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Dear PoPville – Advice on Memorable Places to Take my Ailing Father on his Trip to DC

by Prince Of Petworth January 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm 71 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user J Sonder

“Dear PoPville,

My father was diagnosed with terminal cancer right before Thanksgiving with a timeline of six months to live. The doctors encouraged him to undergo aggressive radiation and chemotherapy, but he turned down treatment due to cost and quality of life concerns. While he is doing what he can to take care of himself, his time is likely short.

I moved to the district in 2013 and he has never been to town to visit me. After he was diagnosed, my mother and I booked train tickets and a hotel room in early February for both of my parents to come and spend about a week with me in the city during my father’s birthday week. It will be his first (and likely last) trip to the nation’s capital.

I’d really appreciate any and all advice on places to take him (including restaurants), outside of the usual “museums and monuments” route. I will of course bring him to a number of those tourist locations, but I would like to have a few local favorites to share with him. Being new to the city, my list of local must-dos is rather short.

They’ll be staying in Foggy Bottom with access to the metro and they will not have access to a car during their time in the city. Preferable recommendations would be metro/taxi accessible.

Thank you for your thoughts and recommendations!”

I’m going to vote for stopping by the Round Robin & Scotch Bar at the Willard hotel. I’ll also vote for checking out the Heurich House Museum in Dupont. For restaurants I’ll suggest the great Italian restaurant Obelisk also in Dupont at 2029 P St, NW. Where would guys recommend?

  • Anonymous

    If you know ANYONE who works in the White House (or has a friend who works in the WH), get in touch with them immediately. The “employee” tour of the WH is way better than the one they give to the general public. It’s one of the fringe benefits of working the long hours for shitty pay.

    • Anonymous

      I was just going to comment to say the same thing. Does anyone who reads popville know someone who can give the reader and his/her parents the West Wing tour during the visit?

      • dcdude

        I can help. OP, let me know if that sounds like something you or your father would be interested in.

    • stcohi

      I’d also suggest contacting your parents’ member of Congress. An aide can likely give you a behind-the-scenes tour of the Capitol Building.

      • Anonymous

        And a Member can give you a Dome tour, or get you into the WH. Considering your circumstances, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for the works from your MoC.

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t work starting on the dome soon? Would they still be giving tours?

          • Anonymous

            The work starts sometime this month and all dome tours are suspended for the next two years.

  • Anonymous

    I am so sad to hear about your father. If you tell someone of your circumstances, I’d hope you could get access anywhere.

    • Anonymous

      I feel like if they marketed this story right, it could go viral, and a lot of individuals and businesses would step forward to give the family all kinds of perks and unique experiences. Understanding, of course, that this approach may not be their cup of tea especially if the father is a private person.

      • anon

        This post bothered me. We’re all going to die, and “marketing it right” to see what kind of benefits you can get out of it is really sad. It’s a family’s attempt to spend some quality time together, not an MTV reality show. Best of luck to the family.

        • Anonymous

          And your post bothers me. Don’t underestimate the kindness of strangers.

  • Anonymous

    Also, if dad is a veteran of a war, be sure to take him to the appropriate war memorial that he served in. It’s quite moving, though sober considering the situation your father is in.
    If dad is going to have mobility issues, be sure to have a wheelchair ready for him. There’s a lot of walking to be done and parking is tight around the Mall.
    My favorite art museum is the National Gallery – take him there if he has any interest in art and enjoy the sculpture garden.

    • bizzinger

      Many of the Smithsonian museums also let you check a wheelchair out from the front desk. You leave your license with them and pick it up when you bring back the chair. It was very helpful when my mom visited.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry to hear about your father. But nowhere in your question do you address whether you’ve asked him what types of things he wants to see or what sorts of experiences he wants to have before he goes. Perhaps you can get the answers to these questions and then post an update comment so we can be more assistive…

  • kken

    Kind of cheesy but get a researcher/library card at the Library of Congress and go in and spend a few hours in the actual Library. The card is free and only takes like 15 min to get. There are some great collections in there.

    Sorry to hear about your father, cancer sucks.

