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Family Vacation Guides:
Washington, D.C.

What to Do
Where to Stay
Where to Eat
Money $aving Tips

Washington, D.C. is a super family destination for any season. After all, where else can you find a place where most of the major attractions are free! There is so much to do here for those with every imaginable interest. In fact, this abundance of activities and sights can often be overwhelming. Do take the time to plan your trip and resist the urge to cram too many experiences and sights into too short a period of time. Washington's one of those places in which it's very difficult to "do it all"!

Here is the latest from the Washington, DC Convention and Visitors Association What's New this Fall in Washington, DC

There are many resources available to help you plan your trip to the Nation's Capital. Use them, as they can save you a great deal of time and aggravation. Here are some organizations, online services (click on the blue text to see web sites), books and phone numbers to help you plan your trip:

** Washington, D.C. Convention and Visitor's Associationwww.washington.org-- This organization would be happy to send you free maps and brochures about the Washington, D.C. area. (202) 789-7000.

** The Smithsonian Institution Home Page The Smithsonian will send you information in advance on making your visit to the museums most productive. (202) 357-2700.

** Welcome To The White Housewww.whitehouse.gov/tours/-- You can call the White House Visitors Center to find out information on White House Tours and other events. (202) 755-7798

** Congressperson/Senator's Office -- Write to your congressperson or senator in advance to arrange for VIP passes for tours of the White House, the FBI, passes to the Senate and House Visitors Galleries, and other tours and events. These offices can also provide you with helpful information on the Washington, D.C. area.

** Metrobus and Metrorail Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority -- METRO www.wmata.com -- The bus and subway (Metrorail) transportation in the Washington, D.C. area is generally excellent, although not cheap. It is, however, an excellent alternative to driving as parking is expensive and the traffic can be horrendous. Metrorail pocket guide maps are available at any subway station. You can board the metro using a farecard, which is available at the subway stops. A number of subway stops are located in suburban areas, however, parking there can fill up quickly on weekday mornings. (202) 637-7000.

** Maryland Department of Tourism www.mdisfun.org-- Officials here will be happy to mail you a travel kit concerning destinations in the state of Maryland. (800) 543-1036

** Virginia Department of Tourism www.virginia.org-- Officials here will be happy to mail you a travel kit about the tourism destinations in Virginia. (800) 786-4484

** Travel Guides and Other Publications -- A good travel guide, such as Fodors, Frommers, or the Insider's Guide, is strongly recommended for this trip. Another good guide specifically for families is "Going Places with Children in Washington, D.C." by the Green Acres School. The book provides a great deal of information on the D.C. area specifically for families. If you're in the Washington D.C. area on Fridays, pick up a copy of "The Washington Post". The Weekend section is particularly excellent. "Washingtonian Magazine" and "Washington Parent" are also good resources.

** Capital Baby Rentals -- Rent a wide variety of quality, fully sterilized rental equipment (cribs, strollers, car seats, high chairs, toy baskets, etc.) geared to the specialized needs of infants and toddlers. Drop-off, set-up, and pick-up are all included in the low rates.

What to Do

** VIP Tours greateventsinc.com-- There are special VIP tours available to popular Washington, D.C. attractions such as the White House, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the FBI, and the Supreme Court. You can obtain reservations on these tours ONLY by writing to your congressperson or senator several months in advance of your trip. Six months in advance is not too early to write, as a limited number of passes are available. In your letter, make sure to specify the dates you will be in town, the VIP tours for which you would like passes, and the number of passes you will need. Don't forget: your senator or congressperson can also provide valuable information on hotels, dining, transportation, and other aspects of your Washington, D.C. visit. Ask for the information you need -- you'll often be amazed at what you receive.

** Arlington National Cemetery www.arlingtoncemetery.org -- This is the largest military cemetery in the United States. The Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Kennedy gravesites are of particular interest to families.

Address: Across Arlington Memorial Bridge

Nearest metro station: Arlington Cemetery.

Phone number: (703) 692-0931

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for updated times. Generally, April to September: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and October through March: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

** Bureau of Engraving and Printing www.bep.treas.gov -- Kids love seeing the presses that print all the country's currency and stamps. The self-guided tour is a hit with families, and is exceedingly popular. Small children may have problems seeing over the ledges to view the press rooms, so do push ups and plan on lots of carrying and lifting.

