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Planning a honeymoon to Washington DC

KirbithKirbith I appear to be made of delicious cake. Registered User regular
edited June 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
So my lovely fiancè thepain73 and I will be getting married in August, so we will be going on our honeymoon to Washington DC! I'd love some help in a few areas, just so I can help make sure that we have a good time. We'll be there the week of August 19th.

Are there specific areas or hotels in DC that anyone could recommend? We'll be driving to DC, but would like to stick to walking/ the subway for getting around DC, so a hotel where we can park my car for the week is fairly essential. Also, are there any areas that are better for restaurants? I don't want to stay all the way out in the suburbs where there's no restaurants in easy subway/ walking distance. We don't have $texas to spend on the hotel but we're certainly not working with a bare bones budget on this as this will be the main cost for the trip.

thepain73 has never been to Washington DC and I haven't been since I was 10 or 11, so we'd also love any recommendations for places to go while we're there. We plan on hitting up all the usual touristy spots there such as several of the Smithsonian museums, the zoo, washington monument, etc, but if there's any place that anyone would like to recommend that would be wonderful. Thank you so much to anyone willing to give us a bit of advice on this trip, just want to make sure we have a great trip.

Backloggery | Steam - Kirbith | PSN - Kirbith | 3DS: 4957-2249-4817
Kirbith on

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    RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    What are your interests? What sort of food do you like? Are you interested in the "capital city" sort of activities or more local flavor stuff? What's your budget for a hotel? If you can swing it, a hotel in Penn Quarter would probably be ideal for you. Walking distance to lots of stuff, including the Mall and the White House, and good access to Metro.

    You may want to reconsider driving if you're just parking and relying on public transit. Is there a reason you need to drive? You'll need to budget at least $25/day just for parking overnight at your hotel. Doesn't take too long for that to become more expensive than two tickets on SW to BWI and a bus/shuttle/cab to DC.

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    AndorienAndorien Registered User regular
    The public trans here inside the beltway is actually pretty good, you should be able to get to most of your points of interest through the metro without too much trouble (I think I even saw a segway tour through the national mall once). With that in mind, I second just flying in unless you have another reason for driving (moving on to another destination?). A car is just a pain to deal with, especially if you're not actively using it.

    The smithsonian is great, though pretty crowded when I went. As far as the memorials go, Jefferson is a bit less crowded and out of the way so it's a good one to check out (just don't dance there, apparently that's bad juju). Also, make sure you find the Vietnam memorial, though you may need to actively look for it if you're not just walking around the area.

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    KirbithKirbith I appear to be made of delicious cake. Registered User regular
    We'd like to keep the hotel budget around ~$1500 or less for 7 nights. We mostly need to drive due to the cost. We'll be coming from Indianapolis, which is about 600 miles each way for us. The car we'll be taking gets 30mpg highway driving so it should be less than $200 for gas round trip. Flying, however, looks like it will be around $350 for each of us and $700 is a bit too high for travel costs for us. Flying into BWI looks like it would still be around $550+ for both of us. I would love for us to fly but it looks like it will just be so much more cost wise if we go that route.

    I know we definitely want to go to a lot of the traditional capital city type of stuff - mostly because he has never been and I haven't been in quite a long time. We're definitely both big museum fans. As far as food goes, Japanese and Thai are probably two of my favorites, although I know we're both open to suggestions of a variety of types of cuisine.

    Backloggery | Steam - Kirbith | PSN - Kirbith | 3DS: 4957-2249-4817
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    GorkGork Registered User regular
    For Thai food, Thai X-ing is by far the best and most unique Thai in DC. You call their number and leave a message. Then they call you back with your reservation time. There is no menu; the chef, who is Thai, cooks for you based on what is fresh and what he feels like cooking.

    Every other Thai restaurant in DC is pretty generic.

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    schattenjaegerschattenjaeger Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    This is where my boss likes to stay when he comes

    http://hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/district-of-columbia/hilton-garden-inn-washington-dc-us-capitol-DCANMGI/accommodations/index.html

    I stayed there once for like 2 weeks (I live in the area now, but I had to go on business once). It's a real nice hotel, and as I recall it wasn't $Texas (I moved here from Texas, incidentally!). The area immediately surrounding it is nice, though if you wander a couple of blocks away it becomes....less nice. No matter, because it's right next to a red line metro in the middle of the city, so you just hop on there and go wherever you want, Dupont Circle, Chinatown, U-St., museums and monuments, etc. are all just a few stops away at most. 30 $ a day for the car, and valet is mandatory (so a couple of bucks each time you get the car out for tip), but that is pretty standard. The hotel restaurant is very neat (I know it sounds lame to recommend, but it's like a fancy gourmet restaurant), but definitely $Ohio, at least.

