Feedback on early plans

Planning a trip for July 9, 2023 (Sunday) to July 12, 2023 (Wednesday)

We can’t change the date. We’ll be in Baltimore the last half of July 4th week. There is a chance we will come back sometime in the next few years when the weather is nicer and kids are in school. The end date is also flexible.

DD has never been. DH went as a teen with his boy scout troop. He remembers doing a Capitol tour, and shaking hands with “Bush.” Considering our ages that was probably H.W. while he was V.P. I was there once many years ago during Memorial weekend when most of the Smithsonian’s were closed. But I did see all the monuments and the Air and Space Museum.

So, we will likely do just the highlights of DC. Pick out our favorite bits at two or three Smithsonians, most of the Monuments, trying for a Capitol tour and the White House Visitors Center. I turn into a blubbering weeping mess at National Cemeteries, so we’ll skip Arlington unless the family really really wants to go. We’ll also skip the Holocaust Museum. DD isn’t ready for that. She’s a sensitive soul who was traumatized to learn about the Incas. All she’s been able to handle about the Holocaust is that it has something to do with Germany, Jews and the Nazis who “were worse than the Incas.” She folded in on herself and said don’t tell me anymore. I would like to see the Vietnam Memorial to see the statues and I’ll bring some hankies. I’ve seen the Texas version of the The Wall at the State Fair. All the names … and I know from my dad that many of the names that people think are on there aren’t.

I looked into a Segway tour but they have a hard rule of 16+ age. We’ve done one of those before and it was the highlight of the trip for DD (now aged 12). Now I’m thinking we’ll rent scooters. They seem ideal for doing the monuments and I’ve read that those ones that lay around aren’t supposed to be left in that area. So I’d thought we’d rent some from dcscooters.com for a few hours. Their scooters are more expensive, but seem nicer too. When renting three for three hours it works out to each scooter is $18.75/hr. So about the same price as doing a tour.

We will drive and therefore have a car. Flying isn’t an option. If we wanted to be treated like cattle we could hang out with nearby cattle for free, and cattle are treated much better now that I think of it. I looked into the train. Since there is 3 of us we’d need the family bedroom and the price would be around $1800 round trip, so that is a No. We might later take a train trip some random place when the vacation is about the train trip.

Thinking of staying in a VRBO/AirBNB. VRBO seems cheaper with more options. I looked at one which is the basement of an historic home in Stanton that includes free parking. I assume with a Visitor’s pass. There is also a new listing really near the Arena and one block west of the Portrait Gallery. We would need to find a garage that allowed overnight parking. I messaged this person and she hasn’t messaged me back. But, VRBO had problems with losing communication when I was planning the Disney World trip. Another thing concerning is that that listing doesn’t appear on a search any longer. But, I still see it as available when I click through from my message. Whatever place we pick, I expect we’ll unload our luggage, and park the car until we leave.

When I visit someplace where I plan on using the Metro a lot, I prioritize being practically on top of a Metro station, any station. But in DC we might use Ubers. The Metro isn’t cheap and since there are three of us, Uber might be cheaper. Although if we were centrally located those scooters lying around for our non-Mall visit might be good. Considering the time of year, I expect it will be hot and swamp-humid. So, I want to limit our walking.

Any feedback? Note, I haven’t bought the Unofficial DC guide yet. I’m hoping a new one comes out before our trip since I imagine that a lot of things changed. I have read the overview info here.

Several of the museums require reservations. I would look into that and make sure you’re on that booking window as if it’s a Coveted WDW ADR! We took a very last minute trip and were limited to things that took walk-ups. Still had a great time!

It wasn’t super hot when we were there so we walked a lot. The one night we intended to rent scooters, we couldn’t find any or the ones we saw had dead batteries. We rented on to try the next day and I realized it probably was not for me. I fell trying to get off of DD19’s new hoverboard at Christmas and injured my back. Still not fully back to 100%. The scooter felt unsafe to me after that experience!

Lots of DC liners so hopefully they’ll chime in with thoughts and advice!

Oh - did you take your California trip this summer? Did it include Winchester house?

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DH and I had been to DC numerous times before we took our two youngest grandkids, 9 and 11, in about 2002. In June I think. Our annual month long camping trip with a weekend near DC.

During the planning stages I had many of the same ideas you’ve mentioned. Before I was done planning it really seemed to me the government needs to move to Fargo or some such, leaving DC to sightseers!

Anyway, I found a doable campground in Maryland, just outside the Beltway and on the Metro. Along the way I decided to take the plunge and do a half day bus tour - I think Greyline. Since the campground was on the Metro, the bus tour sent a vehicle to meet us there.

Some of the tour was not stuff I’d had on my radar - like Embassy Row, just a drive thru but kinda cool - and we didn’t spend a lot of time in the Vietnam/Lincoln Memorials area - but we weren’t looking for parking spots or walking from Metro stops. We did do changing of the Guard at Arlington, which has been a must do for me since my first visit, in uniform. This never gets old.

