Spring Break in Washington, D.C.

Covering the hotel, food, and attractions in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


Courtyard by Marriott Arlington/Rosslyn

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by winwiz88 on March 22, 2007

The Courtyard by Marriott Arlington/Rosslyn is a fantastic hotel. It is located only a 5-minute walk from the Rosslyn Metro station, making it incredibly easy to get into Washington, D.C. or anywhere else the Metro serves. The neighborhood is rather quiet after business hours (Rosslyn is a business district), but right across the street are houses. If you plan to stay at this property long, there is a Safeway located right behind the hotel.

The staff here are some of the best I have run across. They had me checked in and on my way to my room in less than a minute, it seemed. When I had any questions, they never needed to check with someone else. When it came to checking out, they also processed me quickly and do offer bag storage if you want to go and explore D.C. some more.

As for the rooms of the hotel, they were refurbished a few years ago and still look fresh. The room, I had a double Queen bed room, was rather large and had everything I needed for my stay. In addition the beds, as I find with any Marriott property, are incredibly comfortable. There was also a minifridge, but I had no reason to use it.

There is a market downstairs, but the pricing is definitely for convenience, so be prepared to pay $1.75 for a Pepsi. If you are concern about cost, go to the Safeway mentioned earlier.

There is a restaurant in the lobby of this hotel. However, it is open only for breakfast. I decided to get the breakfast buffet, which turned out to cost $11.95 before tax. It definitely was good, but not sure if worthy of $11.95. They do have a menu as well that offers (somewhat) cheaper breakfast options.

Overall I would give this hotel a 4.5/5 stars in my ratings. I would recommend it to anyone heading to D.C. and wants to be close (just across the Potomac), without paying much higher prices of D.C. hotels.
Courtyard by Marriott Arlington/Rosslyn
1533 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, Virginia, 22209
(703) 528-2222

Union Station

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by winwiz88 on March 22, 2007

Union Station, which is the central station for Amtrak, MARC, VRE trains in Washington, D.C., also has a fairly large food court. You will probably recognize some of the restaurants, such as Johny Rockets or Au Bon Pain, but many you may not have heard of. I decided to eat at Union Station twice during my stay in D.C., as the food here is usually cheap compared to other locations and not necessarily being fast food.

1) Great Wraps!
I was not in the mood for a wrap of any sort, but they did have chicken strips. I am a sucker for good chicken strips, so that is what I got. When I paid, I was told that I would have to wait as they had to make them. I went and sat down and then, 5 minutes later, came back. I stood there for a while as they helped other customers, but it seemed like they forgot me. I finally asked if my food was ready and after some misunderstandings, they finally got me my food. The chicken strips and fries were ok, but not necessarily anything to write home about. I should have gotten a wrap...they looked much better.

2) Burrito Brothers
As one might tell from the name this is a Mexican restaurant. I needed only a quick snack to hold me over for a few hours until I went to the airport for dinner and my flight home. They had a corn tortilla quesadilla with cheese and salsa for $2.90. It was somewhat small, but it was all that I needed. I will say that the salsa they use has too many onions and not enough tomatoes in it.

There are many other options as well, that are a bit more refined than the counter service in the basement food court. There are more restaurants near the tracks and it appeared to be some other dining options in the main hall as well. Union Station covers the range quite well, and everyone with you should be able to find something to eat here.
Union Station
50 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington, District of Columbia, 20002

Washington Monument

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by winwiz88 on March 22, 2007

The Washington Monument along with other memorials, monuments, and the US Capitol form the Mall. The tallest structure in the District of Columbia at 550 feet, there is an elevator that takes visitors to the observation level at 500 feet.

Planning your Visit
When starting to plan your trip to Washington, D.C., planning your visit to the Washington Monument is critical if you are intending to go to the top. During the tourist high season, from approximately March through September one can expect to have a hard time in obtaining tickets. Your best bet is to plan what day and time you will specifically visit the Washington Monument. Then when you have figured this out you will want to book tickets. Go to the National Park Service Reservations website to check dates and availability. After doing so you will be able to reserve your free tickets. However, as there will be a small service charge to process your reservation. You can than pick up your tickets from the Washington Monument ticket booth will call window.

If the dates or times you want are not available, you still have one more option. Starting at 8:30am you can pick up free same day tickets completely from the ticket booth. Be advised that lines can be long during the more tourist congested months and tickets will run out if you get there too late.

Visiting the Monument
After securing your ticket, you will probably have a little bit of time before getting into line. Take a moment and walk around the monument on the circular sidewalk. Heading up to the base of the monument you will see brown wooden signs that display a time on it. There will be at least two lines, so make sure you get in the correct one. Go ahead and get in line, shortly a park ranger will be along to brief your group and collect tickets. After that, you will enter the monument, clear security and get in line for the elevator.

At the top you will have ample opportunities to look in each cardinal direction at the famous sights of Washington, D.C. There are two windows in each direction and at each window is a description of what you are seeing out of the window. In the early morning, do be careful when looking out the window, as condensation forms around the window and you could wind up with a soaked head.

After taking in your various sites of D.C., head towards the stairs to the 490 foot level. This is where you will wait for the elevator back down. While you are waiting feel free to visit the gift shop. Yes, there is actually a gift shop 490 feet in the air in the Washington Monument! The elevator will take approx. three minutes to return to the ground level.

Have a great time on your visit to the Washington Monument!
Washington Monument
Near the Center of the National Mall
Washington, D.C., 20024
(202) 426-6841

National Air and Space Museum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by winwiz88 on March 22, 2007

The National Air and Space Museum is quite possibly one of my favorite museums in all of Washington, D.C. From the beginning of aviation to SpaceShipOne, this museum is sure to be exciting for both adults and children.

Planning Your Visit
Before going to D.C., you may wish to consult the National Air and Space Museum web site to get an idea which, if any exhibits are closed. As of March 2007, several exhibits including Jet Aircraft and the Civil Aviation hall were under renovation. Also on the website you can get the operating hours, special programs, make reservations for the IMAX theater, and guides to help orient you with the museum.

Visiting the Museum
There is a lot to see, and if this is your first time visiting, I strongly suggest you either sign up for a 90-minute tour or pick up a brochure upon entering. Also, it should be noted, just like everything else in D.C., there is a security checkpoint when you enter.

There are several areas to explore of the museum. There are the main displays of aircraft in the long hall which displays some of the more famous aircraft to ever grace the skies. The Bell X-1, SpaceShipOne, the nose of a ex-Northwest Airlines Boeing 747 and more. Of course there are also spacecraft, ranging from early space capsules, a Apollo-Souyz display, various rockets, from World War Two era through the space race and to today.

Of course there are many side galleries that are more specific. For example, there is a naval aviation section, and another meant to feel like an early 20th aviation exhibition. In addition to the galleries on various aircraft exhibits, there is also a temporary exhibit that is not Air and Space related on the second floor. It is called Treasures of American History and is on display here while the National Museum of American History is being remodeled.

In addition to the displays, there is also an IMAX theater and a room that features various motion simulators. The IMAX films, like many others are a great experience, and the motion simulators should keep children happy.

If during your stay, you become hungry, be assured there is a food court at the museum featuring McDonalds, Donatos, and Boston Market. Before leaving make sure to stop by the gift shop. They have a wide collection of museum and aviation memorabilia.
Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
Independence Avenue At 4th Street SW
Washington, DC

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