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Road Trip: Washington, DC to North Carolina

(15 Posts)
IVB Mon 14-Jul-08 21:33:58

Can anyone recommend a decent hotel in Washington DC for a couple nights? Has anyone driven from Washington, DC to North Carolina with little people and could recommend some towns/sights/activities on the way. Our boys are 4 & 5. Thanks.

dancedance Mon 14-Jul-08 21:35:21

No advice but north carolina is gorgeous! lucky you, sounds an adventure

dinkystinky Tue 15-Jul-08 10:11:30

We were in DC in March and stayed at the Sofitel Lafayette Square - got good deal on Expedia, nice business class hotel, v close to White House, the mall (good to exercise those kids legs) and walking distance to all the museums. We went to Washington Zoo - entry is free and its massive. They have an excellent orangutan-crossing overhead - has to be seen to be believed. Easy to get the metro there. Smithsonian also great for kids.

We're heading back there in September for a family wedding and this time round we're staying at the Embassy Suites hotel near Foggy Bottom - great reviews on Tripadviser and as is a suite, there is a little kitchenette and also separate living room (with pull out bed) and bedroom. You can pay for parking too.

Enjoy your trip.

IVB Tue 15-Jul-08 16:10:26

Thanks dinkystinky - that's a brilliant start - much appreciated - had forgotten about Tripadviser.

UnderRated Thu 17-Jul-08 03:10:43

I stayed at the Hyatt in DC. Don't remember anything about it other than it is by the White House. Don't stay there, it was awful.

NC is meant to be lovely.

willali Thu 17-Jul-08 14:20:40

This is old stomping ground for me....

Try the Embassy Suites in Crystal City (probably the same set up as Foggy Bottom as described above!) - right on the metro to go and see all the sights in DC, huge family suites to stay in and the added bonus of an all you can eat breakfast included in the price and a free cocktail hour in the evening!! No doubt you already plan to do all the Smithsonian Museums while in DC - would also recommend Georgetown for a something a bit different - wouldn't bother queuing up to get tickets for the White House - you need to get there so early and it's a real let down once you get in!

Arlington Cemetary is breathtaking, although your children may not get as much as you out of it - although they will enjoy the little trolly bus tour you can do on a hop on and off basis which goes to all the monuments, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial etc which is very god value and saves on the shoe leather!!

On your way down to NC I would really recommend you stay a couple of days at Virginia Beach (about a 3 hour drive from DC)- a fabulous place, massive miles long sandy beach, any number of cheap hotels along the Strip. A good base to go to Busch Gardens theme park and also not far to go to Williamsburg historic town where the guides are all dressed up in Colonial settlers and will answer questions in character - great for the children and really interesting. Also nearby is the Norfolk Naval Base - not sure if it is open to the public but from Norfolk harbour front you can always see a few huge American warships!

Wherabouts in NC are you going? Recommend Cape Hatteras and Outer banks for wild shoreline and also the museum where the Wright Brothers did their first flight which is again very interesting and staffed by very informative Rangers. Great all you can eat seafood places in Outer Banks.

Google is your friend for all these places but hope you have a good time! Envious!!

SqueakyPop Thu 17-Jul-08 14:27:04

I've driven from DC to Williamsburg, VA (a restored/recreated colonial village). It's a nice day out if you like that kind of thing.

Are you heading to the beach or the mountains in NC? If the latter, then don't miss the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.

rolymoma Thu 17-Jul-08 15:38:11

asheville is a really nice part of n carolina. its kind of f scott fitzgerald meets grunge country and is quite cool as a result. i stayed at the hayward park hotel (i think - too lazy too google it blush) but there is an expensive hill top resort call grove park which is nice for a terrace meal overlooking the pine trees.

IVB Thu 17-Jul-08 21:47:59

Wow! Lots of lovely suggestions to research - thank you to everyone. We are staying at Surf City, NC with some friends who have a house on the beach. Just looking forward to getting warm ... for longer than one day at a time like it is here! Willali, thank you for all the info - my husband is a pilot, so I was thinking the Wright Brothers museum would be of interest to him.

spamm Thu 17-Jul-08 23:20:47

If dh is a pilot, he will love the new Air and Space Museum near Dulles airport - it is fantastic. And the kids will love climbing on planes, etc...

