(Closed) Planning East Coast Trip (NYC, D.C. and VA!) HELP!?

posted 4 years ago in Travel
Post # 3
3887 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Amtrak between NYC and DC is annoying but at least it is a short ride. Amtrak don’t do assigned seating and Penn Station in NYC is pretty awful in general. Pay attention to the track listings which get posted about 10-12 minutes before you depart, to find your track quickly; trains are fairly full most times and if you’re last to board you might not be able to sit together. Or skip the seat and go camp out at a table in the cafe car which is what we usually do. You can have a table and power plugs.

Hotel recommendations in DC are really going to depend on your budget, as we are not known for cheap hotels in this town. In the more affordable selections I’d go for the Days Inn , in the 4400 block of Connecticut Ave NW (or thereabouts); clean hotel but not a lot of frills; good safe neighborhood, although quite quiet at night; about 2 blocks to the Red Line subway.  In a slightly higher price range I’d look at Governor’s House on 17th and Rhode Island NW or Topaz Hotel on 17th and N, both are more boutiquey, close to the subway red line, in a fantastic neighborhood (DuPont Circle) which is safe but also has tons of restaurants, shops and nightlife. Upscale I’d do the W on 15th and Penn, or the Mayflower on Connecticut and N. 

For a visitor I would *not* recommend staying in the suburbs. You can get some cheaper rates but you spend more time commuting in and out of the city and it’s just not worth $20-30 a day to spend 2 hours round trip on the subway (which is what it can take in the evenings if you have to change trains, just to get to Alexandria).

Subway: http://www.wmata.com/fares/smartrip/ get your SmartTrip card in advance as there is a $1 additional fee per trip to use a paper fare card on the subway. You can get the smarttrip card in most stations too but it’s just easier to buy it online.  Subway will take you almost everywhere in the city worth seeing as a tourist.  Our public transportation kinda sucks if you live here but it’s great as a tourist because most of the attractions are right on the subway line, whereas most people’s homes or offices are not.

Charlottesville/Williamsburg: skip the hotel and do a B&B, there are tons of them in the area and you can have a really unique experience without breaking the bank.  Our favorite place in that area is actually about 20-30 minutes outside of Charlottesville http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g58206-d734977-Reviews-Greene_Mountain_Inn-Stanardsville_Virginia.html  (they have their own website which doesnt seem to be working currently)

In DC: 

-Have dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. We have the largest Ethiopian community outside of Ethiopia, and the food is delicious, very unusual without being too weird, and generally pretty cheap. My favorites are Meskerem on 18th and Belmont, Zed’s in Georgetown, or Dukkem on 10th and U NW

-Go to Union Station and take a Duck Tour, which is on a WWII amphibious vehicle. The tour goes through parts of the city before it goes into the Potomac river for a mini-cruise. Buy tickets in advance as they are always full

-Live music at the 9:30 Club (http://930.com) or Black Cat (http://blackcatdc.com)

-if it’s baseball season, go catch a Nationals game!

-You may want to take a detour on the way out of town, after Mt Vernon, and go to the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is an extension of the Air and Space Museum, out by Dulles Airport and pretty impossible to get to without a car. The Space Shuttle Discovery is there! 

Post # 4
7200 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

fishbone Just wanted to say that was a really great overview.  And that I 2nd going to Dukem for Ethiopian food!

Post # 5
3199 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@Paiger8:  public transit in DC is legit and super easy to use. You’ll need a pass but you can buy it at the station, at a kiosk. Go to the national zoo. The list you have here is going to keep you busy though so you wont be able to fit much else in – national archives maybe. While you’re at the library of congress do lunch at Good Stuff Eatery, burger place owned by Spike Mendelsohnn. PM me if you have more DC questions! I’ve lives here for 3 years. It’s an awesome city. 

Post # 8
3042 posts
Sugar bee

@Paiger8:  skip the carriage in NYC. Those poor horses… 

you can totally walk from Central Park, down 5th ave to the Empire State Building. Depending on how far into the park you go- it starts in the 50s only a few blocks from all those stores and goes up 50 blocks or so. Empire State is on 34th. Bring comfy shoes and you can do it! I’d also suggest making your way down to soho- those shops are my favorite!

last time we were there we walked from 32nd & 3rd all the way to soho, took the subway up into the 70s in the park & them walked back to 32nd. It was a lot but awesome!

also my so loooves donuts. We went to an awesome place called donut plant in Chelsea. If you’re looking for a treat, you can hit that before going to Penn station to grab the train!

Post # 11
1608 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

what are yall looking to do in NYC? I’ve lived here for the better part of a decade and FI and I are big foodies/cocktail folks in the city if you need some recommendations!

Post # 12
1876 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Some NYC tips

Dont do the carriag. Rides – they are AWFUL. On many levels. Instead, I would take the c train from Times Sq to 81st. It will drop you off at the American Museum of Natural History (aka Night at the Museum lol. it is a suggested donation museum, so you could give $5 if you want. Then stroll on through the park, check out the castle, fountain, boathouse, etc. if you cut across the park you can pop out on 5th ave and walk down. Not a bad walk. Keep in mind, 20 streets = 1 mile. So, 59th to 35th is about a mile and aquarter. 