    The National Air and Space Museum is the most popular museum because it's awesome, but, the REALLY good stuff (like the recently added space shuttle Discovery) is kept in another facility far to the west in Dulles. If you bring your car, use it for that, for sure.

    Consider visiting the memorials after sunset. The annoying crowds have subsided and some (the Korean War memorial, for example) I consider better at night.

    Also while you're in the area, consider making a trip (by car if you bring it) to nearby Baltimore and/or Annapolis. As a newly minted Marylander, I believe I'm required by law to hawk their charms. DC of course has the museums and monuments, and other interesting things by virtue of being the nation's capital, but for things that are...I dunno, city things, Baltimore may win. Just don't wander into the bad parts of Baltimore, but that same warning holds true for DC. If you get the craving for Italian food while on your trip, you owe it to yourself to wander into Baltimore's Little Italy (easily accessible on foot after parking at the Inner Harbor area, also one of the safest parts of the city)

    schattenjaeger on
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    KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    $1500 for hotels? That should not be that restrictive. You may want to check Arlington or Alexandria, both of which are in Virginia across the Potomac. There should quite a few choices in the 150 a night range. Midwest driving is nothing like DC, so I'd advise just using Metro. Arlington is urban downtown and full of places to eat/drink, Alexandria is more historic with a little less but still enough. The DC B&B homes - screened through tripadvisor - can be cheaper and you get the old character house room in a quiet area, if you both like that sort of thing.

    If parking is really expensive at the hotel, I knew someone who just dropped their car off in the economy lot at DCA and took the Metro back to the hotel. $10/day (at the time) was the cheaper than the hotel.

    Japanese? Sticker shock is Sushi Taro in Dupont Circle. Go for lunch or 200 easy for dinner. For museums, eat in the American Indian Museum.

    3DS Friends: 1693-1781-7023
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    ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    If you want awesome food, hit up Kushi NE of the Chinatown metro. It's an awesome izakaya. It's a bit pricey (you order by the skewer) but the food can't be beat. It's worth it for the experience.

    Artereis on
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    lonelyahavalonelyahava Call me Ahava ~~She/Her~~ Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    oh for some awesome food, you should definitely go check out the Museum of the American Indian. The food court there is beyond fantastic. Such good food. The museum is by far stellar as well. I've been there twice and I would love to go back again.

    Oh, and if you follow the suggestion to take a side trip to Baltimore, I highly suggest straying a bit off the path and heading to the Poe House. It's a great museum, and Baltimore is also the city where E. A. Poe, his wife Virginia and his Mother-in-law Maria Clemm are buried. Also Babe Ruths' house is right near Camden yards (one of the prettier baseball stadium IMHO) But Annapolis is also great. The Naval Academy is a blast! They've got a really neat tour and Davy Jones' tomb too.

    But believe me, there is plenty to do in DC. So much to do. Even if you stick to just the Mall and the Monuments, it can easily take you a week if you're taking your time. I highly recommend stopping by the National Archives. I don't know if it's still there or not, but the last time I was in town, they were displaying the Magna Carta (on loan from England naturally). So. Fucking. Cool. Also, the Korean War Memorial is impressive by day, but awe-inspiring at night. I didn't get a chance to see FDR and MLK wasn't finished when I was last there. The WWII memorial is rather impressive as well.

    And then there's the museums. The Smithsonian, all of them are so worth everything. The Spy Museum is not free so I didn't go in, but I've heard it's good. And of course there's the Newseum (also not free). But there's also Ford's Theatre, the Kennedy Center. And OH! The Zoo! With a bat cave! (I haven't been there in almost 20 years but I remember it being an awesome zoo)


    can you tell i like DC?

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    ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    Go to Ben's Chili Bowl and get a chili half-smoke for lunch. The U street corridor is a pretty neat area of the city to go to right now, lots of reasonably-priced restaurants (Ethiopian, Thai, Ramen, etc.) and Busboys and Poets, which is a fun cafe.

    Also, food trucks! D.C. has some really great ones, you really can't go wrong. http://foodtruckfiesta.com/ has a real-time tracker that you can use to figure out where they'll be on any given day.

