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Taking a NYC/DC trip in May


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Our flights and hotels are booked. My wife and I will be taking the trip during the first week of May. We fly in to LaGuardia around 7 PM on a Saturday, will be staying in NYC until Wednesday afternoon, and then taking the Amtrak to DC. We fly out of DC (Dulles) at 1 PM the following Saturday. I've been to NYC a few times in my life, but never to DC. My wife has never been to either place.

Any pro tips? We're planning to do Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 museum, the Metropolitan, and the Natural History Museum. Possibly the Empire State Building, but my wife is afraid of heights and I've already done it, so it's not a total necessity. We're also seeing a Broadway show. In DC, we have tours booked for the Library of Congress and the Capitol Building, and hopefully a tour for the White House (we won't find out until a couple weeks before). All of our hotels are centrally located (mid-Manhattan and about 5 blocks from the National Mall). 

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I just arrived home in DC this afternoon. We’re in colonial Williamsburg tonight and tomorrow and heading up to the capitol tomorrow night. Holocaust museum is a must, as is Arlington National Cemetery and the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns (take the tram. It’s worth the $15). All of the smithsonian museums are worth seeing. Go to the bureau of printing and engraving, too. The memorials are best seen at night when there’s a bit less foot traffic. Also go to Fords Theater and the national archives.

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4 hours ago, Tank said:

I just arrived home in DC this afternoon. We’re in colonial Williamsburg tonight and tomorrow and heading up to the capitol tomorrow night. Holocaust museum is a must, as is Arlington National Cemetery and the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns (take the tram. It’s worth the $15). All of the smithsonian museums are worth seeing. Go to the bureau of printing and engraving, too. The memorials are best seen at night when there’s a bit less foot traffic. Also go to Fords Theater and the national archives.

Tank, while you are at Arlington look at Abner Doubledays tombstone.  It is pretty big and you can see it from the tram, I am just trying to remember if it is the tram to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or if it is the tram to the house.  

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2 hours ago, Stradling said:

Tank, while you are at Arlington look at Abner Doubledays tombstone.  It is pretty big and you can see it from the tram, I am just trying to remember if it is the tram to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or if it is the tram to the house.  

Maybe they go some of the same directions, but I've never gone to the house and I've seen his tomb. I have taken the tram to the tomb of the unknown soldier probably 25 times. 

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Across from Ford's Theatre is the house Lincoln was carried to where he died. On a lighter note you can go to Lincoln's pancake House (tourist trap) on the same block for a decent cheap breakfast. We found if we ever got turned around in the city the Spy Museum was always the Central point of reference as where we were. Don't bother going there. 

I've been to DC twice. The Smithsonian art museum twice and both times stood at Rembrandt's self portrait wondering how he did it. From a distance it is full of detail, up close it is a choppy sea of layered paint. A complete reversal of the other Dutch masters portrait work. 

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If possible, purchase your tickets ahead of time for the 9/11 Memorial Museum. They sell online 6 months in advance, and you pick your time to enter. Walk up tickets should be available, as you are not going at a busy time, but the walk-up line takes a while as it will be a diverse crowd, and many have difficulty. Once inside, everything moves nicely. 

If you want to try something different than the Empire State Building, try going to the Top of the Rock. The view from there is still amazing, and your pics will have both the Empire State Building, and the Freedom Tower in it. My wife is afraid of heights too, but had no problem there. Lots to do in the area as well. 

Restaurant recommendation: San Pietro on 54th Street between 5th and Madison. Easy walk from Rockefeller Center. The best service I have ever had, and the food is fantastic. https://www.sanpietroristorantenyc.com/

Don't waste your time going to Little Italy. It is Tiny Italy now, as Chinatown is slowly absorbing it.  

If you are in Chelsea, take a walk on the High Line. Nice walk, and early May should have everything blooming.  https://www.thehighline.org/ . 