The day was hot but the bus was always cool, we were the only persons on the tour - so the driver added an extra stop since he wasn’t waiting for stragglers to board, and on the way back to the campground my granddaughter said the half day tour was “just right as her brain was full up”.

Good luck with your plans. Maybe think outside the box. And DC might be pricier than expected. We did not do any DC museums this trip tho we did other museums in other cities more friendly to tourists during the month.

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I will have more to add later, but thought you definately needed to know about the DC circulator:

It is a $1 bus (free tansfers with 2 hours) that runs around the mall, tidal basin and up to Union Station. There are other routes too, but that is the best for touring DC.

For the VRBO - is that near Stanton Park? That area is super close to Congress/Supreme Court/Library of Congress but not very convenient to the metro. You are sort of stuck up top of Capitol Hill. Perfect for Uber or even taxi’s, worse for public transportation.

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Yes we did. It was wonderful.

I need to make a rule that I finish the trip report before I start planning my next vacation. :slight_smile: I like to do them for my remembrance too.

We did go to the Winchester House. The house was great. The tour guide did a good job as a tour guide. BUT, she turned it into just touring a house of a rich old lady. She said she believed that all the stuff about seances and ghosts was made up by the locals who didn’t like her. They don’t even really know if what is called the Seance Room ever had seances.
Basically she took most of the fun out of it. We still enjoyed it. DH enjoyed looking at the construction. He is building our house by continually adding on to it. I found the Stained Glass amazing. Once the house is its final size, I might start to make stained glass windows to put just inside our real windows. DD is our daughter and just likes that sort of thing.

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Well, one of my top two choices is in Stanton Park.
This one:

Photo#20 is of the house. It makes my heart go pitty-pat to think of staying within that house. It also has the advantage of free parking and DD will be sleeping in another room. Price is $723 total.

The other top choice is this one. The total is $801.20.

Its main advantage is the location. If you look at the parking garage map that the Smithsonian provides, it is on the outer limits of the garages. So, pretty close. If you look at photo #23 you see that DD will be sleeping in the room with us. The previous 5 nights will be in a hotel room, so she’ll be with us then. But it will be nice to sleep in different rooms. This place also means we’d have to pay for 3-4 days of overnight parking. But she did respond to my email and I’m ‘preapproved’. But it is also really close to a Metro.

This is why I’m focused on transportation options at this point. If we decide to mostly use Uber, than the Stanton basement is the clear winner.

That DC Circulator looks really neat.

Both locations ate very central! You will never have trouble getting an Uber from Stanton. Thay is my stomping grounds because I lobby Congress and my office is at Eastern Market.

There may also be convienient buses near there but I think they mostly run North/South and to the east - so not towards the tourist areas.

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Ooooh, this one was just added. And it is only $540 total.
It is farther out than the others. But then the stairs are minimal. I was starting to think about lugging our luggage on steep stairs. That had been the only real complaint about the Stanton one.

ETA: This place saves enough money compared to the others, that we could take LOTS of Ubers. So, location becomes less important.

I am one age older than the age range that moved i to Shaw and Petworth when they became the trendy neighborhoods, so I don’t know them very well. I also don’t know how they are doing post-CoVID but Shaw had some of the best new restaurants pre COVID.

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I just got a reply from the Stanton historic house. She said that VRBO had held up a bunch of messages and delivered them all at once. I know VRBO has had that problem, so I believe her. Trouble is, I’ve verbally committed to the Shaw place and I really like it. She said that the Stanton place has private off-street parking. If I’d known that, I would have already reserved it. But, then the Shaw place is cheaper and just as nice.

Our house is paid for but we’re doing lots of construction. We’re getting a mortgage to help pay for that and nothing is final-final until we get the check. So, at the moment we are in a spending lock-down. But, as soon as we get that check, I’m reserving the Shaw place.

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I looked into White House tours and they only do those Friday and Saturday. I know one would have been a long shot anyway.

I am glad the Smithsonian reservations was mentioned.

I am looking at something like these audio tours. Maybe the Mall and the Embassy Row assuming we could make it into a driving tour.

White House tours are almost impossible to get! But you can get Capitol amd Library of Congress. You can actually go into the Supreme Court for a self guided tour. If it is in session you can line up to sit in the back for a 10 min shift during arguments.

I also highly recommend the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, ir the National Shrine. It is the largest Catholic church in America and just really dofferent from any churxh I have ever been in, worth getting a tour.

Also on the “if you have a car” list is the Frederick Douglas house. It is run by the National Park service with tours by appointment. Very interesting tour!

Interesting idea. Too bad we don’t get in until Sunday afternoon, otherwise we might have gone to a service instead of a tour. I’m Episcopalian. But since we live in a Texas exurb our choice in churches is Baptist or country music Christian. So, a familiar service while we gawk at the ceiling might have ben nice.

There are small chapels that have been donated from all over the world. Hearing those stories was the best part of the tour. It is an interesting place not many people think to go to.

