Author Topic: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)  (Read 6751 times)

moonpalace

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February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« on: June 09, 2017, 12:04:03 PM »
We're using some starwood points to stay in DC for a week from late Feb. to early March. And I haven't been there since . . . 1989, I think! :-) Traveling with my DW and two kids (ages 8 & 12). Hoping to tap the mustachian hive-mind!

1) Should we use the starpoints directly or convert to Marriott? Where in the city should we stay? Seems like the available starwood properties that are walking distance to the mall are way fancier than we really need, but it would be really cool to be able to walk to museums and such. For what it's worth, we're staying 6 nights and we've got 80k starpoints now (and probably some more on the way, but I'd just as soon not blow them all on fanciness I don't need).

2) What are some must-do experiences for the 8 and 12-year old set? So far we're looking at Air & Space, the zoo, the spy museum, the building museum, maybe library of congress, museum of the american indian, museum of african american history & culture. I'm sure I'm missing many things...

3) We'll be bringing plenty of snacks and fixin's for frugal breakfast and lunches, but would also love to know about reasonably priced dining options in downtown DC (if there are any).

Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 12:14:34 PM by moonpalace »

CNM

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2017, 12:32:17 PM »
Chiming in to say that I agree that you do not need to be in walking distance of the Smithsonian.  As long as you are in a hotel close to a metro line, that will be enough.  Also, DC has uber/lyft that might even be cheaper than metro in some cases if you  need to get back to the hotel quickly.

rockstache

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2017, 01:03:16 PM »
I think the Library of Congress is rather boring unless your kids like old books. I recommend the white house (must book ahead of time), and the capitol building (you can book a tour online through your local senator's office). Don't forget the memorials: Washington (Free tickets for same day begin at 8:30am), War memorials, and Jefferson, Lincoln, MLK. The changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns in Arlington is good, but I would skip the Pentagon tour. All the Smithsonian's are good (haven't seen African American one yet), but I like the American history, Natural History, and American Indian ones best. National Archives is cool if you have any desire to lay eyes on some old founding documents. Ford's theatre is very interesting too, and near the Spy museum (which is one of the few you actually have to pay for).

Food downtown is expensive - it just is. Carry snacks and plan your lunch stops to save $. I also agree with the PP that you don't need to stay downtown as long as you're near a metro stop. You will each need your own metro card to ride though - no sharing.

mozar

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2017, 01:26:20 PM »
Quote
museum of african american history & culture
reserve ASAP

Chinatown and Eastern Market/Capitol Hill are good places to stay if you want to be near the mall.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 01:56:11 PM by mozar »

CheapskateWife

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2017, 01:47:51 PM »
Highly recommend the Annex for the Air and Space museum out by Dulles.  Yes, you have to take a bus out there, but its so flipping cool.  There is an SR71 Blackbird that was used in the filming of one of the Transformer movies, the Enola Gay, and a space shuttle.  Its just awesome!

YttriumNitrate

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2017, 01:58:14 PM »
Since you are going in February, and DC pretty much grinds to a halt at the mere mention of snow, I would recommend staying at a hotel within walking distance of an underground metro station.

Ocinfo

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2017, 02:03:30 PM »
The Westin Georgetown is 11k points per night and the Le Meridien Arlington is 8,750 points. Both are short walks to the orange/blue/silver metro line that will take you to the WH, National Mall, etc...you can also walk into Georgetown from either. I'm partial to the Westin as I live very near by and you can easily walk to DuPont and the Whitehouse is a 15 to 20 minute walk. FYI...late February to early March tends to be a relatively high snow risk period and this town pretty much shuts down. That being said, it could easily be 70 degrees and sunny.


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moonpalace

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2017, 02:09:28 PM »
Thanks for the tips so far, everyone! This is invaluable!

To respond to one question: son (12) is into comic books, science, computers, history, books. daughter (8) is into science, engineering, architecture, science, books. Both of them will get a kick out of anything involving large buildings or machines. We're coming from rural New England and we haven't traveled much, so just riding a subway (or, for that matter, an escalator) will be a pretty cool experience for them.