    Pay attention to happy hours. D.C. has some really great food and drink happy hours if you look out for them. Pizza Paradiso in Dupont, for example, runs a happy hour every Tuesday and Wednesday where they drop the price of ALL personal pan pizzas to $10 and halve the price of their draft beer menu, which is fantastic if (like me) you and your fiance appreciate artisinal pizza and microbrews.

    Finally, brunch -- it is a big deal in D.C. on Saturday and especially Sunday and a shame to miss; virtually every restaurant has a brunch menu. Hell, even some clubs and bars convert to brunch joints on the weekend (and they're good!). For some of the best brunch restaurants you need to make reservations NOW. For example my absolute favorite brunch place, the restaurant at the Tabard Inn, is regularly booked solid months in advance. You might be able to sneak in a Saturday brunch there now if you move quickly, though.

    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
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    KirbithKirbith I appear to be made of delicious cake. Registered User regular
    Thanks for all the restaurant suggestions everyone, it looks like DC is going to have a bunch of great places to try. It's looking like going to Baltimore for a day would be a fun time as well, any other suggestions for places to go in Baltimore?

    Backloggery | Steam - Kirbith | PSN - Kirbith | 3DS: 4957-2249-4817
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    BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Definitely go for Ethiopian. I'm not aware of any other areas of the US with large Ethiopian populations.

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    SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    You know, I'm not one of the haters on Ben's Chili Bowl. Whenever a post comes up about a trip to DC, someone says "Ben's Chili Bowl!" and then the haters come out and say that it's overpriced, the line is always too long, and the food, while authentically DC and from a long-time DC establishment, isn't that great. I am not one of those people. I love Ben's.

    But I wouldn't get it on my honeymoon.

    I'm looking at the Ford's Theater and Kennedy Center calendars right now. August isn't really a great month for theater in DC, unfortunately; there's this thing about the criminal investigation into the Lincoln Assassination at the Ford Theater (it's playing in the Ford Theater, I mean, that's just coincidentally where President Lincoln was killed). I have no idea if it's good or not. There's a musical called Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center. I feel like it's been running for a year now, and I still haven't gotten around to seeing it.

    I'd definitely make a point of hitting the zoo, particularly in the late afternoon (4:30 PM onwards). They feed the big cats every day around that time, and the tiger and lions all know it. Any other time of day, the cats lie about all lazy-pants, but if you catch them in the late afternoon, you'll see them prowling about like actual predators. I'm also a sucker for the cheetahs, which are located immediately next to a zebra pen. I find that hilarious. EDIT 3: GO ON A WEEKDAY. It's crazy crowded during the weekend, especially during the summer. The food in the zoo kind of blows, so get food on Connecticut. There's a pretty good Vietnamese place between the zoo and the Cleveland Park Metro stop.

    I also like walking around the historic Eastern Market on the weekend, and I think that could be a very fun thing to do as newlyweds because you could buy some local art or jewelry or even just some crazy knick-knacks while you're there and use them to decorate your marital home. Only open on the weekends during daylight hours. While there, I'd get brunch at Montmarte or papusas at Tortilla Cafe.

    Everyone praising the Museum of the American Indian is giving you great advice. The quality of the exhibits can be variable, as its collection has a bit more rotation than, say, the Natural History Museum or the American History Museum. But the architecture alone is amazing, and the food court is to die for. There's a very good gift shop in the basement area of the art museum, and their food is also pretty good if you find yourself doing lunch at the Mall on two separate days. The Smithsonian Castle/Center also has some rotation in its collection, and sometimes they have some really interesting stuff.

    While at the mall, hit up the Natural History Museum. I could see their butterfly exhibit in particular making for some very nice honeymoon photos. The U.S. Botanical Garden is located next to the Capitol Building and is also pretty cool.

    There's an arboretum in the Northeastern Quadrant, but I believe it's a little harder to get to without a car. And you don't want to drive on the surface streets here if you can help it.

    Hmm, what else... Canal Walk in Georgetown can be nice. I'm personally not a huge fan of Georgetown, but it's nice to visit. Not terribly metro accessible, and you sure as fuck don't want to drive there. The Circulator is probably your best bet for transit there, or you could walk from Foggy Bottom down M street. One of my favorite Italian places in Georgetown is Piccolo's, which I believe is on Thomas Jefferson? Small, intimate, good quality.

    I'll keep thinking about this and add more things as I think of them. I'll also ask the missus.

    EDIT: If you're going to be in Baltimore, consider hitting the Aquarium there. DC has an aquarium...kind of... basically in the basement of the U.S. Department of Commerce building. It, well, sucks.

