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10 day vacation to NYC and DC

Hi, we will be in NYC for 5 nights from Oct 29-Nov 3 and DC from Nov 3-6. We've been to NYC on 3 previous trips so I'm sure we done all the must sees (Top of the Rock, Empire state building, Time Square, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Theatre, The Today show, Guggenheim, shopping, etc) Since my husband is running the NYC Marathon, we have 3 full days to explore. We are renting an apartment near Columbus Circle, so any ideas on things to do in NYC or places to eat nearby would be appreciated. Outside of the 9/11 memorial, what else should we see or do see.

I've only been to DC twice (once as a kid) and another time for a day about 4 years ago. This will be my husbands first trip to DC. How would you organize our our 2 1/2 days. We are staying close to Dupont Circle.

It's weird, I spend months and months researching and planning our trips to Europe, but I haven't put the same kind of effort into this vacation so need some help.

Posted by
1339 posts

NYC - museums other than the Guggenheim, e.g., the Met, the Museum of Natural History; tour the United Nations; ride the Staten Island Ferry for the view ( free); Metropolitan Opera; ... DC - enjoy the series of Smithsonian museums on the Mall (free).

Posted by
1804 posts

As you will be there during the holiday, I would definitely take some time to go watch some of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. It can get incredibly crowded, but it's a lot of fun - even just standing near the top of the stairs to the subway stops that are nearby and watching some of the costumes people arrive in is worth heading down that way for a few hours.

Columbus Circle has many, many places to eat and in all price ranges. What kind of food are you interested in? What type of budget? Jean-Georges and Per Se are over that way but are $$$$, and the touristic Tavern on the Green (although the setting is nice, the food is still kind of meh and they've been through a bunch of chefs since they reopened). Don't limit yourself to that immediate neighborhood - a quick taxi, bus or subway ride will get you to some neighborhoods that have some really great dining options - or head to Brooklyn - great museum over there and you can dine in Park Slope, Bushwick, Brooklyn Heights, etc. Check the listings in Time Out or take 5 minutes to read some of the posts on Chow Hound for restaurants and you'll find something you want to try based on your budget and preferences in food. If the weather cooperates, walk the length of The Highline, visit some of the outdoor markets in Chelsea.

For DC, I'd spend time at the various Smithsonian museums, go to the Zoo, check out the memorials, stroll around Georgetown and get out into some of the neighborhoods - tons of restaurants with every type of ethnic cuisine you could think of. Dupont is a great area, but again, I would not just limit myself to it after the sun goes down.

Posted by
33 posts

For DC, as others have said, the Smithsonian museums are amazing. I love the Library of Congress and I have had lunch in the cafeteria of the Supreme Court which any one can do. My favorite monuments are the Vietnam, Korean War and World War II monuments and the Jefferson memorial. The Holocaust museum is life and perspective changing. Fall colors in DC are also spectacular. DC has a lot to offer, enjoy your time there.

Posted by
5529 posts

NYC -- it's been a while, but I remember loving the Cloisters museum. And, of course, Broadway and off-Broadway shows with discount tickets from the TKTS booth (not the current "hot tickets" but good stuff at the price)
DC -- went with my daughter while she was taking AP U.S. History in high school, so we visited Capitol and Supreme Court buildings (and walked by the famous Watergate)
Have a great trip!!

Posted by
1339 posts

A week or so before you visit, you could look up 'Time Out New York' and 'Time Out DC' online to find more things to do.

Posted by
6534 posts

Do you enjoy neighborhood strolls? If so, just wander around Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Meatpacking District, Battery Park City, Tudor City, NYU/Washington Square Park....I think it's a wonderful experience to see NYC outside of the major tourist sites (by the way, the One World Observatory is now open). Don't limit yourself to Columbus Circle, the subway goes everywhere and it's quick (or you can use a cab but in a city like NYC, the subway's unbeatable). As far as attractions go, I would highly recommend walking The Highline...and of course, there are too many museums too mention but one of my favorites is The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan (it's part of the Met Museum). If you feel like you've done Manhattan justice, check out Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights.