Address:Raoul Wallenberg Place and C Street, SW
Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian

Phone number: (202) 874-3109

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for updated times. Generally, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. During April to September, a time ticket system is operating. The ticket office opens at 7:45 a.m.

** Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden hirshhorn.si.edu-- A museum of modern art with some sculptures kids will love. The outdoor sculpture garden is particularly "cool".

Address: 7th Street and Independence Avenue, SW

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian, L'Enfant Plaza

Phone Number: (202) 357-2700

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for updated times. The museum is generally open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

** Jefferson Memorialwww.nps.gov/thje -- This beautiful monument is particularly gorgeous at night or when the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin are in bloom.

Address: Across the Tidal Basin from the Washington Monument

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian, L'Enfant Plaza

Phone Number: (202) 426-6841

Admission: Free

Hours: The memorial is open 24 hours a day, but is generally staffed from 8 a.m. to midnight. It is closed on Christmas Day.

**Lincoln Memorial www.nps.gov/linc/index.htm -- This is another monument that is particularly beautiful at night. Our kids also love to climb to the top of the steps here and look out over the Reflecting Pool.

Address: At the western end of the Mall

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian, Foggy Bottom

Phone Number: (202) 426-6841

Admission: Free

Hours: The memorial is open 24 hours a day, but it is generally staffed from 8 a.m. to midnight, except on Christmas Day.

** National Air and Space Museum www.nasm.edu -- This museum is the most visited museum in the world, and is a DO NOT MISS attraction for families with children of any age. Allow several hours for your visit.

Address: On the south side of the Mall

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian, L'Enfant Plaza

Phone Number: (202) 357-2700

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for current hours. Generally, the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and is closed on Christmas Day. Sometimes hours are extended during the summer months.

** National Aquarium sc94.ameslab.gov/TOUR/aquarium.html-- This is the oldest aquarium in the United States. While not as fancy as its counterparts in Baltimore and Boston, kids still love seeing all the fish. Don't expect anything particularly fancy, but it's a great place to escape the summer heat and entertain the kids.

Address: The basement of the Department of Commerce building (go figure!) at 14th Street, NW.

Nearest Metro Stop: Federal Triangle

Phone Number: (202) 482-2825

Admission: Adults $2, and children ages 2-10 $.75

Hours: Call for current hours. Generally, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, closed Christmas Day.

** National Gallery of Art www.nga.gov(East & West Wing) -- These buildings house some of the greatest collections of art, but to be honest, our kids get bored after about an hour here. I would recommend sandwiching a visit here between two things that kids really love, or visiting this first thing in the morning before heading out to the Zoo.

Addresses: East Building -- 4th and Constitution Avenue, N.W.; West Building -- 6th and Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Nearest Metro Stop: Archives

Phone Numbers: East Wing: (202) 737-4215; West Wing: (202) 737-4215

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for current hours. Generally, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

** National Museum of American History americanhistory.si.edu-- This is a part of the Smithsonian, and another must see for families. Here you'll find a four-story pendulum, the original Star-Spangled Banner, the First Ladies' gowns, and lots of movie items (if they're not touring!). Allow a minimum of 2-3 hours for your visit.

Address: 14th and Constitution Avenue N.W. on the Mall

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle

Phone Number: (202) 357-2700
Admission: Free
Hours: Call for current hours. Generally, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., although often there are extended summer hours. Closed Christmas Day.

** National Museum of Natural History www.mnh.si.edu-- Without a doubt, this is one of our family's favorite D.C. attractions. Kids love the Discovery Room, as well as the dinosaur exhibits, the gem exhibit, the Insect Zoo, and -- of course -- the mummies! Make sure to allow a minimum of 3 hours for your visit, and don't miss the gift shop here. It has great souvenirs. Be aware that the museum is undergoing renovations and a number of exhibits may be closed during your trip. Call ahead to find out status if there's a particular exhibit that interests you or your children.

Address: 10th Street N.W. and Constitution Avenue, on the Mall

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian, Archives

Phone Number: (202) 357-2700

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for current hours. Generally, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., although there are often extended hours during the summer. Closed Christmas Day.

** U.S. Holocaust Museum www.ushmm.org -- According to Holocaust Museum staff, the main exhibit of this museum is not appropriate for children under 11, and I would strongly agree. A special exhibit, "Daniel's Story" is designed for children 8 and older. Know your child, and be the judge of what is appropriate for him or her. Some parents have told me that their families particularly valued this experience. The museum can be very busy during spring and summer months. Tickets can be ordered in advance from Ticketmaster at (800) 551-7328.

Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian

Phone Number: (202) 488-0400

Admission: Free

Hours: Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily; closed on Christmas Day and Yom Kippur.

** Old Post Office Pavilion oldpostofficedc.com -- The Old Post Office offers an excellent food court within walking distance of many of the Mall attractions, a wide variety of shops, and a great view from the observation deck. Personally, I think the large windows here provide a better view than the tiny windows at the Washington Monument.

Address: 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Nearest Metro Stop: Federal Triangle

Phone Number: (202) 289-4224

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for current hours as they vary by day, month and season.

** Washington Monument www.nps.gov/wamo-- If it's not raining, the view from the top of the Monument (500 feet above the ground) is exceptional. Be prepared to work your way through the crowds to the small windows on the cramped observation deck.

Address: Between 15th and 17th Streets NW on the Mall

Nearest Metro Stop: Smithsonian

Phone Number: (202) 426-6841

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for current hours of admission. Generally 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer months.

** The White House www.whitehouse.gov -- Everyone wants to take the tour of the President's home during their trip to Washington. To avoid disappointment, however, you may want to alert your children that there is virtually no chance they will see the President on their tour. If at all possible, get free tickets for the VIP tour. It will save you a lot of time waiting in line and the tours are longer.

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Nearest Metro Stop: McPherson Square, Farragut North or West

Phone Number: (202) 456-7041

Admission: Free

Hours: Tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Definitely call for details on current ticket policies, as the time ticket system is often in effect during the summer months.

** Capital Children's Museum www.ccm.org -- This museum is filled with great interactive exhibits kids will love. There are caves you can walk through, animation studios, and other touchy-feely exhibits. Although younger kids love it here, the museum is older and has not been updated recently. The museum is located in a changing neighborhood, so you may want to take a cab or drive.

Address: 800 3rd Street NE

Nearest Metro Stop: Union Station

Phone Number: (202) 675-4120

Admission: $6 for adults and children, free for those 2 and under

Hours: Call for current hours. Generally Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Open on Mondays during the summer. Closed Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Easter and Thanksgiving.

** Union Station www.unionstationdc.com-- This is a great place for families (and especially teens) who are looking for a great place to shop, restaurants, and theaters. This is a great place to stop and have lunch while on Capitol Hill.

Address: Massachusetts Avenue and North Capitol Streets, NE

Nearest Metro Stop: Union Station

Phone Number: (202) 371-9441

Admission: Free

Hours: The shops are typically open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

** The Capitol www.aoc.gov -- This is a fun way for kids to find out more about how the U.S. Congress operates. The tours are relatively short, and visit only a small part of the Capitol building. They DO NOT include a visit to a session of Congress. If you want to see Congress in session, don't forget to first go to your senator or congressperson's office and pick up a pass before coming to the Capitol for your tour. If you're not sure where your legislative office is, call (202) 224-3121 for help.

Address: At the east end of the Mall

Nearest Metro Stop: Capitol South or Union Station

Phone Number: (202) 225-6832

Admission: Free

Hours: Call for current hours. Typically, daily tours leave every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The public entrance is on the side opposite the Mall. Tours begin at the Rotunda.

** Federal Bureau of Investigationwww.fbi.gov/ -- This is one of the most popular tours in Washington, and is a must see for families with school-age children. You'll see lots of gangster memorabilia, as well as displays about spies and drug smugglers. The hit of the tour, however, is the Q&A session with a Special Agent and the firearms/shooting demonstration. Try to get passes for the VIP tour to eliminate the waiting.

Address: Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street NW

Nearest Metro Stop: Archives, Federal Triangle

Phone Number: (202) 324-3447

Admission: Free

Hours: Generally Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

** National Geographic Society, Explorer's Hall www.nationalgeographic.com/explorer -- Kids who love science and nature love this one! You'll find a collection of exhibits and interactive programs focusing on nature, weather, space, exploration, astronomy, and other topics. The shop here is another great place for souvenirs.

Address: 17th and M Streets, NW

Nearest Metro Stop: Farragut North and West

Phone Number: (202) 857-7588

Admission: Free

Hours: Generally Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and holidays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed Christmas Day.

