Frommer's Washington, D.C. Paperback – Oct 18 2011
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From the Back Cover
Hundreds of color photos
Free pocket map inside, plus easy-to-read maps throughout
Exact prices, directions, opening hours, and other practical information
Candid reviews of hotels and restaurants, plus sights, shopping, and nightlife
Itineraries, walking tours, and trip-planning ideas
Insider tips from local expert authors
About the Author
Elise Hartman Ford has been a freelance writer in the Washington, D.C. area since 1985. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, Ladies Home Journal, National Parks magazine, National Geographic Traveler, the travel website Home & Abroad, the London-based Bradman’s North America Guide, The Essential Guide to Business Travel, and in other online and in-print national, regional, and trade publications. In addition to this guide, she is the author of Night + Day D.C., a guidebook in the Cool Cities series published by ASDavis Media Group/PulseGuides.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I go to DC at least once a year and often more. This book is comprehensive a provides the straight scoop on hotels and restaurants throughout the capital and surrounding areas in all price ranges, provides transportation options and (most importantly) different tourist attractions.
I read this book and think it is very comprehensive. If something Isn't included (a restaurant or lodging choice), I'd have to conclude that it is new or off the beaten track or not worth critiquing. While it excels in all areas, it's real strength is the focus it places on tourist and cultural attractions and the attention it places on the diverse neighborhoods that comprise the district.
The pictures are beautiful, the maps are accurate, and the information provided is up-to-date.
This is a definitely helpful guide that makes a great DC vacation a reality if used based on your needs and interests.
My only advice, purely speculative, is avoid a Kindle version of this book. I recently bought a similar Frommer's guide for Kindle and found it lacking re: pictures (in black and white), maps, and formatting.
As a fellow travel guide writer, I know firsthand that writing a guidebook is a vast achievement. With that said, imagine encapsulating our Capitol City, Washington, D.C., into 364 pages. I'm sure author Elise Hartman Ford pulled at least a few long-nighters trying to shrink what seemed to be a database, the size of a football field, into one paragraph! I mean, D.C. has more than 120 hotels alone!
Ms. Ford, however, handles the arduous task precisely. The result is an impressive collection of some of Washington D.C.'s best buzz broken down as follows: "The best of"; "Washington in depth"; "Suggested itinerary"; "Where to stay"; "Where to dine"; "Exploring Washington"; "Shopping"; "Washington D.C. after dark"; "Side trips from Washington"; "Planning your trip."
Although no guidebook should, or could, for that matter, cover it all, I was disappointed that the guide did not sprinkle a few of the first-class attractions from the roster of first-rate universities and schools of higher learning that also make the city famous. I hope the author and publisher strongly consider this angle for the next issue.
Overall, however, with Frommer's branded organizational style--special ratings, icons, and the like to convey such things as special finds, kid-friendly places, special moments (experiences memories are made of), overrated (places or experiences not worth a traveler's time or money), and so on, the result is a must-have travel companion.
Meanwhile, if you want to throw in the tourist hat and at least appear like a Washington D.C. regular (i.e. able to differentiate between, say, the "red line" and "green line"), the guide, complete with free pullout city map, is likely the only quick study that you will need.
Stacy Lytwyn, Marketing Guru/Motivational Speaker/Journalist
Author: CONSUMMATE CONNECTICUT: DAY TRIPS WITH PANACHE
The write ups about the attractions are interesting - though not very exciting in many cases. It has more of a facts oriented tone which is appropriate for a guide book I guess. There are some gems interspersed like the Georgetown tour piece which was phenomenal. I've got many guides on D.C. in my library and some have off the wall fun facts or a particular writing style that is both witty and entertaining so perhaps I'm spoiled.
Since I live here I did not have cause to really look deeply at the lodgings pieces. Thought it looks current.
Overall I'd have given 3 stars except the fact it is current and up to date and there are a few roses in the rough in here that really caught my eye. A great guidebook for locals and visitors alike!
Writing a guidebook for Washington, D.C. is no simple matter. The possibilities of things to see and do are endless. Our capital is a real goldmine of interesting activities. I wanted this current guidebook for the occasional tourists that stay with us. I recommend Frommer's "Washington, D.C. 2012" guidebook as a complete, reliable, interesting and handy reference for touring.
The guidebook is printed on nice, sturdy paper with a heavy cover that will resist spills. It is filled with good color photos and maps, and even includes a detachable map of D.C. with a Metro Map on plasticized paper. While not pocket sized, it is small enough to carry around while touring.
This guidebook not only informs but also takes care of you. Any reference book will be out of date as soon as it is in print. This is just a fact of publishing in print. Wisely, Frommer tells you to be sure to call the place you are visiting on the morning of your visit. For example, this year's earthquake damaged the Washington Monument requiring it to close to tourists (you can see the outside but can't take the elevator to the top). Also, the White House can close to tourists on short notice.
The book contains many "helpful hints" and touring advice. It suggests seeing one of my favorite groups, the Capitol Steps, specializing is humorous satire of recent political events. It also includes the Embassies and how to visit them. For transportation, the Circulator Bus is a real gem at $1 a ride and arriving every ten minutes!
Handy places to grab a bite include the Senate and House Office Buildings' cafeterias and the Supreme Court cafeteria. These allow families to find convenient, reasonably priced food while avoiding the crowds in the museum cafeterias. Also, it is cool to dine in these "special buildings" where our legislators and Justices work.
The star rating system will also be subjective. The Library of Congress gets one star, while Arlington Cemetery gets two stars. I guess it just depends on what interests you.
The only fault that I noticed was that Frommer failed to cover the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Center, part of the National Air and Space Museum. This isn't such a big oversight (although the Udvar-Hazy Center is really gigantic), but the book mentions it on page 191 then fails to deliver. On page 192, it states: "Let's start with the original, ever popular Air and Space Museum on the Mall." Then, it never discusses the Udvar-Hazy Center at all!
Overall, I think that Frommer's is a more comprehensive and interesting guidebook to Washington, D.C. than most and I will enjoy using it as a reference for myself and visiting tourists.
My main complaint with this book is that it seems to be for more high-end travelers. There is nothing less than a moderately-priced hotel in this book. Most of the restaurants seem to be high-end as well. I don't want to waste my money on vacation buying meals. Granted, I want good food, not greasy or fatty or bad-tasting food, but I don't go on vacation to eat; I want to see things. I'd rather buy souvenirs for friends or books than high-priced food. Not interested in jacuzzis, exercise rooms, bars, fireplaces, massages, liquor, and all the other twaddle offered by hotels today: a clean room with enough room, a good clean bed, a strong shower, working amenities and working wifi is all I need. Free breakfast is a plus, but not necessary.
The layout is a bit lopsided as well: lodgings first? I would rather see what sights are available and then plan my stay in the most affordable room in the main area I will be exploring. Also, shouldn't the itineraries be after the sights are presented?
As with another reviewer, I was amazed to see that Udvar-Hazy was pretty much ignored. We have been there twice since 2004 and it never fails to amaze. Since it is away from the rest of the Smithsonian, why not put it into the section with Mount Vernon and Alexandria?
A reference to discounts on Amtrak also made me smile. Perhaps from destinations in the northeast--from the southeast it's not only expensive, it's more expensive than flying. A pity, too, because I would love to take the train.