Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015


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Your Tour at a Glance

You get the idea.

A Walk in Washington DC - 12 Must See Monuments and Memorials

By all means, encourage them to stop and think about what they are seeing, but just let them be themselves. They are absorbing more than you think. We took my oldest daughter to a museum in Europe when she was I was adamant that she look at all of the paintings and understand what she was seeing.

What to go see in Washington DC

She, on the other hand, did not seem to care. Just another boring old painting, I was seriously crushed and questioning my parenting skills … BUT years later she came home from school one day and told me all about how they had studied one of the paintings that she saw. She went on and on about it. Have a plan before you go.

We only had 2 full days in DC. We wanted to make sure our kids were part of the planning process for the trip. Before we left we asked each kid what they HAD to do when they were there. This is a great way for each person on the vacation to feel like they were able to see what they wanted, and a great way to compromise if your kids have totally different interests.

Yep, totally NOT the same… but each of them was able to see what they wanted and they were patient when visiting sites that were not at the top of their lists. Check opening and closing times. We requested White House tickets in January for an April visit but did not get tickets. There is not really any way to guarantee a visit, but your best chance is with your Congressman. Just email your local congressional office to set it up. It will save you LOADS of time and the congressional aides and interns that give the tours are very knowledgable..

Most museums in DC are free and you can just walk in. However, be prepared for long lines at security checkpoints during high season. You get the tickets on their website and they sell out many days or months in advance. The LAST thing you want is your kid to be embarrassed because they were reprimanded for not showing proper respect at a sacred or solemn place. I know it may seem obvious that they should not take a selfie or giggle at Arlington or the Holocaust Museum, but just to be safe talk to them about it first.

Make sure they know what they are going to see and what type of behavior is expected of them while they are there. It will only save heartache and embarrassment later.


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Remember they may be older but they are still kids and they are learning every day. The museums may get boring after a while. To keep them engaged, have them look for specific things at the museums and monuments.

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Have them take photos of them as they see them. Next summer when they are bored out of their minds, print off the photos and let them make a little mini scrapbook of their trip. If you do decide to let your kids have money for souvenirs give it to them in cash. We gave them cash before we left they earned it before we went and each had a slightly different amount to spend. They were in charge of budgeting their money and it helped avoid some conflict. Many monuments are clustered around the National Mall, you can walk to them all if you like but they are FAR away from each other.

Taking a tour will help to both save your feet and your time. For us, it was cold and rainy when we visited DC. We took the Old Town Trolley hop on hop off tour both days when we were there and it totally saved us.

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How to Plan a Weekend Getaway to Washington, D.C.

I can not imagine walking around all day in the cold and rain. We would take the trolley to a stop, walk around for a bit and walk up to the next stop, then get back on the trolley for a bit. If you like you can also stay on the same trolley for the entire loop. The drivers give you great commentary about the city as they drive.

We were there during Spring Break and it was busy!!! We had planned to take the Monuments at Night tour as we have taken it in the past and really enjoyed it, but it was full for the time we were visiting. DC is a city with a lot of young professionals. At 5 pm sharp they all leave their offices and head out to the bars and restaurants around town. Also about 5 pm we started to get hungry.

25 Tips for your First Trip to Washington DC.

We walked around for a while looking for a place to sit down and eat but they were all either too fancy for the kids or had hours-long waits. We used Yelp to research places to eat but still ended up pretty lost when it came to dinner. One night we ended up with a 9pm dinner at Shake Shack.. Instead, we opted for snacks at 5 pm then a later dinner to avoid some crowds.

Dress in layers that you can take on and off as you need. I mean a lot of teens. We chose to visit for Spring Break so that we could see the Cherry Blossoms for information on peak bloom times visit this website. We have also visited in the Fall and I prefer that time of year. Fewer crowds and the weather is cool it may also be wet so be prepared. If you visit in the Summer be prepared for heat and humidity and in the Winter watch for cold and damp temperatures.

Melissa Mortenson is the author of the Polka Dot Chair blog which has been sharing fresh and creative ideas with readers since It was followed by 7 other fabric lines in subsequent years. A mom of 3, she considers herself lucky to be living in Kentucky. Thanks for all those tips! I only visited DC twice and the last time was 18 years ago when I was pregnant with Eline, who you met last year on your visit to The Netherlands. Onno and I loved the city, it is so beautiful, so full of history, it has so much to offer.

I do hope we can take Eline there one day, will revisit this blogpost for some help!

Take Advantage of the Concierge

Nicely done! Any tips of things to do with her for a 3 day getaway. We are attending a concert while we are in DC. Thank you!!! All great tips! Washington DC makes a great family vacation.


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  • With these tips for visiting Washington DC with kids, you will be off to a great start. Please share them in the comments sections below. Did you know, Undercover Tourist is now hopping into top family-friendly cities, including San Francisco? Tags: Family Travel , Washington D. We were just in DC last year.

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    A couple of our thoughts. Great location to all the smithsonian museums and monuments and affordable too. They give tours that are much smaller and more personal than the official tour. Another reason not to go in the summer.

    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015
    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015
    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015
    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015
    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015
    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015
    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015
    Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015 Not For Tourists Guide to Washington DC 2015

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