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Things to do in DC [Solved]

bowenbowen How you doin'?Registered User regular
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey all, I'm heading down to DC this weekend, and I was wondering if anyone could recommend some good sightseeing things for me to be doing. I like museums and historical stuff like that.

We'll be down there for a period of a day and a half, not a whole lot of time, but enough to see some pretty neat places I'd think.

Ladies.
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Posts

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    What kind of museums do you like? I mean, we have a few..

    adytum on
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  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The Botanical Gardens are nice. Pretty much wandering around the Mall will fill up a weekend easily.

    I highly recommend the Air and Space, the Botanical Gardens, the National Gallery and The Natural History Museum.

    The Museum of American History is always SUPER crowded, and the American Indian Museum (while hands down having the BEST food for cheap) is kind of lackluster in my opinion.

    Xaquin on
  • EvanderEvander Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The National Mall is the place to go if you are looking to take in a large variety of things. There are other places worth visiting in DC, but I would say that the Mall is the highest concentration. All of the Smithsonian museums are absolutely free of charge, and there are plenty of memorials and landmarks there as well.

    A couple of less obvious suggestions for when you're down on the Mall:
    • Grab lunch at the food court of the American Indian Museum (they have a very interesting selection of cuisines based on foods that American Indians traditionally ate, separated by regions.)
    • Check out the signers of the declaration of independence memorial. It is located on an island in the middle of the pond that is just north of the reflecting pool (take the bridge at the north end of the pond.) It is one of the often forgotten monuments down on the Mall, but it has a gorgeous view.
    • If you eat meat at all, hop on the metro and head over to the U Street stop (it is available on the green line) and grab a half-smoke at Ben's Chilli Bowl, which is across the street from the stop.

    Evander on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I love things like history. Colonial America, ancient Egypt, medieval Europe, that kind of stuff. I've been to a lot of air and space museums and I'd like to try something new, but the native american thing sounds neat.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    If you're interested in aviation history, check out the Udvar Hazy. There's a free shuttle from the Air and Space on the Mall.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    If you're interested in aviation history, check out the Udvar Hazy. There's a free shuttle from the Air and Space on the Mall.

    That's a loooooooooooooong drive.

    The Museum of African Art is one of my favorites on the mall. It's never crowded and has lots of great pieces.

    Also the Hirshhorn is on the mall and is a collection of modern art. Cool building, too.

    adytum on
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  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    If you eat meat at all, hop on the metro and head over to the U Street stop (it is available on the green line) and grab a half-smoke at Ben's Chilli Bowl,

    Yes, you have to go to Ben's Chili bowl for a chili-cheese half-smoke and a basket of chili fries. Cheap and delicious, and a part of black history in the district for 50 years, but always crowded around meal times.
    http://www.benschilibowl.com/ordereze/default.aspx

    The Spy museum is supposed to be cool but it's $20 a person.
    http://www.spymuseum.org/index.php

    PirateJon on
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  • ransimransim Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The Newseum is also pretty nifty. http://www.newseum.org/, not free but cool. There is also the museum of crime and punishment as well (http://www.crimemuseum.org/). Also not free, but good nonetheless.

    Also couple other suggestions if you take metro.

    Stand on the right on escalators. Make sure you get a metro card with enough fare and day passes don't work until 9 or 10 am. And for the love of all that is holy, don't hang out near the metro car doors.

    Us commuters appreciate the consideration ^_^

    For walking the mall, wear comfy shoes and bring your own drinks, it involves LOTS of walking its a very big space and the prices for the few and far between places are kinda high. Also sunblock. There isn't much shade down there, and even on a cold but sunny day you can get burned.

    ransim on
  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I second the Spy Museum! It was worth the money. While the contemporary stuff only goes up to the 80s (for obvious reasons) it was fascinating learning the history of espionage! It was also within walking distance of the ESPN Zone I think which was a fantastic place to grab a bite and watch 9 games at time before going to the basement and playing sports arcade games.

    Sharp10r on
  • 3lwap03lwap0 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Sharp10r wrote: »
    I second the Spy Museum! It was worth the money. While the contemporary stuff only goes up to the 80s (for obvious reasons) it was fascinating learning the history of espionage! It was also within walking distance of the ESPN Zone I think which was a fantastic place to grab a bite and watch 9 games at time before going to the basement and playing sports arcade games.

    Thirded on the spy museum. They have an extra 'interactive' tour you can take, where you do actual spy missions, which is actually pretty fun, and you get some booze thrown into it.

