Washington DC Vacation Ideas

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #1: There are many excellent things to do when visiting our nation's capital. One of my favorite vacation ideas is Washington, DC.

I'm very lucky, as my daughter works and lives there, so I usually have a cheap place to stay! In that city, the hotels are pretty pricey so it's nice to be able to save on accommodations.

One of my favorite things to do on vacation here is sightseeing all the wonderful city architecture. As a lover of old architecture, I'm in my glory when in DC.

The buildings there are so impressive, and so beautiful. I never get tired of it. The capitol dome at night--from every angle it is just gorgeous! The intense white against the dark blue night sky--it's embedded in my memory to think about when I consider the word "beautiful".

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #2: Take a tour of the Capital Building. The inside of the US Capitol is breathtaking.

The last tour we took through the capital was led by a staff member of our Congressman, and my daughter was a former congressional intern, so we kind of got the "deluxe" tour.

We even got to take the "train" in the basement of the capitol over to the Cannon Building where we started from. That is a special privilege to do that! – Brian from MD

Getaway to Washington DC #3: The last time I was in DC (at Mother's Day this year) my daughter and I went to the Post Office Tower--something I'd heard about but never visited. My daughter had never gone there because she thought there was a charge for it--but it was free!

You ride in an elevator 300+ feet to the top of this tower, and from there you have the best view of the entire area!

The view is much better than the view from the Washington Monument. There are such huge windows, some covered with Plexiglas, but others with wires preventing any accidents. I could see all the way to Alexandria, Virginia from there! I highly recommend a visit there. – Rita from OH

Washington DC Getaway #4: I very much enjoy the Smithsonian American History Museum. Their recent renovations were a big improvement. I've been following them on Flickr for a while so it was fun to be able to see it all in person. I loved the 19th century laundry exhibit there, for instance!

I found it fascinating to see each step in the process that a woman would have had to take to do her laundry back then. They had a few hands on things with the exhibit-you could lift a water bucket that weighed 21 pounds, and read that it took 25 of them to do a load of wash. You could also twist this bar to get a feel of what it was like to wring the clothes out. Very enlightening! Weird, but I really loved that exhibit of all of them there! – Rali from DC

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #5: The Eastern Market - Another favorite of my tourist spots in Washington DC is the Eastern Market. They are still outside after the fire a few years ago, but the renovations are almost complete for them to move back in. There is an artist there who whose work I love but I hate to spend the $$ to buy anything, but I expect I will give in to my whims eventually. The fruits and vegetables are tempting, too!

And there was a pickle booth with all different levels of garlic, and gave out samples--they were delicious, and I'm not even that big of a pickle fan! Eastern Market is not one of the usual tourist spots in Washington DC but it is a really cool, homey neighborhood district where you can feel like you are one of the locals very easily.

Overall I think Washington DC is a real gem of a vacation spot for all you people looking for vacation ideas. Don’t miss out on this one. - Sarah from NJ

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #6: Washington DC has lots of trails that are scenic as well as historically significant. Whether your vacation activities include walking, running, cycling or hiking, the DC area has loads of great trails. Here are a couple examples: At the Georgetown Visitor Center you can catch the C&O Canal Towpath in the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

This is a great trail for foot or bicycle and you can go as far as you want cause this trail runs for 185 miles all the way to Cumberland MD.

A riverside trail with great views of the Washington skyline is the Mount Vernon Trail. It runs along the Potomac River on the Virginia side. This is a nice scenic 18 mile long multi-use trail.

The Tidal Basin is a small inlet of water near the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. There's a 2 mile trail around the Tidal Basin with overlooks that provide excellent views of the water and the famous Washington cherry blossom trees.

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #7: For outdoor activities in Washington DC, try Rock Creek Park. At 1700 acres it's double the size of Central Park in New York City.

Rock Creek Park is a great place to get some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature. Much of the park is forest and it's easy to forget you are in the nation's busy capital.

There are plenty of jogging and biking paths that run through the park from the Potomac River to the Maryland border. Exploring the park will reveal old 1860's era fortifications which were part of the defense structures that fortified the capital during the Civil War.

The park rangers have lots of programs for all ages. There are children's programs where the rangers guide the kids as they explore and learn about the animals, birds and plants in the park.

You can go on a ranger-led horseback ride along the banks of Rock Creek. Join rangers and astronomers for a night time viewing of the stars and other heavenly phenomena. Or take in a showing of the constellations at the park's Planetarium.

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #8: An interesting historical spot, and Washington DC has many, is the Ford's Theater where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Since that infamous event in 1865, the theater has been used for various things warehouse to office building.

But today the theater is an official National Historic Site. It's been restored and is once again an operational theater. You can enjoy a wide variety of performances of famous plays, debates, humorists and musical performances.

You can take a tour of the theater and also visit The Lincoln Museum. At the museum you can see historical artifacts such as Lincoln's coat, the Derringer used by the assassin Booth and the bloodstained pillow used by Lincoln as he died from his head wound. You can continue the Lincoln theme by visiting the Peterson House across the street. This is where Lincoln was taken after he was shot and he died here.

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #9: The National Air and Space Museum is one of the most popular museums in the world and a must-see spot if you are planning a vacation in Washington DC. This is an immense museum and is sure to have plenty to interest every member of the family.

The Space Race exhibit chronicles the race into outer space between the U.S. and Russia. Some of the things you can see here are a 1957 era three-stage launch vehicle, Jupiter-C rocket which was America's first satellite and an original Hubble Test Telescope.

At the How Things Fly exhibit you can see a Boeing 747 fuselage. Have fun with hands-on interactive displays and live demonstrations about flight. You can see lunar rocks, the Wright brothers plane, the Apollo 11 command module and the Spirit of St. Louis. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of cool stuff to see at The National Air and Space Museum.

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #10: One of the things that makes Washington DC a great family vacation destination is the National Zoo. There are just a tremendous number of animals, exhibits and cool stuff at the National Zoo. Many of the over 400 species are on the endangered list. The African Savanna has cheetahs, gazelles, hippos and other animals from the grassland regions of Africa.

The Great Ape House is popular with its howler monkeys, gorillas and other great primates. You can see lots of lions and tigers, birds, bears and giant pandas.

The National Zoo covers 163 acres, houses some 2,000 animals and features wonderful galleries, gardens and museums. It's one of the most popular spots in Washington and draws visitors from all around the world.

Washington DC Vacation Ideas #11: When I think of where to go on vacation, Washington DC is is the first thing that comes to my mind. I love visiting historical vacation cities. Washington DC is one of my favorite historical places to go, as it is steeped in American history and has so many interesting historical landmarks and museums to visit.

The architecture of the old buildings draw me into them, with so many decorative touches that are no longer done on buildings any more. You can walk where George Washington or Abe Lincoln or John Kennedy once walked. The Smithsonian museums are a huge draw in DC.

My personal favorite is the American History one. The recent renovations turned out great, and have made the exhibit more up to date and more hands-on for kids. I also really enjoy the National Gallery--seeing some of those paintings is like meeting the real people! Washington DC is such a great vacation experience. - By Deb from Michigan

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