Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Aloha to Washington, DC! Getting here and the Free Stuff on the National Mall

During RT, Danielle Gorman (link) mentioned that Apollycon (link) was coming to Washington, DC, in March 2018.  I invited her to come early/stay late to soak up the local sites.  

I was touring Philadelphia the day the tickets sold out for Apollycon. Hence, I will not be attending unless the organizers accept my offer to volunteer. Still, I joined the Facebook group, where the organizers asked locals to post recommendations for dining, sightseeing, etc.  Note Apollycon takes place at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City - south of Washington DC in Arlington, VA with easy access to the Metro (mass transportation of bus routes and rail lines).  

What better way to spend Fourth of July than chatting about Washington, DC?!?!

For those coming to the DC metro area for Apollycon (or other events), we have three airports:

- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (Reagan) is located along the Potomac River just south of Washington, DC and east of Alexandria, VA.  Reagan is on the Yellow and Blue lines of the MetroRail (subway).  Crystal City is one stop north on either lines (Yellow in the direction of Greenbelt, Blue in the direction of Largo).

- Dulles International Airport (Dulles) is 26 miles west of Washington, DC, near Reston, VA.  The airport offers the Silver Line Express - bus service to the Silver Line back to Washington, DC.  Change to the Blue Line (south to Springfield) at Rosslyn.

- Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) is 32 miles northeast of Washington, DC.  You can catch a shuttle to Washington.

While Reagan is the most convenient, it tends to be the most expensive.  My favorite airline - Southwest - flies into all three airports.  But it is cheaper to fly into BWI.   I happen to live near BWI. Watch those fares!

Washington, DC is also served by Amtrak at Union Station. From Union Station, take the Red line "south" (direction of Shady Grove) two stops to Gallery Place, change to Yellow line south to Huntington.  Crystal City is five stops. 

Note:  MetroRail uses the end points for direction purposes. Always consult the Metro map to ensure you are on the right train in the right direction!

For those driving to Crystal City, just park your car.  You can Metro to most places.  Parking at the conference hotel is $32 per day.  Or you can find alternate parking via Parkopedia (link).

Note:  The Apollycon website also provides information about transportation and parking specific to Crystal City at this link (after the hotel info).

What to do in Washington, DC?  Let's start with free stuff:

- The Smithsonian Museum (link) offers "19 world-class museums, galleries, gardens, and a zoo". The most popular museums - the Air & Space (Enola Gay), American History (Dorothy's ruby slippers), and Natural History (Hope Diamond) - are the most crowded. The newest museum, the African American Museum, requires a timed entry ticket.  But all are free!  The museums above are located on (or near) the National Mall - three stops on Yellow Line (to Greenbelt) from the hotel. The National Zoo is Northwest on Red Line to Woodley Park/Adams Morgan.

- National Archives (link), as featured in the Nicolas Cage movie NATIONAL TREASURE, is home of the US Constitution and other valuable documents.  The National Archives are located near the National Mall, accessible to the Metro, but can get crowded during spring break and summer holidays. I recommend you go early.

- Outdoor monuments honoring presidents (Lincoln, FDR, and Washington) and veterans (WWII, Vietnam, and Korea) are all located near the National Mall .  The Jefferson Memorial is near the Tidal Basin.  They are open area memorials maintained by the National Park Service.

- Walk along the National Mall to soak up the nation's history and the capital's vibe.  Here is a map (link) courtesy of the National Park Service.

- The National Cherry Blossom Festival is already scheduled for 2018 at this link.  The blossoms peak between late March and early April - depending upon the weather.  The blossoms and the festival are worth a visit.

There is much more to discuss ... in a future blog post.  I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Washington, DC - what do you know about our Nation's Capital?

2.  Comments are open through Sunday, July 9, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Monday, July 10.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


  1. Our government is located there.....good restaurants

    1. Because the government is here, it is so expensive. I think the federal government should relocate to the middle of the country! Yes to good restaurants! When are you coming to visit? You are always welcome in my home with my many cats!

  2. I know that the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world!

    1. Hubby previously used the Library of Congress for research for his master's in military history when we were assigned to the Pentagon. Two years ago, the LOC hosted a symposium on Romance - it was fabulous! Use the search box on my blog for "Library of Congress" to view my posts.