  • AMDCer

    First of all, my sympathies to your father, you, and your family. This kind of news is hard to bear, but it sounds like he is approaching it with grace. Depending on his personal interests/life experience, these suggestions may or may not be helpful, but here goes:

    Washington National Cathedral
    National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
    Phillips Collection
    Lincoln’s Cottage
    Woodrow Wilson House
    Tabard Inn
    Old Ebbitt Grill
    Ford’s Theater

    • Anonymous

      The Cathedral Crossroads is a good program if he’s at all spiritual. The Cathedral stays open late on the last Tuesday of the month with music, walking the labyrinth, and talks on interesting topics.

      • T

        Although winter is not the best time to experience it, my mom really enjoyed the Franciscan Monastery and grounds in NE. And although it’s a bit cheesy, a Potomac cruise is a good way to see some sights while seated in a warm place.

        Best wishes to you and your family.

  • I’m so sorry for your family but happy you all get to have a memorable trip together. Knowing how tired and sick my mother was with cancer, he is not likely to have a ton of energy. Maybe some opportunities to have lovely views would be nice. Doing the hop on/hop off bus would give you a chance to go around to all the hot spots and get off where he is interested and enjoy the ride where he is not.

    Also, although the food isn’t great, dinner one night on the roof of the Kennedy Center is such a lovely experience and the views are phenomenal. It would be a nice quiet place to gather (vs. POV at the W) and get great views of so much of the city, and go at your own pace. There is a shuttle to the Kennedy Center from the Foggy Bottom metro too.

    • AMDCer

      Good suggestion, and the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage has free performances every day of the year at 6:00pm. You can check out the schedule on their website and see if there is something that your dad would particularly enjoy.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, I highly recommend the Kennedy Center for both a performance and the views. The restaurant’s food isn’t so great though.

        • Anonymous

          If you’re willing to spend the money, dinner at Marcel’s followed by car service to a show at the Kennedy Center is a lovely, memorable evening.

      • Anonymous

        I am so sorry to hear about your father. I would suggesting giving him a tour of all the beautiful views and beautiful buildings in DC. For example:
        -Kennedy Center and view from the roof
        -View of DC from Rosslyn/the Key Bridge
        -Mall/Monuments at night. Sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at night is breathtaking.
        -Take a short walk down Swann Street in Dupont/Logan Circle or a walk through the residential part of Georgetown

  • PCAT

    The Newseum is quite wonderful — although time consuming. Your father may want to see the articles in the papers and the news clips for the key things that have happened over his lifetime.

  • Anonymous

    The memorials at night are always great and I personally enjoy them more at that time than during the day. Granted it’ll most likely be cold out, but I’d think that would be a memorable experience.

    I’m not sure what your dad enjoys, but my dad really enjoys jazz/blues so I took him out to see some live music last time he was here. If you’re dad is into that, you could try Blues Alley in Georgetown since that’s not too far from where they’re staying.

    Sorry to hear about your father and hopefully he greatly exceeds the doctors’ expectations.

  • Anonymous

    I highly recommend taking them up the elevator to the tower on top of the Old Post Office Pavilion at 12th and Pennsylvania. It’s free, it’s low-stress, it’s not physically demanding, and the view over the mall/monuments/river/city is incredible.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I was going to suggest this.
      Another place for great views (especially at sunset/dusk) is the SkyDome at the Doubletree in Crystal City.

  • Blithe

    My sympathy goes out to you, your family, and your Dad. My circumstances were different — because my Mom was born in DC and wanted to re-visit places that were personally meaningful to her. One of the best trips we did, though, was to the Arboretum — which was beautiful and peaceful, and included a stop for barbecue. A friend contacted a limo company that does night tours of Washington — and will do tailor a tour to your tastes. This was nice because it was very comfortable, very beautiful, and my Mom could sit in the car and look out the window when she felt tired. One of her last trips was to the MLK, Jr memorial — which meant a lot to her on multiple levels. I’d start by asking your Dad, though, because his “perfect trip” should focus on his priorities — which might be hanging out with you and helping with repairs and playing checkers.

