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Washington DC Trip Reports - 2006 to 2012

washington dc trip reports

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#1 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:17 PM

Washington DC - 2006

 

Fifty-seven parents, grandparents, and children traveled to Washington DC by Amtrak train, arriving on May 25 and departing on the morning of the May 28. We had a volunteer train host who boarded with us and described the sites along the way. He showed the children tricks, talked to them, and answered questions until he had to depart in Rocky Mount, NC.

The Amtrak conductors and assistant conductors were friendly and accommodating. They allowed us to have the entire car to ourselves both ways, even though we didn't have the minimum number of travelers required for a reserved car. Because of this, our children were able to move around relatively freely and play/talk with each other during the trip.

Though the ride was long, it allowed the children (and parents and grandparents) to get to know one another and bond before arrival. From the comments I've received so far, most of our travelers enjoyed the train trip and would like to travel this way on our future trip to New York City.

Amtrak provided food items such as soup, salad, pizza, sandwiches, snacks, and beverages, but we found them to be expensive. Those who brought coolers and "snack bags" with their own food ate better, and spent a lot less. This is definitely the way I'll go next time, if we take the train.

Everyone seemed very pleased with our hotel. The rooms were clean and very comfortable, with two double beds, a refrigerator, and microwave. We also had a decent breakfast every morning, consisting of a wide variety of food for even picky eaters. Some folks in our group who admitted to being choosy about hotels said they were very pleased with it. That's good enough for me.

Some of the sites we visited together were the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, Washington Monument, White House, National Zoo, Old Post Office Pavilion and Tower, Ford's Theater, Arlington Cemetery, and Washington National Cathedral. We split off to visit the Smithsonian (and other) museums of our choice, such as: National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, Holocaust Museum, and more.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take our reserved US Capitol tour. There was an alleged shooting there the morning of our tour date, so they were on "lockdown" all day. It turned out to be noise from construction (instead of the gunshots they thought they heard), but they didn't find out until it was too late to take our tour.

 

Seeing the monuments, cathedral, and museums up close was an amazing experience. (Be sure to check out our pictures of the trip.) The only thing I'll drop from the itinerary on the next trip will be the zoo. It was fine, but not really worth the walk for my family (and quite a few of the other travelers agreed with me).

 

Most of my itinerary was flexible - folks could stick with the group, or go off on their own if they wanted to see the sites alone. That was one of the benefits of using the Metro and we'll definitely use the same strategy for our next trip.

We walked a lot during the trip, and had a few people with recent foot surgeries or foot/leg problems who had trouble keeping up with the pace. The flexible itinerary benefited them, since they could go at their own pace. However, I wouldn't recommend the trip for those with problems or limited mobility - a guided bus tour with limited walking would be better.

For anyone interested in going on this trip in the future, I recommend that you start a walking program a month or two before the trip if you don't get much physical activity so you'll be prepared for the amount of walking required. Also, be sure to walk in the shoes (tennis shoes, walking shoes) you'll be using for the trip - don't buy new shoes without breaking them in thoroughly. Trust me on this.

The area around our hotel hosted a lot of restaurants (most of which we didn't discover until we ate at Chili's for the second or third time). We'll have a little more variety on the next trip since we know where to find them now. There were also many other stores (pharmacies, etc.) in case we needed something unexpectedly, or forgot to bring something.

 

I received such positive feedback from this trip, that I'm making plans for the next one (several families have told me that they'd like to go back to see the sites we missed this time).
 



#2 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:20 PM

Washington DC - 2008 (two trips this year)


Around 200 parents, grandparents, and children traveled to Washington DC with us this October and November (we took two trips due to demand). I've never been to Washington in the fall and I was pleasantly surprised with the mild weather on both trips. Some mornings were chilly, but it soon warmed up to very comfortable temperatures, and we had very little rain on both trips.

 

I think the most enjoyable part for me was meeting so many wonderful families (with great kids!). Although touring DC is a great experience, it's even more amazing when you're part of a group.

 

We visited many of the same sites as last year, but added the US Capitol, White House (one group was able to go inside, the other did the garden tour - the garden tour got better reviews), Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Spy Museum. We split off to visit the museums of our choice, such as: National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, Holocaust Museum, and others.

 

From feedback I've received, the children seemed to enjoy seeing the Washington Monument the best, as well as the museums (Spy Museum, Air and Space, Natural History), the Pentagon, and surprisingly, the Holocaust Museum. I was worried the Holocaust Museum would be too intense for them, but I was wrong. It was a most reverent and educational experience for many, and most (if not all) of us who went wished we had more time there. Many children also reported enjoying riding the subway - a new experience for many.


Most of my itinerary was flexible - folks could stick with the group, or go off on their own if they wanted to see the sites alone. That was one of the benefits of using the Metro. In general, families stuck with the itinerary more closely on the first day, and branched out once they felt more comfortable using DC's wonderful Metro system.