    EDIT2: The National Geographic Society's building usually has some interesting stuff going on. Looks like an Islamic art and history exhibit that week. Also something called "Wicked Weather." You're missing the Samurai exhibit, unfortunately.

    EDIT4: If I were going to be in Baltimore, I'd also ask to see @Dr. Frenchenstein 's house before he finally burns it to the ground to collect the insurance money. Or, you know, ask him what he'd do instead.

    SammyF on
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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    The Botanical Gardens are nice and on the Mall as well.

    Don't bother with the Aquarium in Baltimore. The lines are huge, the prices are sky high, and it's so crowded you won't be able to see much.

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    schattenjaegerschattenjaeger Registered User regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    The Botanical Gardens are nice and on the Mall as well.

    Don't bother with the Aquarium in Baltimore. The lines are huge, the prices are sky high, and it's so crowded you won't be able to see much.

    I dunno about that, I went just the other weekend with my sister, Memorial day, on a Saturday. Stood in line 10 minutes or less around 2ish. The thing is, though, that you actually buy a ticket for several hours later. So around 2ish our tickets were for 5:30, and we could enter 5:30 or later. But the ticket, go do other things, come back, so you have to plan ahead. There were lots of kids in there so it was a little annoying, but not like, really annoying. The price is about 30 bucks. I thought it was definitely worth it, but do as you will.

    Given that was a holiday weekend in the middle of the day, and that you'll be there during at least some weekdays, I'd imagine it's nigh on deserted during the week, especially middle of the day.

    Everybody I know in the area keeps suggesting barbecue and Mexican restaurants to me since I'm from Texas, you know, they say "oh man you like barbecue? You'll like this!" So far I have been disappointed with all such recommendations, Ben's included, but mileage, varying, etc.


    OHOH other places in Baltimore. Miss Shirley's. Go there, eat there, be happy there. They have an..I dunno, eclectic, let's say, brunch type menu. Go check it out online. First time I went I got eggs benedict on top of cornbread and Carolina pulled pork. Blew my mind into a different dimension. All the Italian restaurants I've been to in Little Italy (all two) were good. One was Amicci's. Really good manicotti.

    I've been dying to try pit beef in Baltimore, but keep missing my chance. Here's a random and old google'd article on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/28/dining/how-to-say-barbecue-in-baltimore.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm (in fact, reading that article makes me think my associates are recommending me the wrong damned bbq places)

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    KirbithKirbith I appear to be made of delicious cake. Registered User regular
    Wowwe SammyF, thank you for all of that info, I think we will definitely make sure to go to the Zoo on a weekday afternoon now - I would love to see some of the big cats up and about. The Eastern Market also sounds pretty damn cool, I don't think I've ever been to anything like that. And I love all the food suggestions. We are going to eat so much tasty ass food that week.

    Backloggery | Steam - Kirbith | PSN - Kirbith | 3DS: 4957-2249-4817
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Bistro du Coin in DC for one of your romantic dinners.

    What is this I don't even.
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    KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    SammyF wrote: »
    I'd definitely make a point of hitting the zoo, particularly in the late afternoon (4:30 PM onwards). They feed the big cats every day around that time, and the tiger and lions all know it. Any other time of day, the cats lie about all lazy-pants, but if you catch them in the late afternoon, you'll see them prowling about like actual predators. I'm also a sucker for the cheetahs, which are located immediately next to a zebra pen. I find that hilarious. EDIT 3: GO ON A WEEKDAY. It's crazy crowded during the weekend, especially during the summer. The food in the zoo kind of blows, so get food on Connecticut. There's a pretty good Vietnamese place between the zoo and the Cleveland Park Metro stop.

    To explain this - you want to exit off the Metro at the Cleveland Park stop on the Red Line instead of Adams Morgan (which says "Zoo"). Then go south and downhill. From the Adams Morgan stop, you walk uphill. They are equivalent distances away, but the Cleveland Park stop is generally easier access.

    Check the zoo schedule - it has all the daily events.

    Kipling on
    3DS Friends: 1693-1781-7023
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    mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Brasserie Beck has a great cassoulet and belgian beer selection

    mrt144 on
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    antheremantherem Registered User regular
    The National Cathedral is pretty if you're into that sort of thing, though it's a bit out of the way.

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    SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    mrt144 wrote: »
    Brasserie Beck has a great cassoulet and belgian beer selection

    Granville Moore's on H Street NE also has a very extensive Belgian beer selection and is semi famous for its moules and pommes frites -- the chef was featured on an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," which our local boy won.