I've got to do some more looking but it seems like hotels in Arlington are about half the points of those downtown and it's a pretty easy metro ride in. Georgetown is also very intriguing. Seems like walking from Westin Georgetown to the Mall would be reasonable (1 mile to White House, more to the rest of the mall).

Thanks again! Keep 'em coming!

Ocinfo

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2017, 02:16:36 PM »
Should also mention to check parking. It's not unusual for valet parking to be required and cost $35 to $50 per night.


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CrashnBurn

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2017, 02:25:00 PM »
This requires a cab/uber/lyft/bicycles(right on a major bike path), but try having a picnic at Gravelly Point Park. It butts up against Reagan National Airport. A inexpensive blast for kids and Adults alike.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsSJlQsQK6E

I've been in D.C. since 2011, and this hidden gem keeps me biking here for fun!

I realize you're going in February, but with the weather here these days, it might be beautiful out!

« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 02:57:41 PM by CrashnBurn »

CheapskateWife

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2017, 02:49:03 PM »
Thanks for the tips so far, everyone! This is invaluable!

To respond to one question: son (12) is into comic books, science, computers, history, books. daughter (8) is into science, engineering, architecture, science, books. Both of them will get a kick out of anything involving large buildings or machines. We're coming from rural New England and we haven't traveled much, so just riding a subway (or, for that matter, an escalator) will be a pretty cool experience for them.

I've got to do some more looking but it seems like hotels in Arlington are about half the points of those downtown and it's a pretty easy metro ride in. Georgetown is also very intriguing. Seems like walking from Westin Georgetown to the Mall would be reasonable (1 mile to White House, more to the rest of the mall).

Thanks again! Keep 'em coming!
National Building Museum for your little fan of Architecture!

wordnerd

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2017, 03:14:35 PM »
Check out the Georgetown waterfront (only problem is the Metro doesn't go there, but you can walk or Uber), free shows at the Kennedy Center (they often happen in the summer), and tours of the Capitol (contact your Representative's office and they can set up a private tour for you, usually led by an intern). On that note, your Rep's office can often get you tickets to DC attractions; call them and see what they have. You can't go into the Supreme Court most of the time, but it's worth walking by.

Food isn't great and is overpriced, so I'd recommend eating in as much as possible. Metro everywhere, feel the humidity, and take an umbrella. Have an amazing time!

lsl129

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2017, 03:39:50 PM »
Went this spring with an 8 year old. Stayed in Arlington at Holiday Inn Key Bridge which was close to metro and had free parking and a pool.

Museum of American history was our favorite museum. Air and space was great, but look at the map and choose your favorites. It's too big to cover it all. Natural history I was underwhelmed with. Some cool things but was so crowded. Do not eat at any of these museums. Street vendors are good and cheap. If you plan to pack lunch, go to museums after, as many don't allow food. Going to museums around 3-4 on days they are open late worked out well.

The zoo was nice. Get there early before the buildings open and you have a good chance of seeing pandas outside with no crowds. Definitely pack a lunch. We took an uber as the metro involved a transfer and would take awhile. My first time ubering and was very happy with it.

We ate downtown at &pizza and district taco which were pretty reasonable.

Try contacting your congressman for tours. We did not get any. Library of congress was cool to see but we didn't stay long.

We didn't get a night tour but we decided to take uber to Jefferson memorial around dusk, walk the path to Lincoln, then Uber back. Much better, cheaper, than a bus tour and you can go at your own pace.

We did a lot of walking so returning to the hotel for a break/swim in afternoon was worth the extra metro fare so we had energy for the evening

Have a great trip!

tonysemail

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2017, 04:45:24 PM »
p2f, thinking of a spring break trip to DC for next year.

Ocinfo

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2017, 05:31:24 PM »
Things keep popping in my head. Since you're planning a longer trip, I would suggest a trip or two outside of DC such as Mount Vernon or just spend an evening in Alexandria depending on weather. Since you mentioned air and space, I highly recommend you visit both the downtown location as well as the Udvar Hazy location at IAD. Also, use Yelp before every meal. There are so many nice looking restaurants that are way over priced with less than stellar food.


