By Lisa Vivirito
What greater way to see where history is made and remembered than to take a trip to our nation's capital. A vacation in Washington D.C. can be both rewarding and enjoyable whether you spend a week or just a few nights.
We have family in the northern part of Virginia, so many of our visits include a trip into D.C. to a monument, museum, or one of the many events happening in the Washington area.
Hotels are plentiful in Washington, but just like any big city, they can be very pricey, so book according to your budget.
The same holds true for dining. Washington offers everything from fast food to gourmet cuisine. Seafood lovers might enjoy one of our favorites: Phillip's Flagship Seafood Restaurant. Located at 900 Water St. S.W., it offers a buffet for about $28 per person. A fun part of the meal is being served king crab legs, crawfish, or mussels served from giant kettles. During fair weather months, sit out on their large outdoor deck overlooking a marina.
Many flights are available from Orlando and West Palm Beach airports into Dulles or Reagan National. Flying into either of these airports is convenient. I don't recommend renting a car, because Washington has a great public transportation system of buses and subways called the Metrobus and Metrorail.
We usually just use the Metrorail. The Metro is very easy to use, though it might seem a little confusing at first. The system map is displayed in every station and on every train. Fares vary according to travel distance. Check out www.wmata.com for information.
Three years ago, we were there for a couple of days after Christmas, so naturally we saw the National Christmas Tree. What was most interesting, though, was seeing each tree set up near it representing each of the 50 states. My husband really enjoyed the large-scale train display, which was set up around the National Tree.
Be sure to visit the monuments in the evening, as well. There are no words to describe the view sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at night. With Abraham Lincoln lit up behind, and the Washington Monument across the Mall, it is hard not to feel proud of our history.
Those who have visited the nation's capital will find that a post-Sept. 11 D.C. is different due to heightened security. For instance, walk up tours of the White House are no longer available. Now, tours in groups of 10 are only obtainable by writing to your congressman months in advance.
Check with the White House visitor's information office at (202) 456-7041.
The Capitol Building on has since been reopened for guided tours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Visitors will need to pick up free tickets though at the Capitol Guide kiosk starting at 9 a.m. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and each tour consists of 40 people.
One of the many highlights of a trip to Washington, D.C., is visiting some of the 18 museums of the Smithsonian Institution. Try a flight simulator or see the Lunar Module at the Air and Space Museum, or see an actual 40-foot stretch of the famous Route 66 at the Museum of American History. The Museum of Natural History has an IMAX Theatre, which is currently running a 3-D T-Rex movie (there is a charge at IMAX).
One of our favorite stops is the National Zoo. A couple of years ago, we stood in awe as we watched proud parents care for their newborn gorilla.
While in Washington, don't forget to visit the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Embassy Row, Union Station . the list is endless. So go to Washington, D.C. for vacation, and explore the heart of our nation.
Lisa Vivirito is owner of Diamond Travel in Vero Beach. Call (772) 567-8481 or (800) 795-1986. www.diamondtravelofveocom.