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Q: Visiting Washington DC for one day ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Visiting Washington DC for one day
Category: Sports and Recreation > Travel
Asked by: seweso-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 18 Aug 2005 17:35 PDT
Expires: 17 Sep 2005 17:35 PDT
Question ID: 557479
I'm looking for a small list of places which a group of foreigners
could ánd must see in Washington DC in just one day.

We are a group of 9 ranging from 16 years old to ±55 visiting Canada
and the USA from august 19th till september 9th. We already decided to
go to Washington (from Niagara Falls) on the 29th of august and plan
to visit Washington on the 30th. When we are done visiting Washington
we will go to New York. Someone else already prepared a very detailed
plan for New York but I didn't have the time to prepare for

Personally I wanted to keep the planning vague and just visit the
buildings and park around the White House. But a better plan from
someone who knows what he/she is talking about would be great.

I do not need a big list of things we really can't visit in one day. I
need a list of things and places one really should have visited. You
could even go as far as a complete time-table for the day.

We are a christian family from the netherlands traveling in a camper
for 6 and a van. We also (still) need a place to camp near Washington
and we need to know how we can travel to and in Washington (parking?


Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 18 Aug 2005 20:33 PDT
Hello seweso-ga,

I've done the "just a day" tour of Washington. There is so much to
choose from that it would be very helpful to know what kinds of sites
you prefer to visit. Do you like museums, monuments, parks,
historically significant, artistically interesting, unique or weird,
religious or ethnic, or ??? The more you can tell us about the kinds
of things your group enjoys touring in a new city, the more likely
someone will be able to put together a terrific program for you.

~ czh ~

Clarification of Question by seweso-ga on 18 Aug 2005 23:15 PDT
I can't really rule anything out, but I think Washington is a city
where there are much historically significant things to see, so that
should come first on the list i guess. That will include the monuments
and one (or two) museum(s). Won't that cover a whole day?

That will also automatically cover religious and ethnic subjects won't
it? And further more, we are the kind of people who will just run into
a church if we see one. I don't think we have to plan such a thing.
Except of course if there is something important to see.

We just need to cover the "why didn't we visit xxx" questions afterwards.
Subject: Re: Visiting Washington DC for one day
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 19 Aug 2005 08:35 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi seweso-ga, 

Wow, Washington in a day! Where to start? 

I grew up outside of Washington DC and can think of a million ?must
sees? for you. But confining the list to a one-day visit is going to
be a trick.

Let?s start with the basics. My recommendation is to NOT try to drive
and park within the city. It?s just plain hard to do and will waste
precious hours. Traffic during the day is terrible, there is virtually
no parking on weekdays, and rush hour (which is about 3 hours long) is
a nightmare.

The Washington subway system ? known as The Metro ? is wonderful! It?s
clean, fast, inexpensive, and color-coded for easy navigation. Arms
stretch beyond the city limits, so staying outside the city and taking
the train in is easy to do.

Here is The Metro Map:


Take a look at that map. See the Smithsonian stop near the center (on
the orange and blue lines)? That?s the stop that you are going to be
aiming for. It brings you up right in the middle of everything you?re
going to want to see in Washington.

So, knowing you can Metro into the city, let?s find a place to camp.
Here are some campgrounds that are near (or offer transport to) Metro


Washington DC, NE KOA
768 Cecil Avenue North - PO Box 9
Millersville, MD 21108
Information: (410) 923-2771
Offers free bus transportation to Metro and also guided bus tours of
DC. (Probably a 30 min ride to the Metro)
Washington DC, NE KOA

Cherry Hill Park
9800 Cherry Hill Rd
College Park, MD
Offers Metrobus (city buses) transport to Metro station and also
guided bus tours of DC.

Cherry Hill Park

Greenbelt State Park
Greenbelt Maryland
Reservations Online or by Phone at 1-800-365-CAMP
Phone 301-344-3944
2 metro stations within 3 miles, no transportation provided, but
plenty of parking at the Metro station.

