it's no big deal.

The Metro offers a SmarTrip card for $30. You can use that on the bus or subway. It's $5 for the card and they'll mail it to you with $25 already on it. You can order it from their website.