Edited by NJHalo
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If you are doing the Statue of Liberty...book your reservations now...like right now...stop reading this and go book your reservations...hell, it might even be too late to get up on the pedestal or the crown. Stop reading this, and go to nps.gov website and book. Same for the 9/11 memorial. 

 

Ok, you're down with that?

Some other NYC ideas. I've only been in winter, but the gist is the same. 

Bring good walking shoes...walking with some quick trips on the subway...is the best way to view both cities. You can spend hours just wandering neighborhoods.

Brooklyn Bridge area:

Walking the bridge is pretty cool if you have the time. You can do a one way walk and take a subway back. Best view of the bridge and Manhattan skyline is from Jane's carousel/pebble beach area.

sts_151211_0033-Pano_master.jpg

 

Here are some other photos from the Brooklyn side

https://redinkphotography.photoshelter.com/portfolio/C0000AMC250JYh9c/G00009S_.YDj7F.o

 

Grand Central Station (not Penn Station, which is pretty cool as well and where you will catch the train to DC from...which I've done, it's a fun trip) is a great place to people watch, they also have an underground food court. When you think of the classic big city train station, Grand Central is it.

If you are a museum person, along with the Natural history museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is amazing. NYC Public Library is worth a pop in if you are in the area as well.

Bryant Park is just down the way from Rockefeller Center & Times Square (waste of time...but most people have to visit Times Square at least once). Lots of cool outdoor shops. Union square is another place I want to explore more, same idea, lots of little outdoor shops. Stopped by during Christmas season and Union Square was awesome.

Flatiron Building is a cool place to visit...Right near Eataly. There's an Eataly in LA, so it's not "special"...but if you are looking for a quick snack they have fresh, as in made the same day Mozarella that is outstanding. Go sit at the salami/cheese bar, order a drink and an appetizer plate.

Someone mentioned the Hi-line...that's a fun walk, you can pick it up a lot of places...including right near Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market is a little touristy...best to get there right as it opens...but some amazing food there. You could have a worse day then starting at the market, getting a mid morning meal and then walking the Hi-Line back towards midtown area.

Best free trip idea...catch the Staten Island Ferry...try and catch it about 30 minutes or so before sunset. Amazing views of the Statue of Liberty. Catch it from Manhattan...disembark and get right back on the Ferry to head back to Manhattan...if you time it right you catch the sunset and the first lights of the Statue against the darkening sky.

I've haven't been to Governor's Island...it's closed in the winter...but it's supposed to have great views of the Statue and Manhattan as well.

 

Food Wise...you have your picks...some places I love. Zagats is probably better than Yelp when it comes to restaurant reviews in NYC. 

Mamouns falafalel...amazing shwarma. 2 locations, Located in East Village and near NYU

Vezzio's Thin Crust Pizza...my favorite pizza when I'm there...literally crave that place...my mouth is watering as I type this.

Milk Bar...great desert place

Momofuku's...string of restaurants owned by David Chan.

For a fancy/pricey meal in a small relaxed atmosphere. Prune restaurant. Make reservations now. 

 

Quick drop of ideas on DC

Vietnam Memorial. Go early or late. So quiet and peaceful. Same with Lincoln Memorial (go early). My favorite view is from the Lincoln Memorial steps back towards the Capitol building. You can stand at the same place Martin Luther King delivered is I Have a Dream Speech.

Jefferson Memorial is beautiful around sunset. If you stay around tidal pool you can walk back to National mall from Jefferson memorial and it's not an issue.

Air and Space Museum is a must if that's your thing.

Oh, if you do a tour of the Capitol building...don't do the general tour...do a specialty tour.

For example we did the Freedom Fighters tour. It was just the wife, tour guide, and myself. So much better than the cattle car tour, and we were able to spend more time in various areas. And keep in mind, there is very little you can take into the capitol building and there are no lockers...so read up first and then make sure you don't take items like backpacks, water bottles, etc.

https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/special-tours-and-activities

 

 

 

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Thanks for the tips so far, everyone!

red, based on your suggestion, I went ahead and booked both the 9/11 Museum tour and the Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Tour. I'm glad I did. The Ellis/Statue tour was almost sold out for the day we were planning to go. 

