‘Washington D.C.’ Posts

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maine avenue waterfront

Sunday, 15 March 2015

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
maine avenue waterfront

sparklet:

5y 5m 2d

the mighty quinn:

2y 11m 15d

air and space

Saturday, 28 February 2015

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
air and space

the mighty quinn:

2y 11m 0d

out: hazy center

Saturday, 31 January 2015

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: hazy center

sparklet:

5y 3m 20d

the mighty quinn:

2y 10m 2d

national mall

Sunday, 21 December 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
national mall

sparklet:

5y 2m 10d

the mighty quinn:

2y 8m 22d

capitol christmas tree

Sunday, 21 December 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
capitol christmas tree

sparklet:

5y 2m 10d

the mighty quinn:

2y 8m 22d

american history museum

Sunday, 14 December 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
american history museum

sparklet:

5y 2m 3d

white house christmas tree

Sunday, 14 December 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
white house christmas tree

sparklet:

5y 2m 3d

picnic at the zoo

Saturday, 27 September 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
picnic at the zoo

sparklet:

4y 11m 15d

the mighty quinn:

2y 5m 29d

Out: Walter Pierce Park

Sunday, 10 August 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
Out: Walter Pierce Park

sparklet:

4y 9m 28d

the mighty quinn:

2y 4m 12d

Out: Pierce Mill Park

Sunday, 20 July 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
Out: Pierce Mill Park

sparklet:

4y 9m 7d

the mighty quinn:

2y 3m 21d

Out: Guy Mason Park

Sunday, 20 July 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
Out: Guy Mason Park

sparklet:

4y 9m 7d

the mighty quinn:

2y 3m 21d

Local’s Guide to Visiting Washington, DC

Friday, 4 July 2014

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every resident of D.C. has a response prepared for the inevitable “I’ve got family coming in from out of town, what should they do?” and, after 15 years in the District, mine is pretty well thought out. an unfiltered look at visiting the nation’s capitol:

air transportation

dear God, please fly into DCA if you can. they say D.C. has three airports, but one (Dulles) is as close to West Virginia as it is to the District, and the other (BWI) might as well be in Pennsylvania. getting into the city from Dulles or BWI is an ordeal after a long trip, and surprisingly expensive if you’re not willing to use public transportation. and let’s face it, after dealing with airports (and airport security) you’re going to decide — at the last minute, of course — to splurge on a taxi. if you can save $300 going into one of the other airports, sure, totally go for it. but if you only save $100? it might not be worth the effort.

also, for the uninitiated, the only acceptable title for the airport closest to Washington, D.C. is “National Airport.” it’s never “Reagan National Airport” and certainly never just “Reagan.” and, for what it’s worth, this has nothing to do with partisan politics. it ONLY has to do with home rule — the fact that Congress can impose its will on the city, telling them how to name their airports, is just as ludicrous for the District as it would be for you, wherever you live.

if you are going to hoof it in for the outer airports, there is a bus from the Greenbelt Metro to BWI and back (the B30), and Washington Flyer runs a bus from Falls Church Metro to Dulles and back.

places to stay

there are no silver bullets, but obviously metro accessible is key. I would find places that look interesting to you, and then use the google maps or the metro trip planner to make sure your hotel is no more than a 15-20 minute Metro ride from Metro Center Station. if that’s the case, you’ll be pretty happy. much past twenty minutes of metro time, and I find your day starts getting pretty long because you don’t want to hoof it all the way back to the hotel just to go back out later in the day.

personally, I send people up the red line, between Dupont Circle and Cleveland Park stations. there are a ton of boutique hotels along this corridor (here’s a list from hotels.com) that give you good options, but also gets you into some of the best walking neighborhoods (Dupont Circle, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Adams Morgan) in DC.

also, it’s usually worth checking out some of the big (expensive) conference hotels, at least if you’re coming on a weekend. hotels that support business travelers through the week are often pretty empty on the weekend, and that can sometimes lead to good cheap, deals on nice rooms. Marriott Wardman Park/Washington Hilton and Omni Shoreham come to mind and are all along that red line corridor I mentioned.

restaurants

there are a metric ton of great restaurants in D.C. now, and any local can give you a list of ten places off the top of their head. generally, visitors eat breakfast at the hotel, and then are fine during the day (the museums all have some type of food court attached, with the best being Natural History and American Indian). so look for restaurants closer to your hotel — part of the reason i like to stay between duPont and Cleveland Park is all the great food within walking distance.

if you’re not willing/able to ask someone for specific restaurant advice close to where you’re staying, you can get a pretty good idea from online reservation app Open Table and from The Washingtonian.

ground transportation

the metro is great. it’s a 15 minute walk to something like 80% of the city, and pretty much everywhere you want to go. just, please God, stand to the right on escalators if you’re not actively walking up or down them. outside of that, I’d plan on walking and splurge on a taxi every now and again when the feet get tired. rental cars are completely wasted in DC, unless you want to go to some place distant (Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Air and Space’s Hazy Center, Mount Vernon) because there is no parking, and what parking exists is horribly expensive.