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moonpalace

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2017, 05:41:18 PM »
Should also mention to check parking. It's not unusual for valet parking to be required and cost $35 to $50 per night.

Ouch! Yeah, seems like the going rate for the mandatory valet parking is like $42/night.

crispy

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2017, 06:40:15 PM »
We just got back from a trip to DC. Our highlights were Arlington National Cemetery,  all the Monuments, the National Archives, the Capitol, and the American​ History Museum. We also loooved our visit to Mt. Vernon. We were only there for three days, but I wish we would have stayed longer...there is so much to do and see.

We stayed in Arlington at the Econo Lodge Metro...it was cheap, clean, within walking distance to the Metro, and had no hidden fees. Highly recommend.

YHD

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2017, 07:24:17 PM »
We love dc.  For Starwood hotels, we really like the w by the White House.  This is likely a bit expensive /fancy.  The Westin city center is also great and walkable to all the attractions.  If you are a platinum member, you can opt for free breakfast as your amenity .  Buffet so you can discreetly pack snacks for the rest of the day. 

Third longest metro escalator in dc is woodley park stop on the red line. I loved it as a 20 yo on my first dc trip.  Combine with a trip to the zoo.

There is a boat trip to mt Vernon that is pretty fun.

Second the air and space annex in Maryland if anyone has interests in airplanes or history.  The Enola gay is huuuge.  It may be a slog to get there on public transit.

The building museum is a must.  They do installations in the summer (maze, beach with ball pool simulating the ocean, icebergs).  Not sure when they come down.

A bike or Segway tour is a great way to orient yourself.  During the week, you'll likely have the guide to yourself.

We saw Katy Perry touring the national history museum.  Also has the First Lady dresses, Dorothy's red slippers and the set of Archie bunker. 

Some of the playhouses occasionally do an interactive event, e.g. A whodunit with audience participation.   Can check the schedule.  The Kennedy is also a (longish) walk from Arlington cemetery.

Love dc. 


twbird18

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2017, 04:33:00 AM »
You can't go wrong with the museums in DC, but you have a architecture fan so the building museum is a must. The spy museum has 2 interactive experiences that are totally worth the extra money IMO especially with kids old enough to play along. Bureau of Engraving & Printing is one people frequently forget about - seeing how money is made is fun, but they usually don't open back up until mid-march, so it depends on the dates you decide on & you have to get tickets in advance, but they are free.

For the history fan - you can also visit Ford Theater to learn about Lincoln's assassination.

One thing most people don't do, which is great is visiting an embassy. You'll have to wait until the end of the year to look at schedules for that time frame, but most offer free fun events like the Swedish Embassy currently has a Swedish style playroom & story time & the Japanese Embassy frequently has movies & Japan for kids in the park.

There is nearly always a fun festival happening in DC, you'd just have to check the event schedules closer to time.

Sometimes the Kennedy Center has free events/exhibitions & stuff for kids. National Philharmonic performances are free for kids & an easy ride to Strathmore House if you stayed in Georgetown (https://www.strathmore.org/events-and-tickets/cyo)

Staying outside the city is cheaper & the metro gets you everywhere. Georgetown is a shorter ride in (or walk) than Arlington if that's where you're looking.

MayDay

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2017, 06:53:04 AM »
We were just there in November with a 6 and 9 year old for five days.

We stayed at a Hilton with points that was on the metro but just outside of DC itself. We ate breakfast at the hotel, packed a lunch, took the metro in, and got dinner each night at a fast casual place (Chipotle, etc). We just googled to find restaurants wherever we ended up.

