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Is it possible to sight-see DC in one day?

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Is it possible to sight-see DC in one day?

Old 04-28-08, 05:43 PM
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Is it possible to sight-see DC in one day?

I'm making a trip to NYC in mid-July, and was thinking about taking a side trip to Washington, DC.

I don't want to give up more than a day in NYC, though. Which brings me to my question---is it possible to sight-see DC in one day? I'm not looking (obviously) to explore too much, but I do want to visit the "must-sees," like...

the White House
the Capitol Building
the Washington Monument
the Lincoln Memorial
the Jefferson Memorial
the Arlington National Cemetery


I would be arriving at about 9:30 AM then leaving at 10PM. It seems like it's possible---most are so close to the National Mall. I should also add that I don't think I'll be doing any of the official tours.

Any ideas, thoughts, tips? Thanks for the feedback ahead of time.

Last edited by Draven6593; 04-28-08 at 06:13 PM.
Old 04-28-08, 05:54 PM
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Not enough time. Unless those are the only sites you want to see, especially how long you want to spend at each site.
Old 04-28-08, 05:56 PM
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You can definitely see the monuments rather quickly if you just want exterior looks & photos. I visited DC last year and took a bus tour to see the monuments in one day. When you're not driving, you can see more and take nice photos. The bus even had scheduled stops for various locations.

But if you want more than just a passing glance of the White House, Capitol or Arlington, then you will need more than a day. If you intend to go on a tour inside the Capitol or White House, you will need to arrange tourist passes through the office of one of the State Senators. Then you have to wait in line, get clearance, etc. I wrote Obama's office last year, but his office was swamped with his Presidential Bid that I had to contact Durbin's office instead. They were great in getting my admission tickets to the White House, Capitol, Supreme Court, Library of Congress and the Mint. But they had to be spread over 3 days to ensure we had time for them all.

As for Arlington, that took us 5 hours alone. We seriously underestimated the time needed there. There was so much to see, from the Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers to visiting all the important grave sites to even seeing a funeral procession.

Bottom line - it really depends on what you want out of the trip.
Old 04-28-08, 06:03 PM
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Also, you can not miss the smithsonian. You should expect to spend a full day there.
Old 04-28-08, 06:21 PM
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If you dump Arlington Cemetery, probably.
Old 04-28-08, 06:39 PM
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How are you getting to and from DC? It's a 4+ hour car ride from New York -- that would be one long day.
Old 04-28-08, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
How are you getting to and from DC? It's a 4+ hour car ride from New York -- that would be one long day.
Train, definitely. Penn Station in NYC to Union in DC.
Old 04-28-08, 07:00 PM
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You can do it if you don't get out of the car.
Old 04-28-08, 07:06 PM
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If all you want to do is see the outside of buildings, then that's fine. But that's shitty touristy sight-seeing in my opinion: checking off as many "must-see"s as possible.
Old 04-28-08, 07:07 PM
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Nope not possible. If you take off Arlington, don't stop for meals and run like hell from one to the next then it might be possible. If you plan on staying the night I recommend Crystal City, and take the metro everywhere you want to go.
Old 04-28-08, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by superdeluxe
Also, you can not miss the smithsonian. You should expect to spend a full week there.
Fixed.

A buddy and I viewed all of the major monuments in a day, but we skipped Arlington. (This was in 1995, so there have been some additions. The Korean War monument was still under construction at the time.) We made it through two buildings of the Smithsonian and were kicking ourselves for only giving ourselves one day for everything.
Old 04-28-08, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by superdeluxe
Also, you can not miss the smithsonian. You should expect to spend a full day there.
Which Smithsonian ?? It compromises several different buildings/exhibits....Air/Space, American History, Natural History, etc...even the National Zoo. Each one take a good chunk of a day to fully explore.

If you just want to do the Mall highlight circuit with a casual stop at the bigger monuments it can be done in a day. But as others have said, if you want to spend any time at them or actually tour inside some, then advance planning and a few days would be needed.
Old 04-28-08, 09:41 PM
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The Korean War Memorial is pretty cool also. Vietnam also.

It is worth going to Arlington to see the changing of the guard.
Old 04-28-08, 10:09 PM
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The Holocaust Museum/Exhibit is amazing, it really should be towards the top of your list. There are monuments and whatnot to see (check out at dusk), but if it were me, I'd pencil in at least a few hours for the H.M.
Old 04-29-08, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Draven6593
I'm making a trip to NYC in mid-July, and was thinking about taking a side trip to Washington, DC.