    Also, the Natrional Gallery of Art is awesome. Magnificent really, if art is your thing.

    3lwap0 on
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  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    3lwap0 wrote: »
    Sharp10r wrote: »
    I second the Spy Museum! It was worth the money. While the contemporary stuff only goes up to the 80s (for obvious reasons) it was fascinating learning the history of espionage! It was also within walking distance of the ESPN Zone I think which was a fantastic place to grab a bite and watch 9 games at time before going to the basement and playing sports arcade games.

    Thirded on the spy museum. They have an extra 'interactive' tour you can take, where you do actual spy missions, which is actually pretty fun, and you get some booze thrown into it.

    Also, the Natrional Gallery of Art is awesome. Magnificent really, if art is your thing.
    Yeah make sure you do the adult one. I got stuck with the kids interactive one and my dad and I were feeling really out of place! still- awesome set-up they have on the interactive thing though.

    Sharp10r on
  • CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Definitely hit the spy museum and, if you haven't been, the american history museum as well.

    Crashtard on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    My Hotel is in rockville.

    I'm planning on driving from Rockville to DC and going to the zoo then hitting up the Smithsonian with either the natural history or American history.

    I'd like to see some landmarks or do something else on Sunday if at all possible. Maybe a different part of the Smithsonian (air and space museum?)

    Is the zoo within walking distance of the American/natural history museum?

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • GorkGork Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I really wouldn't advise driving. Parking in DC is a pain and the metro goes everywhere you would want to go (even though it is slow as hell these days). There is a metro stop in Rockville and that line will take you directly to the zoo.

    The zoo is only three miles from the national mall but it's going to be in the 90s this weekend. Personally, I wouldn't go for it.

    Gork on
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Driving in on the weekends you can always find parking as long as you're not looking in the main touristy places. There's always a neighborhood within a few blocks you can find a free place to park.

    Also, walking, the national zoo is in the middle of a really hilly area and it's a longass walk to get there from the mall.

    adytum on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Yeah we're from out of town, so I'd really rather not try to figure out public transportation and get lost. If this were NYC, I could probably handle it.

    Is the national mall where the rest of the smithsonian stuff located?

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Almost all of the smithsonian stuff is on or close to the mall
    MallmapWeb.jpg

    adytum on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Neat so we could hit a whole bunch of those and some landmarks too.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    There's usually parking on constitution closer to VA (to the left on that map) if you don't mind walking a little or in the neighborhoods around and behind the verizon center (which is off 7th above the map) around 6th or 5th Sts. I wouldn't try to find parking on 7th, it's a touristy clusterfuck.

    adytum on
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  • AlejandroDaJAlejandroDaJ Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    At the Smithsonian on the Mall, check out the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, and the Natural History Museum.

    The National Zoo is in the Cleveland Park neighborhood in northwest DC, it's way too far to walk from the Zoo to the Mall, btw.

    The monuments are always good times, btw, and you can spend a few hours walking from the Washington to the Jefferson Memorial to the FDR Memorial (my personal favorite) and on to Korean War, Vietnam, and Lincoln Memorials. All are within 2-3 miles or so, and it's a pleasant walk.

    Everyone seems to be raving about the Spy Museum. I personally thought it sucked, and was ridiculously overpriced, but maybe I'm just a Communist sympathizer. And if you happen to find yourself in that neighborhood (Gallery Place-Chinatown), I recommend eating at either Gordon Biersch (next to the Spy Museum) or Matchbox Pizza, further up at 7th and H.

    Additionally for food, I agree that you should hit up Ben's Chili Bowl. You might also want to try Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, the place that Obama and Biden visited a few months back.

    AlejandroDaJ on
  • DeathwingDeathwing Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Yeah we're from out of town, so I'd really rather not try to figure out public transportation and get lost. If this were NYC, I could probably handle it.

    Is the national mall where the rest of the smithsonian stuff located?

    As someone who works in DC and sees multiple people get towed away every single day - if you drive, be very diligent about where you park, how much you put on the meter, etc., as the parking enforcement down here is without mercy.

    While the Metro staff is definitely not the most helpful in the world, it's pretty hard to get truly lost - there's color-coded maps and signs posted everywhere, and there's nowhere that you can't get off and hop back on a train going the opposite direction. Note from the map that there are 8 stations at various access points to the Mall also :)

    Deathwing on
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  • NisiNisi Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Public transport in DC is very very easy. www.wmata.com If you're in rockville there are plenty of stations on the redline.