 

I received so many positive reviews that I'm already planning next year's trip!



#3 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:20 PM

Washington DC - 2009

 

Around 95 travels traveled with us this year on our fourth trip to Washington DC. The weather was wonderful again - warmer than last year and only a little rain here and there.

 

The best part of the trip was meeting so many great families again this year. In addition to visiting the sites together, we had nightly gatherings in the lobby where the children and parents got to know each other. This resulted in some wonderful relationships being formed between the kids (and the parents!). We all seemed to mesh really well and came away with some fond memories.

We were able to visit all the sites we planned for except the Pentagon. Hopefully we can add that back in for next year's trip. Most of my travelers enjoyed all of the sites, especially the White House, US Capital, Washington Monument, Ford's Theater, and the various museums.

I've already received emails asking about next year's trip, so I'm planning one for October again.



#4 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:21 PM

Washington DC - 2010

 

We had 93 homeschoolers with us for our fifth trip to Washington DC. The weather was great again, for the most part. A cold wind the first morning kept us huddling while we were visiting the Washington Monument, but otherwise it was perfect!

As it is with every trip, the best part was enjoying the company of so many homeschooling families. The adults and children made new friends and enjoyed themselves during our tours and nightly gatherings in the lobby. There was a lot of laughing and bonding going on, and the children enjoyed themselves in spite of all the educational stuff.

 

We were able to visit all the sites we planned for, and had knowledgeable guides at the different sites. (They all seemed a notch above this year - I learned a lot of new things!)

 

As always, there was a lot of walking on this trip, and a lot of security. Everywhere we went we were lined up, scanned, had to show ID, etc., before we could proceed. We became used to it after a while, though, and definitely felt safe while we were there.

I always enjoy my trips to DC, each more than the last, and this year's trip was no different. I absolutely love the children I meet on every trip - they amaze me with their enthusiasm and sense of adventure. A big thanks goes to all the families who traveled with me this year - I enjoyed meeting our new travelers and enjoyed seeing returning travelers again. I'm already planning this trip again for next year (stop rolling your eyes!).



#5 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:21 PM

Washington DC - 2011

 

We had 96 travelers with us on our sixth trip to DC. I think this year we had the best weather of all of our trips - very nice temperatures (70's mostly) and not a cloud in the sky during the whole trip.

 

As always, everyone had different favorites, but I think the Crime and Punishment Museum ranked as the children's favorite. They opened the museum early just for our group and provided a great forensics lab for all of us - adults and children. We had fun trying to figure out whodunit!

 

Other favorites were the White House, US Capitol, Arlington Cemetery, seeing the monuments and memorials up close, and Ford's Theater. We didn't get to go into the Washington Monument this year due to the earth quake damage, and some of our families didn't get to take the White House tour due to reasons unknown, but we still had a great time in spite of the glitches.

 

I enjoyed meeting all of our new families and seeing those again who've been on previous trips with me. And, as always, the kids are adorable and such a pleasure to be around. I'm already planning next year's trip for October and may add a few extras due to requests from some of my families - still thinking it over. I hope you can join us!



#6 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:22 PM

Washington DC - 2012

 

I've wanted to make my DC groups smaller, so this year I limited my DC group to around 75 travelers (we crept up to 78, but close enough). I really enjoyed the smaller group size, so I'll keep it at 75 from now on (and may even bring it down a little more).

 

I had a great time meeting new families this year and introducing them to DC. The weather was wonderful - there was a threat of rain early on, but it went away and we had clear skies after that.

 

Although we didn't get to tour inside the White House this year, we got the Garden Tour (tours of the White House are cancelled when the garden tours are going on). Garden tours are limited to twice a year and allows visitors to enter grounds that aren't normally open to the public. We were right at the front door and saw the White House garden, beehive, the West Wing and Oval Office, the playground for the girls, and got some great photos of the White House up close. (We're not able to take pictures on the tour of the White House, so this was great.) Some of my families felt this was the highlight of the trip, others thought it ranked near the bottom.

 

My families ranked the Pentagon tours very highly this year, and I think that's a result of our smaller group. The smaller we are, the more personal the tour (one reason I wanted to downsize the group). I usually don't schedule the Pentagon, so I'm glad I took a chance on it again this year.

 

Everything else was about the same as previous trips - the kids loved the Crime Museum and the labs they did for us, and many chose to go back there to visit during free time.

 

Due to downsizing the group, I'm going to do a spring DC trip in 2013 (in addition to our usual fall trip). Hopefully the weather will be just as good and the spring crowds won't be too unmanageable. For more information about that trip and other trips, see our main travel area.

 

I posted a few pictures in the gallery here: http://www.carolinah...iew_style=large  (you must have a community account and sign in to see them).

 

A big thanks to all the families who explored DC with me this year. I enjoyed meeting you and your wonderful children!







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