Request: Hi Jenna! I’d like to hire you to do some research for me….lets start with 2 hours worth since you already posted some info on your site. We plan on being in DC around 19 Apr. We will be driving; 5 adults; 3 days. We’d like to jam as much in as possible. We’d like to visit at a minimum the White house, Smithsonian (the one with the Fonz jacket), Library of Congress, Holocaust Museum, Spy Museum, The Capitol (where the senate and house are), Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Memorials, AF and Pentagon Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard. We will need a hotel, costing no more $200 a night; outside the city is ok and cheaper is always good. My mom cannot walk long distances and will have a wheelchair or motorized cart, so it is important that all the places we go allow and are accessible for wheelchairs or motorized carts. One thing that I’m most concerned about is parking near where we are going. I saw some garages you could pay for ahead of time near the mall online, but my dad’s van is 7ft tall, and it looks like we would be limited. I’m not sure if the metro is the right avenue with my mom’s limitations. I’d appreciate and first hand knowledge and tips you could give us!
As you are thinking about dates, some things to consider:
The Cherry Blossom Festival is 20 March – 17 April. This will mean increased crowds in the city, and since there is no guarantee when the blossoms will actually bloom (I think they will be early this year) and your mom’s limited mobility, you may want to avoid the extra people and hubbub.
Easter is also at the end of March which will coincide with many spring breaks (aka heavy tourist time)
Airbnb may be a good option. I found a couple of places that might work and sent some messages for you. I’ll let you know what I get back. Recommend we don’t spend too much time on hotels until then. The Airbnb I sent you has everything you want, is a perfect location, and even with the cleaning fee and extra money for parking will save you about $186 a night from your budget.
The metro is wheel chair accessible. Although there are sometimes outages but you can look them up on line the day of (wmata.com).
Keep in mind, whether you use metro or drive everywhere, it will only get you so close (half mile is really best case). You will still have to be mobile enough to get from point A to point B.
If you drive, your dad can drop you off at the entrance and then go park, but he can’t really come get you to take you to the next location. If you don’t have it, I recommend you get the uber app. To get to and from locations you could split up and have some walk and have your parents take an uber or cab.
The van size might be an issue. On the street parking is limited. Many parking garages are limited to under 7’
White House: You are probably out of luck with the White House. If you haven’t already, contact your Representative and both Senators now. They are the only way to get a tour and they have limited tickets. If they are able to accommodate you, you need to plan all other activities around it.
Washington Monument: You have to have tickets to go up in the monument. You can que up the day of first thing in the morning or try to reserve on line. For ease of parking and proximity I recommend you combine this with items I have listed under day 2. http://www.nps.gov/wamo/planyourvisit/fees.htm
If you can get into the city outside of rush hour, drive around the mall just to see the monuments. This is fun on a Sunday, early morning, or later in the evening.
-Drop off everyone at the Capitol and park at Union Station. (.8 miles) There is one garage slightly closer but the height limit is 6’8”.
-Start at Capitol in morning as it is less crowded (reserve tour tickets on line as soon as possible). Tour lasts a little over an hour.
-Go across the street to the Supreme Court. Take the public tour. Plan on about 60-90 mins. You can reserve this on line in advance or just show up.
-Library of Congress. You can do this in an underground tunnel or above ground. Take the public tour. You can reserve this on line or just show up. Plan on about 90 mins.
-While you are in the area, the Botanical Gardens is pretty and just on the other side of the capitol.
Closest food options on Capitol Hill:
-Capitol visitor’s center has a cafeteria. It is expensive and not very good. But it right there.
-The Madison building across the street (101 Independence Avenue, SE) has a good and reasonable cafeteria on the top floor
-Several lunch spots up Pennsylvania Ave (.4 miles). Not all are handicapped accessible but have outdoor seating if the weather is nice. (I love We the Pizza)
-Several House Staffer hangouts on 1st Street near the South Capitol Metro (.5 miles ). Tortilla Coast or Bull Feathers.
–Drop off family at the American History Museum (Fonz jacket is currently not on display). Park at 815 14th St. NW (it .8 miles away but is the closest garage with 7’ restriction)
-American History museum (if you still want to go).
-Also nearby are the Natural History museum (Hope Diamond) and Archives (Constitution, Declaration of Independence)
-Spy Museum (it is located off the mall back up near the car take an uber or a cab).
-Spy Museum is up near Gallery Place which has lots of places to eat. I love Match Box.
-Drive to Lincoln Memorial. On the street parking is feasible near the Lincoln Memorial by the river. While you are hear you may also want to consider visiting the Vietnam and Korean memorials.
-Drive to Holocaust Museum. If this is high on your list and you are less interested in the American History museum with the Fonz jacket, then I recommend you start your day here and reverse the plan as it can get very busy. Get here a few minutes after it opens. You will miss the initial line of those that got here early but still get there before the crowds. (You can try for on the street parking towards the Jefferson memorial or park the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (.5 miles)
-Drive by Jefferson Memorial on the way home or you can save this for day 3. If it is not during the Cherry Blossom festival you can usually find parking near here. If you can’t, head towards Haines Point where there is almost always parking.
Any order can work.
Pentagon Memorial (you can also do a tour of the Pentagon). Register on line for the tour.
AF Memorial. (Parking available)
Arlington Cemetery (Parking available).
Anything you missed day 1 and 2.
Other things to consider: US Mint, Air and Space Museum (there is one on the Mall and one out near Dulles Airport), Archives, Free show at the Kennedy Center.