In DC, check out the Museum of the American Indian. Most people probably don't go there but I think it's a fantastic space and a very interesting collection (and the best museum food, for sure). The Library of Congress and National Gallery of Art are also great choices. In Dupont, there are some smaller art galleries and The Phillips Collection. There's too much to do in 2.5 days, so I'll stop there.

Posted by
165 posts

Another vote for the Museum of the American Indian, and its restaurant, which has some vegetarian dishes. Nearby is a part of the US Botanic Garden, which is a pleasant green space. It's pretty cool to stand in the Memorial and look up at the statue of Lincoln and read the walls. The Mall is a nice place to just walk, as is the Tidal Basin. No idea what fall color might be by then. The Metro lines can also get you to the National Cathedral and the National Zoo.

Posted by
5638 posts

Karen, in DC you MUST go to see the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery. Every hour, 24/7. There is a metro stop right there at Arlington Cemetery, and a walk up the hill to the Tomb. Its just a couple of minutes from everything else in DC, and if you're taking the Metro from Reagan National Airport, its one of the first stops on the way into DC.

Posted by
799 posts

In NYC, we really enjoyed our tour of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and I understand it has even more options now. It would be a nice followup to the Ellis Island stop on your previous visit - and there are lots of great places to eat around there. For dinner closer to your hotel [and to theaters], I warmly recommend Briciola, a tiny Italian place on West 51st St. between 8th and 9th; daughter and I had a delicious meal there before our Sat evening show. One specific play recommendation: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It was the only straight play [non-musical] we saw on our trip and was by far our favorite theater experience. Amazing!

For DC, I would agree that there is an enormous amount to see on and around the Mall - you've gotten many good recommendations so far. Not too far off the Mall are the Newseum, with many interactive exhibits covering historic moments in our history, and the National Building Museum. Near your Dupont Circle hotel location is the Textile Museum.

And there's the political side - a tour of the Capitol, or a visit to the office of your Senator or House Member. If you want a meeting with a staffer on a specific topic you need to schedule that in advance, but you can also just stop by to see the office, pick up any DC info they have available, and say hello to your elected representatives and/or their staff. Sometimes staffers can take you on a Capitol tour, though I think that's less common now.

If you can provide a bit more information about your interests, it would help us focus our responses. Happy planning!

Posted by
2 posts

We have taken a culinary tour in NYC and it is a fabulous way to spend a few hours, and enjoy a variety of cuisine that the city is famous for.

Posted by
9363 posts

In DC, definitely see the Holocaust Museum. You will never forget it. We also enjoyed our tour at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where they print money.

Posted by
104 posts

Hi Karen, I'd like to add my vote for the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. You could walk the length of the mall and tidal basin which would allow you to see all of the monuments. As I recall it's about. 3 miles and I would plan half a day, minimum for that. Any of the Smithsonian Museums are great and free! My personal favorites are Air and Space, American History, Natural History and the sculpture garden at the National gallery of Art. Arlington cemetery is worth a visit, especially the changing of the guard ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier. I would also recommend visiting Ford Theatre and the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon. If you're interested in tours of any if the federal buildings, I would. Look into reservations now. In the past I've been able to make reservations through my loc. State representative or senator's office. The supreme court is on session right now, if you'd u can get reservations for an argument day you can check out the court in session. The tours I've enjoyed the most were through the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court and were arranged the the offices of my state representatives. The metro is very easy to get around on in D.C., and will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. There are decent food courts in the Old Post Office Tower and the basement of the Regan Building that are good for lunches. I have always loved visiting DC., so have an amazing trip!

Posted by
1534 posts

Thanks for all the great feedback for both NCY and DC. I like the idea of going to Brooklyn. My husband's run through Brooklyn the last three Marathons, so it's time I get there. And I forgot about Halloween.

Last trip to DC I visited the Holocaust museum and agree with your comments. Definitely on the list to take my husband. And we love Zoos, so if weather is good, great idea!

After mulling through all the feedback, I'm sure I'll come back with more questions!

