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Forums Other Destination advice Washington DC and Seattle things to do/see?

  • Ant M 56 posts

    I’ve got a trip to the US planned for the end of April which will involve travelling pretty much from coast to coast by train which should be an experience as its been many years since I travelled on a sleeper train. I’ve got stuff planned for most of the places I’m staying but am looking for ideas in Washington DC and also Seattle as I’ve got a few spare days in each.
    I know there are lots of very well travelled and knowledgeable people here so hopefully people have some good ideas.

    AndyGWP 277 posts

    Might be a little bit of info on Seattle here for you 🙂

    https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/seattle/

    AndyGWP 277 posts

    Can’t remember if this has been mentioned before, but if you are wanting to go up the Seattle Space Needle for sunset, don’t assume the time on your ticket, is the time that you will hit the top deck.

    I think that between us entering the venue with our ticket, and then reaching the end of the queue for the lifts to go up to the top was approx. 1 hour!

    This is probably common knowledge, but its something I wish I knew!

    dougzz99 618 posts

    DC is tourism central, it’s full of monuments and memorials. I found Arlington well worth a visit. As a sports fan I’d recommend a trip on the Metro to see the Nationals play baseball. I really like the DC metro, deep and cavernous stations. A day trip from DC is Gettysburg which I also enjoyed, if that might be your thing. An alternate to the metro if you cycle is a rented bike, a great way to get around and see stuff. It’s not a car city and parking will be difficult and expensive.

    Seagull 63 posts

    In Washington I could spend a week just on the National Mall given all the amazing museums and historical sites of interest there. For a couple of days my absolute top pick would be the newly refurbished Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, it’s fantastic and could easily spend a day there. Also recommend Natural History Museum and the overlooked but excellent National Postal Museum. Book tickets for a tour of the Capitol building and take in the sights of the Washington Monument and the White House. All the above located on (or just off) the Mall. Walking around Georgetown is nice and Arlington Cemetery is awe inspiring in the true sense of the word.

    For Seattle my main reason for going there was the Museum of Flight and the tour at Boeing Field along with the trip up to Paine Field for the other Boeing tour. Truly amazing.

    Andrew. 491 posts

    You’ve only got a couple of days in DC!

    There’s enough there to keep anyone busy for a fortnight. Just get out of your hotel, start walking and you’re bound to see something that will catch your interest.

    I really enjoyed the Pentagon tour – but they require pre-booking so it might be too late for April. The Masonic Temple at Alexandria was also an interesting visit – it had the world’s first elevators that moved both horizontally and vertically.

    Ant M 56 posts

    Can’t remember if this has been mentioned before, but if you are wanting to go up the Seattle Space Needle for sunset, don’t assume the time on your ticket, is the time that you will hit the top deck.

    I think that between us entering the venue with our ticket, and then reaching the end of the queue for the lifts to go up to the top was approx. 1 hour!

    This is probably common knowledge, but its something I wish I knew!

    Wow – I wouldnt have expected that long a delay, so thanks for that info, and thanks for the link to the other thread – I’d looked but missed it somehow.

    Ant M 56 posts

    You’ve only got a couple of days in DC!

    There’s enough there to keep anyone busy for a fortnight. Just get out of your hotel, start walking and you’re bound to see something that will catch your interest.

    I really enjoyed the Pentagon tour – but they require pre-booking so it might be too late for April. The Masonic Temple at Alexandria was also an interesting visit – it had the world’s first elevators that moved both horizontally and vertically.

    I’ve got three days free with a couple more days where I have other things planned. It does look to be somewhere that’s full of stuff to do, but sadly money and the amount of time I can get off work limits how long I can be there. I hadnt thought of the Pentagon tour – I didnt even know that was an option, so I’ll have a look at that to find out more

    Ant M 56 posts

    In Washington I could spend a week just on the National Mall given all the amazing museums and historical sites of interest there. For a couple of days my absolute top pick would be the newly refurbished Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, it’s fantastic and could easily spend a day there. Also recommend Natural History Museum and the overlooked but excellent National Postal Museum. Book tickets for a tour of the Capitol building and take in the sights of the Washington Monument and the White House. All the above located on (or just off) the Mall. Walking around Georgetown is nice and Arlington Cemetery is awe inspiring in the true sense of the word.

    For Seattle my main reason for going there was the Museum of Flight and the tour at Boeing Field along with the trip up to Paine Field for the other Boeing tour. Truly amazing.

    I hadnt realised how many museums came under the Smithsonian banner – we hear references to “the Smithsonian” that make it sound like one museum when its really dozens. The air and space museum definitely looks like a top choice. How does the Natural history museum compare to London’s?

    The Savage Squirrel 576 posts

    For Washington, here’s a previous thread with lots of ideas.

    https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/washington-d-c-worth-visiting/

    Ant M 56 posts

    You’ve only got a couple of days in DC!

    There’s enough there to keep anyone busy for a fortnight. Just get out of your hotel, start walking and you’re bound to see something that will catch your interest.

