4 days in DC with baby
May 1, 2011 3:13 PM   Subscribe

How should we spend a long weekend in DC with a 5-week-old baby?

Mr. Deadcrow and I are flying into DC with Little Baby Deadcrow (estimated age: 5 weeks) for a wedding this June 10-13. We had planned on staying with family, eliminating the need to rent a car or to book a hotel. Said family is moving to Florida a week before our arrival. Plans must change and money is tight.

The wedding is at the Swann House [warning: site contains cheesy audio] on Saturday.

a) Where should we stay?
We'd like it to be relatively cheap, however, if we can avoid renting a car (see c, below) we could afford nicer accommodations.

b) What should we do?
We've been to the Mall. We don't have a lot of interest in seeing anymore national monuments. We enjoy art, music, and food (Mr. Deadcrow is a vegetarian).

c) Is taking the baby on public transportation a viable option or do we need to rent a car?

We welcome any other general tips for traveling within DC with a small infant.
posted by deadcrow to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would think that if this is your first baby, you might not go very far for very long. Well, if the baby is breast fed, those first few weeks can be pretty hairy.

As for tips, get a sling, don't bother with the stroller for such a tiny baby...especially not on public transport. Also, use a backpack, NOT a baby bag...your back/shoulder will thank you. The essential thing after that is a nappy/diaper change mat...you're not going to want to put such a freshly hatched little crow on public change tables.
posted by taff at 3:19 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Are you having a scheduled induction or c-section? Because first babies in particular show up when they show up, and Baby Deadcrow might be only three weeks old or less by the date you're thinking of traveling. I'm sure you know this, but just in case.)

I traveled a lot with a very new baby, and in DC several times with a slightly older one. If you breastfeed and take public transit and aren't too fussy about nursing in public, it's pretty easy. That is, it won't feel that easy at the time, but you will look back on it a year later and go "Wow, remember when he/she was so totally portable? Sigh."

IME, you want some variant of stretchy wrap. NOT a stroller. Not one of those Bjorn things where the baby faces out. The one many people get is a Moby, but there are others.

Stretchy wraps are the greatest for a breastfed newborn. The stretchiness of the fabric makes it easy to pop the baby in and out, and keeps the baby feeling snug and secure. Your heartbeat and motion make the baby fall asleep. Plus, the baby is close to your boob. And with a little bit of practice, you can nurse with the kid in the wrap.

The lone downside is that they can be warm, depending on the weather. Also, they make you look like a Jedi. (Feature/bug, you decide.)

Traveling on the Metro with a baby is easy - easier, I think, than renting a car. I would suggest just one thing, that you pick a hotel that's on the line that goes to the wedding. The last time I was in DC, I felt like I engaged in a ton of urban hiking to get from place to place, and my kid got grouchy.

No tips on what to see (although if you haven't seen it already, I thought the American Indian museum was really great and worth an afternoon. Also apparently their museum food is delish.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:41 PM on May 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's a hotel called Carlyle Suites just steps away from the Swann Inn on New Hampshire Ave. You wouldn't need a car at all - you could easy walk to restaurants and everything else you need from there. There's a drug store and grocery store down 17th st not too far away as well. Metro is about a 10 min walk.
posted by yarly at 4:01 PM on May 1, 2011

Hotels in DC tend to be expensive, and you are coming at the beginning of the high season. Some options for places to stay (with a new baby go for the rooms that have private baths) would be the Kalorama Guest House or the Woodley Park Guest House. It is quirky but if you are on a budget you might consider staying at the Tabard Inn (again, spring for one of the rooms with a private bath). The Hampton Inn Washington, DC-Convention Center is fairly decent and reasonable (as DC goes). All the places listed are fairly close to Metro/transit.

You will not want to rent a car for use in the city. Traffic is bad and parking is difficult. Public transportation is doable with a baby, though avoiding the peak of rush hour will make for a much more pleasant experience.

If you like art, check out some of the smaller and less crowded museums, whether on the Mall or off the Mall. Off the top of my head try the Hirshhorn, Freer/Sackler, National Museum of African Art, The Textile Museum, the Phillips Collection, the Corcoran, the Renwick Gallery, the National Museum of American Art/National Portrait Gallery, or Dumbarton Oaks (the gardens there are beautiful).

Depending on what kind of music you like, the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center has free performances daily at 6:00 PM, no tickets required. The Kennedy Center is not far from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop and has a free shuttle bus as well.

DC has lots of great restaurants, including lots that are vegetarian friendly. There are multiple past Ask Metafilter threads on this topic with many recommendations for you. A few of my favorites (reservations usually required) would be Zaytinya and Rasika, and Jaleo would probably work also. Menus for all are available online.
posted by gudrun at 4:25 PM on May 1, 2011

Looks like the Swann House has open rooms on the dates in question. Why not just stay there? It's definitely not inexpensive ($299/night) but then nowhere that I think you'd want to stay in DC is particularly inexpensive. The Dupont Circle Metro is right down the street a bit, you'll have a private place to whisk the baby away if needed, plenty of vegetarian-friendly restaurants are in the area, and there are even walkable museums. Cranky baby on the Metro is no fun but if you're flying into DCA then it's a short trip and no hassle at all. BWI is a bus to rail transfer (If you catch a bus right as you exit the airport, probably an hour trip total) while IAD has bus to L'Enfant Plaza.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 4:28 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Tabard Inn. Nice place, reasonable rates, and not too far from Swann House. They have a nice complimentary breakfast as well.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 4:31 PM on May 1, 2011

We pricelined ourselves into the Hotel Madera (21st & N) last year, and it was very nice and very convenient. I think we paid about $100/night.
posted by rtha at 4:35 PM on May 1, 2011

Crud. We're leaving town on the 13th. We would have totally had you housesit.

If you need anything, memail me and we can try to help.

5 weeks? That's a pretty early age to go to an out of town wedding. Baby should be boobed constantly. Don't make any assumptions about your ability to explore. I'm a pretty adventerous mommy and I'd still be hesitent at that age to make concrete plans.

Wrap him or her up at all times. Public transit will be best.
posted by k8t at 4:46 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I took my daughter on a weekend camping trip at 17 days old, in preparation for the two-week trip at 5 weeks. Then we visited DC at 6 months. Now we live here.

It's far easier to travel with a 5-week old than a 6-month old. Metro is easy to navigate with an infant, though you'll have to have your diaper bag searched at most museums. A Library of Congress tour sounds right up your alley--not as stuffy or crowded as most museums, easy to bow out of if the baby starts crying, and if you let me know you're coming, I can take you into some back passageways and such, and into the main reading room if the baby is in a quiet mood.

You'll be fine. Sure, there may be some extra hassles, but it shouldn't keep you from coming and having fun.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:33 AM on May 2, 2011

Oh, and this may be your last opportunity to linger in art museums for many years, so hit those, National Gallery, sure, but also Hirshorn and Corcoran and Phillips and Renwick.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:31 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it were me, with a baby that young, I would try and make things as easy on myself as possible. Stay at Swann House or something within two blocks, so if you need to go back to the room for a nap or a meltdown you can easily do that. And then you wouldn't need to rent a car, or spend any time on public transit. And you can maximize your sleep time!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:40 AM on May 2, 2011

I second the recommendation to stay within short distance of the hotel. Taking babies on trains can be easy enough but I wouldn't want to be standing around waiting for a train with a fussy baby and a killer headache.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:28 PM on May 2, 2011

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