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3 minutes ago, Taylor said:

Thanks for the tips so far, everyone!

red, based on your suggestion, I went ahead and booked both the 9/11 Museum tour and the Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Tour. I'm glad I did. The Ellis/Statue tour was almost sold out for the day we were planning to go. 

Looks like you owe red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

not a good situation for you.

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32 minutes ago, Taylor said:

Thanks for the tips so far, everyone!

red, based on your suggestion, I went ahead and booked both the 9/11 Museum tour and the Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Tour. I'm glad I did. The Ellis/Statue tour was almost sold out for the day we were planning to go. 

sweet. Enjoy yourself. Part of my family came in through Ellis Island, so I really enjoyed both...was interesting trying to put myself in the shoes of my forefathers

 

Were you able to reserve going on the pedestal or crown at the Statue of Liberty? 

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8 minutes ago, red321 said:

sweet. Enjoy yourself. Part of my family came in through Ellis Island, so I really enjoyed both...was interesting trying to put myself in the shoes of my forefathers

 

Were you able to reserve going on the pedestal or crown at the Statue of Liberty? 

Thanks! Just the pedestal. The crown was sold out, although we weren't super interested in the crown. Sounds like a lot of work walking up all those stairs. 

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9 minutes ago, Taylor said:

Thanks! Just the pedestal. The crown was sold out, although we weren't super interested in the crown. Sounds like a lot of work walking up all those stairs. 

crown was sold out when we went as well, but pedestal was cool

 

Food on the islands isn't much to write home about...not sure if you can bring your own food, might be something to look into. They have eating areas.

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31 minutes ago, Lhalo said:

If you go to ground zero be sure to go to the memorial then the observatory. You want it to start sad and end happy, not the opposite.

We're doing a tour of the memorial. Is the observatory included in the admission ticket?

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4 hours ago, Taylor said:

We're doing a tour of the memorial. Is the observatory included in the admission ticket?

We did the observatory a few months after it opened. Had dinner up there. Would not recommend it though. Poor service, food was bland, and very expensive. I know you said your wife was afraid of heights, so I need to tell you she might be bothered up there. If you do decide to go up top, pay for the upgrade to pass the line. It gets long, and does not move at healthy pace. 

You might have your fill of boat rides going to the Statue and Ellis Island, but if not, I definitely agree with Red’s recommendation of taking the free Staten Island Ferry. Nice relaxing and scenic. Just try to avoid it at rush hour. 

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20 hours ago, NJHalo said:

You might have your fill of boat rides going to the Statue and Ellis Island, but if not, I definitely agree with Red’s recommendation of taking the free Staten Island Ferry. Nice relaxing and scenic. Just try to avoid it at rush hour. 

Our Ellis Island tour will be done around 4 PM. So perhaps we'll stick around the area for a bit, grab dinner, and then hit up the Staten Island Ferry for the sunset views. 

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On 3/18/2019 at 7:02 AM, eaterfan said:

It seems like you have a pretty busy trip, but if you get a little extra time, go to Mount Vernon. It's the home of George Washington and it's pretty spectacular.

We were there this morning. Pretty impressive place.

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On 3/18/2019 at 4:08 AM, Stradling said:

Tank, while you are at Arlington look at Abner Doubledays tombstone.  It is pretty big and you can see it from the tram, I am just trying to remember if it is the tram to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or if it is the tram to the house.  

That’s high on my list. Last time I was there I looked for it but never found it. Thanks for the pics because now I know what to look for. Will be there tomorrow morning.

We went to the Marine Corp Memorial Museum this afternoon (not the IWo Jima statue), and it was a really nice place to visit. Add it to your list of things to see. It’s down by Quantico.

we also went to the MLK Memorial tonight. Very moving and worth the visit.

The FDR Memorial is very meh.

hitting up Fords Theater and the National Archives tomorrow.

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