    I really enjoyed the Pentagon tour – but they require pre-booking so it might be too late for April. The Masonic Temple at Alexandria was also an interesting visit – it had the world’s first elevators that moved both horizontally and vertically.

    I’ve got three days free with a couple more days where I have other things planned. It does look to be somewhere that’s full of stuff to do, but sadly money and the amount of time I can get off work limits how long I can be there. I hadnt thought of the Pentagon tour – I didnt even know that was an option, so I’ll have a look at that to find out more

    On further investigation it looks like Pentagon tours are restricted to US citizens or aliens granted residency, not tourists.

    davefl 1,352 posts

    You’ve only got a couple of days in DC!

    There’s enough there to keep anyone busy for a fortnight. Just get out of your hotel, start walking and you’re bound to see something that will catch your interest.

    I really enjoyed the Pentagon tour – but they require pre-booking so it might be too late for April. The Masonic Temple at Alexandria was also an interesting visit – it had the world’s first elevators that moved both horizontally and vertically.

    I’ve got three days free with a couple more days where I have other things planned. It does look to be somewhere that’s full of stuff to do, but sadly money and the amount of time I can get off work limits how long I can be there. I hadnt thought of the Pentagon tour – I didnt even know that was an option, so I’ll have a look at that to find out more

    On further investigation it looks like Pentagon tours are restricted to US citizens or aliens granted residency, not tourists.

    Ditto the White House. Applications via your local congressman for citizens only. Boooo!

    CamFlyer 33 posts

    In Washington I could spend a week just on the National Mall given all the amazing museums and historical sites of interest there. For a couple of days my absolute top pick would be the newly refurbished Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, it’s fantastic and could easily spend a day there. Also recommend Natural History Museum and the overlooked but excellent National Postal Museum. Book tickets for a tour of the Capitol building and take in the sights of the Washington Monument and the White House. All the above located on (or just off) the Mall. Walking around Georgetown is nice and Arlington Cemetery is awe inspiring in the true sense of the word.

    For Seattle my main reason for going there was the Museum of Flight and the tour at Boeing Field along with the trip up to Paine Field for the other Boeing tour. Truly amazing.

    I hadnt realised how many museums came under the Smithsonian banner – we hear references to “the Smithsonian” that make it sound like one museum when its really dozens. The air and space museum definitely looks like a top choice. How does the Natural history museum compare to London’s?

    I’m not sure when you’re going, but when I was in DC in early January, the Air & Space Museum was under reconstruction, and about 60% was closed. It had been significantly upgraded since my childhood visits, however. I have not yet managed to visit the Udvar-Hazy center, near Dulles airport. That said, and as much as I love aviation museums, if I only had three days as a first time tourist I would spend my time at other museums and sites.

    The African-American History Museum is one of the newer ones (newest?), and has been highly recommended. My 4 yo was however not as into the history as I had hoped, so I can’t speak much for what is actually there. I have always loved walking around the Mall and the various monuments, particularly the Lincoln, Jefferson and Vietnam memorials.

    Also look into visiting the White House, Capitol and watching Congress in session, all of which i believe are open to non-US nationals (at least with some advance planning).

    degsy 150 posts

    As has been alluded to, I’d definitely allow for more time in DC if you have the flexibility to do so.
    I think most of the top DC attractions have been mentioned – a tour of the Capitol building was a particular highlight for us (it was pre 06JAN though so not sure how things have changed).
    For Seattle, ferry to Bainbridge Island is a lovely trip (not quite a full day).

    aso40 58 posts

    I have just been planning a 4 day trip to DC for March. As above, pre-booking 30 days in advance when tickets are released is a good idea for the Capitol, National Archives (for the declaration of independence, etc), Ford’s Theatre. The tickets to go up the Washington Monument are released at 3pm UK time exactly 30 days before and go within minutes – I watched them disappear when booking at the weekend. Other tickets are released early each day, but apparently subject to very long queues.

    Most of these are either free or only a few dollars to book.

    Some of the top restaurants also release 30 days in advance, like the Dabney.

    TooPoorToBeHere 259 posts

    The Udvar-Hazy is FAR better than the Air and Space. Just much, much more to see. Which is not to say the Air and Space is bad. Also a long line to get in (at the booked time) to the Air and Space, which would be annoying in inclement weather with small ones.

    We were maybe unlucky but the Metro was a constant stress while we were there – multiple cancelled trains in succession; train terminated half-way to destination with no information about whether another was coming; on another occasion a very garbled announcement about termination which about 1/4 of the pax reacted to, the rest of us remaining onboard and taken to a siding then having an employee come through and shout at us for not getting off. If I were to return I’d Uber a lot more.

    Ant M 56 posts

    We were maybe unlucky but the Metro was a constant stress while we were there – multiple cancelled trains in succession; train terminated half-way to destination with no information about whether another was coming; on another occasion a very garbled announcement about termination which about 1/4 of the pax reacted to, the rest of us remaining onboard and taken to a siding then having an employee come through and shout at us for not getting off. If I were to return I’d Uber a lot more.