I would def plan a “downtown” day. I would start off w brunch/lunch at one of these places in Soho: Kittichai, Boom, or Peep. Then walk around on West Broadway, Prince St, Broadway and check out the shops. You can walk down Broadway to downtown, or take the train easily enough.Then go to the 9/11 memorial. After that you can go to Battery Park and wave to Lady Liberty. 


This is packing in a ton of touristy stuff, so don’t feel bad about maybe ditching some of the cultural things and instead just going to a fun bar and relaxing! Some spots I’d recommend:


Boom (Italian, soho)

Kittichai (Thai, great brunch deal on weekends, soho)

Spice (Thai, lots of locations)

Becco (Italian, times sq)

230 5th (great place to get a drink w a beautiful view)

Boat Basin (waterfront laidback restaurant, Upper West Side)

Beekman Beer Garden (downtown, waterfront baVenice views)



Post # 13
2651 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@fishbone:  Ohhhh man you just made me so wistful. I lived in Silver Spring for three years and loved the area. Meskerem was one of my favorite go-to restaurants.

@Paiger8:  Wow lady! Y’all are some go go go people, lol. That sounds like a great trip already.

Post # 14
3887 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

That Days Inn is uptown, the DuPont area (Givenors House which I forgot is now called Beacon House, and Topaz) are midtown-ish, and the W and the mayflower are downtown proper. All are very convenient to public transport/ subway. Don’t stay on or near New York Avenue. There are quite a few budget hotels on that street but it’s not a nice neighborhood.


In the $250-300/night range I’d do Beacon House or Topaz. They are usually more like $225 ish. The DuPont neighborhood is really vibrant and just so great. It’s an easy hop to the museums and the National Mall from DuPont Metro, and you can Metro to Uniom Station, it’s on the same line as DuPont Circle stop. Topaz has a fantastic cocktail lounge and Beacon House has a nice rooftop bar. Topaz is closer to the subway.

Buy your smart trip vCard in advance online. It is a $5 fee for the card, and you can start with $5 or $25 in preloaded fares. Top up online or in the station. They charge a few fee of $1 per fare per trip if you get a paper farefare which you have to do without a smart tip card. if you register the card for online top-up you get a bonus $3 in fares.




Post # 15
2335 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

@Paiger8:  You’ve got a nice itinerary for DC so far.  I second PP recommendation about staying in a hotel in DC, not the suburbs, since this is your first time there.  I’ve also got to recommend a Nationals game- its on the Navy Yard metro stop and is my favorite ballpark. 




Your other stops sound fantastic and are some of my favorite places.  I go to Mt. Vernon at least 1x a year.  Make sure to check out the distillery (which is not part of the house tour) and leave time for the gift shop (I buy way too much everytime, lol).  The food at the restauarant there is decent, and the peanut soup is their ‘specialty.’  Old Town Alexandria is nearby and has tons of good restaurants, but I would skip it since you’re on a time crunch and don’t want to get too lost.




It will take you longer than 2 hours to drive from Mt. Vernon to Monticello.  Its 2.5 hours on Google maps with no traffic, and there is always traffic around Stafford/Fredericksburg area on I-95.  Once you get off of 95 and start heading west, there are lots of scenic pullovers, too, so you might want to take your time getting there.  If you did Mt. Vernon in the morning and finished by noon, you should be able to get to Monticello by 3:00.  The last tour starts at 5:15, so you should be able to get it all in.  I ADORE the gardens at Monticello, definitely check that out if you are interested in that kind of thing.  The views from the house are breathtaking.




After Monticello, I would stay in downtown Charlottesville.  There are lots of cute shops and local restaurants near the hotels.  For dessert, check out The Flat; its a little sidewalk shop with delicious crepes.  Get a crepe, walk around the UVA campus (which was designed by Jefferson), and enjoy the evening.




In the morning, leave for Williamsburg- leave 2.5 hours for the trip, in case of traffic.  I always recommend doing the RevQuest tour at Colonial Williamsburg, which is for kids but is actually a fun, interactive way for adults to explore the site.  For food, you have to go to Pierce’s Pitt BBQ!  My God, I wish I could eat there right now.  I don’t have any hotel recommendations, but I will tell you to avoid the Great Wolf Lodge, as it is child-ridden and super cheesy.  If you have more time, go further down the penninsula to see Jamestown and Yorktown at Colonial National Park- the glassblowing exhibit is my favorite.  Also nearby is the Mariners Museum in Newport News, which has the original hull of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.



I hope I helped answer some questions.  Have fun planning your trip and welcome to Virginia! 🙂




Post # 16
2335 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

Also- the DC metro is clean and fairly easy to understand for visitors.  Don’t worry about missing a train, as they come every 10 minutes or so.  Since you’re staying around the Mall, I think a farecard should be fine.  Smartrip cards are good if you travel a lot on the Metro and mandatory for parking lots, but it sounds like you’ll be walking most of the time and taking the metro to/from your hotel.  You can buy a farecard at any metro location with a credit/debit card.

The topic ‘Planning East Coast Trip (NYC, D.C. and VA!) HELP!?’ is closed to new replies.

Get our weekly roundup of the best of Weddingbee.
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.

Find Amazing Vendors