washington newseum

Visiting the Newseum

This post is a review of the Newseum in Washington DC with tips on planning your visit and video previews of what you will see.  With so many high quality yet free museums in the city, it’s easy to overlook those that charge a fee. However, guests should keep an open-mind to exploring some of Washington, DC’s ticketed museums, particularly the Newseum.  


After 11 years and nearly 10 million visitors, the Newseum closed to the public on Dec. 31, 2019.


 

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Uber | The Best Way to Get Around DC

Washington, DC is fortunate to have a great public transportation system, making it quite easy to get around the city. Between the  metro, bus system, and Capital Bikeshare, traveling throughout DC — and to neighboring Virginia and Maryland — can be fairly simple. However, metro track work and traffic can cause major delays, and the elevated cost of paper metro cards can really add up. Fortunately there is a new alternative on the market.

Uber is a car-sharing service that operates like a taxi, but is safer, cheaper, and more reliable.  With just one click, guests can request an Uber driver to arrive at a specific location and with a specific type of vehicle. The cost of sharing an Uber for a family or group of friends is often less than the combined cost of individual metro or bus fares. In addition, Uber is 18% cheaper than a taxi ride.

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Airport departures arrivals

How to avoid Jet Lag

What is jet lag? Many of our tour guests who travel from afar or from overseas have trouble to adjust to the new time difference in their destination city. Here are some tips on how to avoid jet lag. When you travel to another time zone, your internal clock is off – that’s what you call jet lag. Usually getting over jet lag should take 3-4 days depending on how far you have traveled from. Flying eastwards will make it a bit harder to adjust to the new time zone, then when you are flying westwards. That is because our body accepts it better if you are staying up a little later, then having to go to bed much earlier than usual. In addition, if you are used to getting up rather early, flying eastwards is a little bit easier than for people who generally stay up late. And vice versa, if you are a night owl, you will have less trouble adjusting, if you were traveling westwards. How can I avoid or minimize the jet lag?

  • Start to adjust your internal clock several days before you fly, by staying up later (if traveling westwards) or getting to bed earlier (if travelling eastwards).
  • Once you are in the plane, act like you are in your destination time zone already e.g. change your clock, take a nap, eat moderately or skip a meal and avoid alcohol.
  • Be healthy and well rested. The more you rest before your big travel, the easier it will be to adjust to your new time zone.
  • If you are travelling overseas, on the day of your flight, try to sleep in or sleep as long as you can. This goes for either direction, as you will likely skip a night travelling eastwards, or you will have to stay up much longer when you arrive travelling westwards.
  • Bring a neck pillow and nap on the plane. Even if you don’t fall asleep into a deep slumber, your body will thank you later for each little 20 minute nap you do on the plane.
  • Stay hydrated. It’s best to purchase a bottle of water at the airport (after you are through security), so you don’t have to get the stewardess attention every time.
  • Once you arrive, don’t nap more than 30 minutes or go to bed immediately if it’s not bedtime yet. Stay up till at least 9 pm. This discipline on your first day of arrival, will get you over jetlag much faster.

Other things to consider when travelling to different time zones and jet lag: When flying westwards, e.g. from Europe to New York, or from Washington DC to San Francisco: Don’t make any late evening plans the first couple of nights.  You might think you are up to it, but your body will tell you otherwise. If you are booking our walking tours, stick to the morning and daytime tours, and avoid the evening tours. When flying eastwards, e.g. from California to New York, or from Boston to London: Don’t make any morning plans the first couple of days.  Instead plan more things to do in the afternoon and evenings. If you are booking our walking tours, avoid the early 10 am tours, and go for the afternoon or evening tours. +++We hope you have safe and enjoyable travels without much jet lag and we look forward to having you on our famous pay-what-you-like walking tours soon.+++

U.S. Air Force Band: Spring Performances in D.C.

U.S. Air Force BandA special treat for visitors to DC during the Spring season is to see a performance of the U.S. Air Force Band. Founded on September 24, 1941, the United States Air Force Band has now been entertaining and inspiring people for over 70 years.  Today, there are 177 active-duty airmen and women who are members of the prestigious U.S. Air Force Band.

As there vision states, “the excellence demonstrated by the Band’s Airmen musicians is a reflection of the excellence carried out 24 hours a day by Airmen stationed around the globe.”

There are 6 different ensembles within the U.S. Air Force Band. They include the Concert Band, Singing Sergeants, Airmen of Note, Air Force Strings, Ceremonial Brass, and Max Impact. Each spring, they perform a number of free concerts to the public around Washington, D.C.