walking

your feet will get tired. WEAR GOOD SHOES. seriously, not Tivas, not those silly jelly shoes kids love these days. your sense of scale will get all screwed up, because each museum is 3-4 blocks wide. so, walking two museums over is actually an 8 block walk which — given our wide avenues — would probably be a 12 block walk anywhere else. Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol is 2 miles, even though (again, because of scale) it looks less than half that. and, don’t be afraid to take cabs. happiness is inversely tied to the weakness of your shins, and that $9 cab ride is often a worthwhile investment.

timing out your day

in general, if D.C. is a lot like visiting an amusement park, like Disney — get up early, do something great in the morning, and come back to the hotel around lunch. take a nap, swim in the pool, read a book, or wander around the neighborhood to let the heat of the day pass when everyone is cranky and all the places are packed with other miserable tourists. then, once everyone is rested at at 3:30pm, go back out for an evening shift. have a later dinner, and go straight to bed. rinse, repeat. if you try and do everything between 11am and 4pm, you’re opening yourself up to have a pretty miserable trip during the summer.

national zoo

if there is one mandatory “thing to do” I would say it’s the national zoo. it’s free. it’s incredibly beautiful. it’s on a hill (see note about good shoes, above). if people don’t have a wonderful time, it’s because they’ve screwed up one of these three rules. first, go first thing in the morning (8am to 11am), or after the heat of the day (4:00pm to 7:00pm). otherwise, you’ll be miserable, and you won’t see any large mammals because they’ll be hiding from the sun. second, if you’re going via metro, travel IN to Cleveland Park station, and LEAVE from Woodley Park station. (technically, the “zoo” stop is Woodley Park, but it’s a steep hill from Woodley up to the start of the zoo — it’s about the same walking distance from Cleveland Park station, but it’s all downhill.) finally, remember it’s ON A BIG HILL. unfortunately, you end at the bottom of the hill and then have to walk up the whole hill to get back out. fortunately, there is a shuttle bus at the bottom to take you back up to the top, but most people don’t know to look for it.

museums

some of the museums have extended summer hours, which is a great idea because if you go during “peak” times, the museums can be a bit of an elbow-fest. I’d map out when you go to which museums based on the extended hours calendar and go to as many of them as you can between 3:30pm and 7:30pm. Air and Space, American History and Natural History are must for any schedule. I’d also add National Museum of the American Indian to the list. National Building Museum and National Postal Museum are worth the trip if the subject matter is interesting to the group.

art museums

there aren’t any bad art museums. National Gallery of Art gets the most play (lots of french impressionism that’s real easy to love) but several other art museums them are great, and overlooked. National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of American Art is big and wonderful. Hirshorn is very good, if you’re into modern. The Phillips Collection is great, but quirky and turns over pretty quickly (look into the exhibits before you make the trip). I’ve been to every Smithsonian museum out of the bunch, with the exception of the Anacostia Community Museum, and if you’re into the subject matter covered by the museum, you’ll have a great time at any of them.

monuments

here’s a slightly older run down of things to do with a focus on monuments but be sure to look into the Botanic Gardens and Library of Congress, too (there hard to categorize as monuments or museums, so I’ve stuffed them into this paragraph kind of randomly). Martin Luther King’s monument is new, so isn’t included in the post above, but well worth the trip and not too far from the Korean monument mentioned in the post. Vietnam is great, but the kids will need an explanation to be properly moved — Korean is interesting to kids of all ages and isn’t quite the same emotional lift for the young ones. all of them are even better at night. speaking of…

the mall at night

keep the kids up one night and wander around the mall after dark, or better yet take one of those bus tours even though I normally tell people to avoid them during the day (unless you’ve got people who aren’t great at walking). the whole mall area is 100x prettier at night than during the day, and it is WELL worth keeping kids up past their bedtimes. it’s also cooler, and emptier. If you can avoid going to the mall (outside of the museums) during the day, and just do it at night, that’s a great thing.

out of town / short-term rental cars

some of the bigger hotels will do short term car rentals, which might be interesting for a day or two. also, you don’t have to stay at the hotel to rent their cars, you can just walk in and grab one regardless — we do it ourselves when we need a rental. if you do get a car, the Udvar-Hazy annex of Air and Space is (literally) epic. it’s just a royal pain to get to if you don’t have a car. Mount Vernon is incredibly stuffy but equally awesome in an egg-headed history geek sort of way. depending on how long you’re staying, a day trip to Baltimore or even a one-night overnight (National Aquarium, Inner Harbor, B&O Railroad Museum) can be a heck of a lot of fun.

free summer entertainment

the Kennedy Center runs runs free summer shows and programs that’s worth every penny. it can be a bit remote depending on where you stay, but there are shuttles from Foggy Bottom metro. on the mall, they have the annual Folklife Festival, and during some special weekdays they project movies onto a big screen which are fun even if you’re not wild about the titles.  there are a couple of other free shows and events, with Shakespeare theatre’s “free for all” as the most popular of the remaining options.

sports

all the professional sports teams in DC are metro accessible, except for NFL football, which is such a pain in the bottom to get to I would just push that thought out of your head entirely. my favorites are D.C. United (soccer, tickets) and Washington Nationals (baseball, tickets) and it’s really pretty easy to get great tickets, often even day-of.

