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48 Hours in Washington D.C.
By: Danielle Max | May 16 2017

With 18 Smithsonian sites to explore, more museums and sites than you can imagine (and we didn’t even begin to talk about the monuments), there’s no way you can do more than scratch the surface of everything Washington D.C. offers in just 48 hours. Pick your sites wisely, don’t try to do too much and begin compiling your list of must-see destinations for your return visit (and the one after that, and the one after that…).

 


World War II Memorial | Courtesy of washington.org

Day One: 10:00 a.m.
Explore a Newcomer
Day One: 10:00 a.m.
Explore a Newcomer

Museum of African American History and Culture.jpg | Courtesy of washington.org

Start the day with a visit to the newest addition to the Smithsonian Family – the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum, which opened in September 2016, is only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture. Entry is free, but timed passes are necessary to enter the museum.

Enter from the Constitution Avenue side of the Museum. Courtesy manual wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Open captioning is included in all exhibition videos. Audio stories are incorporated into some exhibitions through the museum’s mobile application.

American Sign Language interpretation and Access Services are available. Contact the museum at least two weeks in advance, call 202-633-1000.

Movies offer assistive listening devices and audio-description. T-Loops are available at the welcome desk.

Find out more here.

12:00 p.m.
Get Your Spiritual Fill
12:00 p.m.
Get Your Spiritual Fill

Washington National Cathedral

You don’t have to be religious to find a visit to Washington National Cathedral inspirational. The Neo-Gothic building is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, the tallest cathedral in the United States and the fourth-tallest structure in Washington D.C. As well as being a place of architectural and spiritual wonder, the cathedral also offers an uplifting experience for “Star Wars” fans: eagle-eyed visitors will be able to see a Darth Vader sculpture adorning the northwest tower (bring your binoculars).

Wheelchair access is available via a ramp entrance at the northwest corner of the building, near the elevators from the garage (follow the signs when exiting the garage) and just past the main visitor’s entrance.

Sound amplification is available for worship services and other events held in the nave. Ask an usher for the appropriate device. Selected worship services and events, including Christmas and Easter, are sign-language interpreted.

Find out more here.

4:00 p.m.
Get Comfy With A Book (or 16 Million)
4:00 p.m.
Get Comfy With A Book (or 16 Million)

Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. | Photo by Shawn Miller / Library of Congress

If you think you have a lot of books, wait until you see how many are stacked at the Library of Congress – the de facto library of the United States and largest in the world (as well as the oldest federal culture institution in the country). Visitors can tour the library in a 45-minute walking tour that sets out from the Visitor Center of the Jefferson Building.

The building is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available from the Visitor Services Office in the Jefferson and Madison buildings.

Interpreters (American Sign Language, contact signing, oral and/or tactile) are available when requested at least five business days in advance by emailing or calling (202) 707-6362.

Deaf staff members are also available to serve as tour guides; please request their services, preferably two business days in advance by emailing or calling the Visitor Services Office at (202)-707-9779.

Find out more here.

 

7:00 p.m.
Enjoy The Show
7:00 p.m.
Enjoy The Show

View of the Kennedy Center at night. | Courtesy of washington.org

Take in a performance at the Kennedy Center. The performing arts complex – the busiest in the U.S. – is located right on the Potomac River and presents music, dance and theater shows throughout the year. Shows run the gamut of genres from ballet, chamber music, opera, comedy, dance, jazz and everything in between.

All entrances to the building, theaters, restaurants and gift shops are accessible and all locations have wheelchair and scooter-accessible locations.

Large print playbills are available at all performances. Braille playbills are available at all performances with the exception of dance. Both large print and braille may be obtained from the head usher or ticket taker.

Audio description is scheduled for select events. Using a single earpiece connected to an infrared headset, patrons who are blind or have low vision can listen to trained audio describers give live, verbal descriptions of actions, costumes, scenery and other visual elements of a performance.

Touch tours of the Kennedy Center are available upon request with two weeks' advance notice. To request a touch tour, email the Accessibility Office or call (202) 416-8727.

Assistive listening devices are installed in all theaters and headsets may be used at any seat. Headsets with induction neck loops are available for patrons who use hearing aids and cochlear implants with a "T" switch. Headsets are distributed free-of-charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sign language interpretation is scheduled for select events. Contact the Instant-Charge Services Desk at (202) 416-8528 (voice) or (202) 416-8524 (TTY) to find out more and to purchase tickets in the sign-interpreted section.

The Kennedy Center also offers sign language interpretation upon request. Requests for sign language interpreters, cued speech transliterators or oral interpreters must be received at least two weeks before the event.

Find out more here

Day Two: 9:00 a.m.
Get Historical
Day Two: 9:00 a.m.
Get Historical

Mount Vernon, home of the first president of the United States, George Washington. | Photo: Brian Cavan / washington.org

Head out of the city early and arrive at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in time for the 9:00 a.m. opening. The historic site offers a glimpse into 18th-century plantation life and exhibits honoring George Washington’s life and legacy. There’s so much to see, so pick a few key sites for your whirlwind tour. Don’t miss the mansion, Washington family tomb or the Slave Memorial and Burial Ground.

The site is almost all wheelchair accessible, with the exception of the first floor the Mansion. Courtesy wheelchairs and wheeled walkers are available from the Ford Orientation Center.

Guest who are blind or have low vision or who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a small, handheld device guide themselves around the site. Through the use of GPS hotspots and infrared emitters located around the estate, these devices automatically provide audio description services, assistive listening or text captioning.

For more information, email the Department of History Interpretation or call 703-780-2000. Alternate format guest maps are also available upon request at the Ford Orientation Center.

Tours of the mansion and other primary learning sites can be arranged with a week’s advance notice (contact the Department of History Interpretation).