    • Anonymous

      +1 The arboretum is great to get away and spend some time together in a peaceful, relaxing place. If the weather isn’t too cold, I’m also a huge fan of Roosevelt Island. There are great views of the Potomac and it’s a nice quiet spot where you can always go to remember your time together.

    • The arboretum is beautiful – but be aware that it is closed Tuesday, Wed & Thurs. in winter.

  • Anonymous

    If you have a vehicle and the weather’s nice, Mount Vernon would be a good choice (and provide a subtle reassurance that the spirit of a person lingers long after their passing). I really like Hillwood, too, but it may be too frilly for some dads.

    • ET


      I think this could be a good and not overly stressful thing just get tickets early or you have to wait.

  • KB

    This might earn some flak, but Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC institution – maybe stop by for lunch one day when it’s less crowded. Even if your dad isn’t up for eating, there’s interesting memoriabilia there. I’d also suggest a Supreme Court tour or sitting in on oral arguments. Watching the skaters at the Sculpture Garden. Visiting the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives. If your family has a distinct heritage, you could also arrange for an embassy visit. If they get tired or you need some down time, you can always see a movie at E Street Cinema or AFI Silver up in Silver Spring – both distinctive places. And I second the suggestion of Old Ebbitt Grill – classic DC restaurant.

  • Not the greatest tour guide but…

    I’m sorry to hear this, but it’s what I’d want to do too. I’ve visited some old family friends recently who are in the same position. I could help out with the WW tour. Dan, would you give them my email? If I’m in town when you are planning to have him here i can do my best to arrange it (just know the hours are limited).

  • ShawGuy

    For someone who has never been to DC before, the POV Lounge, a rooftop bar at the W Hotel next to the White House on 15th Street, is a must. Excellent view of the city and the monuments, and a view right into to the White House across the street. Reservations are easy if you call at least a week ahead.

  • Anonymous

    National Gallery of Art. Just to see the building, sit quietly in the fountain rooms. I know you wanted off the beaten path, but the West Gallery is so spectacular I thought it worth mentioning.

  • Sebrof

    The suggestions re: POV are great, but if at all possible, the Top of the Hay Adams also provides a stunning view of the White House grounds and beyond. Again, I’m sure if you contacted someone with the hotel and explained the situation they would be more than accommodating.

  • I’d recommend Great Falls – if your father is the nature lover type. I think its the power, isolation, and the simple wild loudness of the place might somehow be good for some in your situation.

    It really is beautiful. If you have to use a wheel chair Virginia side would be easier and just as nice. If walking is possible, do the Maryland side viewing the falls from Olmsted Island.

    You do a good thing worrying for your Dad.

  • Anonymous

    As someone who didn’t get enough time to have this sort of trip with my dad, I would suggest thinking about things you’ve always done with him (whether it’s touristy stuff, watching a ballgame (not really a great season for it…), grabbing a beer, or whatever), and find unique places in DC to do some of them.
    I’ll always wish that I’d been able to watch one more Giants game with my old man, spend one more night at the Dubliner (which he loved), take him to a Nats game, etc.

  • KenyonDweller

    You don’t mention how mobile your dad is and whether he will be bringing a wheelchair. If he doesn’t have one, and if he has difficulty walking, wheelchairs are fairly reasonable to rent, and it will greatly increase your options and the ground that you can cover.
    I am a big fan of Heurich House, but my recollection is that it has a lot of stairs and may not be appropriate for someone with physical limitations.

  • aktodc

    You can also ask your parents Member of Congress to help you get a tour of the Library of Congress or even better, a tour of the music collection at the Library.

  • Anonymous

    God bless ya. I understand this journey all to well.

    DC is so amazing, you really have to narrow it down to what your father’s interests are (and his health for walking etc) to pick some of the best attractions. DC is NOT at its best in February lol. You may get to see the mall under snow, but that in itself is beautiful. My must see list reflects my interest so hopefully some of the ideas might fit your fathers. This is also considering the time of year so I won’t even bring up Arlington or the Arboretum etc.

