A tour of Washington D.C. is a virtual journey of United States history and one that would take months or years to truly experience in depth. Since most of us don't get that kind of vacation time, we need to make the days count.
One way to do this is to plan ahead. You can get the VIP treatment for tours of the White House, FBI Building, Supreme Court and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (where 40 million dollars are pumped out each day) by writing your senator or representative several months before your visit and asking for the tickets. See the government listings in your phone book for the representative of your area.
There are many ways to get around town including on foot. For faster modes of transportation you can try the National Park Service Tourmobile buses which make stops to all the major attractions and allow you to get on and off as you wish. (202 545-7950) Or try the modified amphibious army vehicles called "D.C. Ducks" can take you on a ninety minute D.C. orientation for an abbreviated tour of the main sites. (202) 966-3825
You can utilize your evenings by visiting some of the monuments, especially the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials which are lit up at night and extremely beautiful.
For food, the Old Glory Barbecue and Clyde's are big hits for the "locals." Th e Old Post Office Pavilion has a restaurant on the first floor and a clock tower elevator for an incredible view. There are also cafeterias in various political buildings for "people watching" if you are so inclined.
When you're finally too beat to see anything else, nearby hotels will be a welcome site. The Holiday Inn Capitol (202) 479-4000 is one block from the Na tional Mall (which is almost 2 miles long) so you could start your shopping early.
Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel has a nice rooftop pool (202 484-1000) and the Capi tal Hill Suites (202 543-6000) have kitchenettes which are favored by some of the legislature. The Washington Center is an incredibly beautiful hotel with an open atrium and fantastic pond-side dining.
For information: D.C. Chamber of Commerce- DCchamber.org, Convention and Visitors Association www.washington.org National Park Service: wwwnps.gov/naccc
Finally, don't miss the Vietnam Wall, Korean War Memorial or The Women's Memorial. You may not see everything in your short vacation time, but you will come away with enough to be in awe of our country and its incredible history. And...there's always next time.