Brit visiting Washington DC

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Libitina, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. Libitina macrumors 6502


    Jun 5, 2008
    I'm thinking about maybe going to Washington DC on holiday next May.:)

    Any suggestions, must sees, off the beaten tracks, locals favourites you can suggest please?

    Also, good, clean, cheap (ish) central hotels?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. thatdarnfish macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2004
    New York
    I've lived in DC for four years. If this is your first time, you, of course, want to see the monuments (Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington) along the mall. Be sure also to check out the FDR memorial along the tidal basin -- it's pretty neat with lots of waterfalls and it is often overlooked. The Smithsonian museums line the mall and they are worth checking out as well, especially Air and Space, American History, and the National Gallery (which is technically not the Smithsonian). The cafe at the Native American museum is considered to be the best, with a lot of unique offerings.

    The capitol museum just opened up this year and is quite nice. Make sure to check out the Library of Congress; IMHO, it's the most beautiful building (on the inside) among all the "sites" in DC.

    Ford's theatre (where Lincoln was shot) just reopened with a new museum and it's very good, as is the Newseum, which has some interesting (and moving) memorabilia, such as the radio tower from the World Trade Center and a huge portion of the Berlin Wall.

    The White House is nice to look at, but they don't give tours anymore (unless you write to your congressman).

    The best part about DC is that most museums and sites have free admission.

    Off the beaten path, Eastern Market on Capitol Hill is very nice to walk through on weekends, with lots of vendors, crafts, food, art, jewelry, etc.

    If you like churches, be sure to see the National Shrine Basilica on the campus of Catholic University (largest church in North America), St. Matthew's Cathedral, and the National Cathedral.

    As far as hotels go, it is a little difficult to find cheap places downtown. The Marriott Courtyard Convention Center is pretty centrally located. If you don't stay downtown, get a hotel along the metro line, which is super convenient, safe, and clean. Staying in Rosslyn (Key Bridge Marriott or Courtyard) or Clarendon can be cheaper sometimes.

    Important restaurants you should check out: Old Ebbit Grill (next to the White House), the Monocle (where many members of Congress eat lunch and dinner), and Ben's Chili Bowl (important location with respect to the race riots of the late 60's -- every travel show goes there for the "half-smoke" sausage).

    Oh, and if you want to get out of DC for a little bit, be sure to see Mt. Vernon (George Washington's house), Old Town Alexandria, and Great Falls Park, all about 15-30 minutes away.

    Hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Have a good trip!
  3. Libitina thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 5, 2008
  4. IntheNet macrumors regular


    Oct 6, 2009
    Some words of caution are due here; if you visit DC don't get too far "off the beaten track" since DC - SE, NE, and SW portions - is one of the nation's most dangerous cities... couple of hundred murders and hundred of shootings each year is pretty routine. You are fairly safe on the National Mall (during the day) or within one of the Smithsonian Museums (but at night don't dare venture from your hotel). If you really want to see something in safety, visit nearby Northern Virginia (much much safer) and see Arlington Cemetery, Pentagon,. nearby Manassas (Bull Run) CW national park, or Tysons Mall (huge shopping mall). Be careful...
  5. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Monocle and check out the Holocaust Museum, a family member of mine does a nice job running it...
  6. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    I second all the posts above (including the "avoid SE/SW at all costs" post).

    I lived in DC for just shy of 4 years (went to university there).

    Do also check out Georgetown, DuPont Circle (hit Brickskeller if you even remotely like beer!) and Adam Morgan, great places to eat there. Definitely check out Ben's Chili Bowl for an interesting piece of African-American history. And eat at an Ethiopian restaurant while you're there - best in the nation as far as I could tell. I recommend Dukem, right across the street from Ben's incidentally. There's also a great one in Georgetown - the name escapes me at the moment, but I know it starts with a Z. (EDIT: Aha, it's Zed's :))

    Despite the great places to eat and see, don't expect DC to be what it should be - the capital of a (once?) great nation - the state of much of the city is appalling.

    (And re: the National Shrine Basilica being the largest church in the world, I think that's actually St. John's Cathedral in New York City.)

    If you haven't visited America before, and would consider other cities as options, I would definitely tell you to opt for New York, Boston, Chicago, even San Francisco, over DC. Much better cities, more to do, and more exemplary of a great city in America.
  7. thatdarnfish macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2004
    New York
    OK, I did my research. The National Shrine is the largest Roman Catholic church in North America and one of the ten largest churches in the world. Still worth checking out.

    I third the info about SE and SW. But then again, there are really no touristy things to do there, either. There are some exceptions, like 8th street SE, but unless you are a resident, you probably don't want to chance it. I wouldn't freak out about the safety issues, though. I've lived downtown and on Capitol Hill and been out many nights with no problems. As long as you are aware of your surroundings, you should be fine, just like in any city.

    Personally, I love DC and I think it's a great place to visit.
  8. mysterytramp macrumors 65816


    Jul 17, 2008
    You'll hear good and bad about the Metro. By and large it's a great subway system, but there was a really nasty collision some months ago and they're still puzzling out exactly why it happened. It seems likely there were some aging circuits that should have been replaced ages ago ... Still, it's damn crowded at rush hour so the commuters haven't been scared off.

    May will be after the cherry blossoms will be in bloom ... You might want to check out the National Arboretum. I've never been but a buddy of mine encourages me to go all the time. The plants give off so much oxygen it's a very pleasant natural high.

    If you're up for a longish walk/bike ride, you might want to check out the C&O Canal from Georgetown. It follows the Potomac and it's a great way to spend a nice day.

    If you've got the whole city to see, I'd give the Spy Museum a pass. It's kinda pricey and basically stuff you can find out on the History Channel.

    What kind of wheels do you have? The Air and Space Museum is really in two parts. The one by the Mall is great, but there's one near Dulles Airport (in Virginia, maybe a 30-minute drive away) that has whole shuttles and SR-71 Blackbirds. A very impressive place.

    By May, the Nationals will begin their 2010 campaign of frustration. I can imagine Brits at Nationals Park would be not unlike Darwin ... traveling halfway across the globe, trying to puzzle out the mysteries of creation. Evolution is no greater an enigma than why anyone roots for that team.


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