A September 1999 trip
to Washington, D.C. by Timone
Quote: After spending a year here as a poor au pair, I thought I'd write and tell people the best and cheapest ways to see one of the most wonderful cities in the world.
Taking a limousine trip by night with a gang of friends is worthwhile, just to attract attention if nothing else !
Use the Metro - this runs all hours and is a great cheap method of transport. If travelling alone at night, ensure you sit in the carriage behind the driver and stay near the station master when on the station, there's time to run on to the platform at the last minute if need be.
Eat out in the many food halls - see my food halls guide.
Allow the Smithsonian museums a day each !
The food hall is on the lower floor of the building and comprises a large comfortable seating area surrounded by plants etc. There are so many food outlets to choose from: a salad bar, a steak house, a Chinese outlet, a very tasty Indian outlet, a fruit and sandwich outlet, a cookie outlet plus my favourite - Ben & Jerry's. Weekday lunchtimes are very busy at this place since local office workers use it, but either side of the main lunch hour will give you a good meal at a reasonable cost. That is if you can decide what it is you want to eat, since it all looks so tempting.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 13, 2002
Old Post Office Food Hall
Pennslyvania Avenue & 12th Street
Washington, District of Columbia
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 13, 2002
50 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington, District of Columbia 20002
Attraction | "National Zoo of Washington D.C"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 9, 2002
Smithsonian National Zoological Park (The National Zoo)
3001 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Attraction | "Smithsonian Museums"
The National Air & Space Museum has a good restaurant and several floors of rockets, planes and specialist displays that are changed quarterly.
The National Museum of History has the largest Diamond in the world, which is worth a look at...not to mention lots of hands on displys and large stuffed animals.
The National Museum of America History has an interesting feature - a large pendulum which doesn't move, the earth is moving around it - a weird sensation as you watch it knock over the candles. Plus it has displays of native americans and american culture over the years.
The National Gallery is in two buildings - East and West - they take time but are spaciuos and have a nice coffee area.
The Holocaust museum is NOT for children, it's distressing to see the pictures and films, don't go if you don't want graphic details of the horrific attrocities of war.
All the museums have great bookstores and or souvenir stores.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 9, 2002
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Washington, D.C., United States 2002
Attraction | "Potomac River Cruise"
Potomac River Spirit Cruises
Pier 4, 6th & Water Streets, SW
Washington, District of Columbia
Attraction | "The Kennedy Center"
I went to the opera, they were very good performances by the Washington Opera, whose musical director is Placido Domingo.
The Kennedy Center is also home to the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, who ironically I saw just last weekend (04-05-02) in England, again a great performance with a top resident conductor, Leonard Slatkin.
If classical music isn't your thing don't panic there are many contempory performances available in the Terrace Theater and Eisenhower Theater.
Check the local free papers for details of free music at the center,
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20566
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 10, 2002
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20535
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 10, 2002
Washington National Cathedral
Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016
Attraction | "The MCI Center"
The Washington Wizards, The Washington Capitals, The Georgetown Hoyas and The Washington Mystics all have their home here. The center is also used for conferences - I went to a travel show here, as well as music concerts.
Access to the MCI center is terrifically easy since it's actually built on top of the Gallery Place/China Town Metro Stop, which is on the Red, Green and Yellow lines. There are also around 10,000 parking spaces within 10 blocks of the center, so a car is a possibility even in the heart of the city.
The MCI Center is worth a look even if you don't get the chance to see a game of any sort.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 20, 2002
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
From the Vietnam Memorial, make your way around to the Korean Memorial, which includes an engraved wall and full size iron cast soldiers - an eerie experience.
From here, cut right across the mall lawns until you reach the Tidal Basin, follow the path around the Basin and you'll come to the FDR Memorial. This is a modern memorial with waterfalls and pools, it is laid out like rooms of his house and has many interesting features. There is a visitor's center and park rangers to guide you through it.
Continue along the path around the Basin and you will come to the Jefferson Memorial, which offers a view across the Tidal Basin to the South Lawn of the White House.
From the Jefferson you can take any number of paths or streets, I usually use 14th street and arrive back in town by way of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing which offers a good cafe if you're flagging at this point. Then it's back up to the Washington Memorial.
At this point you can finish your walk or you can continue along the Mall to the Smithsonian Castle, the visitor's center for all of the Smithsonian Museums. Further along the Mall there are sculpture gardens to distract you or simply continue on past all the museums until you reach the Capitol Building. A climb up the steps to the top will give you a good view of your walk.
To finish the nearest Metro to the Capitol is the Capitol South Station, signposted from the Capitol.
The best times to travel the metro are after 9:30am and before 3pm or after 7pm since this is no longer peak time and therefore cheaper. The fares range from $1-10 to $3-25 dependant on the distance travelled. Alternatively you can buy farecards; there is a one day farecard priced at $5 which can be purchased after 9:30am and is for unlimited travel. There are also 7 day passes available. The trains arrive about every 5 minutes during peak time and every 12-15 minutes off peak with the last train coming around midnight (2am on Fridays and Saturdays). However, there is a different service for national holidays and an extended service on July 4th etc. You can check the Washington Post for details or ask at the kiosk.
The metro is so quick, cheap and easy you'll wish that every city had a system like this one!
Warwick, United Kingdom