We basically went to the various free museums and walked around the monuments. My kids favorites were the posteal museum and air and space. The postal is awesome because it is calm and quiet.

mozar

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2017, 02:15:09 PM »
If you are able to get in touch with your state representative, ask them for a tour of the Capitol's private metro.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DYwkysVIHU

Full Beard

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2017, 08:51:34 PM »
The ice skating rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden may still be open around that time.  I think Friday and Saturday nights they stay open until about 10pm and it's right across the street from the Air and Space museum.

marion10

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #22 on: June 10, 2017, 09:22:42 PM »
If you have Starwood points and can convert to Marriott- I would seriously look at a Residence Inn. Free breakfast. Often dinner Mon-Wed. Kitchenette so you can cook dinner or have a fridge and make lunches. There are a number of them in DC- I really like the one in Pentagon City that has very easy access to the Metro. The cafeteria in the Museum of the American Indian is pricey but one of my favorite places to eat and a good splurge- if you get the sampler plates they are very easily split by two people. I personally find the rest of the Museum a little dull. The Capitol and the Botanic Gardens right next to it are fun. Another tour that has to be done in advance is the Pentagon. Very cool- you make reservations on their website. Since it is February- consider a bus tour of the monuments at night.  Bureau of Engraving and Printing is fun. All the Smithsonians are great and free. The National Archives is worth a quick visit and not likely to crowded in Feb. The Library of Congress might be worth a quick trip - there is a tunnel that leads directly to it from the visitors' center at the Capitol.
We got discounted tickets for the spy museum on Goldstar. A surprise hit was Ford's Theater and The House Where Lincoln Died (also free) . The presentation the Park Ranger did there was mesmerizing and kept an auditorium full of middle schoolers quiet.

Dicey

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2017, 12:16:05 AM »
DC is my favorite big city! (Sorry, NYC.) I haven't been back since 2011, so I know there's lots of new stuff to do. I see a lot of my favorites have been mentioned. Another I didn't see (sorry if it's there) is the National Cathedral.

When I travel, I often start at the Gift Shop. Not to buy crap, but to see what people want to be reminded of. I scan the books and postcards. At the National Cathedral, I almost forgot to check the Gift Shop. Once there, I saw pictures of the mosaics in the Resurrection Chapel. Huh? How did I miss that? It's underground and behind another exhibit, IIRC. I retraced my steps and was rewarded with this hidden gem.

There are treasures everywhere in DC, and it's easy to get around. I concur that staying as close in as you can is best. You will be walking your tushes off all day long.

For a while, I dated a guy in DC who was um, connected. His staff often sent me to check out the new things because I'd done all the usual stuff. That was a blast, but it was also way back in the late 90's.

Many of the Memorials are open at night and well-lighted. I often scheduled them last, because I tried to cram as much into every day as possible. The FDR is one I remember as being especially lovely at night. That said, DC has the same problems as any big city anywhere, so be careful and keep your wits about you at all times.

Every Park Ranger you see is a font of information. Chat them up at every opportunity. Go to anything with the Smithsonian name attached to it, even it it doesn't sound interesting, it will be.

My most recent trip was with a WWII Veteran courtesy of Honor Flight. We toured all the war memorials in a single day. The next day I took my friend to see Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian, because he had worked with her. Awesome, whirlwind trip.

Don't be afraid to cherry pick the big venues. On a trip with my cousins, we had twenty minutes before the Natural History Museum closed. We chose three things (um, the Hope Diamond, the Elephant and the Polar Bear, I think), scurried around finding them. It served as a happy placeholder until a subsequent trip allowed a more leisurely tour.

Always, always: The Vietnam Memorial. Morning, noon and night, it never fails to move even the most casual observer.

davisgang90

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2017, 04:24:10 AM »
I live in Alexandria and work in the city.  I'll echo lots of good recommendations so far.

The Pentagon tour is a pain to set up, but the kids may really enjoy the size and history of it.  I worked there on 3 separate occasions and still enjoyed walking around the corridors examining the artwork and history.

If you want a break from museums and monuments and like to hike, Roosevelt Island is a nice short hike around wetlands just across from the monuments on the VA side.

I haven't been, but the Spy Museum gets rave reviews with kids.  I'll echo that the Dulles Air and Space annex is worth the trip.

Feel free to hit me up if I can help.