 

Here is a list of some of their events that should not be missed: 

Jazz Small Groups @ Smithsonian National Museum of American History (Flag Hall) 

  • Date: Friday, April 25
  • Time: 3:00pm – 4:30pm

Celtic Aire & Brass Quintet @ White House Garden Spring Tour

  • Date: Sunday, April 27
  • Time: 10am – 12:45pm

Max Impact @ National Harbor Waterfront Plaza Stage

  • Date: Saturday, May 24
  • Time: 6pm

Air Force String Orchestra @ Kennedy Center Concert Hall

  • Date: Sunday, May 25
  • Time: 3pm
  • Note: This performance will be specifically dedicated in remembrance to the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the march to victory. Admission is free, but tickets are required for entrance. Contact Music Celebrations International Presenter for details. T: 800-395-2036 

Concert Band & Singing Sergeants @ Air Force Memorial

  • Date: Friday, May 30
  • Time: 8pm
  • Note: This performance will include a special D-Day 70th Anniversary Salute and will feature the winner of the U.S. Air Force Band’s Young Artist Competition, euphonium player Joe Brown.

Concert Band & Singing Sergeants @ U.S. Capitol Building (West Side Steps)

  • Date: Tuesday, June 3
  • Time: 8pm
  • Note: This performance will include a special D-Day 70th Anniversary Salute

 

However, keep in mind that the U.S. Air Force Band is also known to make a few surprise appearances around the city as well!!

Guidelines Going Through Security in Washington, D.C.

Capitol Building

No… liquids, gels, sprays, aerosols, sharp objects, food, weapons.

They will let you bring in essential medication like epi pens or inhalers but saline solution in a medical kit will need to be thrown out. Any type of edible products – candies, unopened bags of chips, fruit will be tossed. Packets of gum is okay! I’ve had them ask me to throw out my hand sanitizer before. A good theory is if you don’t want to throw it away, don’t bring it!

Nail clippers and cuticle scissors count as sharp objects. Because I’ve been asked this before – bottled water counts as a liquid. However, you can bring in empty bottles.

If you bring something not allowed in, they make you go back outside to throw it away!

You will need to take off your jackets, hats, belts and take all electronics and metal objects out of your pockets! Bags will go through scanner as well.

Library of Congress / Archives

No… weapons. That’s about it. Please dispose of opened food and drink.

Unopened food and drink can be brought through as long as it stays in your bag.

You will need to take out all electronics and metal objects and place all bags through the scanner.

Smithsonian Museums

Please present your bags for inspections. In most museums it is a person who looks into the bags. At the Air & Space there is a scanner. If you do not have a bag, you can just walk through! You do not need to wait in the bag line or check in with the guard. They are ONLY checking bags!

Holocaust Museum

All electronics, keys, metal objects should be put through the scanners in addition to all bags.

All opened drinks must be consumed prior to entering the museum except water. However, you will be asked to take a sip from your water before continuing through security.

Gum chewing is not allowed anywhere in D.C. Ever. 🙂

Budget friendly travel options throughout the US

Free Tours by Foot offers pay-what-you-like walking, bike, bus, food and theme tours for every budget, because we believe that everybody should be able to explore the stories, history, and hidden gems of the city they are visiting.  We offer tours of U.S. cities such as BostonChicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Charleston and New Orleans and we often have visitors exploring our tours in different cities. We frequently get the question, what we suggest are the best ways to get around the U.S. and while most travelers have a car or rent a car, that option does not always suit everybody. Here are some budget-friendly ways to travel from city to city without car.

Connecting New York – Boston – Philadelphia – Washington D.C.

A great, easy, and budget-friendly option to travel between the big cities of the northeast is by bus.  There are several different bus companies that are connecting the Northeast cities; and depending which route you take, tickets can be as cheap as $12 one-way. Thanks to the increased number of bus companies, there usually is enough time to book your ticket online 24 hours in advance, unless you are set on a specific time schedule or travel with a larger group.  Also, bear in mind, rush hour departures/arrivals around 9am and 5pm can add another hour to your trip if your bus gets stuck in traffic.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Boltbus – a crowd pleaser with guaranteed seating, and easy boarding process, they usually book out last minute, so book early.
  • Megabus – offers a lot of departure time options, as their fleet departs more often than the others
  • Peter Pan – another great budget option and especially popular for Boston trips
  • Greyhound – the classy and a little more pricy option with more flexibility for refunds; make sure you arrive 30 minutes early for boarding to grab a good seat
  • DC2NY – as the name suggests they operate between NYC and DC; if you like a little more upscale bus ride experience; only rides twice a day; during the summer months, they also offer travel to Rehoboth Beach in Maryland
  • Washington Deluxe – operates between NYC and DC; great if you want to be dropped off in Brooklyn

