After a very successful Air and Space tour we adopted the tour strategy for the next museums we planned to see. We knew there was so much information and no way to see everything. The highlight tours we figured would cover the “big stuff” and we could fill anything we had really wanted to see after the tour.
We arrive at American History just after the opening for the morning. Rode the yellow line in again from Crystal City and walked the short bit to the museum. We could tell already at bag check this morning was busier. We caught the 10:15 with around a dozen or so other people from the visitors center. The group was just large enough and some people did break off once the tour started.
We started with the Greensboro lunch counter and Jefferson’s desk. A Vietnam war helicopter and the inaugural gowns wore by the first ladies.
And Daughter loves to read the Smithsonian magazine, she spotted the “football” in a display.
We went down to Julia Child’s kitchen which was on my list of must see items.
And ended with the huge star spangled banner. Such an impressive display!!!!
Our tour guide was an older gentleman who had great information not only about each item but also about meeting guests who visited the Smithsonian and had a connection to an item. The tour was very well done and last until 11:30.
We viewed a few other items and at a little after noon figured it was a great time to break for lunch.
Currently highlight tours are given at 10:15 and 1pm. More information can be found here: http://americanhistory.si.edu/visit
I love to seek out cupcakes or macaroons when on vacation. Each place has its own twist and it gives you a local glimpse. For this trip I wanted to try Baked and Wired in Georgetown.
Other places try to claim the local fame but we had only time to try one on this trip. Baked and Wired was easy to find and we waited in a short line of 10 people on a Thursday afternoon to pick out our treats.
The choices!!!!! Daughter is not a huge cupcake fan so she got a peanut butter brownie. it was so large she only ate half that day. I chose a red velvet cupcake with perfect cream cheese frosting! Frosting is important and most places get it too sweet! I also took an OMG for later that was graham cracker crust, marshmallow and chocolate like a s’more. Sister took a Blondie for later and a coconut cupcake she called amazing!
We sat on the cute little cafe chairs outside on the walk to enjoy our treats. It was a perfect break and Daughter also enjoyed a hot chocolate from the coffee shop inside.
If you are in Georgetown walk over, I wish they were closer to our home!!!!!
More information can be found here: http://bakedandwired.com/baked-goods/bars/
We took the metra train to the zoo on the red line. We exited at Cleveland park walking downhill sort of to the zoo. Directly across the street from the zoo entrance is a 7/11 for that coffee fix.
Our plan was to head to the pandas first thing. Which seemed like a good idea but they were not aware of our plan and were sleeping instead. We poked around for a few and spent some time by the elephants and the bird house area. Came back and the pandas were still not stirring.
Everyone told me to tour the monuments at night. Hands down that was the more recommended thing to do in DC. You can walk, you can take a coach bus, you can take a mini bus or even bike. I had read reviews of what sounded like hoards of people pouring off a bus and being short on time to see the monument. That sounded horrible! I knew going in the fall would help but I wanted to ensure a smaller sized group!
Bike and Roll DC was the answer! They offered a nights monument tour that was 3 hours in length and around 4 miles biked. The tour left at 6:30 which is just dark enough for getting started. They also try to keep it around 16 riders and staying off the street. Just right for two adults who never have a reason to ride a bike anymore.
It was raining the day of our tour and we were contacted to see if we wanted to plan on the tour or switch nights. That is customer service!!!!!! Since we had two nights in DC and it was not pouring rain we chose to go ahead with our tour. This was great as everyone else backed out, private tour for us!
I will admit to getting turned around and having to ask for help in finding the meeting location. We were so close to it but my phone couldn’t figure it out. People in DC were so helpful, a nice man pointed us round the corner and we were there.
You are given a bottle of water, a helmet and safety vest before you get your bike. The bike has a small pouch on the front for your water, camera or whatever you need to carry. And for night tours a safety light.
I like to use Restaurant.com for dinner coupons when I travel. The site allows you to search by zip and then by distance. I use the hotel zip code and search for with in a mile of that zip code for locations they offer. This trip I purchased $15 off $30 at Hearthstone Pizza Bistro.
The restaurant is located a couple of blocks from the Radisson Reagan hotel. We made plans to eat early as we had to be 6:30 in DC by the mall area. It was around 5pm when we arrived for dinner. We were quickly seated and told the happy hour specials. We settled on a started of mozzarella sticks and garlic knots.
I had the chicken parm which was very good! Daughter ordered Chicken Alfredo and sister had the eggplant rollatini. The portions were large and we had plenty to take back to the room for later.