    1. First Street NE / Library of Congress. This is an easy quick tour to see a lot. I take people to Union Station for lunch and to view the building then walk over by the Senate buildings up First Street NE. You get an amazing view of the Capitol and the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress building is a must see, one of the most beautiful buildings inside in DC (be sure to view the reading room from the top floor and don’t miss the Gutenberg Bible). After that if he is still up to it, walk down the Independence Ave side of the Capitol and visit the indoor National Botanical Garden. If you are not beat at this point, walk around the Smithsonian Nat Indian museum outside to view it before getting a cab home, or finding the Grotto on the Capitol grounds, many people miss this, then grab a cab back home. This is a good total three hour experience and good for a day of sights.

    2. One memorial to not miss is the Lincoln (others are nice but not in winter). You must sit on the top step and view the mall from that viewpoint. There is an elevator to the left of the entrance so he won’t have to take the steps. Sit there for a few minutes and take it in, amazing view. Before you leave, as a family walk around the back side of the Lincoln (at the top level) and look at Arlington across the river. Many people miss that view. If you have time see the Jefferson, it has a much different feel to it, you will notice that right away. Take a Taxi or Uber to do these things, they can drop you off close by and you won’t have to worry about walking in the winter or parking. In situations such as these the cost is nothing to worry about as it won’t really be that much in the grand scheme of things.

    3. Pick a Smithsonian or two that have content to his interest. They are not on the one time must see list but are a very nice diversion in case you have a bad weather day. They are so big you can spend an entire day in them. I love the Nat Mus of Art, and the Natural History Museum (although it is a rat race) for content. Nat Indian Museum is an amazing building outside (as are Hirshorn and Castle) but it is FEB so skip them.

    4. if art is his thing, Try the Women in the Arts museum, amazing building, then make the short walk over to the White House to view it from the outside and pop into the Renwick Gallery across the street. The Ghost Clock and the Glass Table are worth the trip alone.

    5. The National Cathedral, St Matthews Cathedral and The National Basilica are all amazing buildings. If they are staying in FB they can walk to St Matthews easily. If you had to pick one the Nat Bas has free parking and is not as crowded as the other two, very colorful. Enter the main doors, and see the entire chapel before going down to the Crypt and exiting on the basement level. If he is a religious man this may be of interest.

    6. If he was a Military man take him to what ever memorial branch he was in, they have some nice ones hidden like the Navy or Marines. Actually Google his career path, there is much in DC to see related to that he might like, like Postal Museum is he was in the post service, American History if he was into transportation etc. If he was a Mason take him to the Scottish Rite Temple on 16th street, etc. There is more here than you would imagine.

    7. The Dept of State Diplomatic Reception Rooms, you can do a tour there much easier than the white house (if you can’t make that one happen) and you will be AMAZED at what you see. This is a hidden gem.

    8. The easiest is what I get the most request for, a driving tour of the sights. Many people that visit me don’t want to do a lot of walking and don’t want to go IN a lot of places but really want to see all of the places they have seen on TV all their life. Driving around the mall and monuments, across the bridge to Arlington and back, down First Street NE, through Logan and Dupont Circles, around Georgetown, by the Exorcist Steps, around the Cathedral or the Basilica. There is a lot you can talk about, and a lot of pictures you can snap driving slow around the city. Nighttime is best, everything is lit up and there is less traffic plus the ambiance is nice.

    One last word of advice. The hardest thing you will ever do is try to control your mind and your emotions. We as human beings fail at that miserably most of the time. Those who can master the skill excel at life. Totally forget what you know is coming, because………… well it is coming for all of us, we just don’t know when. Put it out of your mind and keep it out of your mind that you have a known timeline for your Father’s future. Every moment you spend with it on your mind will rob you of the moments of life. You will have plenty of time to consider the end of life later, now concentrate only on the present. Consider this just a wonderful family trip, with no agenda. It is going to be hard, it is going to be work, but it will mean everything to your success with this. God Bless.

  • Anonymous

    Impossible to say without knowing your dad but these are DC specific places that are remarkable.