    Driving into DC sucks :/ And if you're someone who doesn't know the area, good luck, especially with the parking. Taking the metro is far less complicated, and likely cheaper. I live in gaithersburg, and own a car, and I don't drive into DC.

    Nisi on
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  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    +1 for Matchbox, though be prepared to wait.

    Parking is free on weekends, just watch the signs and don't park in front of a hydrant or driveway.

    Metro is quite easy.

    adytum on
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  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    Yeah we're from out of town, so I'd really rather not try to figure out public transportation and get lost. If this were NYC, I could probably handle it.

    Is the national mall where the rest of the smithsonian stuff located?

    As somebody who used to live in the burbs and commute to DC every day - you do not want to drive and/or try to park downtown. The Metro is really easy to use (much easier IMO than NYC), and you can buy an all-day tourist pass for ten bucks or so and ride as much as you want to.

    Usagi on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Can you guys give me advice on how to use the metro then? The hotel is at rockville pike, and I have no idea what to do from that point.

    I have no problem with walking and using it, I just really hate the feeling of being shitting my pants lost and in not having the ability to cover long distances in a matter of minutes to try and correct it.

    Let's say I wanted to get up at 10 and then head on to the metro (I don't know where to even get passes), and then head to the zoo, then to the smithsonian, then to return at like 6/7:00 at night. Then on Sunday let's say I get up and check out of the hotel, and then drive into DC? I've got a GPS so that's not an issue in terms of the lostness.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    As Nisi linked a few posts ago: http://www.wmata.com/

    Like the NYC/Boston transit systems, it has a trip planner - so you can type in your origin address and your destination, choose a time and boom: route

    Also, if either of you has a smartphone, Google Maps does a pretty good job of giving walking and public transportation directions these days.

    Usagi on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Ah I didn't notice that, thanks usagi.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • DeathwingDeathwing Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Can you guys give me advice on how to use the metro then? The hotel is at rockville pike, and I have no idea what to do from that point.

    There's a station in Rockville, although without an exact address i'm not sure if that's actually the closest, I try to avoid going to Maryland as much as possible. Look under "Rider Tools" on that site, then "Service Nearby". You would probably drive to the station, leave your car parked there, then hop on a train.

    The trip planner is right on WMATA's home page.
    I have no problem with walking and using it, I just really hate the feeling of being shitting my pants lost and in not having the ability to cover long distances in a matter of minutes to try and correct it.

    Completely understandable, but you are never really going to be in that situation inside the station - just make sure you know where you are before you actually exit the faregates, and you'll be fine :) As long as you don't actually leave a station, you can hop on and off trains as much as you need to without having to pay anything extra.
    Let's say I wanted to get up at 10 and then head on to the metro (I don't know where to even get passes)

    The stations all have farecard machines, so getting passes is fairly easy. Do keep in mind that the ones that take credit cards are (I think) pretty much universally only on the "outside" part of the station, so if you need to get a new card or add value before you exit the station, ideally make sure you have cash.

    Deathwing on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    How much cash should I grab for two days worth of fare (plus parking on that last day)? For two people, it looks about $45 (including the parking for the last day).

    Thanks all, you've been a great help.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • NisiNisi Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    Can you guys give me advice on how to use the metro then? The hotel is at rockville pike, and I have no idea what to do from that point.

    I have no problem with walking and using it, I just really hate the feeling of being shitting my pants lost and in not having the ability to cover long distances in a matter of minutes to try and correct it.

    Let's say I wanted to get up at 10 and then head on to the metro (I don't know where to even get passes), and then head to the zoo, then to the smithsonian, then to return at like 6/7:00 at night. Then on Sunday let's say I get up and check out of the hotel, and then drive into DC? I've got a GPS so that's not an issue in terms of the lostness.

    You'd either get on the redline at Rockville Station, Twinbrook, or White Flynt, depending where on the pike you are. To get to the zoo you get off at the Woodley park zoo station. If you want to go to the national mall from there, you take the redline further into DC, get off at metro center, transfer to the blue line and get off at the Smithsonian station. Smithsonian station comes out smack in the middle of the mall.

    You can use Debit/Credit/cash to buy fare cards /rechargeable smart card which you actually use at the gates. And there is parking at the stations that you can also use the cards to pay for, though I think it might be free on weekends. I usually put $15 on my card to start when I go in just so I'm sure not going to run out, and I usually have money left over after paying for parking ($5). The people at the station and the website can give you more concrete information on fares though.