Find out more here.

 

12:00 p.m.
Know Your Rights
12:00 p.m.
Know Your Rights

National Archives Museum | photo: brownpau

Follow up your visit to Washington’s home with a look at the documents that started it all – the Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. These three crucial documents, that have secured the rights of the American people for more than two-and-a-quarter centuries, are housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives Museum. Last entry is 30 minutes prior to closing.

A limited number of manual wheelchairs are available for visitors on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Sign language interpreter services are available for visitors with at least seven business days’ advance notice. Email or call 202-357-6816 to make reservations for sign language interpretation.

Find out more here.

4:00 p.m.
Visit Uncle SAAM
4:00 p.m.
Visit Uncle SAAM

Smithsonian American Art Museum in the National Portrait Gallery. | Courtesy of washington.org

Come and see the history of America through art. The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) is home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world, including photography, modern folk and self-taught art, Latino art and even video games (yup, they’re art too). Focus on the museum’s main building, a National Historic Landmark in the center of Washington’s cultural district.

Entrance to the SAAM’s main building is via ramps located on either side of the entrance at 8th and G Streets NW. Accessible restrooms are located on all floors of SAAM.

Courtesy wheelchairs in the G Street and F Street lobbies at SAAM.

The SAAM hosts a number of accessible tours and programs. American Sign Language tours are given on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings, twice a month. Voice interpretation available.

There are docent-led tours for visitors who are blind or have low vision. These tours incorporate rich verbal description and sensory experience. Touch tour components for sculpture may be included.

 

Find out more here.

7:00 p.m.
Pedicab Tour
7:00 p.m.
Pedicab Tour

Pedicab tour | Courtesy of washington.org

Tour, shmore. You’ve think you’ve seen it all, but how about seeing the city a little differently with a twilight monument tour from the comfort of a pedicab? Nonpartisan Pedicab will pick you up from any downtown location and take you on a customized tour of your choice. The rides are charged by the hour, so if you are having a good time, keep on touring (you will be billed at pro-rated, per-minute basis for extensions). The monuments are well lit at night and with fewer visitors, allow you to have your own personal “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment.

If you use a manual wheelchair, just fold it up and bring it on the tour with you. The pedicab allows for easy curb side entry without steps and can get closer to many of the monuments than tour buses.

Getting Around
Getting Around

Washington D.C. is served by Washington Dulles Airport. All restrooms are fully accessible. Most toilet stalls have infrared flush devices. All sinks in each restroom are placed at an accessible height, and infrared devices are used to activate the water at most locations. A unisex companion care restroom is provided adjacent to the public restrooms at many locations.

Wheelchair-accessible TDD phones can be found throughout the terminal buildings. Most telephones are equipped with volume control. At most locations, one telephone in each bank is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with a shelf and outlet to accommodate a patron's portable text telephone. All accessible telephones have clear pathways.

There are a number of designated Service Animal/Pet Relief Areas. After security they are located adjacent to Gate A32, next to the Virgin Atlantic Club and across from Gate D1.

For areas outside the main terminal, exit at the terminal doors near the United Airlines Ticket Counter and turn right, or exit the terminal doors near the Delta Air Lines Ticket Counter and turn left. There is also a relief area outside, adjacent to Baggage Claim 1.

Elevators are equipped with raised braille buttons and are accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs. Some elevators electronic voice arrival announcements at each floor.

Airport shuttle buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts/ramps and audible announcements. 

Rental car shuttles are all equipped with wheelchair ramps/lifts.

There are a number of options for getting away from the airport.

Washington Flyer Taxi has several vehicles within the fleet equipped to accommodate wheelchairs. Book an accessible vehicle in advance. Call 703-572-8294. 

Washington Flyer Silver Line Express buses are all wheelchair-accessible.

Washington Flyer Shared Van, operated by Super Shuttle and Supreme Airport Shuttle, has wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Reserve an accessible vehicle in advance by contacting Super Shuttle at 800-258-3826 or Supreme Airport Shuttle at 800-590-0000.

If you are driving in the city, look out for the approximately 350 distinctive “red top” parking meters installed throughout the Central Business District. These allow vehicles with valid disability tags to park for twice as long as the time allowed at adjacent meters.

The D.C. metro is very accessible. Each station is equipped with an elevator to the train platforms and have extra-wide fare gates for wheelchair users.

The buses in the metro fleet are all accessible and either have wheelchair lifts or kneel at the curb.

The district is pushing to get more wheelchair-accessible taxis on the road. Regulations required that 12 percent of each fleet be accessible by the end of 2016. Each accessible taxi has a ramp and hooks inside the cab to secure wheelchairs or other power-driven mobility devices. Up to four other passengers can ride alongside the person using the wheelchair.

Wheelchair accessible trips be booked through the District’s new mobile app DCTaxi, or through individual companies.

Where to Stay
Where to Stay

Base yourself at the 4-star Crowne Plaza The Hamilton – Washington D.C.

The hotel is located close to the main attractions (think, White House, Washington Monument and Capitol) and just a block away from the McPherson Square station, so you get where you need to be simply, easily and quickly. If you are in town on business, the city’s convention center is a short walk away, as are companies and agencies such as IBM, the Associated Press, the Department of Justice and the EPA. Enjoy a spa-inspired shower or, if you really need some relaxation, ask for a room on the Quiet Zone floor (complete with aromatherapy) kit.

Mobility accessible rooms have accessible locks and controls. Grab bars and tall toilets are available. Bathrooms have adequate turning space and either an accessible tub or roll-ins shower. Hearing-accessible features include closed caption TV, visual alarms and alerts and telephone with amplifier or TDD. Menus and instructions are available in 14pt print or braille.

 

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