    -Any of the museums on the mall but particularly the Portrait Gallery and National Gallery of Art.
    -National Cathedral.
    -The Old Solider’s Home grounds / Lincoln’s Cottage.
    -Great Falls.
    -Not sure if the Capitol is still worth visiting with all the security and limited areas open to the public but it was impressive.
    -Main reading room of the LOC.
    -Building Museum.
    -Arlington National Cemetery.
    -This sounds odd but the atmosphere and food at Mark’s Kitchen in Takoma Park always leaves me feeling happy.

  • the Frederick Douglass estate — hands down one of my favorite spots in DC, with awesome history and one of the best views of the city. http://www.nps.gov/frdo/index.htm

  • Anonymous

    Food: have dinner at Seasonal Pantry. It is pricey but is by far the best dinner I’ve had in DC. Will cost 100-130/person (including tip, tax, wine). If I knew my time was short, I sure would be to go here before leaving DC.

    The earliest you can make reservations is 2 weeks in advance, but given your special circumstances, the owner Dan might work something out for you.

    And just to make it clear (if its website isn’t), Seasonal Pantry is a food store during the day and a supper club a few nights a week.

  • WOW. You are amazing

    I read this post and literally called my dad and said, I’m booking you a plane ticket. Thank you for inspiring me to jump in to action and get my father to DC after 10 years of living here. Here are my recommendations for restaurants and some other things I hope my dad can experience and yours too! I hope you guys have a wonderful time together.

    – West Wing Tour, go through a friend and not member of Congress, much easier and quicker
    – Tabard Inn for brunch
    – Roses Luxury for dinner
    – Beers at Church Key during the day
    – You can hire a pedicab driver for the day to take you around to ALL of the monuments so he does not have to walk http://www.dcpedicab.com/ Just call them an inquire.
    – Walk along the water and canal in Georgetown one evening
    – Drive out to Mount Vernon for the day
    – Drive him out to Virginia wine country for the day.
    – Dinner at the Inn at Little Washington or another DC staple (1789, Old Ebbitt, Oval Room, Mortons). Something manly and refined.
    – Go for a father son shave at “The Arts of Shaving” http://www.theartofshaving.com/

  • Anonymous

    someone mentioned this already, but its worth repeating: if you do make it to the lincoln memorial, make sure to walk around the back once at the top of the steps to catch the view of Arlington across the river! few visitors walk around the building, so its a quiet spot and absolutely beautiful at sunset. i am so sorry to hear about your father, i hope everything about his precious visit goes as smoothly as possible

  • Kathryn-DC

    Get in touch with your representative and arrange for the ‘disability tour’ at the US Capitol. I took it while recovering from an injury, and it turned out to be a lot of fun for my group.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dad! For food, I always take visitors to Old Ebbitt Grill for brunch or lunch (next to White House), Founding Farmers for dinner (Foggy Bottom), and Good Stuff Eatery for a casual burger/shakes lunch (Capitol Hill).

    • tvl

      + 1 for Founding Farmers. Make a reservation and don’t go Thur-Sat nights if he’d be uncomfortable with crowds or standing too long (I’ve had to wait for tables even when I do have reservations, but I don’t mind getting a cocktail at the bar while I wait). Haven’t been to the other places. I also think hotels near the White House may have upper level bars or lounges that might be nice for a brunch or happy hour with good views.

  • homerule

    I love all the suggestions here, and just want to say: hugs! I think it’s great you’re planning this trip.

  • Hits home

    As someone who went through nearly the identical experience 3 years ago, I am going through some extreme empathy right now. Congrats on you and your mom putting this together.

    I’ve chimed in a couple times above, but I would also advise not cramming in too much. I obviously do not know your father nor his current condition, but when mine received similar news he made it clear that he wanted to take time to appreciate each moment. Quality vs. quantity was his philosophy.

  • KNM

    You might also consider a quick tour of places that make up your daily routine: your morning coffee spot, your commute to work, where you walk your dog, your favorite place for happy hour, etc. It’s a great way to introduce them to “your” corner of the city.
    Wishing you and your family the very best for a memorable trip!