** Mount Vernon www.mountvernon.org -- George Washington's eighteenth-century plantation on the banks of the Potomac is a great place to visit with kids. Our family puts this on our "don't miss" list. The mansion is gorgeous, and the tour of the grounds gives visitors a good feel for how eighteenth-century plantation life really worked. This is kind of a mini-Williamsburg, with a number of historical interpreters stationed throughout the estate. Try to get here before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m., as Mount Vernon is very popular and the crowds can be outrageous.

Address: 16 miles south of Washington on the banks of the Potomac

Nearest Metro Stop: None. Tourmobile (202-554-7950) offers narrated tours to Mount Vernon daily from April through October.

Phone Number: (703) 780-2000

Admission: $9 for adults, $8.50 for senior citizens 62 and over, $4.50 for kids 6-11.

Hours: Open every day. April through August from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. March, September, October from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. November through February from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

** National Zoo natzoo.si.edu -- This zoo is located in a beautiful wooded section of Rock Creek Park, and is the perfect place to spend a day with the kids. Our favorite exhibits are the giant panda, the aviary, the ape house, the seals and sea lions, the white tiger, the small mammal house, and the cheetahs. Try to visit earlier or later in the day when the animals are more active and the crowds are thinner. Current panda feeding times are 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., but call ahead to ensure these are the correct times for your visit if you want to see any panda activity.

Address: 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Nearest Metro Stop: Woodley Park/National Zoo

Phone Number: (202) 673-4800

Admission: Free - but a charge for parking

Hours: Call ahead for current hours. Generally, buildings are open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours are often extended to 8 p.m. in from mid-April through mid-October.

Where to Stay

EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL 1250 22nd Street (800) EMBASSY or (202) 857-3388
This property, located in the West End of the city, offers two-room suites with separate living rooms and bedrooms. It's close to downtown, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom and Georgetown. An indoor swimming pool and health club are also offered. Families love the complimentary cooked-to-order breakfasts served daily for hotel guests. $$$

J.W. MARRIOTT HOTEL
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. (202) 393-2000

The J.W. Marriott is located in very close proximity to most of the Mall attractions. In addition, it is right next to the Shops at National Place which contains a variety of restaurant choices. The White House is also close-by. This hotel offers a pool and a health club, in addition to nice rooms and other amenities. $$$

HOLIDAY INN CAPITOL
550 C Street, SW (202) 479-4000

If you want something in a more moderate price range, but still want to be close to the major downtown attractions, this one is hard to beat. It's nothing fancy, but the location is super -- right close to the Air & Space Museum. There's a pool, and the hotel also is one of the few that allows pets. $$

WASHINGTON HILTON AND TOWERS
1919 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. (202) 483-3000

If you want to stay at a place that offers the opportunity for relaxation and sports, this might be a good choice for you. The Hilton is located three blocks from the Dupont Circle Metro Station in the Northwest section of Washington. It offers an large heated outdoor pool, tennis courts, a health club, a video game room, and a variety of other amenities. $$$

GUEST QUARTERS SUITE HOTEL - NEW HAMPSHIRE
801 New Hampshire Avenue, NW (202) 785-2000

This all-suites hotel is located about a half-block from the Foggy Bottom metro stop. It's close to the Kennedy Center and Georgetown, and a short subway ride away from downtown attractions. All suites have a kitchen, two color TVs, a separate bedroom, and a pull-out queen size sofa bed. A small rooftop pool is available, and the hotel also accepts pets. $$$

THE WATERGATE HOTEL
2650 Virginia Avenue, NW (202) 965-2300

If you'd love to stay near at the site of the infamous Watergate break-in, this hotel in the Watergate complex may be for you. It's pricey, but luxurious, and the views of the Potomac from some of the suites are outstanding. Located right next to the Kennedy Center, most of the suites have full kitchens. Both one and two-bedroom units are available, and a heated indoor pool and health club is also offered. $$$

SAVOY SUITES HOTEL
2505 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (202) 337-9700

If you'd like to be away from the downtown congestion, but close to Georgetown, the National Cathedral and the Zoo, this inexpensive all-suites property may be perfect for you. Located out Wisconsin Avenue in Upper Georgetown, this property offers a great value for families. Most suites have full kitchens (some even have in-room Jacuzzis), and a pool and on-site parking are also offered. $