I don't want to give up more than a day in NYC, though. Which brings me to my question---is it possible to sight-see DC in one day? I'm not looking (obviously) to explore too much, but I do want to visit the "must-sees," like...

the White House
the Capitol Building
the Washington Monument
the Lincoln Memorial
the Jefferson Memorial
the Arlington National Cemetery


I would be arriving at about 9:30 AM then leaving at 10PM. It seems like it's possible---most are so close to the National Mall. I should also add that I don't think I'll be doing any of the official tours.

Any ideas, thoughts, tips? Thanks for the feedback ahead of time.
Yes you can, I am suprised that no one has mentioned it.

Tourmobile

http://www.tourmobile.com/

Now having said that, I am not sure this is sightseeing, this is more like cattle herding. Yes on the Tourmobile you could hit all the spots you have on your list in one day but I do not consider those to be the best spots to see in Washington DC.

You left off the National Archives, The Smithsonian, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Taking a White House tour or the Capital Tour can take several hours, unless you just wish to see the exterior of the building.
Old 04-29-08, 08:46 AM
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I stopped by DC one summer on the way back from SC, happened to have my bike with me, I parked once then biked all over town, saw much of everything in just a few hours. Bring or rent a bike with a lock. Will save you tons of travel and parking time.
Old 04-29-08, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Draven6593
Which brings me to my question---is it possible to sight-see DC in one day? I'm not looking (obviously) to explore too much, but I do want to visit the "must-sees," like...

the White House
the Capitol Building
the Washington Monument
the Lincoln Memorial
the Jefferson Memorial
the Arlington National Cemetery


I would be arriving at about 9:30 AM then leaving at 10PM.
I've given relatives quickie tours of DC. You can easily do the monuments in the morning, tour the Capitol in the early afternoon, take a quick look at the White House (you wouldn't have time to go in both the White House and Capitol unfortunately), then go across the river to Arlington to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown. You'd probably even have leftover to visit the Exorcist Steps in Georgetown.

If you have a car, I'd suggest just parking in the vicinity of the Jefferson Memorial and walking everywhere but Arlington -- trying to find a space any closer to the Mall would just waste an hour.
Old 04-29-08, 10:51 AM
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Yea, your not going to be able to drive to any of those places because of security and parking issues. All those monuments (except Arlington) are a pretty long walk.


Mid-July you say? hehe..I see your from Chicago. So take the highest temp you've experienced in Chicago, add ten degrees, then make the humidity about 90%, 0 wind, and a severe thunderstorm at 4pm with possible tornado sighted and you have the weather in D.C. mid-July.....and that's before a terrorist scare shuts the whole place down. No driving and the walking will be hell...in a rush anyway.

Only way I can see you doing it is the trolley thing mentioned above.
Old 04-29-08, 11:14 AM
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I was also planning on a quick trip to DC, but for a weekend. This thread has made me think twice. There's no point in going if I'm missing so much.
Old 04-29-08, 11:15 AM
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Honestly, We spent 5 days in DC, and I still did not see everything.
Old 04-29-08, 11:31 AM
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I wouldn't recommend visiting unless you had atleast three days to spend. There's too much to do and it can get expensive.
Old 04-29-08, 12:23 PM
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Don't try to rush it. Just fully appreciate and take your time with 2-3 things, only 1 if it's a museum, and catch the rest some other day.

If you seriously only have one day and don't expect to get back, I'd do the following.

Get to the Mall as early as possible, and take in the beauty and history of the big three:
the Washington Monument
the Lincoln Memorial
the Jefferson Memorial
.

Then, depending on your interests, choose one of the other things on your list or a museum.

And since you're right there, you could at least walk into a museum or two on the mall to see what your missing and know what to hit in the next trip.
Old 04-29-08, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Charlie Goose
I was also planning on a quick trip to DC, but for a weekend. This thread has made me think twice. There's no point in going if I'm missing so much.
Or simply pare down the list of places to see.

As mentioned the Mall is the best place to begin, you can walk the momuments and museums in a day, deciding which merit more attention.
Old 04-29-08, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Charlie Goose
I was also planning on a quick trip to DC, but for a weekend. This thread has made me think twice. There's no point in going if I'm missing so much.
Depending on where you are, a trip to DC in one weekend is doable. DC is probably one of the most touristy cities in the US. You could spend a week there and not see everything. You could also spend a week in Paris and not see everything. Doesn't mean that it's not worth going.
Old 04-29-08, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Charlie Goose
This thread has made me think twice. There's no point in going if I'm missing so much.
WTF? This must be sarcasm. You could that about anyplace on the planet.

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