    Some people will tell you to avoid H Street NE because it's dangerous. It's not. It's just about 80% black. The only real knock about GM's isn't the neighborhood, it's that they don't take reservations, and the cozy pub has limited seating.

    You can take it or leave it, really, but I'm told that I had to suggest it and Russia House on Connecticut because that's where my wife and I had our first date and our first kiss, respectively. Russia House was pretty awesome because the entire upstairs lounge erupted in cheers when we finally kissed, and it felt like being the star of a romantic comedy, but I acknowledge that both places will be less meaningful for you. :)

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    GriswoldGriswold that's rough, buddyRegistered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Highly recommend Blue Duck Tavern (American), Rasika (Indian), and Floriana (Italian) as dinner options.

    Griswold on
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    KirbithKirbith I appear to be made of delicious cake. Registered User regular
    Oh a general travel question - is there a preferred site/ way people have to book hotels? I'd prefer to book online, but I wasn't sure if anyone had any particular sites (hotels.com, travelocity, etc) to either recommend or to tell us to stay the hell away from.

    Backloggery | Steam - Kirbith | PSN - Kirbith | 3DS: 4957-2249-4817
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    VisenGodVisenGod Registered User regular
    As a head up, there is an exhibit on at the American Art museum called The Art of Video Games. It's supposed to be excellent, and you should check it out while you're in town.

    For food, it's not Asian but Jose Andres has a great set of places in town that serve excellent food. I recommend the America Eats Tavern if you want to try some historic, well made food.

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    BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Don't forget that softshell crab will be in season.

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    mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Don't forget that softshell crab will be in season.

    OMG OMG OMG.

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    lonelyahavalonelyahava Call me Ahava ~~She/Her~~ Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    mrt144 wrote: »
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Don't forget that softshell crab will be in season.

    OMG OMG OMG.

    Absolute must!!!

    big table covered in brown paper, a pile of steamed crabs with old bay, and huge pots of melted butter.

    mmmmm

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    KirbithKirbith I appear to be made of delicious cake. Registered User regular
    I do in fact love me some crab. So this is quite excellent news!

    Backloggery | Steam - Kirbith | PSN - Kirbith | 3DS: 4957-2249-4817
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    Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    OK, here is Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar. This was a BLAST. It's in the National Harbor, and has a 15 cover, but there's some amazing talent there. National Harbor so a drive I think from DC, but something cool.
    Oh and I did the spy museum. It is an awesome part of history that doesn't get a lot of coverage. The modern tech ends around the 80s though for obvious reasons (it's set-up by a retired CIA guy).

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    ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    I haven't been back to the nation zoo in a few years, but a friend of mine went recently and said there's a ton of construction going on right now.

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    KirbithKirbith I appear to be made of delicious cake. Registered User regular
    Sharp10r wrote: »
    OK, here is Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar. This was a BLAST. It's in the National Harbor, and has a 15 cover, but there's some amazing talent there. National Harbor so a drive I think from DC, but something cool.
    Oh and I did the spy museum. It is an awesome part of history that doesn't get a lot of coverage. The modern tech ends around the 80s though for obvious reasons (it's set-up by a retired CIA guy).

    We've actually been to a dueling piano bar here in Indy and it was very awesome so that looks very fun to check out. I do love me some cool spy shit too, especially in the days before all the technology around now.

    Backloggery | Steam - Kirbith | PSN - Kirbith | 3DS: 4957-2249-4817
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    SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Artereis wrote: »
    I haven't been back to the nation zoo in a few years, but a friend of mine went recently and said there's a ton of construction going on right now.

    They're renovating a chunk of it, yes -- the major thoroughfare through the zoo (the Olmstead Walk) is still open, which is basically the pandas, the big cats, the apes, most large and small mammals. A chunk of the valley trail is closed off while they renovate some animal enclosures, and I think I recall that while the elephants are out in their exterior enclosure, the elephant house itself is having some construction done.

    The chunk of valley trail under renovation includes some birds and the seals/sea lions. That is a shame -- my wife and I went to the zoo for one of our first dates, and while we were in the vicinity of that exhibit, an unexpected rain shower hit, so we sheltered near their enclosure. There is no animal more delightfully confused than a seal who is staring up and barking at the sky as it tries to comprehend why the air is suddenly as wet as the pool. I'm sad you'll miss it.

    On the other hand, what's open is still awesome, and you can't beat a free zoo.

    SammyF on
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