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (202) 342-0444

If you and your family crave posh accommodations and exceptional service, the Four Seasons fits the bill. Located in Georgetown, the hotel offers 24-hour room service, excellent restaurants, a large fitness center, and special kids amenities. One mom reported "... the staff laid out a special child-size terry cloth robe for my son, and brought him complimentary milk and cookies each evening of our stay." Such service! $$$

CHANNEL INN
650 Water Street, SW (202) 554-2400

This small hotel is located right on the waterfront, near the Arena Stage, the Mall, and the Smithsonian Institution. Many rooms offer excellent views of East Potomac Park and the marinas located nearby. If you like seafood dining, you and your family will have lots of excellent choices, both in the hotel and nearby. Free parking is available. $$

HYATT REGENCY WASHINGTON - CAPITOL HILL
400 New Jersey Avenue, NW (202) 737-1234

This hotel is a favorite with families due to its location (one block from the Capitol and two blocks from Union Station), services and amenities. The huge 865-room property comes with a pool, game room, beauty salon, health club, and other amenities. Valet parking is also provided. $$$

LOEW'S L'ENFANT PLAZA HOTEL
480 L'Enfant Plaza, SW (202) 484-1000

This AAA Four Diamond property is located just a short walking distance from the Smithsonian Institution, the Air & Space Museum, the Washington Monument, and other Mall area attractions. In addition, a Metro subway stop is located right at the hotel. The property offers a rooftop pool, a health club, and an underground shopping area that includes a game room. $$$

OMNI SHOREHAM HOTEL

2500 Calvert Street NW (202) 234-0700

This large hotel caters to families with special family vacation packages, kids meals and discounts. The property is located in park-like surroundings 100 yards from the Woodley Park Metro Station and close to the National Zoo. The hotel offers Olympic and children's outdoor pools, a fitness center, jogging trails, and other amenities. $$$

THE WILLARD INTER-CONTINENTAL

1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (202) 965-2300

If you appreciate architectural beauty, classic old hotels, and a location within a minute or two walk from the White House, the Aquarium at the Department of Commerce, the Mall attractions, and the National Theater, this is an elegant and wondrous choice -- although beauty doesn't come cheap! This absolutely stunning property was almost demolished, only to be saved, beautifully renovated and re-opened in 1986. The rooms are well-decorated, and the restaurants are some of the best. Don't miss the crab cakes in the Willard Room (if you can afford to splurge)! Families used to the best will be very comfortable here. $$$

COURTYARD INN - ROSSLYN
1533 Clarendon Boulevard, Rosslyn, VA (703) 528-2222

This motor inn is located 2 blocks from the Rosslyn Metro stop, right across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.. As such, it is very convenient for those families willing to take a short subway ride in exchange for value in hotel room prices. The hotel features an indoor pool, whirlpool and exercise room. Weekend rates of $69 are a particularly good value for families. Prices drop further in early July. $

MARRIOTT TYSONS CORNER
8028 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA (703) 734-3200

This 390-room hotel is located about a block from the Tysons Corner Shopping Center which features 400 stores in two large complexes. The hotel has nice rooms, a heated indoor pool, exercise room, a restaurant, and allows pets. It's a short cab ride to the nearest metro stop. On the weekends, the hotel offers special rates which are an excellent value for families. $+.

Where to Eat

AMERICA
Union Station, Washington, D.C.
Tysons Corner Mall, Vienna, VA

This restaurant dazzles parents and kids alike with a huge menu featuring specialties from all over the United States. A kids menu is offered, with favorites like macaroni and cheese, pizza, hamburgers, and incredible mashed potatoes and gravy. For adults, you can choose from pastas, fish, turkey, meats, salads and appetizers from all over. The roasted turkey, nachos, and mahi-mahi are particularly excellent.

CHUCK E. CHEESE
Silver Spring, MD; Gaithersburg; and Chantilly and Fairfax in Virginia

Chuck E. Cheese is more than a restaurant -- it's like a kids amusement park with food thrown in. Kids can play arcade games and watch shows with singing and dancing while they're waiting for their food (or eating!). Pizzas and a salad bar are offered, but no one comes for the food. It's a favorite with local area parents of pre-schoolers and young school-aged children. Unfortunately, none of these locations are particularly close to downtown. Silver Spring would be closest. The Chantilly location is out by Dulles Airport.