  • The best gift is simply time to hang out together. You didn’t mention where you live – but if it is not close to their hotel in Foggy Bottom, consider an apartment rental closer to your own home. I know the listing sites well and can help you with this if you choose.

  • MRD

    The top of Hotel Washington used to be my hands-down favorite spot in DC and it never fails to excite me, so I’m seconding above endorsements for that restaurant at the W Hotel rooftop. I hate the “W-ness” of it, but there’s still a lot of the old detailing left in the lobby and I believe the overhang over the door on the 15th Street side is still recognizable (as seen in Godfather II, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

    A great place to eat in that neighborhood (White House, Treasury Building, etc.) is Old Ebbitt Grill. The place is 170 years old, reeks of history, and you just can’t get any more DC than this.

    A tour of the Capitol building is really impressive. I haven’t been in more than 20 years when you could pretty much just walk in. I believe there’s more of a process now for security reasons and you may need to research getting in, but definitely worth it. Depending on ability to walk, I’d Metro to Union Station and walk to the Capitol bldg, taking in Supreme Court and other buildings. The view of DC from the Capitol steps is just awesome. Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress is also pretty breathtaking. If you’re still going after that, stop into the U.S. Botanic Garden.

    National Gallery of Art is just lovely for so many reasons, whether you’re an art lover or not. Just the transition through the underground concourse from the classical architecture of the West Wing to the amazing contemporary East Wing (designed by legendary I.M. Pei) is so cool. Each building has all these secret nooks and crannies that will take you by surprise. And the environment is so calming even when it’s crowded, that it always feels like you’re taking a breather from the tourist hustle bustle when you’re in there.

    You really have to do some memorials and my favorite is the Jefferson memorial. I haven’t been there without a car, but my husband recently took our 3 year old there by Metro, so it’s definitely doable. I also love the Lincoln, the MLK and the FDR. These last two are within walking distance of each other (and kinda sorta walkable from the Lincoln), and the current economy makes the FDR especially poignant. It’s not just one statue, but rather a series of sculptures and statues depicting the Great Depression. As with the Jefferson, it’s really the view across the Tidal Basin that gives these memorials their wow factor. I think their only downside is that the water may also give them an extra chill factor in winter.

  • anon

    Maybe go all out on his birthday for dinner and try something like Komi or CityZen. Check out Tom Sietsema’s reviews on the Post website and pick one of the few places he gives 4 stars. And let the restaurant know it’s his birthday so you get special treatment.

  • Anonymous

    Having recently gone through this, you just have to make loose plans and take what comes. You may just end up hanging in the hotel lounge. I’d suggest you rent or borrow a car, though. Make sure he gets a chance to see your place, perhaps your office, and maybe even have a meal with some of your friends or have them come by the hotel bar. Seeing the sites is secondary, I’m sure, to seeing a bit of your life.

    Lots of good suggestions, but you might add Hillwood Estates, where they have wheelchairs and a quiet place for lunch. Howard Theatre’s gospel brunch would be fun, too.

  • DC_Chica

    It’s definitely worth contacting your U.S Rep and Senators to see if they can hook you up with special tickets/tours – I think you can even have lunch in the Senator’s dining room with the proper paperwork/invitation. If you go to the Kennedy Center, take the elevator to the roof for nice views. If he likes movies, the IMAX theater at the Museum of Natural History is ginormous (biggest on the East Coast, I think?) I also support the idea of a sightseeing bus/tour – that way he can see all of the major buildings and memorials without having to do all of the walking normally needed to see them. *hug*

  • Anonymous

    I took my parents to the Franciscan Monastery. Very beautiful and peaceful.

  • Dan Jenkins

    Would also consider:
    – Albert Einstein statue outside the National Academy of Sciences at 2010 Constitution Ave. (and partly behind bushes). Would be a brief stop to see a hidden treasure.
    – If he’s a basketball or hockey fan, see if the Wizards or Capitals are playing in town. If his stamina is a consideration, can get to game after it starts.
    – Air & Space Museum (or the Dulles annex if there’s something there he’d be keen to see – but it is a trek to get there).