    Nisi on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    :^: This seems cheaper and less of a hassle than trying to park.

    Plus, getting a $250 a night hotel for $75 a night is like icing on the cake.

    I love you Captain Kirk.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Rockville Pike stretches all the way from Chevy Chase to the end of the line, depending on where you are. The only important thing you need to know is that you'll be getting on the red line. Red line is a giant U, going from northwest of the city to northeast of the city, terminating both times in Maryland. Rockville Pike is on the Shady Grove side, so when you're going back to the hotel you'll be taking the red line toward Shady Grove, when you're going into the city you'll be taking the metro toward Glenmont.

    Just hop on the red line at your closest access point, catch the first train heading in the direction of Glenmont (the actual termination point of the train might not be Glenmont, but if you figure out which side you need you'll be good). From there, ride to Metro Center and switch to the Orange/Blue line. Catch either color in the direction of Largo Town Center/New Carollton, go two stops and get off at the Smithsonian stop. Voila, you're on the National Mall by all the museums. Feel free to get lost from there.

    Edit: Oh, yeah, the zoo is on your way.

    Darkewolfe on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    You guys are the best. You all know that right?

    Also, all day tickets, are they called anything special? So I can say "hey guy at the terminal or mister vending machine, I'd like an all day pass, or an all weekend pass please"

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • OrestusOrestus Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    In regard to the metro, you don't even really need cash, just go to any station, there will be at least a couple (more at a big station) machines outside the turnstiles. Go up to it and press whatever type of card you want - they offer different kinds of all day passes and stuff, which might save you a few bucks if you know what you are looking for, but for simplicity's sake if you just do a normal card you just enter how much money you want on it and then to pay you either put cash in or dip your credit card.

    If you are with someone else, unlike alot of cities (NYC at least) you cannot just buy one metro card w/ 50 bucks on it or whatever and share (i.e. you swipe in, hand card to your friend, he swipes in), you have to both have your own card.

    If it was my first time to DC I would probably skip the zoo, its nice but its not much different than other zoos in other cities, unless you really really want to see Pandas. All the museum suggestions people have been giving are great.

    If you are interested in foreign affairs, diplomacy etc, this weekend is the "rest of the world" embassy open house (i.e. not Europe). What this means is that around 2 dozen embassies around the city will have their embassies open from 10 AM to 4 PM and you can go inside and do various things. That can mean anything from 1 room w/ a slide show of pictures of the country to a festival like atmosphere with free food and beer, handouts from the country, dancing demonstrations, balloon bounces for kids, etc. It is not as organized as the Europe open house (which is next weekend), so if there is some country you are particularly interested in I would suggest googling their Washington DC embassy to see what the deal is and if they are participating...in my opinion, that type of thing would be alot more DC-ish than the zoo.

    Also would recommend for monument viewing go at dusk or at night...they will still be crowded but a bit less than during the day (which will be hot this weekend), and in my opinion at least they are a bit more special at night. The Korean War Memorial is probably my favorite spot in all of DC in the evening, the subdued lighting and shadows on the statues makes it in all a very poignant scene.

    Matchbox is a great recommendation for food downtown, as is Ben's Chili Bowl if you get up that way. I wouldn't bother with Gordon Biersch, not a bad place to eat but again a big chain you can eat anywhere.

    Orestus on
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Parking at metro stations is free on weekends Bowen.

    adytum on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    My girlfriend has been dying to see the Pandas for about 5 years.

    bowen on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Also, the war memorial is in the mall area right?

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • spacerobotspacerobot Registered User
    edited April 2010
    I have been stuck in D.C. for the past two weeks living out of a hotel with very little money and no vehicle. In the past two weeks i've visited nearly every free museum, and the Museum of Natural History was definitely the coolest so far. I've heard good things about the holocaust museum, so I'm going to head out today and check that one out.

    However, I don't know how much longer I will be here in D.C. It could be 3 more days, it could be a month. Anyone have any suggestions on what to do once I run out of free museums? Some stuff a little off the beaten path?

    edit: Does anyone know of good disc golf courses that are are possible to get to without driving in the D.C. area?

    spacerobot on
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  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    You guys are the best. You all know that right?

    Also, all day tickets, are they called anything special? So I can say "hey guy at the terminal or mister vending machine, I'd like an all day pass, or an all weekend pass please"

    These

    There should be an option at the fare machine to select the one-day or seven-day pass

    Usagi on
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