CLYDE'S
Washington, D.C., Vienna VA, and Reston, VA

If you're looking for great, all-American food, Clyde's is an excellent choice. The restaurant's operations started with the Georgetown location, and then branched out to the suburbs. You'll have a wide choice of food, and a kids menu is offered at the suburban locations. The crayons and coloring books also help to keep kids busy. One Mom advised, "...the chocolate milkshakes are huge! Think about splitting one between two kids." The Georgetown Clyde's location is currently under renovation and will re-open in late April, 1996.

DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
Washington, D.C

Combine breakfast or lunch with your visit to the Capitol area. At the Senate Office Building, you'll have four different choices of places to eat. The Senate Buffet offers a great all-you-can-eat buffet with special prices for children. It's only open at lunch, though. The Senate Building Cafeteria and the Coffee Shop are both open for breakfast and lunch, and the Fast Food Service is open from breakfast through 7 p.m. Do note: the Coffee Shop isn't open to the public from noon to 1:30 p.m. Their busy waiting on all the people who work up here. If you and your kids have always wanted to mingle with the people of Capitol Hill, here's a great place to do it.

FLIGHT LINE, THE AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
Washington, D.C.

The Air & Space Museum is the most popular museum in the world. Given that there's so much to see, sometimes it's hard to leave around lunch time. Thank goodness there's a great cafeteria at which to eat right in the museum. You can get the usual burgers and pizza, as well as sandwiches, salads and other entrees. This is an incredibly popular museum, however, so prices are not particularly reasonable and lines can be long. The cafeteria is open from 10-5.

GENEROUS GEORGE'S PIZZA AND PASTA PLACE
Alexandria and Springfield, VA

Locals love this place, which serves excellent pizza and pasta in a fun family atmosphere. You can choose from a mind-boggling array of pizza toppings as well as a large variety of pastas. Sandwiches and salads are served as well. Kids love climbing on all the carousel animals and generally carrousing about. Don't worry - there are lots of families here so no one will mind. Neither of these locations is close to D.C., but if you're staying out in the suburbs, you may want to visit one for dinner.

HAMBURGER HAMLET
Washington, D.C., Georgetown, DC, Bethesda MD, Gaithersburg, MD and Crystal City, VA

Locals love this place for big juicy burgers in a wide variety of styles. You can also order salads, soups, a selected number of non-burger entrees, and great desserts. The milkshakes are great here, too! Don't miss the hash brown potatoes. One Mom says "... they're awesome!" These restaurants are very popular, so do plan to come early to avoid the lines.

HARD ROCK CAFE
Washington, D.C.

If you have teens or preteens -- or if you just want good food served in a fun atmosphere -- head over to the Hard Rock Cafe. You'll find lots of loud rock n roll music, a large menu, and all sorts of memorabilia. Of course, you can't leave without the obligatory t-shirt that says you've "been there, done that". A word of warning: if you've promised your kids you'll eat here for lunch or dinner -- come early. Otherwise, you'll be standing in line for awhile. The line has been known to snake out the door and around the block.

HOULIHAN'S
Two locations in Washington, D.C.

When you're touring through Georgetown and find you're starving, stop in at Houlihan's near the Georgetown Park shopping center. The restaurant features a huge menu with lots of items that both adults and kids will love. In addition to large salads and burgers, you'll find a variety of entrees and great desserts. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. On weekends, try to come in early to avoid the wait.

MICK'S
Washington, D.C., Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Mall, VA

Mick's is a family-friendly place! Kids have their own special menu and get welcome packages with crayons and crackers. The food is your typical American fare: burgers, salads, pastas and fish along with fabulous desserts. It's hard not to go away stuffed. The two Washington locations are just a short cab ride from most attractions and many of the major hotels.

PLANET HOLLYWOOD
Washington, D.C.

This is another very popular hang-out for families with teens and pre-teens. In fact, it's more like an attraction in and of itself! You'll find lots of rock-n-roll music and movie clips going on continuously. It's sure to keep everyone entertained, however, while waiting for your food. The atmosphere is the entertainment, but the food is good as well. A word of warning: this is another one of those places that's really popular. If you're planning to come here for lunch or dinner, come early or you'll be standing in a very long line.

ROCCO'S
McLean and Springfield, VA

Locals love Rocco's for their casual atmosphere and great pizzas and pastas. Portions are large, and there are also a number of all-you-can-eat specials. Try Mrs. J's lasagna, chicken cacciatore, or the baked ziti with meat sauce. A kids menu of pastas and pizzas is also offered. This is a great choice for those staying in (or driving through) the Tysons Corner/McLean area.