Our food was good but nothing exceptional. If we stayed in the area again I think I would try some place else just because there seemed to be some really outstanding restaurants in the area. This is more towards average for over $60.
The service was quick and very friendly!
We stayed two nights on points at the Radisson Reagan Airport hotel in Arlington. The hotel is 38,000 points a night or the second night free if you have the visa card.
The location is great for DC. We are in the Crystal City area off the yellow metra line, two stops before you reach the tourist areas of the mall. Reach the metra with a four minute walk. Walk to 20th and cross, take a left past the Marriott. Go up a block and the train is across the street to the left. You cannot miss it. And two blocks over on 23rd there were several great restaurants and a CVS. we had dinner in the area each night as there was a lot of variety!
Check in was quick and efficient, there were two elevators and we never had to wait for the car to the 8th floor. We had a two queen room that was comfortable in size.
I had never had the opportunity to use Uber before. I had read the rave reviews, the questionable business practices in some cities and the taxi driver protests. And to be honest I avoid taking a cab if I can. So I was hopeful for our first Uber experience.
At the Udvar center I requested our first Uber car. It took about 8 minutes for the car to come rolling up the drive and having the license plate was helpful. I am not good with car types to that information is kind of lost on me, red Toyota would be more helpful.
Our driver was very friendly and had us to the Radisson Reagan hotel in Arlington in a very reasonable amount of time. Our cost would have been $53 plus tip but I also had a $25 credit in my account. That is a very reasonable trip for the distance we covered. I had heard it could be a $70 + cab ride from Dulles to Arlington.
We went on to use Uber two more times, from the zoo to Georgetown and Georgetown to our hotel again in Arlington. Each time we had a friendly driver and I found the cost to be very reasonable. I would recommend Uber to anyone looking for a way to avoid a cab.
If you would like to start out with $30 Uber credit please sign up under my link. Sign up using my promo code and get $30 off your first ride: http://www.uber.com/invite/jenniferb1265
We are in the final planning stretch for our DC trip. Trying to keep it was low cost as possible!
Fairfield Inn DTW $119 + tax including 8 nights parking
Frontier Flights $85 each
Radisson Reagan Hotel 38,000 points total for 2 nights
Country Inn and Suites Dulles (booked on the app for an extra 3,000 points) $75 AAA rate.
Groupon for lunch at white apron $15.
Restaurant.com certificate for $15 off $30 at a pizza shop.
Capital City Bike tour with a AAA discount.
Uber and Lyft $25 new user credits with each company.
Our next adventure was started by an email from Airfare Watchdog. I had previously signed up on their site and randomly read the emails they send me about airfare from my local airport. This time when I read it I spied $88 round trip tickets from Detroit to Dulles. I looked at the dates but nothing that worked for me in Aug/ Sept.
A few days later I am reading another email from Airfare Watchdog and I see the same rate. This time I dug further into the dates and saw that late fall had some availability. Bingo! Daughter has fall break and I could get the time off work. I booked those tickets on Frontier before the day was over!
Do not wait too long and think that an airfare will stay at a low rate. For Frontier this seems to be a newer route for them so the price is still low, I got lucky that it was still offered pretty inexpensively! When I was last purchasing airfare the prices were changing by the hour while shopping for New York. If you see a good fare jump on it!
I am still ironing out hotels. Hotel prices seem to be running well above $200 a night and I just do not want to lay that kind of cash out for a few nights on a “cheap” trip! I need to look at my hotel point inventory better.
Club Carlson gives me a few options. There is a Country Inn and Suites out by Dulles but that is too far to commute each day (20 miles to the White House) but its only $129. There is the Radisson Largo which is starting at $173 a night but its almost a mile walk to the Metro station or waiting for their shuttle. Its 12 miles to the White House so a little further out than I still want to be. Or there is a Radisson near Reagan Airport in Crystal City. This hotel is 3 miles from the White House but its also $209 a night. I could use points for these instead of cash.
IF Marriott is offering the stay 2 times get a night free I might be looking their way. This seems to be a steady promotion but you never know for sure until the dates get closer. I need a night at the Detroit airport before we leave so that would get me two stays in the promo period easily.
The Courtyard Washington D.C. / Capital is $269 and a couple of miles to the White House. The FairField downtown is $239 a night. They are six blocks from the White House so that would be a pretty good location! I need to see how many points they take to book.
So a few things to nail down once I see the fall promotions being released. Earn the free hotel nights as you burn the nights.