Visiting Washington, DC - Euless,TX

Updated on November 07, 2013
E.T. asks from Euless, TX
15 answers

My family and I will be visiting Washington, DC in a few months. I have 2 kiddos, ages 11 and 8. What are some fun things to do? We'll only have 2 days. I have contacted my representative and are working on getting tickets to tour the White House. We also thought the Smithsonian would be fun. I'm guess the museum takes all day but the White House doesn't? Where is a good place to stay that's near transportation as we won't have a car?


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answers from New York on

Stay in Alexandria, Va. (Old Town)Around King street. Metro right there. Much cheaper than D.C and only a few minutes on metro. Great Hampton Inn about three blocks from Metro. All the Smithsonian museums would take a week. Pick and choose which ones you want to see Air and Space is a must, Museum of American History. Soooooo much to see. Just google.

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi E.,

Just FYI, the Smithsonian is not A museum, its ALL the museums in a collection around the capital mall (I think Night at the Museum, confused a lot of people :) )

They're all FREE though, so no need to feel like you have to do/see everything... if you get board you just leave.

For 11 and 8 (and you) I'd recommend the Air and Space and Natural History for sure. They're close to each other and you could easily get to both in the same day. Beyond that, do the museums with topics that interest your family.

Take a walk on the Mall, and around the Tidal Basin too. That's a nice way to check out several of the monuments.

Go to the Old Post Office Building. The building itself is cool, but even better, you can go up in the tower and get a great view of the WHOLE city! Many like it better than the view from the top of the National Monument... which may still be closed when you come, anyway.

The zoo is nice... but it isn't really better than any other major city zoo, so if you only have two days, I'd skip it in favor of things that are more DC specific.

Stay anywhere in DC near a metro line. You can stay in Northern Virginia or into Maryland, but even if you're right on the metro line, you're giving yourself time on the Metro that you didn't need to. I'd try to stay around Metro Center or Gallery Place. You can get on metro quickly (pretty much all the lines) but can also easily walk most places you'd want to go.


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answers from New York on

My kids loved the Spy Museum.

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answers from Tulsa on

You've already got some good advice, the National Zoo is a good stop too. Like most of the museums, it's free and the pandas are a must see. We were there a few months ago, we rented this apartment in Adams Morgan: For the price, it was a better deal than a hotel. Plus we had a full kitchen and two bedrooms. There's tons of other apartments for rent in a variety of prices and sizes. My sister lives up the street from this place (why we picked it) and rents hers when they travel for the weekends. Just make sure it's close to the Metro! We did the White House tour a couple years ago, it was kind of disappointing. Had to stand in line for a long time, and you don't get to see any of the really well known rooms. The Museum of National History was our favorite Smithsonian museum, it was fun even for our 2 year old. Have fun, DC is a great place to go with kids.

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answers from Washington DC on

We live close to DC but love to stay in National Harbor a few times a year and visit DC from there. The resort where we stay has a free shuttle that will take us into the city, so there is no need for transportation either. It's about a 20 minute ride to DC from there.

SO much to do. Honestly, do some Google research and pick what you are into. We love the Duck Tours because you get to see a lot of the city, the Smithsonians are all amazing. We were unimpressed with Madame Toussauds. Everything else we have loved.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

As others mentioned, "The Smithsonian" is a collection of about 10 museums.

I would highly recommend going to the Smithsonian that is the National Archives. It is pretty small - you can easily see it in an hour or two. And it has the original Declaration of Independence, the original signed Constitution, etc.

There are many great Smithsonian museums, but while many cities have history, art, or aerospace museums similar to the Smithsonian versions,, you literally cannot see the things in the Archives anywhere else. I would make it your first priority. I used to live in DC, and it was always the first place I took visitors.

I don't live there anymore, and last time I visited with my kids, we stayed at the Metro Center Marriott. It was nice, we could walk to the white house and the mall where the smithsonians are, and it was on top of a metro station if we wanted to take the subway when needed.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I would second the recommendation to stay just across the river in Alexandria and take the metro in. Old Town Alexandria is fun to explore on its own, and reasonably safe on the main streets even after the sun goes down.

So much to see and do in DC! The Smithsonian museums are all easily accessible from the metro. My personal favorites are Air and Space and Natural History.

It has been a decade since I was last out there, but it used to be that reasonably priced food could be found in the lower level food court at Union Station, which is located near one end of the National Mall, within walking distance from the museums. There used to be an Indian place in there that did the best masala dosas in town.

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answers from Washington DC on


Hello! What airport are you flying into?

Dulles, Reagan or BWI?

If you are flying into Reagan? Stay at the Marriott in Arlington. It's on Fort Meyer Drive. And walking distance to the Rosslyn Metro. Literally 1.5 blocks.

The White House tour is about 2 hours - if that.

Here's a map of the DC Metro system to help you.

The Smithsonian Museum is not just ONE museum. It's a collection of museums on the National Mall - Air & Space, Natural History, etc. each museum can take hours to go through if you actually stop and read each exhibit. There is a McDonald's in the Air & Space - it's EXPENSIVE. Your best bet is to off the National Mall and do a Subway or some other restaurant.

Here's a link to a tour company - they will drive you around DC - one of them is a 4 hour tour - take that the first day and figure out what you want to concentrate on the second day.

The International Spy Museum is fun. It's NOT free.
Your youngest is good to go. That's the youngest that can do the interactive spy exhibit (you get to be a spy and search for the other spies).