Greenbelt State Park

Greenbelt State Park: Camping


Now, what to do in the city?  There are hundreds of museums,
galleries, government edifices and historical sites. The Smithsonian
itself encompasses 16 museums and art galleries, each one of which
could easily take a day or more to see (all for free by the way).

So, which are the ?must sees? for an international visitor? 

Here?s my thought. Some sites, although beautiful or fascinating, are
little different from their counterparts in other cities and
countries. My favorite is the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History,
but while it is huge and comprehensive (probably one of the best in
the world), let?s face it, every major city has a Natural History

No, this is Washington DC! The capital of the United States of
America! We need to focus on things that are uniquely American.

The first thing you will need is a map of The National Mall. The Mall
is the open area of gardens, fountains, trees, flower beds, and
monuments that runs down the centre between the major museums,
galleries and federal buildings. It is bound on the East end by the
Capitol Building and technically ends at the Washington Monument,
however, most people consider the Reflecting Pool and grounds west of
the Washington Monument all the way to the Lincoln and Vietnam
Memorials to be part of The Mall. Including that portion, it is 2.5
miles end-to-end.

See here for a description of The Mall and its surrounding buildings:

WIKIPEDIA: The National Mall

Here is an excellent printable Park Service Map of The Mall and
surrounding area with all important sites marked.


Now at this point, I?m not going to try to plan your day. Much will
depend on your group?s interests and how much time you want to spend
at each site. Some things you may find more interesting and choose to
linger at. Others you may just touch on. Also, some sites require
timed passes so that will affect your schedule.

Instead, I?m going to suggest a selection of things that you should be
able to get to in a day. They will be in no particular order, except
that I?ll group things that are close together.


Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

CENTER  (near the Metro Station) 
Area surrounding Washington Monument and East to The National Mall

FREE but tickets required

Same-day tickets available. The Metro comes out right near the ticket
booth for this, so pick up tickets when you arrive.

FREE. No passes necessary.

FREE. No passes necessary.


FREE. No passes necessary.

FREE. No passes necessary.

FREE but requires pass. Can obtain same day. Lines to enter may be up to 1 hour.

FREE but tickets for tours required.


Since you mentioned being interested in churches, I thought you might
like information on the National Cathedral. You?d have to take the
Metro and then a bus to get to it. Or, of course, a cab.


NOTES ? Personal and otherwise

Be aware of heightened security in all buildings, especially the
Capitol. Read all restrictions before you go and be sure not to
accidentally being carrying pocket knives, tools, knitting needles, or
anything else that may arouse suspicion or prevent you from entering
an exhibit. Note that in many places, opened food and glass bottles
are prohibited as well. Bags will be routinely searched, so pack


US Capitol: List of prohibited items

You will not be able to visit The White House. Tickets to that are
sold a month in advance.

The Vietnam Memorial is breathtaking and incredibly moving. Well worth
trekking to that end of the Mall.


CHOOSE ONE: You will not have time to see the Air and Space Museum,
the American History Museum (those are the two I?d recommend highest),
and The National Museum of American Indian. I?d suggest looking over
the websites and picking one of them and then plan to spend 2-3 hours
there. (If it were me, I?d choose the Air and Space Museum. You can?t
see the Apollo 11 command module just anywhere!).

I didn?t include the The Holocaust Museum. I didn?t? think it
qualified as uniquely American. If you are interested, here?s the
information. I have not been to it, so am not sure how long that takes
to see.

FREE but need timed passes.

Art Galleries-----------

CHOOSE ONE: You?ll have no time to do any of them justice, but you
might want to plan to see some particular piece of art that can?t be
seen anywhere else. The National Gallery is never a bad choice, but
it?s huge, so look over the website and decide in advance what you
want to see.  The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a good
choice if you like modern art.


Official Brochures for all Memorials


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: National Mall Walking Tours, Washington, D.C.