Slight change in plans.
First, I noticed that both July 3rd and July 4th (Mon and Tues) are work holidays. So, I itched to change the DC part of the trip to at the start because I saw that Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues that I wouldn’t be working. Seemed like a shame to be home.

Then I talked to DH and he’s changed his mind about DC being super short (3 days). When he went as a kid, he felt rushed throughout the entire thing. So, now he wants 5 full days in DC. Talked with the family last night and they pointed out that the weekend around July4th will likely be bonkers with tourists. So, moving the DC tourist stuff to after the convention. Drive over from Baltimore Sunday afternoon and leave sometime Saturday.

They only do White House Tours on Fridays and Saturdays right now. So that gives us a slim chance. Although I understand it was unlikely anyway. Then you add in that any request submitted by Ted Cruz’s office to the Biden WH probably gets filed in the circular file, so our chances are less than normal. But, I’ll put in the request.

I told DD about my idea of us doing a private tour of the monuments using scooters. She loved loved that idea. Particularly the private part so that we can stay at each as much or little as we want. She also loves the idea of the scooters and always wants to try different modes of transportation. Like in Lake Tahoe, she talked us into a 4-person bike. I warned them that even though we weren’t on a tour, they had to listen to me blather about each stop.

We did DC this past July (there were 9 of us). I put in a request for a White House tour with our congressional rep about 100 days out (they can’t put in your request until 90 days) - we ended up getting it. They have since expanded how many days a week the tours are done, as of July 19, 2022, and it’s now Tuesday through Saturday The White House Announces Public Tours Will Resume A Full Operating Schedule - The White House. Put in the request - you never know if you’ll get it, and it was AWESOME. Since you’ll be there for a good amount of time, you have more days to request (our rep asked what days we’d be there, put in an initial request, and said she’s try for a different day if that didn’t work).

We also planned ahead and got tickets for the Washington Monument - this was a surprise favorite of our entire group. Totally worth snagging tickets for; I suggest you try and do it online ahead of time (instead of waiting in line the day of). We did this for the capital tour as well, and having timed tickets made things easier. Definitely go ahead and find out when tickets for your days will be available, and set a reminder to go on the website right when they open so you can snag some - they go fast.

I hadn’t been to DC in over 10 years, and had never gone with kids. It was a lot of walking. And it was hot (obviously). Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time in-between museums/memorials/etc - getting around wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We had trouble finding enough working scooters for our group of 9 - you may have better luck for a smaller group, just know it may take a little bit to find them. My family made a HUGE mistake on the metro, and loaded $50 onto a single card, planning to pass it down as we entered - like we always do in NYC. You can’t do that on the metro, so we had to go and buy 4 more cards, loading money on those as well. Honestly, would have been way cheaper and quicker to just grab an Uber. Our favorite meals were at Founding Farmers and The Capital Grille. We were most disappointed in the food trucks - food was expensive for what it was, and none of us really enjoyed our meals (except the kids with their chicken tenders :rofl:). Bring water bottles - Disney/Universal style, unless you wanna spend a small fortune buying water bottles. Any questions, just ask. I know there’s more info I’m forgetting to share.

@Ladyderks

Thank you for that. We have similar approaches to vacation touring. But, that makes sense since we are both liners.

I’d wondered about the Metro card and that had been my initial idea to get one card for the three of us. The website isn’t real clear on that. They say something like “Get one for everyone in your family.” But, that could mean for people that live there and the entire family isn’t always together. So, no Metro card and no subway. I like subways, but that one seems expensive. I was leaning towards Ubers, and your post clinched it. I think our transportation plans will default be Uber unless we easily find three scooters.

Interesting on the food trucks. I’m OK with them, but I’ve never understood the love. You pay near restaurant prices but you don’t have a comfy place to eat out of the sun.

I’ve added your food/restaurant comments to my planning document. We are driving there so we will have easy access to groceries and gallon jugs of water.

WH Tour, I’d told the family it was impossible because of the days we will be there. I’ll apply for it and if we get it, it will be a happy surprise.

Our current TV Show is Bull, and we just watched the episode where Tyler dated the librarian. It made me add the Library to the list.

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I have one correction - it was Old Ebbitt Grill we loved, not Capital Grille :smile: No joke about the food trucks being near restaurant cost - our lunch at Ebbitt was only $30 more (for 5 of us) than our food truck lunch, and it was soooo much better. Even included a table and chairs :wink:

Sounds like you will be well prepared! Love that you will have access to a kitchen, and won’t have to eat every meal out. Hope you guys have an amazing trip!!!

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We love AirBnb’s. There are uses for hotels, particularly for short stays. But we much prefer AirBnb’s. I guess it is because we never eat at the hotel restaurants, do room service or do pretty much anything outside our room except occasionally swim. So it is hard for the hotels to compare.

Plus, the family doesn’t do breakfast, while I really like something warm in the mornings, preferably with eggs. So, if we are happier if we are someplace with at least a fridge and microwave. I heat up breakfast while they get ready.

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