RFK stadium (soccer) looks like a hole, mainly because it just had it’s 50th birthday, but is one of the best places to watch soccer in America. get tickets down close on the bouncy side of the stadium. Nats Park is the exact opposite (it’s gorgeous and pristine) and has some of the best ballpark food known by man. also, if you’re into tennis, getting tickets to the Citi Open up in rock creek park can be pretty fun, too.

things to (maybe) avoid

there is nothing in DC that I wouldn’t do. that said, there are a couple of things I might avoid unless you’re REALLY jonesing to do it.

  1. Georgetown has lots of shopping, but is a metric ton of walking, and not much else to do there if you’re not of the shopping persuasion. if you do it, let mom and daughter take the day, while the men do something male, or go see a movie at the movieplex there. it’s not something that people who don’t want to do will endure terribly well.
  2. I hesitate to say this, but it’s nearly a given that the international spy museum won’t live up to your expectations. the museum is getting older, and some of the interactive exhibits are getting long in the tooth. it’s expensive. it’s the only museum where I feel the exhibits are just a warm up for the gift shop. seriously, go if you want/need to, but keep your expectations in check.
  3. Holocaust Museum is brutal. powerful, deeply moving, but will “ruin” the rest of your day if you have even half a heart. it’s a worthy stop, but not something to be done lightly, or “fit in” to a busy schedule.
  4. the D.C. children’s museum moved 15 miles outside of the city, and was never very good to begin with. avoid. full stop. if you’re going to get a car, go to Udhar-Hazy or National Aquarium or the hands-on-science museum in Baltimore.

cultural tourism dc

I mentioned this before, in the “things to do post” above, but worth a reprise. the mall is, in fact, not D.C.’s best attribute — and possibly not even in the top 5. I’d think strongly about either staying (hotel) in a neighborhood or making a pointed effort to get into on or two of them on your own. for more information, check out the cultural tourism DC site — there are dozens of walking tours that you can take to get a much better flavor of the city. also, if you’re into photography at all, taking pictures of the other half of DC is a lot more fun.

public service announcement

you like don’t know this, but D.C. doesn’t have voting representation in Congress. we pay $5 billion in taxes (higher per capita than each of the 50 states) which Congress then appropriates back to us with all sorts of restrictions on how we can use our own money. we’re bigger than Wyoming or Vermont, but have less representation. we have a much smaller share of Federal land than Nevada (88%) or even California (50%), and raise less revenue than is our due because branches of the Federal Government don’t pay local taxes like any every other employer within our borders.

I mention this, because it will help explain all those “No Taxation Without Representation” license places you’ll see when you visit, but also because the biggest problem is you — well, your legislators. because we don’t have the right to voice, you are the only people who can start the process of giving us the rights that you, and ever other citizen in the free world, enjoy.

unfortunately, we’re stuck without the right to vote. and we need a couple good friends from out of town to put in a good word for us with their representatives, who control our fate.

pierce mill

Sunday, 1 June 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
pierce mill

sparklet:

4y 7m 19d

school: natural history

Thursday, 8 May 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
school: natural history

sparklet:

4y 6m 26d

out: pierce mill park

Sunday, 27 April 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: pierce mill park

sparklet:

4y 6m 15d

the mighty quinn:

2y 0m 27d

national zoo with the minamikes

Saturday, 26 April 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
national zoo with the minamikes

sparklet:

4y 6m 14d

the mighty quinn:

2y 0m 26d

out: meridian hill park

Sunday, 20 April 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: meridian hill park

sparklet:

4y 6m 8d

the mighty quinn:

2y 0m 20d

out: turtle park

Saturday, 12 April 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: turtle park

sparklet:

4y 6m 0d

spring blossoms

Saturday, 12 April 2014

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sparklet:

4y 6m 0d

out: air and space

Saturday, 5 April 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: air and space

sparklet:

4y 5m 23d

the mighty quinn:

2y 0m 5d

out: national zoo

Monday, 31 March 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: national zoo

sparklet:

4y 5m 18d

out: national museum of american history

Monday, 31 March 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: national museum of american history

the mighty quinn:

2y 0m 0d

out: hazy center

Monday, 31 March 2014

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the mighty quinn:

2y 0m 0d

out: national zoo

Sunday, 9 March 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: national zoo

sparklet:

4y 4m 27d

the mighty quinn:

1y 11m 9d

out: natural history museum

Friday, 28 February 2014

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See Slideshow of the Photos on Flickr:
out: natural history museum

sparklet:

4y 4m 18d