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50 Things to See and Do in Washington, DC...

 

Visit the estate of an heiress -- For something fascinating and a bit off the usual tourist trail, visit the lovely Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. The estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post (heir to the Post cereal fortune), Hillwood overlooks Washington's Rock Creek Park and features beautiful treasures from 18th and 19th century Imperial Russia, as well as 18th century French decorative arts.

'The collection includes Fabergé eggs, Russian porcelain, Russian Orthodox icons, Beauvais tapestries, and Sèvres porcelain. Encircled by woodlands, the twenty-five acre estate provides visitors a tranquil oasis of luscious formal gardens.' Full details can be found on its web site, http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org . (Jo, Danville, CA, USA)

 

Museum of the American Indian -- Here is my two in one tip. The Smithsonian's newest museum--the National Museum of the American Indian -- is not only a fabulous and innovative museum, but also has one of the more interesting restaurants in DC, offering a huge and uncommon 'cafeteria' selection of native foods from all over the nation. Whether you are interested in wild rice or red chili, vegetarian or buffalo, there is something for you in this restaurant. Enjoy everybody. (Cate, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA)

 

I agree! -- My husband and I recently spent a large part of one day in the National Museum of the American Indian (Fourth Street & Independence Ave., S.W.), which is a new addition to the Smithsonian museums. It's in a spectacular building on the Mall, not far from the Air and Space Museum. The exhibits are fascinating, especially in the area where details about the cultures of individual tribes are artfully presented.

An added plus is the marvelous, huge cafeteria, with exceptionally well prepared food choices. You can try food from the Northwest Coast Indians (wild salmon, fern sprouts), the Great Plains (buffalo stew), or the Southwest (foods grown by the Pueblo Indians such as corn and beans), for example. The museum is worth a visit just for the food alone. Although some of the choices are on the high end for cafeteria food, everything was wonderful. Fourth Street & Independence Ave., S.W. (Maria, Berkeley, CA, USA)

 

Good Sleeps and Eats -- I travel to Washington a few times a year for work and I have a few favorite hotels to share. I've had great luck finding deals at the Kimpton chain of hotels. They have a number of locations in and near the city, including Dupont Circle and one just across the bridge from Georgetown in Arlington, VA. Check for on-line specials or AAA rates. I've also had lovely stays at the Swann House B&B and the Kalorama Guest House. I highly recommend any of the interesting ethnic restaurants in the Adams Morgan neighborhod -- I invariably end up at one of the Ethiopian spots, but there are lots of other types -- and any of the outlets of the Marvelous Market, which is an outstanding bakery. Secret -- I often stash a loaf of their sourdough black olive bread in my room for breakfasts. (Christy, Boston, MA)

 

M is for museums and the metro -- I travel to the Washington, DC area for business frequently. When I'm not working I have a lot of favorite places to visit. I like the Freer/Sackler Museums on the Mall for Asian Art. Right next door is the National Museum of African Art. It's right across from the Smithsonian Metro stop. Near by via the Metro is the Renwick Gallery. It has American crafts. Around Dupont Circle and Embassy Row there are other great museums. I love the Textile Museum, the Phillips Collection, and for American history, the Society of the Cincinnati.

Food? There's lots of great food. One of my favorites is La Fourchette in Adams-Morgan (2429 18th St NW Washington, DC 20009-2003). It is superb! The Adams-Morgan neighborhood is a great mix of ethnic foods and colorful, cute shops. Hopping the Metro gets you to a lot of places cheaply and easily. You can visit the suburbs for mall shopping at Pentagon City. You can land at National Airport and take the Metro in to town. Visit At Kindred Spirit, a wonderful shop inside National Airport. Riding the Metro is easy...except at rush hour! There's just so much to do in the Washington, DC area. Load up the Metro card, get a Metro map and head out. (Debby, Houston, Texas, USA)

 

VIP Tours of the White House -- At least six months before you go to Washington DC, Americans can contact their Congressman to ask for tickets to the Mint, White House, Supreme Court, etc. The Congressmen have a certain number they can give out each month. This will enable you to attend the first tour of each site, a VIP tour that means you don't have to wait in long lines and risk being shut out of a tour. Most tours in Washington DC are free -- including these tickets. But not having to stand in line makes all the difference. Our family found that we had to get up early to tour D.C. because most attractions are closed at 4:30 p.m. Not a city for sleepyheads! Take that early tour, then go for breakfast about 9:30 when the cafes are quieter. And wear comfy shoes -- you'll be walking everywhere. P.S. If you are not American contact congresswoman Eleanor Holmes office at: http://tinyurl.com/yzbmbaf (Diane, Lancaster, CA, USA)

 

Best eats online research -- I use the washingtonian.com dining guide to identify restaurants. Their 'cheap eats' list is a great resource for finding good, inexpensive restaurants in DC and the environs. They also have other categories such as best brunch, best view, best romantic. This is an excellent place for visitors to begin their planning. (Kate, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)

 

Getting to Georgetown -- People complain that there are no close metro stops in the Georgetown area. The lesser-known Georgetown shuttle service is fantastic (it's a little blue mini bus with Georgetown written across it). It connects all bus stops in Georgetown, and runs express service between the Rosslyn and Dupont Circle metro stations via M Street. It runs every ten minutes until 7am to 2am (except Sunday night where it runs 8am-midnight) and costs one dollar each way. I love it! (Megan, Washington, DC, USA)

 

Orient yourself with a bus tour -- Indeed, Washington is a love of a city. It's beautiful and welcoming. Until I visited the first time I didn't realize it's a Southern city with the graciousness that implies. The National Park Service runs a bus service called Tourmobile. You buy a ticket at any of its numerous stops and you can hop on and off all day long.

It visits most of the popular sites of interest. The main tour even goes to Arlington National Cemetery, and there's an add-on tour for Mount Vernon. Each bus has very good narration by a Park Service employee. I recommend all first time visitors ride the whole route once to get oriented and plan their destinations. It's a great introduction to a great city. (Dorothy, Houston, Texas, USA)

 

Be prepared! -- Get tickets ahead of time for the Washington Monument – National Park Service sells them online http://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm Wear good walking shoes – you’ll do a lot of it. Don’t forget the Korean War Memorial or the FDR Memorial – they’re out of the way, but well worth a visit. Eat lunch at Union Station – lots of choices and one can eat cheaply.

 

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