If you are here in January? It will be FREAKING cold. That's our winter here. Expect FREEZING temperatures. MAYBE snow. We're due!! Even with cold temperatures - there's so much to do!!

The War Memorials are on the National Mall and breath taking...Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War and World War II....the walk - even in the cold is GREAT!

Please feel free to send me a PM. If you are flying into Dulles - I would be happy to save you cab fair and take you to Arlington! Send me a PM!

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answers from Washington DC on

The White House has a truncated schedule now, so you may or may not want to go. Be aware, too, that you are NOT allowed to take anything in with you. If you will not be able to easily leave belongings at the hotel, then you should skip it. Visit other museums and monuments.

The Zoo and all the Smithsonian museums are free. If you want to go farther from the city, you can visit the annex over by Dulles. You might want to consider day passes and hopping on/off Metro. See

If you stay outside DC, and take a line in, make sure your hotel is close enough to a line to walk or that you can park nearby. I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to stay in VA over MD. Either should be fine. I would not stay in New Carrolton, or near it, though. That's in a sketchy neighborhood.

Like Leigh said, the Smithsonian is a collection of museums and each one can take several hours. You might want to go to and pick a few favorites.

I hear the DC version of the aquarium is closing. If you happen to get out to Baltimore, the National Aquarium there, while pricey, is very good. If you go to the zoo, stop in the invertebrates house. Ask them when they will be feeding things like the cuttlefish or sea stars. DD loves that.

Try not to buy food in a museum. Way more $$. Consider the Old Post Office (if Trump hasn't changed it):

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answers from Stationed Overseas on

Great advice from the others just wanted to add that the aquarium in DC has already closed. If you want to stay in VA any place on the Orange Line (metro) would be good. Ballston, Courthouse, Virginia Square all have hotels within walking distance to the metro and they are a bit closer to the city. Take a lot at the Smithsonian website for the museums as there are so many to chose from. Also the National Park Service website for the outside monuments that you might want to see. GL and have fun.

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answers from Washington DC on

There is not one "Smithsonian" so it's not "the" museum and will take you more than all day! There are many Smithsonian museums: Natural History, American History, Air and Space, Museum of the American Indian and more. Go online to, which is their web site, and search each museum individually and look at their exhibit calendars which will tell you what exhibits will be on display at the time you are here. If your kids are really into dinosaurs, rocks and minerals, and insects, etc. go for Natural History (and it has an IMAX theatre too with good nature films on the giant screen). If they really like airplanes and space, try Air and Space instead (has a planetarium and another IMAX theatre with space and flight-themed films). There is also the National Gallery of Art and much, much more. You will have to make some tough choices since you are here just two days; you cannot do all those museums over two days, realistically, if you want to do any more than walk rapidly past everything.

If the kids are into government and history the Capitol has a good visitor's center and tours but they may be limited -- check online first. You do not want to turn up and find that everyone has tickets obtained in advance etc. and you'd have to wait ages just to get in-- you have little time and don't want to waste it.

You need to stay IN the District if you have no transportation. You can stay outside in Va. or Md. (I'd recommend VA, not MD) but you will end up eating up your time taking Metro back and forth. Better to stay closer and not spend time in transit. But you have to be careful about areas in DC (not to scare you - it's just like every other big city and has some areas that are fine and some that are not fine). You want to be near the mall -- L'Enfant Plaza area, or near parts of Chinatown--but hotels are pricey. Check TripAdvisor for reviews that are usually helpful and check for deals.

Museum restaurants are expensive, even the fast-food types. Be aware of that. A few slices of pizza will rapidly hit $20, without drinks. Ask at your hotel about other options; there are good places to eat here.

Enjoy. It's a great city. I hope you can come back when you have more time!

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answers from Abilene on

My family and I really enjoyed the the old town trolley tours. You are able to get a lot of information about the city and you can get off and on all day. We saw the Lincoln memorial and Washington Cathedral with lots of other stops. One of the most moving things and a must see is The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There are so many things to see it is hard to decide. Have fun and enjoy.


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answers from Denver on

I took 39 9th graders last summer in four days and had a great time! The memorials are a must. The Smithsonians we hit in about 2 hours and it was plenty (I walked through quick and paused where I was interested). The Holocaust Museum was my favorite. We also really liked Newseum- I didn't think I would but we as a group loved it. We had a tour guide (obviously) I wonder if he does on the side work and if you could pay him to take you around. To get the most out of the trip- that would be the way to do it. Let me know if you want me to ask him- I still have his number.
Have fun! It was wonderful!

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answers from San Francisco on

The air & space museum (one of several Smithsonian museums) was my kids' and husband's favorite. I liked the American History museum.
While the museums are all near each other they are huge and spread out so be prepared to walk, a LOT.
One cool thing we did was rent bikes. It was a lot easier to see all the outdoor stuff (Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, etc.) this way, as walking to all of these would have taken a LONG time.
Not sure you'll get into the White House, I thought those tickets took a good year or more to get (?) but maybe it's changed. We only got to see the outside, we were surprised at how relatively small it is!
Wear comfortable shoes and HAVE FUN!!!

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answers from Washington DC on

I suggest staying in VA where you can take the yellow or blue metro line into the city. The red line, green line and orange line always have problems. I would really price check hotels in DC and Alexandria. DC does have a higher tax, but it maybe worth the extra money not to deal the metro at all. That being said, if you decide to stay where you need to take the metro, private message me for the unwritten rules of the metro. I know it will be cold, but you really should check out the war memorials, it shouldn't take you long to see them all.

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