So, that should give you everything you need to fill a day in
Washington DC.  Let me know if anything I?ve told you isn?t clear, and
I?ll be happy to clarify for you. Enjoy your visit!


Search Strategy: 

Primarily searched each venue separately by name. 

General search terms included: 

Washington Metro map
Map mall Washington DC
Camping state park Washington dc
Camping Maryland
Camping Washington dc
seweso-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Visiting Washington DC for one day
From: myoarin-ga on 18 Aug 2005 19:36 PDT
Tour the Capitol Building.  The tours are well done, the building is
impressive and important.  Maybe someone can tell you how to book a
tour in advance.

Visit the National Gallery.  Discover that USA has a fanatastic
collection of art of the type that is appreciated in Europe.  (When I
was last there, in a hurry, a lady told me:  "You go down past the
Rembrandts ...")

If some are not interested in that, let them visit the Smithsonian
Museum, or the Air Space museum if some youngster just has to see it.

There is a tourist bus system that drives a circuit around Washington.
 You can hop off and on the buses, and get a description of what you
are passing as they drive.  This can be very convenient if the group
wants to break up, since the buses will take you back to where you
started, helping avoid people getting lost.  And it will allow you to
start somewhere you can park.
It also goes past the National Cathedral, a most impressive Christian
edifice in Gothic style.

This is just half a comment.  I should add links, and will, later.
Subject: Re: Visiting Washington DC for one day
From: myoarin-ga on 19 Aug 2005 03:03 PDT
I will let Czh-ga give you more professional help and hope that she
agrees with my suggestions.
Here just the link to the bus tour service that I mentioned:

If you scroll down and click on Wash. map, and then make it full
screen, you will see that in the NW, the green route extends into
areas where it may be easier to park.  One warning, the buses stop
running at 17.30 hours.  It may be a better idea to take the Metro
(underground train) into the center of town and rejoin there late in
the day  - if the bus service appeals to you.

Good luck, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Visiting Washington DC for one day
From: myoarin-ga on 19 Aug 2005 09:45 PDT
Great recommendations!  Maybe you can consider spending two days in DC.
Subject: Re: Visiting Washington DC for one day
From: wordsmth-ga on 19 Aug 2005 13:09 PDT
I've lived in or around Washington all my life (just turned 54), so
I'm pretty familiar with the area.

The answers and suggestions are excellent. Let me just emphasize a few
points. First, you don't want to drive into DC. Use one of the
campgrounds on the outskirts--since you'll be coming from New York,
the Maryland ones make the most sense. The subway system (Metro) is
very good, though the process of purchasing a fare card can be a bit

Second, the point made in the answer about Washington being the
nation's capital is excellent. Yes, the Smithsonian is fabulous, but
if you've only got one day, you want to experience something uniquely
Washington-related; you can't afford to invest 3-4 hours (or days...or
weeks) in a museum.

The tour of the Capital is excellent. You'll pick up some history and
some perspective about the United States. The building itself is
fascinating, and its history parallels that of the United States.

At the other end of the Mall (20 or so blocks) are the Vietnam
Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Both impressive, and both, again,
reflecting eras of U.S. history. If the weather's clear, you might go
up in the Washington Monument--it's 555' tall and, on a clear day,
really gives you a great view. Again, it combines history with a
fascinating structure.

Your reference to being a Christian family suggests that you might
like to take a trip uptown slightly to the National Cathedral.

While the formal answer suggested that you probably wouldn't want to
consider the Holocaust Museum (and the reasons given were
valid...another museum, not uniquely American), since you're from the
Netherlands (occupied by the Germans, Ann Frank, etc.), you might want
to consider it. It's a truly impressive place. At least think about

We haven't talked about food, and you may be forced just to grab some
food on the run. There are plenty of fast food places around, as well
as hotdog vendors on the Mall. There are also plenty of Washington
institutions. You might try Reeves Restaurant & Bakery at 1306 G
Street, NW (pretty close to the Mall). They've been around forever; if
you go there, you need to try their strawberry pie.

Have a great time!

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