Posted by
1534 posts

Thanks for the idea on contacting our congressman to arrange tours. Of the below tours, which ones are the must do? I'm thinking the White house, but which other one or two?
white house
Capital
Supreme Court
Library of Congress
Engraving & printing
Kennedy center

Posted by
104 posts

My vote would be the U.S. Capitol building. The first time I ever toured the Capitol, congress was in session and as part of the tour we were able to sit in the gallery and watch the House in session-very interesting! I don't think the Bureau of Engraving and Printing does reserved tours. It's just a show up and wait in line thing, so I would suggest showing up early. The first tour starts at 0900 hours and they run every 15 minutes.

Posted by
6534 posts

Definitely Library of Congress and Capitol (I think I did a White House tour ages ago but don't even remember it - probably it didn't leave much of an impression on me, as opposed to the Library and Capitol)

Posted by
1534 posts

So we submitted request through our congressman (hopefully they don't find out we are republicans) for the capital, library of congress, and supreme court. We'll see what we get since we are less than three weeks away

The Cloisters sounds really interesting. A bit of Europe on our visit to NY.

Someone earlier asked my what type of food we like. Pretty much anything. If there was one over-the -top restaurant in either NYC or DC for a special night out, any suggestions. Also, do restaurants in either DC or NYC charge a corkage fee if you bring your own bottle of wine? We are so used to this in California, so not if it's allowed in either city. Much like Europe, we like to eat where the locals eat, and since we are on a 11 day trip, we'd love any suggestion for great food at reasonable prices? My husband will want pasta the night before the Marathon so any favorite and authentic Italian restaurant suggestions?

Posted by
4519 posts

In NY, if you have good weather, the Circle Line will take you right around Manhattan Island for an unforgettable overview of this amazing place. Takes most of a morning or afternoon as I recall. I'd also recommend the Cloisters, as others have. If you're on this website, you must appreciate Europe, and this place looks and feels like a medieval monastery, with much better art than most of them have. And the Metropolitan Museum on 5th Ave. is right up there with the Louvre, Prado, and such.

In DC, staying near Dupont Circle will put you close to the Phillips Collection of mostly Impressoinist art, a small high-quality museum. I'd also agree that, of the buildings you listed to tour, the Capitol is the best. You can book a tour directly on the website or through your Senator or Representative (also via the website), I don't think it makes any difference. I think Arlington Cemetery is beautiful and evocative, but takes a long time out of a short visit. Don't miss the Lincoln Memorial, and the nearby Vietnam and/or Korean War Memorials if either of those is especially meaningful for you. The zoo is great, but I wouldn't say it's any better than various other big-city zoos in this country, and again it's some distance from other sights on a short visit. All the museums on both sides of the Mall are free, so take your pick and if you don't like one, or poop out, try another or just get off your feet. It's like having a Paris Museum Pass without the clock running! ;-)

Posted by
3046 posts

Lots of good ideas for NYC , so I won't repeat them . A few more from a lifelong resident and lover of NYC . Since you are staying at Columbus Circle , go up Broadway to 80th street and find ZABAR' S . All kinds of great smoked fish , baked goods and delicacies in a classic NY Jewish appetizing deli , take some back to your place for supper . The 104 bus runs on Broadway , or the 7th ave subway will get you to and fro in minutes , or a twenty minute walk past Lincoln Center . While there , see if they have any Kossar' s Bialys . If not , the bakery on Grand Street on the lower East Side is worth a trip ( near the tenement museum ) . For a taste of Paris ( 7th arrondissiment ) wander up Madison Ave. from the high sixties to the nineties poking your heads into the blocks between Madison and Fifth for the city's best late nineteenth and early twentieth century architecture . This is easily combined with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art .

Posted by
3046 posts

P.S. If you do make it to ZABAR' s be sure to get some " whitefish salad " , in the refrigerated cabinet in the front of the store ( ask if you don't see it ) . Kind of like tuna salad , only WAY better !!!

Posted by
3046 posts

My wife just reminded me of another must see ( we are writing from Bruges ) . If you are familiar with the recent film " The Woman in Gold " , go to the Neue Galerie at Fifth Avenue and 86th St to see the actual painting there . It is brilliant in the extreme , and should not be missed .