BlueHouse

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2017, 11:34:41 AM »
Here are a few tips that help you find some hidden gems:
1.  Consider getting Capital Bikeshare keys during your visit and bring or buy bike helmets.  Unlimited 30 minutes trips for about $7/day.   Download the app "Spotcycle" so you know which stations have bikes and docks.  Cycling around lets you see so much more and so much faster.  You can bike from the capitol down to the monuments in 10 minutes and then drop the bikes off at a station while you explore.  You can bike around the Tidal Basin over to the Jefferson Memorial and be back to Lincoln in great time.  Not necessarily what you want, but you can fit a lot more in if you're only walking once you get somewhere instead of walking to and from every sight.
2.  Call your congressperson now and ask for a tour of the white house.
3.  Ditto for the Capitol, but you can also go on tours without congress invitation.
4.  If you're near the Capitol, also see the Botanical Gardens across the street.  Cross Independence, and have lunch at the Rayburn Office Building Cafeteria.  You have to show ID to get in, but once inside, the cafeteria is really nice and unbelievably cheap. 
5.  Newseum -- this may be the best museum in the city for kids and adults.  But it's not part of the Smithsonian, so it's not free.
6.  Library of Congress.  Most beautiful building in DC in my opinion.  The tours focus on architecture and history. 
7.  See what's going on at the Supreme court.  See if there are any protests and join in!  Everyone should take part in a protest at least once in their life (either as a participant or spectator) to experience how important our right to free speech is.
8.  Check out the Events Calendar on the Smithsonian website (closer to your visit, as more events come online each month).  Have each member of the family choose events that are of interest to them.  If lucky, there will be some free special events during your visit.  I check out the calendars quarterly and find all types of interesting free lectures, films, panel discussions, exhibits, etc. that few tourists now about. 
9.  Don't assume you know that it will be cold until you get here.  This year, honeysuckles bloomed in February!  (I know because my rose bushes get trimmed when the honeysuckles bloom).
10.  Secret place:  State Department website offers tours of the reception rooms.  It's common to get bumped for someone important, but it's worth a try.  If it looks like something your family would really enjoy, sign up for a tour every day and then if you actually get one, drop the others. 
11.  If you want a few hours of bike riding, take a ride on the Mt. Vernon trail.  For this, I'd do a bike rental from your hotel because bikeshare gets expensive for all-day affairs. 
12.  Need a break from the walking?  See an imax film at Air and Space or Natural History. 
13.  Look up the "Circulator" as a public transportation option.  $1 rides and transfers.  Really easy. 
14.  Personally, I would not stay in Georgetown.  It's not "the" place to be anymore.  It's hard to get around, the traffic is horrific, it's expensive, and it's almost a 'has-been" location.  I live near Capitol Hill-Navy Yard (Near Southeast, Capitol Riverfront) neighborhood.  Lots of new hotels here in 15 minute walking distance to the Mall.  Super easy to get around in this area by foot, by bike, by Metro, by Circulator, and even by car.  You can hop in a car and get to the airport in 6 minutes. 
15.  Check out the video for this neighborhood to see if this would be your kind of place.  This video is a few years old, and it's even better now because it's more built out. 
http://www.capitolriverfront.org/#
16.  Also, check out Frederick Douglas museum, Barrack's Row, O Street Mansion, Embassy Row,
16.  Keep posting because I'm sure you'll find more between now and Feb. 


Mtngrl

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2017, 12:26:45 PM »
Everyone has already mentioned so many wonderful and inexpensive things to see. My recommendations for inexpensive dining include a meal in Chinatown and -- when you are in the Capital Building area -- have lunch at the public restaurant in the basement of the Dirkson Senate Office Building -- you have to go through security, but it is open to the public, and a lot of people don't know about it. It's cafeteria style, but we found the food to be very good, reasonably priced, and it's great for people-watching. If the Senate is in session, you will likely see Senators, and maybe a Supreme Court Justice. You can also ride the underground private subway to get there, which is a cool adventure, too. Finally, try an Ethiopian restaurant (unless your children are really picky). Food is served on flatbread -- sometimes a large platter-sized piece -- with many different foods that you dip the bread into. It's a sharing type of meal, relatively inexpensive and a great cultural experience as well.
Definitely contact your senator for White House tour tickets -- we also really enjoyed the FBI tour and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving tours -- there was a huge line when we arrived, but because we had tickets from our Senator with an assigned time, we were able to cruise past the line and go right in.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2017, 04:50:49 AM »
The Botanic Gardens are worth a look, especially if it is a cold day.  (Actually one of my favorite places in DC).  The gardens are on the mall but not part of the Smithsonian right next to capitol hill.  There is a 2nd story catwalk that gets you up into the "canopy."