    At least that will make me feel like I’m at home – it’s the sort of service Avanti deliver daily 😉

    yonasl 972 posts

    I have done both the Pentagon and White House tours and I am not an American citizen (this was when Obama, who we saw at the WH briefly running to his choper). You just have to book early.

    Other nice things to see are the congress/senate, the supreme court and the different Mall museums (Space and Aviation, Holocaust Memorial, etc.) A new one on African American slavery and culture in US was just being finished so missed that one but should be good too.

    You also have all the sights you have seen in countless movies (Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, etc.)

    davefl 1,352 posts

    I have done both the Pentagon and White House tours and I am not an American citizen (this was when Obama, who we saw at the WH briefly running to his choper). You just have to book early.

    It’s changed post covid. As of last June when I booked all my tours there was no sign of it changing back. School groups and US citizens requested via congressperson only

    Travel Strong 265 posts

    Without a doubt the highlight of Seattle for me was: Keys on Main!

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts

    I haven’t read all the responses but we did the (free) guided tour of the Capitol on our trip to D.C. in December 2022 and it was fascinating, well worth booking.

    The museums are wonderful, we’ve been twice now and there’s still plenty we haven’t done!

    OH got up at dawn one morning to photograph the Lincoln monument etc before the crowds appeared.

    Just seen the earlier post re the Capitol – it’s still the same tour, and they cover the storming. It’s quite sobering when they explain it could have been much worse – due to lockdown most personnel were at home when it happened.

    peterH 9 posts

    You’ve picked two good locations if you’re into plans and aviation…Really enjoyed both and would love to go back, Seattle especially.

    Washington DC
    Smithsonian Air & Space Museum – as others have said excellent museum in the heart of town.
    Udvar Hazy Smithsonian Air & Space Museum – agree with others this is better but getting there (as our nr Dulles) takes time, so unless an avgeek and with limited time maybe for another trip.
    Arlington Cemetery – particularly if a nice day an interesting location to walk round and would recommend one of the tours. Easy to get to on the Metro and then you can walk back into town past alot of the memorials.
    Memorials by Night Tour – This was the night time version of the HoHo tour and I thought excellent. Gave you time at several of the memorials and seeing them lit up by night was cool.
    Spy Museum – I didn’t go and notice it has relocated and have heard good things about it since.
    Washington Monument – Spectacular views from the top and I still think impressive to go up (and say you’ve gone up) to the top of it when you see it in films and on TV.
    White House Visitor Center – Very good NPS visitor centre close to the White House.

    As mentioned with Arlington, just walking around all of the various memorials and the reflecting pond can take up a lot of a day and is well worth it.

    Seattle
    Museum of Flight – Exceptional and one of the reasons for my trip.
    Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center – a definite pain (or should that be paine) to get to out at Paine Field but if you like aircraft a must do. The tour inside the Boeing factory was incredible and highly recommend. The actual centre is quite small but does have a roof top terrace that you can sit on overlooking the airfield, and if lucky see the Dreamlifter in action.
    Space Needle – a must do. Iconic building and great views.
    Sky View Observatory – quite enjoyed this viewing deck too as gives views of the Space Needle and more downtown Seattle, but I definitely pick the Space Needle over it.
    Pike Place Market – wonderful, go there hungry and then go back again at the next mealtime. Lots of good cafes, some with views out over the sound. The Crumpet Cafe was a particular favourite (food rather than views) but the cherries, cheese, chowder (in fact everything), elsewhere was also excellent.
    Food tour – there are lots on offer but I did the Savor Seattle food tour of Pike Place Market on my first morning, which I always think is a good introduction to somewhere, and would recommend it.

    Oh and of course make sure you go on the iconic monorail!

    davefl 1,352 posts

    Surprised noboy has yet mentioned this https://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/about/exhibition

    You can get combo tickets with the space needle.

    Andrew. 491 posts

    You’ve only got a couple of days in DC!

    There’s enough there to keep anyone busy for a fortnight. Just get out of your hotel, start walking and you’re bound to see something that will catch your interest.

    I really enjoyed the Pentagon tour – but they require pre-booking so it might be too late for April. The Masonic Temple at Alexandria was also an interesting visit – it had the world’s first elevators that moved both horizontally and vertically.

    I’ve got three days free with a couple more days where I have other things planned. It does look to be somewhere that’s full of stuff to do, but sadly money and the amount of time I can get off work limits how long I can be there. I hadnt thought of the Pentagon tour – I didnt even know that was an option, so I’ll have a look at that to find out more

    On further investigation it looks like Pentagon tours are restricted to US citizens or aliens granted residency, not tourists.

    That’s a shame, it’s been a few years since we did the Pentagon tour and there wasn’t the US citizen restriction at that time.

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts

    The issue with the White House tour, at least, is that you need to have a representative from your own embassy present and as of late 2022 the UK wasn’t prepared to provide one.
    As mentioned, the Pentagon is currently no-go for us dangerous foreigners, but the Capitol tour definitely made up for it. It was one of the highlights of our last stay and I’m really pleased that we did it and also persuaded the teenager to join us!

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