Pre-Trip Feedback?


Hello, I could use some feedback on our upcoming trip plan. Husband and I are bringing our three 9-year-olds for their first trip to DC. July 19-July 25. We are flying and will not be renting a vehicle. We are all active people with good tolerance for lots of walking (at DLR and WDW we do not take midday breaks and can last from 9 am - 10 pm normally, however, museum walking tends to wear me out more than Disney, which has rest breaks for shows, meals, rides, etc).

July 19: arrive at Nat'l and check-in to hotel near National Mall

Wednesday, July 20: Air & Space Museum: 10 am-2/3pmish? Lunch there or next door. Afternoon/early evening: Walk the monuments. Dinner at ______? (Can we realistically walk all the monuments and maybe to the Capitol in one afternoon? Would a bus tour be better?)

Thursday, July 21: Morning at the Spy Museum. Lunch at ___ (Union Station?). Afternoon/early evening at Arlington Cemetery? (Questions: Are these spots too far apart for one day? Can we "walk" Arlington Cemetery or should we take the bus? If we take their bus, can we get off to see the Tomb of Unknown Soldier?)

Friday, July 22: Morning at National Zoo. Lunch there. Afternoon at Smithsonian American History Museum (I have to choose this one 2nd because I'm an AP US History teacher, and I can't miss this one...) Evening Dinner with friends.

Saturday, July 23: Breakfast at _________? Late morning WH tour with friend who works in DC and has a few connections. Afternoon/early evening: ______________________ (Considering Potomac fun... mini golf? Any fun activities for the kids? Considering National Art have never seen "great art"? Or Ford's Theater (or could that be squeezed into Spy Museum day?) Or Smithsonian's Natural History?)

Sunday, July 24: Planning to go to Mount Vernon for most of the day. (Take water transportation or take metro/bus combo?)

Monday: early flight back

Thoughts? Things you'd move around, add, or delete? Restaurants near our hotel or sightseeing spots that you'd recommend (9-yr-old friendly, but a place that has salads for me???)

Thank you!


My kids, esp my DD10, loved DC. I think y'all will have a lot of fun. Here are my 2 cents:

July 20- Its a pretty long walk to all of the monuments and Capitol in one afternoon. It's about 2 miles from capital to the Lincoln memorial, and there is a whole separate, huge loop around the tidal basin to see FDR and Jefferson, etc. it's doable, but even people who are fit end up footsore and weary. Maybe rent bikes? Or split it up between 2 days? We did a nighttime bus tour and loved it.

July 21: my kids loved union station. They also loved the postal museum that was somewhat close by. I was surprised at how fun that museum was, because in general mail just doesn't really seem to exciting. Not sure about getting to Arlington. We didn't do this but I also saw tours for that, or that incorporated Arlington with a trip to mt. Vernon. I think there is also some internal bus or trolley or something in Arlington that will take you between locations, like tomb of unknown soldier etc.

July22; loved the zoo and my 10 year old wanted to stay all day at the American history museum. There really is something for everyone there.

July 23: the White House visitors center was a big hit with my crew. my kids liked the botanical garden too, and all of the smithsonian museums. Everyone enjoyed eating at the American Indian museum cafe. And they liked the sculpture garden. My 10 yr old liked the national art museum, but we didn't stay too long because my 3 & 5 yr olds got antsy

July 24: not sure that there is any convenient, direct bus between DC and mt Vernon but I could be wrong. There are bus tours. The boat trip sounds like fun, but it was closed while we were there (in November). Lots to do at mt. Vernon.

General thoughts: in general the subway and buses were really easy to use and we just took a couple cabs as well. 2 places we ate that everyone loved: old ebbitt grill (near white house) and firefly in Georgetown. There are also some good brunch choices. Maybe Ted's Bulletin. We also liked pizza paradiso


I recognize you've already gone on your trip (hope it was fun!) but figured I would throw in my two cents for whomever else ends up on this thread looking for similar information.

W, 7/20--I would recommend heading to the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) next door for better food than at NASM. NASM only has McDonalds, and frankly the entire food area tends to be noisy, somewhat dirty, and overpriced. You might be able to do all of the monuments in a single afternoon, if you're really speedy walkers and don't tend to dawdle much in the "museum" portions of each. That is a heck of a hike, though--especially if it's the Capitol to the Jefferson. (The other issue I've always run into for these all-day monument marathons is the lack of bathrooms near the monuments.) Honestly, I've always found it to be easier on everyone (esp. in the summer) to split monuments into several days, or selectively choose a few you really want to do. Vietnam, Korea, DC Memorial, Lincoln, and WWII all tend to work well for one nice long walk. Same with FDR, MLK, and Jefferson.

T 7/21--I would get food near the Spy Museum. There's lots of options there that span a wide range of prices and pickiness, and Union Station is a hike from there (esp. if you did all the monuments the day before). If you do Arlington, take the Metro. It's cheap, it's easy, and for the most part it is realiable. No, Arlington is not "walkable" by the average person's yardstick. Marathoners, sure. Metro lets you right off where you need to be.

F 7/22-- I would again recommend eating outside of the zoo, although their choices are not nearly as bleak as NASM. You'll love NMAH. (I spent a lovely summer interning there.) Definitely budget for a solid afternoon there. For those who shudder at the idea of many hours in a museum--this is not your grandfather's stuffy museum. They have worked hard to include a LOT of interactive elements--and it really pays off.

S 7/23--Good get on the WH tour! I recommend Natural History.


FYI. The train station is a good place to eat since it has a food court area. It is in the area of the postal museum.