Seniors Travel to Washington DC

Feb 16th, 2011 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

DC is a city that makes history. Discover it for yourself in classic sights like the National Archives and the National World War II Memorial. Plug in to the energy of interactive experiences like a bike tour of the National Mall and DC’s neighborhoods or the CSI Experience at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

Washington, DC is filled with exciting and memorable places to visit. Whether you wish to visit the Capitol or the Smithsonian museums, “The District” is designed to help you plan your next trip to the nation’s capital. “The District” is the complete on-line guide to Washington, D.C. and its surrounding areas. The principal attractions should not be missed as many of the architectural landmarks in Washington, D.C. commemorate important chapters in American history. You will want to visit monuments and memorials like the breathtaking Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the unprecedented Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the inspiring Marine Corps War Memorial — many of them only a short walk apart.

The Mall is DC’s main tourist attraction. In essence, it is a 400-foot-wide expanse stretching from the base of the Capitol Building to the Potomac River two miles away. Characterized by wide open spaces and a blanket of grass, on pleasant days thousands of people can be seen sunbathing, throwing Frisbees, and just relaxing out in the open. The Capitol Hill complex, referred to as “the Hill,” is home to the legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government. Here is “one cool aerial moveable map” of the area.  

Always a highlight for any visit to DC is the Smithsonian. It  is the world’s largest museum complex and research organization composed of 19 museums, 9 research centers, and the National Zoo. It is a good idea to start your tour at the Smithsonian Institution Building where you can pick up a map and information on all of the museums. These national treasures cover a wide range of subjects from art to space exploration. Plan to explore those you are most interested in, but don’t try to see everything at once. Be sure to save time to see an IMAX movie at the Natural History Museum or the National Air and Space Museumas they are excellent. Start your visit at the Smithsonian Information Center in the Castle, open seven days a week from 8:30am to 5:30pm. If you enjoy a planetarium take a 20-minute tour of the universe at the Albert Einstein Planetarium. It is one of the highlights of the Smithsonian. Admire Mercury, Gemini, Apollo space capsules and the Spirit of Saint Louis hanging from the ceiling. And the basement here is full of many exhibits that are waiting to be shared. Check out YouTube for more videos of the Smithsonian in preparation for your visit. 

Additional DC visitor information provides the essentials for all senior tourists. The WMATA subway service or simply Metro is the second busiest rapid transit system in the United States in number of passenger trips, after the NYC Subway. This link helps you learn to use it efficiently.  It is a marvelous, modern and clean system so take a ride somewhere during your visit on the WMATA. 

Another highlight of one of my visits was to tour the White House. I can relate much better now when I see TV coverage from the largest room in the White House, the East Room, used for entertaining, press conferences, ceremonies, and occasionally for a large dinners. The White House is open for tours in the morning, Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed every Sunday and Monday.

The Capitol Building is another “don’t miss” visit. The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is the newest addition to this historic complex. At nearly 580,000 square feet, the Visitor Center is the largest project in the Capitol’s more than two-century history and is approximately three quarters the size of the Capitol itself. The Capitol Visitor Center is open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Capitol is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. Discover, Explore and Learn are three portions of a neat video telling the story of the Capitol.  

I am always looking for Ten Things you can See and Do and here it is for DC.  

Arlington National Cemetery is well worth the visit. More than four million people visit the cemetery annually, many coming to pay final respects at graveside services, of which nearly 100 are conducted each week, Monday through Friday. Many famous people are buried there.

So where does one stop talking and advising about DC?  I will conclude by advising a visit to The National Gallery of Art.  The West Building houses an amazing collection of masterpieces, from a delicate da Vinci portrait to the vivid colors and passionate brushstrokes of a van Gogh landscape. Check out the rest of the collection prior to your visit. 

A free visitors 108-page guide is available here and it is packed with all the information you need to plan your trip to the nation’s capital – including hotels and maps, attractions and tours, museums and monuments, arts and theatre, restaurants and shops as well as nightlife and sports.  An interactive map will also make your planning much easier.  It is well done with lots of city sightseeing categories.  

As a retired educator I have said for years that every HS and college student in America should visit DC before they graduate.  DC is that kind of place. A visit to DC will be even better if you contact your state representative or state senator for a personal visit like I did. It will make your DC visit indelible for life jeb



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