Fourth of Six

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Visiting Washington, D.C.

In 1999-2000, I went to DC five times. I've been there for a one-day trip, a two-day, and a four-day, so I've seen alot, but there are still things I want to see. The Smithsonian Castle is a good place to visit, because they have a very helpful 24-minute orientation video which tells you all about the various museums and galleries, if you need help deciding what to see.

I'd say most newbies should start with the monuments, when you have the most energy for walking. Keep in mind, it can take a whole day to see only the monuments.

On your second visit, or day, see the most popular museums of the Smithsonian Institute, like Air & Space, American History, and Natural History. You should also see the Holocaust Museum.

Then on your third or fourth visit, or day, see the art galleries and government buildings, like National Art, Modern Art, Hirshorn, FBI, Mint.

Find a hotel near a Metro stop in the suburbs. The hotels in outlying areas are cheaper than downtown hotels. You can take the Metro everywhere, but there's also alot of walking. I recommend taking the Metro to the Smithsonian stop. It helps to have an all-day Metro pass, so you can get on and off as often as you like. Unless you're going to be there on a Saturday, and you know exactly where you are going, driving is a bad idea. Saturdays, it's possible to drive into the city and park near a museum, but you have to get up early, and get there around 8 AM. The museums open around 9 or 10. On weekdays, you have normal commuter traffic and crowds, plus tourism, so you still have to get up early, but it's faster and simpler to ride the Metro any day of the week. You can waste alot of time getting lost, or driving around looking for parking. They have a very clean and easy-to-use Metro.

I suggest you allow at least two hours per museum. They close at 5, and there is alot of walking, so you can only get to maybe three per day, unless you run. Ideally, you could spend half a day in each museum, easy.

The FBI building, the Holocaust Museum, and the Mint, are very important if you have a longer attention span, but you have to plan your visit. For example, the FBI requires you get in line at 8 AM, they admit you at 10, and you're done around noon. You get to see a firearms demonstration, and weapons of the famous killers, etc. The Holocaust Museum requires you to pick up a ticket in advance.

I think everyone should spend alot of time in this important city, because it opens your eyes to our unique and revolutionary history, our founding principles, and our precious heritage. The idealism represented in our monuments and museums is an important counterbalance to our current mood of cynicism.


At 2:32 PM, Blogger Bobmo said...

Great suggestions! I have you filed under "Been there, done that."


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