  • Anonymous

    Get a zipcar and take a day trip to Annapolis. Beautiful views of the bay, sailboats, the Bay Bridge, etc. Also, take advantage of all the people offering to hook you up with a White House tour. Definitely shoot for a West Wing tour. I’m a former WH grunt, and the tour that an insider give you far outdoes anything you’d get from your Congressman.

  • Anon

    Driving or walking along embassy row is a uniquely DC experience that I always enjoy even though I do it all the time. The N Metrobus lines travel along Mass Ave to the National Cathedral as does the 37 during rush hour. It might actually be nice that it makes stops b/c it allows you to look around more. I’m pretty sure one of the tour group operators (Gray Line?) also does the same route in an open-air trolley rather than a typical tour bus. I think they add clear window coverings in the winter and crank up the heat. I’ve seen an open-top bus as well but can’t remember the name. I assume they both stop at the National Cathedral. The Cathedral towers are some of the highest points in DC and also have great views of the city. I just read that they offer early morning tours before they’re open to the public if you request tickets from your congressional office. Dumbarton Oaks is close by in Georgetown and also has nice gardens. It’s accessible by a bunch of bus lines.

    I’m sorry to hear about your Dad and I hope you get to enjoy a lot of the suggestions others have already made.

  • Julia

    I recommend visiting the U.S. Botanic Garden – one of my favorite places, especially in the winter.

  • pluscachange

    I’ve thought about this and I’d be tempted to do a combination of things that are of interest to your dad and also are unique to DC. For example, seeing the Constitution, visiting Arlington National Cemetery, and hitting up the Air & Space annex at Dulles (seeing space shuttles, the plane that dropped the bomb, etc).

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t exactly a sight per se, but have you considered Eastern Market if your father’s in town on a nice Sunday? (Sunday is definitely the day when you want to go since that’s when the flea market is open and the most vendors are there) It’s a relaxing low key day with vendors stuff to look at and the flea market and different people selling food and so forth. It’s only a couple blocks from the Eastern Market Metro station, so it’s fairly convenient to you.

  • T-brew

    The National Cathedral has a really neat High Tea with Tour of the cathedral on weekdays. The tour is about 90 minutes, and the entire package is definitely worth the $30/ticket. Hope you and your family have a really special trip, regardless of what’s on the itinerary.

  • wobble

    The bonsai collection at the arboretum is delicious — and the age of the little trees (hundreds of years) may be special to somebody in their final days.

    I also love the Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery down on the mall.

    My heart goes out to you doing this special visit with your dad. With all its problems, DC is still a special place for being a tourist.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry about your dad. Call your representative/senator and ask about the monument tour that the Park Service provides. Not many people know about it, but they give you a van and a ranger and can drive you around to the monuments and provide background for each along the way. Good way to get more information about the sites and cut down on the walking in the cold for dad. I dont believe this is restricted to just Members of Congress, it is possible it was cut given sequestration, but worth checking and making the ask.

    A few other ideas: Get a drink at sunset at POV at the W (expensive, but view of white house/washington monument is fabulous); maybe see about dinner at Iron Gate in dupont (was oldest running restaurant in district, recently renovated and reopened – good food and good atmosphere); tabard inn for brunch; walk in georgetown; see a capitols/georgetown/wizards game; get a burger somewhere for lunch (shake shack, good stuff on the Hill, bgr or other); go the hay adams for a drink; when you call member of congress, ask about getting into the Senate or House dining room – I believe both are open during certain times of day/days of the week to the public; see a show at Kennedy Center, get a drink upstairs first.

  • aks

    I’m sorry to hear about your father. I hope your family has a wonderful time here with him.

    The Kennedy Center has free performances every day at 6pm, that might be a nice thing to check out. There is a free shuttle bus (a little red bus) from the Foggy Bottom Metro. Also, the view of the city is beautiful from the roof of the Kennedy Center. I’ve often just gone there to look at the view.

  • spookiness

    Not DC proper, but Great Falls. Its not fatiguing and complicated, you just go and admire, and go with whatever conversation ensues.

  • Anonymous

    Gravely Point


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