June 29, 2010

Tuesday’s Travel Tips – Washington D.C.

Just in time for Independence Day, we celebrate our red, white, and BlueCity, Washington D.C. in this week’s Tuesday’s Travel Tips. With service to Washington’s Dulles Airport and new service starting in November to Reagan National, there are a few ways to jet to the nation’s capital on JetBlue.

Ground Operations Crewmember, Babar points out that Dulles Interntional Airport is one

Image courtesy of Michael Nyika

Image courtesy of Michael Nyika

of the few to still offer old school mobile lounges. Note that Dulles airport is actually not in Washington D.C., but 26 miles west in Virginia. Despite these characteristics, Dulles is a manageable airport and one that gains you access to the nation’s capital.

Washington D.C. is an eclectic city with many diverse neighborhoods. Perhaps more interesting than stopping at actual landmarks, especially if you’re short on time, is to simply explore the landscape of the four quadrants that the city is composed of. The architecture is rich with history and you’ll catch some sights and sounds and even smells of many different cultures just via a quick drive, metro ride (which is easy to navigate), or walk around.

First on the list of places to visit is the National Mall. No, this is not a shopping mall, but

Image courtesy of Jeff Kubina

Image courtesy of Jeff Kubina

rather a great, big lawn and fountain known as the “heart of the capital district,” surrounded by a series of national monuments, memorials, and museums. The location is home to some of the most famous speeches and marches in our nation’s history. The best time of year to visit is during the Spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full swing.

Organizational Effectiveness Crewmember Beth suggests you try touring the monuments at night. While you may not be able to ask questions or visit a gift shop, you get to visit when the monuments are less crowded and not as hot. It also frees you up to visit one of the Smithsonian museums or others that have set hours. Beth also recommends the National Archives as a worthy stop, but suggests you get there early to beat the crowds. One museum that is not free but worth a trip with children is the Spy Museum where you get to be the spy!

Image courtesy of Jeff Kubina

Image courtesy of Jeff Kubina

A great resource for things to do in and around D.C. (aside from this column, of course) is 100 free or nearly free things to do in D.C. which lists everything from free cultural events and museums to the cheapest happy hour and free festivals.

Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan are two cute neighborhoods adjacent to one another and a great place to stop for a bite. With tons of fun restaurants – Madam’s Organ comes highly recommended – you’ll have no lack of options in these areas. Georgetown is another great area to find a bite and check out the scene, especially if you’re coming from a show or performance at the nearby Kennedy Center. And just a hop, skip, and jump from Georgetown is the bridge to Virginia, where you can easily check out Arlington National Cemetery and George Washington’s residency, Mount Vernon.

If you’re in the region for an extended period of time, it’s worth exploring some of the neighborhoods that surround D.C. like Hyattsville (Franklin’s Brewery is a must-try) Takoma Park, and Langley Park (for some slammin’ Central American and Caribbean food). These areas are all considered part of the Washington metro area and are accessible by metro.

Do you have any great Washington D.C. travel tips to share? Leave them in the comments below, or Tweet them using the hashtag #TTIAD.

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One Comment on “Tuesday’s Travel Tips – Washington D.C.”

  • Posted by Yvette E. on June 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    DC is my very favourite city and I love that Jetblue flies there. Dulles is a great airport and security has been revamped recently and functions efficiently. The terminal where your Jetblue gates are at has great food options, including Potbellies, perhaps the best sandwich place you’ll ever try. If you are departing out of Dulles, since it is a very busy airport, be sure to allow yourself *more* time before your flight rather than cutting it close. They service thousands of people through the security TSA checkpoint, and they do an exceptional job of it, but just to be on the safe side, try and get there at least two hours in advance so you aren’t stressing or rushing. As well, I am thrilled Jetblue is also going to Regan! You can take the metro to Regan.

    Anyhow, travel tips: don’t forget Maryland! It’s connected to DC and is a gorgeous state. Take the metro to the Wheaton station and eat some of the very best sushi anywhere at Moby Dick Sushi, within walking distance of the Wheaton metro stop.

    The Baltimore Aquarium is huge and is worth a day trip, and if you like a slower pace and antiques, try Ellicott City. Antiquing in Olney, Kensington, gosh all over is such fun.

    There’s a great farmer’s market on Sunday mornings in Tacoma Park, which is right at the border of DC & Maryland (literally by crossing the street you’ve crossed the border).

    Annapolis is also amazing, with the best crabcakes and seafood (steaks too!) and fantastic history to enjoy. Go for one of the horse drawn carriage rides, and ask the driver to share as much history with you as they can. It’s so fascinating! We’re talking one of the original 13 colonies here!

    Spring is indeed the best time for weather and cherry blossoms, but school groups by the hundreds will be flooding the museums, so allow yourself plenty of time. The Smithsonians are actually 19 different museums, and they are free for admission. Be prepared at the entrance for the security checkpoint. If you can only do a couple of Smithsonians, I highly recommend the American History Museum, where you stow your stuff in lockers (have like 50 cents with you) and when you leave, if you put the key back in, you get your money back!). The museum’s collection is staggering, but he highlight is definitely the actual Stars Bangled Banner flag. That’s a must see. It’s a moving experience. You’ll also find Julia Child’s kitchen (an excellent exhibit), dresses of the first ladies, and so much more. You could easily spend a day there, and be sure to check out their cafeteria. It’s clearly the best among the Smithsonians, offering a great variety of items to choose from.

    The Air and Space Museum is outstanding too, and you’ll be amazed at the collection there as well, especially a replica of Skylab. Just be prepared, though, because their cafeteria is a huge MacDonald’s with galactically enormous prices, so perhaps run over to the American History Museum instead for lunch!

    The International Spy Museum isn’t just for kids, as implied by the article above. It’s an outstanding collection. There are two facets to the experience: one is an interactive spy experience where you can try your hand at espionage. The other is the actual museum collection, which is really quite enormous. It’s fascinating, educational, and just plain fun. Plus you get to see not only the historical information on spies, but also some of the popular fictional characters and their cool gadgets. Last I was there, they had the car from the Avengers. It was sweet!

    Some other items: National Geographic is located in DC as well, and often they have a very interesting exhibit. Check their website for info as it changes.

    Incidentally, if you like lindy hop swing dance, DC and Maryland have an amazing swing dance community and they put on open dances (with very reasonable admission fees) all over the place, nearly every day of the week. You can dance at historic Glenn Echo on Saturday nights; Chevy Chase ballroom on Mondays; check out the old Claredon on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The list goes on!

    Gosh I could go on forever, but suffice it to say that by visiting DC, you really have an opportunity to become a more nationalized (and globalized) citizen. You will have an opportunity to enjoy some of the best food around. You’ll have a fantastic metro system to enjoy (get a day pass or a smart card, btw), and more to see and do than one trip can encompass. Good luck and enjoy!

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