Connecting Washington DC – Chicago – New Orleans – Charleston

First, check with your airline or flight search engines, such as Kayak, you might be surprised to find a sweet deal for a flight.  If flying is not an option, your best bet to connect these longer distances might be by train.  Going by train will certainly feel like an adventure itself and it is a more relaxing way to see the country compared to sitting in a bus, because you can walk around, read a book, etc. and let’s face it, sometimes the journey itself is the reward of travel.  Make sure you book your ticket at least 3 weeks in advance, because last minute travel by train can get really pricy. Check with Amtrak for times and prices. Here are the current estimates:

  • Washington to New Orleans – 26 hours; $147 one-way
  • New Orleans to Chicago – 19 hours; $127 one-way
  • Chicago to Washington – 17.5 hours; $94 one-way
  • Washington to Charleston, SC – 9 hours; $97 one-way

Greyhound also connects these cities, though you might have to add on some extra travel hours and transfers.

Free Tours by Foot is looking forward to seeing you soon at one or more of our many tours. Save travels!

Best Cheap Eats in DC

Washington, DC is an expensive city, and can be tough to do on a tight budget. Even though there are amazing world-class museums and stunningly beautiful monuments to visit for free, finding cheap eats in DC that aren’t your run-of-the-mill national fast food chain can be very tough. We thought we would highlight some of our favorite local “cheap eats in DC” and arrange them by neighborhood. You should be able to find something filling and delicious at each of these spots for no more than $10-$15.

Check out our DC Tourism Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Washington DC attractions

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Public Pools and Fountains in DC

It can get hot here and humid and then all the museums are crowded because they (unlike the Memorials) have air conditioning.

So where do the locals go to enjoy the sun but not melt?

Local Pools

DC has a great resource of public pools and while they are free for us, they are accessible to non-residents for a small fee paid in advance or on site by credit/debit card and good for one entry for the whole day. (Re-entry not permitted).

Youth Daily Swim Pass – $4.00
Adult Daily Swim Pass – $7.00
Senior Daily Swim Pass – $4.00

Banneker Pool on Georgia Ave NW is the largest and the most popular and East Potomac Park is the closest to the National Mall, but here’s a handy map of area pools.

Yards Park

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On the waterfront in the newly renovated SE area of DC – in the shadow of the National’s Ballpark, Yards Park features waterfalls and canal basins for cooling off.

At 11 inches deep, the basin frequently has kids jumping around in the summer months trying to stay wet, get wet, or avoid the fountains all together.

There is no lifeguard on duty!

If you time it right, there are Friday evening concerts to serenade your fountain playing.

Free and open to the public!

Georgetown Waterfront

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Along the Potomac River, on the other side of the city from Yard’s Park, is another place to run around and get soaked – and not with sweat!

A rubberized surface and arched water sprays, you’ll often see local kids running through the streams.

DC’s Hidden Gems

For those of you who have been to DC several times, or are local to the area, I wanted to highlight a couple of places to visit in the city that you might not have heard of. These houses are great for anyone interested in history and compliment many of our tours.

1. Anderson House is located at 2118 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, between 21st and 22nd streets along Embassy Row in the heart of Washington’s historic DuPont Circle neighborhood. This house is open to the public for free tours Tuesday through Saturday from 1-4pm. The house was once owned by Lar Anderson and his wife Isabel. Their wonderful collection of art is on display and the house itself is a real marvel. Currently they are running an exhibit on Pierre L’Enfant. www.societyofthecincinnati.org

2. Woodrow Wilson’s house is also in DuPont and visiting it is like going back in time to the 1920s. Wilson and his wife lived here from 1921 until his death in 1924. Many of the original furniture, books and decorations fill the rooms on display. Admission is $8 and the house is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 – 4pm. The staff is wonderful and passionate about sharing the history of the house. www.woodrowwilsonhouse.org

3. The National Parks Service runs the Clara Barton House in Glen Echo, where she lived for 15 years. The house is a joy to visit! Photographs, original furniture and mementos will please any civil war buff. The house is right next to Glen Echo Park, making the drive well worth the effort. Tours start on the hour, daily from 10am to 4pm. Admission Free. www.nps.gov/clba/index.htm

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