  3. I traveled to D.C. for the 1st time two summers ago and went back this past Oct. I'd like to remind people there is much to do outside the mall especially The National Cathedral and the Air and Space Museum at Dulles that houses so many important pieces of our aviation history including the Space Shuttle. https://airandspace.si.edu/udvar-hazy-center

    1. I'll chat about things to do beyond the National Mall in a future post ... thanks for reminding me about the National Cathedral and Udvar Hazy Museum!

  4. I've been twice. Each time it was one of my daughter's 6th grade field trip. I volunteered and loved every minute of it. It was a 5 day stay so we saw as many of the sights that we could. I've not gotten to see the cheery blossoms though - it was always a bit too early.

  5. Your pictures are beautiful. We went to D.C. several years ago with our son. We saw the Smithsonian, Lincoln & Jefferson Memorial and the Viet Nam Mem Wall. I found a schoolmate on the wall. Very touching site. Also saw a museum with dishes etc of first ladies. Not sure what that was called. Happy 4th everyone.

  6. George Washington University has full University graduation ceremony on the lawn besides the Washington Monument. It is an incredible ceremony each May.

  7. I haven't visited DC since junior high and would love to come back just for the museums and also visit Arlington National Cemetery and the Eternal Flame.

  8. The Library of Congress and The National Archives are on my do not miss list.Been to both and was awesome by them. I want to see the Spy Museum this trip and always the Mall with Lincoln being the most inspiring memorial.

  9. I haven't been into the district for many years, but have driven by and around it many times. I'd love to spend some time there and re-visit the monuments, Smithsonian and other museums, plus the zoo.

  10. We lived in Northern Virginia for 5 years while my husband was stationed at Andrews AFB. Our children school age, so most of what we did were things they would enjoy. There is much we didn't get to see. We look forward to going up as Adults Only to see much more.
    When you are visiting the service and war memorials, keep an eye out for Honor Flight groups of WWII and Korean War veterans. There are groups from all over the country visiting year round. Our group goes up in April and October. It warms their hearts when people come up to them and thank them for their service. Many of the Guardians (one is assigned to each veteran to help out) are veterans themselves.
    Talking with friends that live and work there, there have been many problems with the Metro this past year. Several lines have closed sections. Otherwise, it is the best way to get around.
    If you ever get the opportunity to be there on the 4th of July, make sure you spend at least part of the day on the Mall. Listen to the concert and definitely stay for the fireworks. They are impressive. Just don't be in a hurry to get anywhere afterwards.
    If you are there the end of June and first part of July, attend the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall. This year's themes are the Circus Arts and American Folk . Music, performances, food, crafts, and hands on activities for the kids are all available. Great fun, but really hot. Be prepared for heat and humidity. You can always take a break and go into one of the museums.
    I look forward to seeing your other suggestions to add to our list of things we haven't seen yet. We will be there the end of September for an Air Force unit reunion..

  11. Never been there. Be awesome to get to go.

  12. The one time I visited a cousin and we saw all the outdoor monuments. Very emotional to see the names of a few friend on the wall. But overall seeing how many heroes were listed. Went to Smithsonian . Would love to go back and see everything else.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  13. My father was stationed at the Pentagon for four years. Everyone came to visit and we went off to play tourist. I loved my time there. I was delighted when my daughter moved to the area and we visited more areas.

  14. Living fairly close, I've been multiple times from when I was in school and with my family. I spent a week there in high school participating in the Close-Up Foundation. My most recent trip was to the Folger Shakespeare Library in September to see the Will+Jane exhibit (over). WE usually take the Metro in.

    About 13 years ago, I was driving and kept missing my exit to Crystal City for a conference at a hotel. I ended up going to the Pentagon and asking the guard to help me get to my exit. My directions were off (didn't have a GPS then), and the guard was very helpful.

  15. I've been to D.C. 3 times in my life. Once was for work and I had very little time to sight see. The other 2 times I was there for a full week and STILL didn't have enough time to do everything. I think I could spend an entire day in each Smithsonian museum. Oh and Ford's Theater is worth a visit. The first time I went was in the early 90's. A couple years ago I went again. The museum was very impressive.