Gondolin

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2017, 12:04:01 PM »
Quote
Highly recommend the Annex for the Air and Space museum out by Dulles. 

+100 if your kids like large machines the Annex will blow their minds.

mozar

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2017, 01:09:59 PM »
Consider taking a day trip to Baltimore to visit the Aquarium.

marion10

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2017, 03:37:51 PM »
You can take a short Amtrak train to Baltimore to do this.

moonpalace

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2017, 05:08:27 AM »
Thanks so much, everyone! These are wonderful suggestions. We'll have our car with us so the trips to Dulles and Baltimore should be easy! Our biggest problem now is finding time to do all the things we want to - we've only got a week there! :-)

We're leaning now towards converting the SPG points to Marriott Rewards, so we can stay in a Residence Inn (probably in Arlington, or maybe capitol hill/navy yard) and save on food and parking.

Thanks again!

mp

BlueHouse

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2017, 09:17:39 AM »
Just another thought:  I absolutely love sunrise and sunset at the Lincoln and Jefferson Monuments. 

Not sure if you're up to a trip to the Holocaust Museum, but it's kind of a thing that really is important for kids to know about and to see the artifacts first-hand is truly eye-opening.  It's a difficult experience, but I think it's well worth a half-day and you can really start getting your young ones to be thoughtful about "what they would do" etc. 

Dicey

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2017, 10:21:59 AM »
Consider taking a day trip to Baltimore to visit the Aquarium.
Nope, nope nope. Love the Aquarium, but seriously, save it for another trip. There is so much to do in and around DC. A side trip to Baltimore will eat up a ton of time and cash, both of which are at a premium.

It's a greal venue, as is the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, but seriously, it's too much for this trip.

ixtap

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2017, 10:30:35 AM »
The Spy Museum! We stopped by on a lark, but it has a lot of hands on activities, including a cover story for each guest.

Gondolin

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2017, 10:58:29 AM »
Oh, and if you go to Annex, bring lunch. The only food inside is a McDonald's and there's nothing else around.

aroberson77

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2017, 02:36:21 PM »
Highly recommend the Annex for the Air and Space museum out by Dulles.  Yes, you have to take a bus out there, but its so flipping cool.  There is an SR71 Blackbird that was used in the filming of one of the Transformer movies, the Enola Gay, and a space shuttle.  Its just awesome!

+1  Growing up my favorite museum was the Air and Space, went to the annex when it opened as well and it was just as good if not better.  If you have boys they will probably want to go to the air and space multiple times since there is so much stuff to see.

BlueHouse

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2017, 08:26:36 AM »
Did I mention the Folger Shakespeare Library?  Small, but they have an exhibition hall with some cool exhibits.  Last year they had a Spycraft collection with the original Enigma machine on display.  It's across the street from the Capitol building, and if you're really interested, a 45-minute tour is great.  If not, you can walk through the collection and see a real Elizabethan-style theater in under 20 minutes, not to mention the First Folio. 

schmerna

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2017, 09:01:07 AM »
My kids when 7&9 loved:
Ford Theater
Washington Monument
Lincoln Monument
Library of Congress
Riding the Metro
American History Museum (We went just for the Star Spangled Banner Exhibit and Dorothy's slippers, both were great)
Air & Space

Future Plans:
Jefferson Memorial
Building Museum
Spy Museum- get advanced tickets
White House

Did not like:
Arlington Cemetery

To Eat:
District Taco
Pi Pizza

Northwoods

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2017, 07:41:57 AM »
Highly recommend the Annex for the Air and Space museum out by Dulles.  Yes, you have to take a bus out there, but its so flipping cool.  There is an SR71 Blackbird that was used in the filming of one of the Transformer movies, the Enola Gay, and a space shuttle.  Its just awesome!

