Like many people on the East Coast, I have visited Washington, D.C., many times. I went to school at American University in D.C. so even lived there for four years — but A LONG TIME AGO! Despite the number of times I have been there I usually end up doing some of the same things — Smithsonian museums at the Mall, The Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington Memorials, The National War Memorials, walking around the White House, the National Zoo, etc. And believe me, I can do it multiple times. Bottom line is that there is a lot to do in Washington, D.C.
Off to the Nation’s Capital — 267 miles
I’ve been to D.C. so much that I almost don’t think of it as a trip. I’ve traveled there by plane, train and automobile; however, my mode of transportation is based on why I’m going. For one day ‘work’ trips you take either a plane or train depending on when the meeting starts and stops. Another factor is the time of the year. If it’s winter and the meeting starts later in the morning I will take the train. Flights out of D.C. can be cancelled esaily and you’re left taking the train anyway. And the metro connects via either Union Station or National (train station and Ronald Reagan National Airport). Union Station is beautiful and people should just visit it anyway — whether they have a train or not.
As this was pleasure, I drove. I actually didn’t even drive through D.C. as I was staying in Vienna, Virginia. Always important to consider traveling as part of the trip so you try to enjoy what you see along the way. I usually see one “unique” vehicle. This time was an army truck — the kind I hadn’t seen before. Also, I took the Fort McHenry Tunnel (I-95) and saw more of the Baltimore harbor area — including a cruise ship this time.
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Down in the D.C. area, you drive on the Beltway (495) — and see possibly one of the most interesting sites –the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints temple. It emerges from the highway and you’d almost think it’s “heaven.” If you’ve seen it – you know what I mean.
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To get to D.C. during non-rush hour times (although in D.C. I’m not sure there is such a thing) takes between 4.5 and 5 hours. Once there, I really only had two half days to see things so I avoided the usual places. Two “places” I really wanted to go but absolutely had no time were the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the three war memorials — National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Roosevelt Memorial is at the Tidal Basin and is fantastic. Physically quite different than any of the other more well-known memorials — visitors walk through it in a beautifully landscaped area. It showcases FDR’s four terms in office via quotes and images carved in stone and bronze artwork. I recommend everyone see it.
The three war memorials are all near each other and it’s impressive to see them on the same day. What you notice is the different feeling you get from each one. It clearly underscores how architecture and design can make you feel. I strongly encourage people to visit them in the same day and see what I mean.
I literally only had a few hours the first day so I visited the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum — Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly Virginia. It’s very close to Dulles Airport. It is literally a giant airplane hangar. There’s no cost to enter, but a $15 dollar parking fee. If you want to see lots of aviation and space artifacts (planes, helicopters, missiles, engines, lunar modules, gondolas), this is the place to go.
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About the Air & Space Museum — it’s a little less traveled than the major one at the Mall (1.6M in 2015 vs. 6.9M in 2015), but it’s something to see. There’s a fascinating exhibit on engines that showcases their evolution. Just a few of the things you’ll see at the museum.
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Plus the Shuttle Program is well represented by the Shuttle Discovery!
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The most beautiful plane ever built – the SR-71A Blackbird. Continues to be a marvel.
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A Visit to Newseum — a museum on Pennsylvania dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition
It appears mostly to be about news reporting. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to put this together — a museum about news? A lot more of this is interactive than you would think — and they focus on some pretty heavy topics in the first exhibits. What I think is that to make it ‘interesting’ they had to focus on some fairly major news events in U.S. recent history so the major exhibits are on 9/11, terrorism and the Berlin Wall. The focus is on reporting, but uses these topics to explain. It is very interesting and I would encourage everyone to see it when they’re in D.C. For those — like me — who consider various venues for work activities I would encourage this one. It also highlights the beginnings of newspapers in the U.S., broadcast journalism and the internet. They have some demonstration areas for children to pretend they’re broadcasters so pretty interesting. It’s a bit hefty price-wise — @$23 — but it’s usually for two days. Not sure how many people spend two days in this kind of museum, but who knows.
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Journalists in Danger
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Pulitzer Prize photographs
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Actual newspapers — date back 200 years plus!
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And other topics!
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Washington, D.C. Trip by the Numbers
Total Distance: 540 miles
Total Tolls: @$60
What did I Listen to: Short trip so mostly 1010 Wins (NYC area) and CNN
Wished: I hadn’t stayed at the Sheraton Tysons hotel. While my room was fine, others had very poor service. Overall service in the hotel was the worst I’d ever seen. I took a survey from Starwood and was pretty clear about it.