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Suggestions for Washington, D.C. activities?

 
 
CowDoc
 
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2005 12:29 pm
I have to spend a week in Washington in March, and my wife will be coming with me. Anybody have ideas as to what she should go do while I'm tied up in meetings?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 2,754 • Replies: 23
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2005 03:46 pm
Well, some of the things I liked in Washington may or may not appeal to her, it depends on her interests.

I liked the National Art Gallery and the Hirshorn (spelling?) Gallery, and the Library of Congress. Wanted to go into the Building Museum, but it was closed when I got there. I liked walking around Georgetown a lot, and particularly liked going through Dunbarton Oaks, a beautiful house with garden designed by Beatrix Farrand.
I liked having a cocktail at the Ritz, and checking out a lot of hotels for the decor - such as the Hays and the Dolly Madison and Hotel Washington and the old one next to it, name forgotten.

And I really appreciated the Vietnam memorial.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2005 04:07 pm
As Osso says, it all depends on her tastes, really. I'm in Washington, on average, two to three times a year, so I do know the city somewhat. Brief tour for a tourist: if you start at the Lincoln Memorial end of the National Mall, you can walk right down to the Vietnam Memorial, just a few yards away. The memorial for Korean veterans is just across on the other side of the reflecting pool. Walk down to the Washington Monument, that obscene obelisk sticking up into the sky. Take a side tour (left hand side of the road) to the White House. They prob'ly won't let her in, but she can walk all around it. In the next several blocks, heading toward the Capitol, are all the Smithsonian museums, as well as the National Gallery. For me, the National Gallery of Art is a place I could spend several weeks. (Did spend a whole week going through it once, very long ago.) Georgetown is a splendid suggestion for shopping and getting a feel for what the original District looked like before all those white marble gummint buildings were erected. It's older than Washington itself. Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot, is open to the public. Willard's Hotel is still a landmark. The Hirschorn Sculpture Garden and Gallery are also within walking distance of the National Mall.

The wonderful thing about Washington is that virtually everything that's open to the public is also free, supported either by the government or by generous private donations. One evening you might get tickets to whatever is on stage at the Kennedy Center, which sits practically in the shadow of the Watergate complex (fine irony there). Or head out to Adams-Morgan and find an out-of-the-way jazz or blues club.

And the Metro, the Washington subway system, is an excellent means of public transport, clean, efficient and used by all kinds of people, most of them wearing suits and ties. It's only drawback is that if you're staying out late of an evening, the damn' thing stops running sometime around 11 p.m.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2005 04:12 pm
I liked the Smithsonian, the Capitol Building, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials and the Vietnam Memorial. I was almost overwhelmed by Arlington National Cemetary, particularly the Civil War section - the changing of the Guard is worth watching. She can take a tour bus to Arlington, I'm sure the hotel can arrange something. I walked around Georgetown and the Mall and enjoyed just being in DC. Will the timing be right for cherry blossoms?
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2005 04:18 pm
The Willard, that's the hotel that I forgot the name of in my post.

My ex and I walked the mall several times, but really enjoyed it in the evening; it was May, warm and lovely, and the memorials were well lit.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2005 04:21 pm
CowDoc -- when. specifically, will you be in DC? I'm planning to be there myself for two or three days in the middle of the last week of March.
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CowDoc
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 08:50 pm
We'll be there March 3-9. Too early for the cherry blossoms. The wife has had an East Wing tour of the White House, and is working on setting up a West Wing tour. I personally get to see way too much of the Capitol and the Senate and House office buildings. She went with me last time to a breakfast meeting in the Mansfield Room on the Senate side, and she did seem to enjoy that. Since I happen to be vice-president of the Western Interstate Region of the National Association of Counties, it's not all that difficult for me to arrange things so that she can get into varied types of government facilities, but I think she would like to see some of the tourist-oriented things that I never have time to get close to. I sure do appreciate the replies so far, and would respectfully ask for more suggestions. When I was back there earlier this month, I had the chance to check out Chinatown, and have already recommeneded that to her, because she likes Asian food a lot. The standard stops around the Mall have been places we have been. Any suggestions as to out-of-the-way places most people miss, or anything that you would consider to just be a "fun thing"?
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2005 09:25 pm
I can't remember if I mentioned the Phillips Collection, a fine art gallery near Dupont Circle, I wouldn't miss it for the world, preferably on some off time. I got to be in a lot of rooms there by myself, so I liked that. I'd also check out the Corcoran, but I'm not as emotional about that one.

Is there a Renwick Gallery or Renwick building tour? I am sort of fuzzy on that, but I think the place is significant.

