Next time we go to DC, I think we'll start planning it a little earlier. We knew this was coming for a long time, but we put all our mental energy into what to do with the baby, and not much thought into our actual trip. So, basically, we were winging it. The only fixed point in our trip was that Monday would be spent at a conference.
Sometimes that worked really well, sometimes not. Here's what didn't work well:
Walking. We are not so young anymore, and don't walk much in our ordinary lives. So we ended up sore and tired fairly quickly. At one point we looked at the map, saw the distance to the Metro, and decided that a taxi ride back to the hotel was totally worth ten bucks. If we had it to do over again, we would have hopped onto a monument bus tour first thing and used that to get our bearings and see the major monuments.
Not checking hours. Because of our schedule, Saturday and Sunday were our major days for sightseeing. But at least two of the things we really wanted to see were closed on Sunday. Which would have been nice to know on Saturday, when we went to the Smithsonian, which is open on Sunday. Doh!
Here's what did work:
Wandering around. We ended up right by the White House purely by luck, and went to the Remnick Gallery because we wanted somewhere cool to sit down. The Sam Maloof dining set in the upstairs gallery looked quite comfortable, but we opted for some cushy benches. Still, it was one of the highlights of the trip, and totally random. Wandering is rough on the feet, though.
Yelp.com. Specifically, their mobile apps, which let you see reviews of local restaurants, attractions, etc. Yelp led us to the Blue Duck Tavern, which we would have walked right by, and to El Chalan, which we never would have found. Both were fantastic meals.
The iPhone. Maps, maps, maps. And a camera. And restaurant reviews. And news. And email. And boredom killer. I'm not saying I wouldn't want to do a big city without the iPhone, but I certainly felt more comfortable having it. And it was great being able to watch video of the baby whenever I missed her, which was a lot.