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Washington, DC Trip Report

August 16th, 2008 at 04:22 pm

Apparently a few of you would like to hear more details about our trip, so here is more info. I'll try to keep it brief, but I'm happy to elaborate on anything if you have questions.

Day 1: Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian. We went there primarily for their Asian collection as my daughter has developed an interest in Japanese culture. Very nice museum right on the Mall.

After lunch, we went to the Museum of Natural History for a while and saw the Hope diamond, the dinosaurs, and a few other things before we ran out of steam and went back to the hotel.

That night, we went to the Arlington Fair that we had seen advertised on TV (and went online to get all the details - how did we live without the internet). That was fun and was a neat way to spend my birthday. We had dinner (carnival food - corn dogs, fries, funnel cake) and went on a bunch of rides.

Day 2: We drove out to Dulles Airport to see the satellite location of the Air and Space Museum. They have a huge building there where they display many aircraft that they simply don't have room for on the Mall. Some highlights are the Enola Gay, a Concorde jet, the space shuttle Enterprise and many others.

We had lunch at the McDonald's there, a place that we are very unaccustomed to eating (I know, it's un-American but we simply don't go there). I have to say we were very pleasantly surprised. I had the Asian salad which was really quite good - fresh veggies, tasty grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, slivered almonds and sesame dressing. I'd definitely recommend it.

That night, we had dinner at the Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant in Falls Church. This was another place that we located on the internet. Very good food and service. After dinner, we stopped at Fashion Centre Mall at Pentagon City. We browsed the shops and we actually got my daughter a nice bracelet at one of the jewelry shops. My mom wanted to give her something for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah but wanted her to pick it out, so that was good.

Day 3: We had 11:00 tickets for the National Holocaust Museum. I knew that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was next door and they give out timed tour tickets each morning. We headed over a little early and I went and got tickets for later in the day so we could see the tour after the museum.

Holocaust Museum is wonderful and does a great job telling the story of what led up to and what occurred during and after the Holocaust. My family and I are very well versed on the topic but still learned some new info while there. I found the early years of Hitler's career very interesting as I really didn't know much about his rise to power.

The one artifact that really got to me was the train car. I think that is because of seeing the movie "Paperclips." If you have any interest in the topic and haven't seen the movie, definitely rent it and watch it with a box of tissues handy.

We had lunch at the museum cafe. Food was fine but overpriced.

Then we got to learn all about printing money. It is always quite a sight to see stacks and stacks of sheets of $100 bills coming off the presses.

That night, we had dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant near the hotel called Cafe Italia. My daughter had homemade gnocchi for the first time and absolutely loved them. I don't think I've ever seen her enjoy a meal quite that much.

Day 4: I had ordered tickets in advance for the International Spy Museum and their Operation: Spy program. Wow! This place is fantastic. I had no idea it was as large or as involved as it is. Operation: Spy is a 1-hour long interactive experience where about 15 people are taken into a totally themed area made to look like a foreign country and embark on a spy mission to retrieve a missing nuclear trigger device. You have to work together to solve puzzles, do surveillance, search an office, crack a safe and more. The theming is excellent and the whole program is well worth every penny.

Then you enter the museum itself (you can buy either admission separately or a combo ticket for both). The museum tells all about history of spying, famous spies over the years, lots of displays of spy equipment and pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about spies. Great place to visit.

We had dinner at a little Greek diner near the hotel. Quick, reasonable and good food cooked to order. I took DD to the pool after dinner for a little swim.

Day 5: Hopped the Metro to Old Town Alexandria, an old favorite of ours. King Street is filled with unique shops, galleries and restaurants. We found a nice Thai place for lunch. Food was excellent. Then we spent time browsing the shops. We visited the Torpedo Factory which is a working art studio for about 80 artists. We stopped for ice cream before heading back, just in time as a thunderstorm started when we were riding the trolley back to the Metro station.

Day 6: Checked out and headed toward home. We stopped at Inner Harbor in Baltimore for lunch and shopping. DW actually found jewelry to go with her dress for the Bat Mitzvah there - a necklace and matching earrings. She's been searching since she bought the dress and hadn't found anything, so now she's set.

And that's about it. Let me know if you have any questions.

8 Responses to “Washington, DC Trip Report”

  1. LuxLiving Says:

    Thanks Steve. Those sound like loads of fun and good chances for learning thrown in! Your daughter is at a good age to remember lots of it. My parents travelled extensively with us and it was always a good time and often paid off later in school as subjects came up from places we'd already been.

    Plus, you can look back at your trip notes a year or two from now and recall events you might have forgotten.

  2. sillyoleme Says:

    Thanks! I will definitely take your recommendations on some of the museums and restuarants (we don't even know where to start).

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    I've never been to DC, sounds like a great trip. I will second your recommendation for the movie "Paperclips" it is great! I think if any of you have Netflix, you can even watch it online.

  4. disneysteve Says:

    Lux - My daughter has a habit of being ahead of the curve in school. Because we like to travel and do educational stuff, she has frequently found that she had already done something that her class is just getting to. I know this trip will be no exception because she is starting Confirmation class in religious school this year. They take a trip to the Holocaust museum every other year (it is a 2-year class) so she's already got that one taken care of.

    sillyoleme - Let me know when you are going and how long you are staying and I can try and give some more specific advice.

  5. debtfreeme Says:

    i loved the spy museum when i was there 5 years ago. so excited they have the iteractrive thing up. we heard about it but it was not yet operational when we were there.

    i am thinking of taking my mom to dc, maybe in the spring. we thought this fall but with her latest heart issue this week, doc says no traveling until they figure out what it is. so we look to the spring to go now.

  6. disneysteve Says:

    debtfreeme - Being a big Disney fan, I am very critical of others who attempt themed attractions, always comparing them to Disney standards, and I'm not easily impressed. The Spy Museum Operation: Spy is top-notch all the way. It is very well done. And yes, I was impressed.

    I will say, though, that their warnings about it being physical and intense are very overblown. Other than having to walk stairs, there isn't much or anything that any average person couldn't handle.

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    I'm really, really going to have to visit the spy museum some day.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ima saver Says:

    sounds like a great week of fun!!

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