Also, the Skyline drive is good fun and different if the kids do not mind the car for a while. The views are fantastic and you get to see all sorts of wildlife - even bears if you are lucky.

Monticello, near Charlottesville, is fantastic, much nicer than most of the historical recreation places - details here. But the kids will probably really enjoy Williamsburg.

TBH, my ds, who I take to visit grandparents in Virginia about 3x a year, is just happy to see different things from his usual sights. But when we drove to North Carolina last year (Wrightsville Beach, just down the coast from where you are going), we did have a portable DVD player in the car, because distances are so big.

If you keep an eye out, you will come across civil war battlefields every so often - Appomatox, Richmond, etc... - which are fab places to stop and stretch legs and run around. You will usually find picnic tables, possibly toilets and also good parking. And there will often be a visitor centre as well.

The Aquarium at Virginia Beach is great for kids.

Actually, I find it easier if I plan for an indoor activity around the middle of the day, as it is often too hot to be outside - you need that air con. You will usually find a play area in a mall, often near the food zone - very useful as it will be cooler and you can take a break.

You will find plenty of things to do in Wilmington and the big battleship is a great day out for kids. Also, the boat tours are fun. But the best thing about the area is the beaches - they are fantastic, with great sand and shells. Take a kite!

Sorry, a bit longer than I had planned, but it is our favourite holiday place. Let me know if you need more info.

IVB Fri 18-Jul-08 11:42:05

Thanks, Spamm - lots of lovely ideas. My husband is rather attached to the I95 - I'm not. What do you think? The boys are 4 & 5 and not used to long car rides.

unclefluffy Fri 18-Jul-08 12:05:04

I always took I95 myself (and second everything willali said about things to do!) then I295 round Richmond, then I64 to Newport News via Williamsburg, then south to the Outer Banks. OK - I only did that last Outer Banks part of the journey once... There are traffic pinch points as you arrive at Richmond, as you arrive at Newport News and as you get to the Outer Banks. Nothing to be done - carry water and food! And it's never as bad as the M25. You could stop at Fredericksburg to look at cannons and drink malteds an hour and a half out of DC, then again at Richmond, which is another hour away. Thn drive on to Bush Gardens/Williamsburg for the night. Have a day at the one of your choice. Then drive on to the coast. I might be being crazy, but I don't think it'll be too painful.

There is an alternate route to I95 (maybe Route 2? can't remember...) favoured by a friend from Raleigh who drove back from DC to see her parents regularly. Although she's very keen on it, I've only ever contemplated leaving the main roads when they're blocked (which only happened to me during severe summer storms).

unclefluffy Fri 18-Jul-08 12:08:05

Also - don't know whether you've driven much in this part of the States before, but there aren't many rest stops (just one between DC and Richmond, I think). All the exits mark what food places are available nearby, though. So don't keep driving looking for a service station when someone needs the loo - just come off at your next exit and follow signs to Dunkin' Donuts (or whatever)!

spamm Fri 18-Jul-08 22:22:14

Unclefluffy has made very good points and if you feel comfortable, then stick to the I-95. My parents live in the back of beyond, West of Richmond, so we never use 95, too much traffic and most flights from the UK land at rush hour, which does not help.

Tbh I always prefer the non I-95 routes, as long as they are pretty direct, because you see so little on that road. But it depends on whether you are really doing a road trip - I think you want to get to the beach quite quickly, because that is where the dcs are going to have the most fun, so I would follow the route recommended by unclefluffy. The stop at Williamsburg is a good idea, and they also have a Watercountry USA if the weather is very hot.

With regards to stops, you always get good service at Ruby Tuesday's IME, and Cracker Barrel as well. They all do their best to help out with kids.

IVB Sat 19-Jul-08 10:06:04

Thanks unclefluffy and spamm - you've given us lots to think and talk about.

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