OK, for me, a little off the beaten path, Dunbarton Oaks, and the Phillips Collection.
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Newt
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 07:03 pm
Hi Cow Doc,
I live just north east of DC and was trying to think of places to go since I'm not a 'city' person. Will your wife have access to a car and is she willing to drive outside the city? Annapolis comes to mind as well as a drive towards Western Maryland for some lovely scenery and many quaint towns where handmade crafts and antiques are abundent. This site might also be helpful.

http://www.virtualtourist.com/vt/500//

Newt
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 07:11 pm
I certainly second Osso's suggestion of Dunbarton Oaks. Also, if your wife will be in Chinatown anyway, she might want to check out the Spy Museum (I'm not sure that's the full, official name but anyone in the neighborhood will know what she's talking about if she asks directions). It's right on the edge of Chinatown. It's much more fun than the name would indicate. It's abuilding entirely devoted to a sometimes light-hearted look at the business of espionage, mainly during the 20th century. It's a little off the beaten tourist path but worth a look-see.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 09:40 pm
The International Spy Museum is definitely worth seeing.

Also, don't miss the (relatively) new FDR memorial. Quite affecting, and unlike any other memorial I've ever seen. It's across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson memorial.

Also be sure to see the Holocaust Museum (next door to the not-worth-seeing Bureau of Engraving & Printing)...it's extremely well done and quite unforgettable.

Be forewarned...if you want to see the Capitol, you must wait in line to get tickets for the NEXT day. Not knowing this, we missed out as we had already scheduled activities for the following day.

Eat in Georgetown. Lots of wonderful small restaurants there, just walk around and look at posted menus 'til you find something that appeals.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 09:51 pm
FDR memorial, Lawrence Halprin did that, god of my early landscape architecture classes. I'm interested that you liked it, Eva, do you remember the whys?
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CowDoc
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2005 12:12 am
Thanks for the continuing suggestions, folks. I agree with you about Annapolis, Newt, but I'm afraid she'll be pretty much restricted to the range of the Metro. I get to see way too much of the Capitol and the various office buildings already, but I appreciate the heads-up, Eva.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2005 12:14 am
if she has a companion go to the National Arboretum, All the security work is finished , so the walks to the Corcoran Craft Gallery will be easy. Take a train to Baltimore and the national aquarium.
I assume youll have a car so a trip to Kent Narrows , about 50 mi east of DC off rt 50 and across the Bay from Annapolis is a treat, especially since Idaho is, I hear, unblessed by major water bodies, she'd enjoy lunch at a marina restaurant and a drive up to Centerville and Chestertown on rt 213. These are charming little waterside towns with unhurried gentle Eastern Shore paces of life.

I get to DC so much that I walk to the East Wing of the NAt Gallery just to see the many changing shows,

The American Indian Museum is a nice building but the collections in NY are better. However, the historical context of the peopling of the continent is interesting. So history and prehistory is a feature rather than mere collections of one person
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2005 10:34 am
ossobuco wrote:
FDR memorial, Lawrence Halprin did that, god of my early landscape architecture classes. I'm interested that you liked it, Eva, do you remember the whys?


God, am I ever intimidated...discussing architecture with osso! I'm afraid I can only give you a pedestrian's account...

My first impression was that it was completely unlike any other memorial in DC: It wasn't designed to make a big, splashy visual impact. It is not monumental...it is human-scaled. You wander through it, slowly. You take it in a piece at a time. Of course there are sculptures, water features, etc., but they are secondary. It is the etched quotations of FDR...his words themselves...that are the focus of your attention. The slow pace that it demands gives you time to reflect on each quotation before showing you another.

There are no clear-cut boundaries. That seems appropriate...open to the world.

I also found it interesting (and appropriately satisfying) that it contains the only statue of a First Lady in Washington DC. Eleanor certainly deserves it.

You go away from it realizing what an outstanding leader FDR was, and how perfectly he fit his times. But in a quiet way. You can't ask more of a memorial than that.

Here's a link: http://www.nps.gov/fdrm
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2005 10:53 am
That is what Halprin was doing, making the experience an interesting passage for the pedestrian, and bringing the quotes to focus. You have a new career awaiting, Eva, as an astute noticer of the built environment...
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2005 01:01 pm
High praise, indeed, coming from you, m'dear.

Thank you.
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panzade
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2005 01:20 pm
I grew up in Arlington but it's been a while.Here' s a good little site:

http://www.hellowashingtondc.com/
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CowDoc
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Feb, 2005 09:40 am
Thanks everyone! I have been busy getting ready for Valentines Day,(I'm a florist) & also got the flu. I am printing everything out & love the suggestions. A friend form ND will be there also & she might rent a car, not likely tho. We are from small towns & don't drive in BIG cities. Gail really likes antiques & farm stuff. I like antiques, dolls, & places to take pictures. Thanks again for all the suggestions. Terrie
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Feb, 2005 09:55 am
CowDoc
CowDoc, one of my favorite places, which I never miss when in D.C., is the Hirshorn Museum. If you like contemporary art, you will love this museum. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the museum.

http://hirshhorn.si.edu/

I also always try to visit the Smithsonian Space Museum.

http://www.nasm.si.edu/museum/flagship.cfm

The Wright Brother's development of the areoplane is a featurered show right now.

http://www.nasm.si.edu/wrightbrothers/

BBB
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