SHOLL'S CAFETERIA
Washington, D.C

If you're looking for good homemade, reasonably-priced food in Washington D.C. (it IS possible!), check out Sholl's Cafeteria at 1990 K Street, NW. Everything you see is made right there, and the food is excellent. You can help yourself to a wide variety of entrees, salads, vegetables, rolls (try the biscuits!), and super desserts. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is easy on the wallet. This place has been around for a long time, and is a local favorite.

TAKEOUT TAXI
Washington, D.C. and numerous suburban areas

One mom with young children said, "... make sure to mention Takeout Taxi as an option for visitors with small children. For me, it's been a life-saver. There have been a number of times when we planned on going out to dinner or doing something fun -- and just then my youngest would dissolve or fall asleep. Nothing's more depressing, and I'm sure this happens on vacations here, too. Rather than calling room service or going out with an over-tired and cranky child, they can call Takeout Taxi and order food from some of the best restaurants in town ... maybe even the one they planned to go to in the first place!"

TGI FRIDAY'S
Washington, D.C. and numerous suburban locations

This nationwide chain is particularly family-friendly, with a special kids menu complete with activities and crayons, a relaxed atmosphere, and a huge adult's menu. You can choose from a mind-boggling array of appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, meat and fish entrees, pizza and pastas. Portions tend to be large, and the kids menu prices are very reasonable. The Cobb Salad, Gardenburgers, Baby Back Ribs and Fajitas are particularly excellent! When you're sightseeing on the mall or visiting the Aquarium at the Commerce Department, you might want to consider the nearby location for lunch.

THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY
Washington, D.C.

This restaurant has over 200 items on its menu and serves absolutely huge portions. You can choose from fish or steak, and the kids can get their burgers and pasta -- but whatever you do -- save room for dessert! This place serves over 30 different types of cheesecake as well as cakes and other sweets. The portions are mega-huge on the desserts, too. This is an incredibly popular restaurant, and no reservations are accepted. To avoid the long lines, get here very early. Even lunch can be crowded, but with this kind of food -- no wonder! If you're located downtown near the attractions, you'll need to take the metro or a cab to get here.

THE OLD POST OFFICE PAVILLION
Washington, D.C.

If you're in the Mall area between the White House and the Capitol, this is a great place to stop in to shop and/or eat. There are a wide variety of restaurant choices here sure to please every member of the family. In addition, you'll find shops as well as entertainment on many days of the week. If you don't want to eat in one of the more expensive museum restaurants, you'll find good, reasonably-priced food here.

Money $aving Tips

** Washington-area hotels offer a number of specials during the summer months, particularly on weekends. If you have a specific hotel you are interested in, call the hotel directly and ask about specials and packages. Often, the hotel may be running a promotion of which the national reservation service may not be aware.

** Call one of the hotel consolidators and see if they can offer you a great rate on the Washington hotel of your choice. Typical discounts range from 15% to 65% off the standard rack rate. Consolidators handling Washington, D.C. bookings include:

Capitol Reservations: Handles properties in Washington, D.C. and the suburbs. Telephone Number: (800) 847-4832 Web site: Capitol Reservations Discount Hotel Rates in the Nations Capitol.

Washington D.C. Accommodations: Handles hotels in Washington, D.C. and the suburbs Telephone Number: (800) 554-2220

Hotel Reservations Network: Handles hotels in Washington, D.C. Telephone Number: (800) 964-6835 Web site: Washington DC Area Hotels

Quikbook: Handles hotels in Washington, D.C. Telephone number: (800) 789-9887 Web site: Quikbook Washington D.C. Hotels

** Avoid the restaurants and cafeterias in the Mall museums if at all possible, as they tend to be overcrowded and overpriced. Instead, head to the Old Post Office food court or to one of the many restaurants just off the mall (see the "Where to Eat" section). You'll save a great deal of money on food by following this tip.

** Consider purchasing the Entertainment book for the Washington, D.C. area. It is packed with 2-for-1 coupons on dining. Entertainment books are available from Entertainment Publications (800-374-4464) or at many local stores such as Safeway and CVS.

** When at all possible, take Metrobus or Metrorail to your desired destination. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority -- METRO Parking in downtown Washington is very expensive, and you will save a great deal of money by using public transportation.



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