Washington DC Group Trip with Bursch Travel
submitted by - Lee General Manager Bursch Travel
OUR GUIDE: The guide that was recommended to me was awesome! If you ever need a guide in DC, call me for his name. We did his ghost tour of Dupont Circle and Embassy Row as an optional tour, and virtually everyone took it. It was so fun and uniqueâ€¦plus we got up close to the embassies and had a chance to ride the metro as a group when it wasn't busy.
HOTEL: We stayed at the Sofitel on 15th and H street, 2 blocks from the front of the White House. It is a wonderful hotel with the best beds I've ever slept in. The rooms were quite large and very soundproof. We had a short 5 block walk to the Smithsonian museums and the neighborhood was great for dining too. I booked the rooms through Travel Bound and got a great rate. The hotel staff was so friendly and they care about the little things. I saw the bellman hugging people from my group as they left the hotel yesterday!
NEW MUSEUMS TO VISIT: All of the museums associated with the Smithsonian are free of charge and of course wonderful to visit. Everyone's favorite was the American History Museum which holds things like Dorothy's ruby shoes from the Wizard of Oz, Edith and Archie's chairs from All in The Family, the Fonz's lather jacket, a beautiful new display of the Star and Stripes Forever flag, Abe Lincolns hat, and newly added, Julia Childs kitchen from her house as it was in 1961!
DC has some newer museums that you need to pay admission for, but they were worth every penny. We went to the Spy Museum and it is pretty cool, especially for those who really get into spies and the CIA. It does have some neat hands- on things for kids too. They even have an area that you can climb into the "duct-workâ€ and look down at the others in the museum. Of course I had to crawl up there with the kids and Bruce Miles mom who is 83 years old!
Ford's Museum has been renovated and is so much nicer than it used to be. We also saw a 30 minute one act play right in the theatre called One Destiny about the night that Abe Lincoln was assassinated.
Next, and most impressive, was the Newseum. The whole museum is dedicated to the media and all of the news that has meant something to the world. They have a new Elvis display that is great. Elvis happened to be in the Army with my dad in Texas, and they had several things from the base to look at, so I really enjoyed that. They have a special area dedicated to Sep 11th, and they show a film that is narrated by journalists that were there that day. We were all crying by the end of that clip. They have a huge portion of the Berlin Wall and the actual cabin that the Unibomber lived in plus so much more. I can't wait to spend more time there someday. The food in their cafe is great, so tell your customers to get there when it opens and plan on having lunch! They have a neat 4-D movie to watch when you arrive and then you should ride up to the 6th floor, go out and view the city from their observation deck and see the best view of the Capitol before working your way down through the museum. I'd say to allow a minimum of 3 hours, but you could spend more time for sure.
OTHER FUN THINGS WE DID: We went to a 20 minute pipe organ demo at the National Cathedral that only happens twice a week, so we were lucky to fit that in. After the demo we took a tour of the church. I was surprised to learn that Helen Keller was buried there. It is a beautiful church with some of the most amazing stained glass windows I've ever seen! One of the windows is dedicated to science and engineering and has a piece of the moon rock from Apollo 13 in it!
I like to have one surprise stop for every group I take, and this time I took everyone to the National Zoo and had a picnic right next to the panda bears. They didn't know we were even going to the zoo, so everyone was so pleased and grateful to get the extra stop. We woke to blue skies that day and it was a picture perfect moment having a picnic overlooking the pandas!
We went to see a hysterical show called Capitol Steps. Fred had been to this show years ago and recommended it, and everyone loved it. It is a show of skits and songs re-written to poke fun at politics and other things that are current in the news. For example, they were picking on Toyota and re-wrote the words to the Beach Boys Song, "Help me Rhondaâ€ to say "Help Me Hondaâ€. If people can laugh a bit at themselves and our government, they need to see this show!
We ate dinner at an iconic place called Bens Chili Bowl that has grown in popularity since President Obama stopped by to eat one day last fall. It is located in a historic African American neighborhood and has been in business 51 years surviving riots, fires, construction of the metro that prohibited people from using U street etc. This is Bill Cosby's favorite place to eat and I ordered the half-smoke sausage with chili, which is Bills favorite! They have a separate area for groups and they show a film with President Obama, Bill Cosby and all of the clips where they've been mentioned on the Today Show, Larry King and other popular shows. We took our group picture at Ben's and I'll send that out when I get a copy. It was a great experience for a group.
We had our last stop at Mt Vernon. They finished a new education/visitors area since I was there in 2006, and it is a dramatic improvement. We took a private walking tour of the grounds and walked through the vegetable and flower gardens plus the 3 Vietnam Vets in my group got to lay a wreath at George Washington's grave. Very cool!