Author Topic: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER  (Read 4319 times)

NoCreativity

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Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« on: April 01, 2016, 02:51:42 PM »
Any mustachian tips for a long weekend to the D.C area with an 18 month old, possibly mid June to visit family?

GhostSaver

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2016, 03:17:26 PM »
Are you staying with family? Are you flying or driving there?

I would recommend getting a cheap hotel room near a metro stop, and not too far out from downtown. The Smithsonian Museums are free and will take as many hours as your toddler can handle. Natural History is the classic for kids. The Building Museum is pretty cool, but costs money. Sadly, 18 months is pretty little to appreciate much. Make sure the munchkin gets plenty of time with family rather than drag him to stuff he isn't old enough to enjoy.

Camping in the Shenandoah or getting out on a boat in the Potomac or Chesapeake could be fun, depending on the weather. The public parks and pools in DC are very nice and could be pleasant with a kid that age.

Don't be afraid to walk places. Take a stroller. The city, especially the central part, is very walkable.

StashthatCash

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2016, 03:35:18 PM »
We went 2 years ago, it can be done on a budget easily.  We booked our hotel on hotwire and chose the area near the national mall.  There are a lot of bus stops in the area and you can get a day pass or multi day pass for I think $3 or so.  Most of the national monuments are free to go to so that helps keep costs down also.  We bought cereal and milk at a grocery store which covered our breakfasts as well. 

NoCreativity

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2016, 03:41:19 PM »
The family would be glad to have us, but I'm hesitant to force the whims of an 18 month old onto our host.

not sure about the drive vs fly...

I used this calculator

http://www.befrugal.com/tools/fly-or-drive-calculator/

The flight would definitely be faster, but way more expensive.

The drive, while the more efficient way to go, would be about 15 hours of driving intermixed with breaks every hour or two for toddler tantrums and running around. we would probably stay a few nights along the way to break it up.

Jacana

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2016, 03:48:52 PM »
The national zoo is free and really nice (though I'm biased, I used to volunteer there). But food and parking are pricey and the place is a big hill. Bring food, you are allowed. Cheating tip: if you take the metro (best option), you can start at the top of the hill by the pandas, meander down to the bottom where the petting zoo and Amazonia are, then if you are tired catch the free zoo shuttle back to the top. You'll miss some stuff that way, but no pushing the stroller up.

AZDude

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2016, 03:51:02 PM »
I flew from San Diego to Baltimore with a 2 year old once... I would rather eat a horse apple than do it again. Recommend drive. Toddler is strapped into a car seat, and as long as you stop to change the LO and let LO run around, you will be fine. Bring a laptop/table/etc that can play a movie and some snacks.

I've made the Phoenix/San Diego(about 6 hours) drive dozens of times with a toddler and it was a piece of cake. She would get cranky, but it was so much easier to deal with than an angry kid screaming, etc... right as the plane is boarding(and I'm wondering if the airline is going to kick us off the plane). Or worse, in the middle of your 4 hour flight LO decides to start climbing under the seat and causing mischief, screaming, and generally making the whole plane believe you are the worst parent in the world.

Drive, take your time, and enjoy yourself.

Northwestie

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2016, 04:24:06 PM »
The national zoo is free and really nice (though I'm biased, I used to volunteer there). But food and parking are pricey and the place is a big hill. Bring food, you are allowed. Cheating tip: if you take the metro (best option), you can start at the top of the hill by the pandas, meander down to the bottom where the petting zoo and Amazonia are, then if you are tired catch the free zoo shuttle back to the top. You'll miss some stuff that way, but no pushing the stroller up.

Seconds on the zoo.  I used to live near it and since it's free, I used to include a loop on my run and then back to Rock Creek Park.  While up in that neck of the woods wander over the Adams Morgan neighborhood for some good ethnic food (Ethiopian, central America) for good prices.  Wandering around there for the people watching is a cheap date.

MsPeacock

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2016, 01:51:06 PM »
When my kids were toddlers the thing they liked best at the Smithsonian museums were the escalators! I would suggest checking online for hands-on displays for young children before attempting any of the Smithsonian museums. I found them mostly to be too big and too complex for toddler age kids.

The zoo is great.

The national mall has a merry-go-round if you happen to be down that way to with kiddo (as the museums are in that area as well).

You will need a stroller for sure - distances are deceptive in DC.

If it isn't too hot it can be fun to walk around the tidal basin and visit the memorials - Lincoln, etc.

There are swam paddle type boats that can be rented in the tidal basin pool.

Poosalosomous

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2016, 02:02:51 PM »
I would find the Smithsonian museums  overwhelming with a young toddler (though mine is generally on a countdown to nap), however they are at the National Mall, where he can go and run. I think the national monuments and the zoo would be good ideas. Fairly low stress and low cost.

frooglepoodle

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2016, 12:05:00 PM »
I can't provide a lot of useful advice on activities (my little one is 9 months old any likes anything where he gets to grin at passersby), but if you are using a stroller keep in mind that many (most?) metro stations don't have elevators. I wear my son in a carrier when we go into the city rather than deal with folding and unfolding the stroller.

Runrooster

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2016, 05:54:24 PM »
Pretty sure all the stations have elevators, and are required to do so by ADA.  Usually some are broken, but escalators will get you up.