^This! One of DH and my favorite parts of our trip last spring. We drove our there and paid to park.

CNM

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #40 on: June 16, 2017, 11:08:09 AM »
Another lesser-known museum that I absolutely LOVE in DC is the Phillips Collection.  It is a small art museum near Dupont Circle.  The collection admission is free but if there is an exhibition you wish to see, that will incur a charge.

Anyway, I know that art may not be you or your family's cup of tea but for others in this thread who might be, the Phillips Collection is excellent.  When I go back to DC to visit (I grew up there, but I now live in New Mexico), I make an effort to check it out.

Car Jack

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2017, 11:48:40 AM »
Find a less fancy pants place where you can stretch your points.  Someplace on the metro that's out a bit is ideal.  Get a week long metro pass so you can go anywhere whenever you want.

We loved all the Smithsonians we visited.  Of course Air and Space, natural history.....
Just walking the mall and looking at the monuments and Viet Nam wall were a day by itself.
Contact you Senator's offices for a Capitol tour.  We got on the list for both of ours and took the one where the time worked best for us.
We did the spy museum, which my younger son wanted as the only thing in DC he wanted to hit.  I was underwhelmed with the museum, overwhelmed with the cost and followed advice of many to eat hot dogs at their restaurant which were almost as good as I could cook them (and I'm not a good cook).
Arlington National Cemetery is worth considering (ask your kids....they may have zero interest)
White house tour (if you can get tickets)

CrashnBurn

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #42 on: July 08, 2017, 07:57:03 PM »
If you are able to get in touch with your state representative, ask them for a tour of the Capitol's private metro.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DYwkysVIHU

This is too cool! I've lived here for years, didn't know this was a thing!

jeninco

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Re: February vacation in DC w/ kids (seeking advice)
« Reply #43 on: July 08, 2017, 09:26:20 PM »
I grew up in DC, and my parents are still there, so we go back most summers.

Nth-ing the Air and Space annex by Dulles. They have a space shuttle you can just walk around! And a Concord! and a Blackbird!

My then 12-year-old found the News-eum to be a bit much. I think his grandparents took him to an exhibit of Pulitzer-winning photos and we realized afterwards that award-winning photos tend to be pretty disturbing. (Think of the famous photo of the naked vietnamese "Napalm girl"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc. Your kids may very, of course.

Check and see what exhibits will be where -- last summer we saw the very end of a super-cool exhibit at the Renwick (which is across the street from the White House): lots of large-scale art. The ballroom at the top of the stairs is, I believe, now a permanent exhibit of ... Geez, it's a little hard to describe. It's an entire ballroom-sized work of immersive art, with lights and shadows. The museum's free, so if you go in, head up the stairs, and continue straight you'll be there. If it's a thing you like (and you can get your kids to give it a few minutes), you may be there 20+ minutes looking at/in that one work.

In general, I'm a fan of taking your time. I love the Lincoln Memorial, and I particularly like taking the time to read the inscriptions, and walk around the outside and take in the views. So many people run through DC with 10 minutes at this memorial, and 1 hour at that museum... That stuff will be there when you get back!

I like some of the art museums as well: the sculpture garden at the Hirshorn is pretty cool, and they sometimes have neat exhibits. Don't know what will be showing there, but the building of the East Wing of the National Art Museum,  which was designed by I M Pei to fit on a funny triangular piece of land, is one of my favorite structures. Plus, there's a giant Alexander Caulder mobile hanging in it and mobile-ing around, which is also a fave.

Oh -- for the architecture kid: The Museum of African Art and the Sackler are underground buildings behind the Smithsonian castle. The exhibits could be really cool, or could be "meh", but the structures are neat!