I think most of the kids were age 5+ before we started taking them into the city, and even as 20-somethings, they burn out on sightseeing in a few hours.  I took the day off work to take my 17, 19 year old nieces to a few museums plus lunch in Chinatown. I thought we had a fabulous time but they didn't want to do it again in their week long visit with grandparents.  When I tried dragging them to museums in their city, I heard that their usual routine is an hour in the museum, two hours in the gift shop, lunch in cafe and then home.  There's no way I'm paying a museum admission fee, $10+, and then leaving in an hour.

Some of the historic sights might be more toddler friendly, I'm thinking mount Vernon and Harper's ferry, both of which are kind of like colonial Williamsburg with replicas of life in the old days and butter churning and metal forging demonstrations.  Baltimore aquarium is good at that age, and used to have a cheap Friday evening rate.

BlueHouse

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2016, 08:15:46 PM »
There's no way I'm paying a museum admission fee, $10+, and then leaving in an hour.
Some of the historic sights might be more toddler friendly, I'm thinking mount Vernon and Harper's ferry,
All Smithsonian museums are free.  Mount Vernon is not part of the Smithsonian, and it charges admission.  Harpers Ferry is in WV, 90 minutes from DC. 

You say you're visiting DC area, can you identify what part?  If you're staying in town on Cap Hill, suggestions would be different than if you're staying out in the suburbs.
There are many locations in the city as well as in the suburbs that offer free concerts on different days of the weeks.  Many of these are family-friendly outdoor sites with dancing, etc. 

For little kids, I would focus on the National Mall and the monuments around it (Jefferson, Lincoln, MLK, FDR, Washington are good for little kids to stretch their legs and climb on things).  Air and Space Museum (either in DC or out at Dulles) might be nice for a little while because there are simulators and things to touch.  Be advised that the Dulles location charges for parking. 

 


katesilvergirl

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2016, 05:49:52 AM »
If you are in the Capitol Hill area, there are A LOT of fun little neighborhood parks that are also great for little little kids.

Jouer

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2016, 09:00:26 AM »
Highly recommend AirBnB in the Capitol Hill area. Waaaaay cheaper than area hotels and often comes with parking. Not sure how easy that is with a toddler though, as I don't have one of my own.

honeybbq

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2016, 09:20:05 AM »
May I piggyback and also inquire about DC with a 4 yr old?? We'll be there in July and are staying by the convention center.  :)

Would love to see some feedback when you are back, NoCreativity.

BlueHouse

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2016, 12:34:52 PM »
May I piggyback and also inquire about DC with a 4 yr old?? We'll be there in July and are staying by the convention center.  :)

Would love to see some feedback when you are back, NoCreativity.

There are probably other free water features for kids around town, but these are right around the corner from me and just a short trip from the convention center by metro or taxicab
For water fountain spray jets:  http://www.canalparkdc.org
For wading pool, waterfall, and spray jets:  http://www.yardspark.org/plan/park-map

MrsDinero

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2016, 12:41:00 PM »
I used to live in Maryland and would take my now 20 year old there when she was a tot.  There are a lot of free things to do, but I would plan to have some downtime.  I used to bring a small blanket and when she got tired and needed some rest she would nap on a blanket under a tree on The Mall. Of course pack your own snacks and drinks.

Take or rent a stroller because the walks in and between museums are long. 

Play in the sprinklers.

The International Spy Museum (not free) is very interactive and kid friendly.  Lots of buttons to push, knobs to turn, and tunnels to crawl through.  It is also very entertaining to adults.



Jacana

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2016, 08:06:06 PM »
May I piggyback and also inquire about DC with a 4 yr old?? We'll be there in July and are staying by the convention center.  :)

Would love to see some feedback when you are back, NoCreativity.

Some of our friends have taken their 4-6 year olds to to the National Building Museum exhibit "Building Zone." Apparently it's pretty cheap ($3?) and a lot of fun. Should be an easy walk from the convention center. I haven't made it there yet with my own 4 yo, though. The Natural History museum has a free live insect exhibit upstairs and a not-free butterfly exhibit. And, again, the zoo!

http://www.nbm.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/building-zone.html

chemistk

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2016, 05:47:57 AM »
As far as activities, you have a myriad of options (Same goes with the 4YO). You could easily spend a week there with enough stuff to entertain young children - nearly all of it is free or low cost and can be accessed via the Metro.

When thinking about how to get there, I agree that you will want to break up the drive. Two days would be a reasonable amount of time to travel. When my wife and I visit family (~8.5 hours), we always try and leave early in the morning (4AM or 5AM), or later in the afternoon/evening. It almost always works out in our favor because our son (1YO next week - with the temperament of a 2YO...ugh) will inevitably be asleep for at least half the car ride, so we usually get a huge chuck of the drive out of the way in peace. Is this a possible option for you?


mm1970

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Re: Washington D.C area trip with TODDLER
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2016, 11:00:18 AM »
I lived in the DC area long ago (20 years now).

First, I would fly.  With an 18 month old?  That's a terribly long drive, and will require many many stops.  We just got back from a trip to Utah with our 3 year old.  It's an 8.5 hour drive, but we had to break it up over 2 days.  Granted it's because he's potty trained (diapers would have been easier), but long drives with small children are hell.

Second...18 months old are pretty easy on what entertains them.  Last time I went to DC, my older son was 4 or 5 and the younger was non-existent.  My son enjoyed the Natural History Museum and Air and Space Museum. He LOVED just playing tag on the mall.  He loved the metro and the super tall escalators (so old, so don't remember which stations have the really long ones).  We stayed with friends from the Navy who were living in NoVa.

Most of the Smithsonians are free.