WASHINGTON: Cheap Hotels in Washington
Want to take a trip to the capital of the USA? This year there are huge discounted rates on accommodation in Washington DC! Check out the famous Constitution Avenue and the National Mall during your bargain break or if you are taking the family why not visit one of the many museums? There is plenty to do in the capital so get booking and packing!
When to visit based on priceVisiting Washington, DC between March and May, September until end of November is best for prices, less heat and tourists.
Key attractionsThere are so many different top attractions to visit in Washington DC, the fact is you are are only limited by time, money and shoe leather. Let’s start at the top.
Within reasonable proximity are the Washington Monument, Capitol Building and The White House. The Washington Monument is awesome both outside looking up, as well as from the top looking down at DC. When planning your visit to the White House and Capitol Building, try to make advanced tour reservations. Both are exciting, and so full of history. Keep in mind that security is always tight, especially in the White House, so leave that pocketknife back in your hotel room.
For the ultimate “selfie”, a visit to the Lincoln Memorial is in order. Try to plan some time here, as it is a most inspiring and relaxing location. Not only do you get to enjoy the magnificent statue of Abraham Lincoln, but also the Reflecting Pool nearby. Another monument that is well worth a visit is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, where you will be standing in the presence of the Author of the Declaration of Independence and Founding Father of the United States.
Two other not to be missed is Ford’s Theater where John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln. Standing below and gazing up at the balcony where the president was assassinated, you can almost hear the shot ring out.
The Vietnam War Memorial and grounds surrounding it are awe inspiring, and almost peaceful. It is truly the best way to understand the magnitude of the loss from that part of history, until you visit the thousands of names on that wall.
Having funIf you haven’t already had enough fun in D.C. there’s plenty more. Classified as fun and things to see, the Smithsonian Institute is among the most famous museums in the world. Here you get to choose which buildings to visit, from history, art, science and much more. You can touch the bones of Dinosaurs, sit in a space capsule in the National Air & Space Museum, gaze upon Abraham Lincolns stovetop hat, and visit the set of MASH.
A visit to the Washington National Zoo is almost mandatory on your visit to Washington D.C. It’s the oldest zoo in America, with over 2,000 animals, including Large Cats, Asian Elephants and Giant Panda’s. Now who doesn’t like Pandas? A visit to this zoo is a great experience for the family traveling with small children, and adults who still feel like children.
ShoppingThe opportunities for shopping can be found almost everywhere in Washington D.C., from the museum shops, to walking downtown. The AMERICA Experience” shops are also a great find, if looking for unique themed gifts from D.C. From clothing, Chocolates to antiques and collectables, they can be found here.
NearbyTake a half hour drive and visit the birthplace of George Washington at Mount Vernon. With state of the art exhibits, this spectacular 18th century plantation located on the Potomac River is well worth a visit.
About an hours drive from D.C. you cam be in the historic town of Fredericksburg where you can visit the National Military Park, where you will take walking tours of four of the most intense battlefields of the Civil War. If antiques are something you are interested in, the large historic district is home to many, most in period restored Colonial day buildings.
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Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham Washington/Meadow LandsNearby the Meadows Racetrack, this hotel is your perfect getaway for the races....ViewRooms from$71.00
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Local expert's tips
Best Washington DC Vacation Tips with kids
Instead of dragging them around to monuments and other destinations, especially in summer months, why not take them on the “Lil Red Trolley Tour”? This is a motorized red trolley that gives a 2.5-hour tour of all the major sites, and you choose where and when to get off and on. It’s an awesome way to get to the Air and Space Museum, and then re-board another trolley and as you buzz by Arlington National Cemetery, Washington Monument, National Mall and other places, vote on where to stop for a while.
Another very popular place and awesome for little kids is the National Museum of American History where you get to observe Julia Childs actual kitchen from France, and the children gaze at Dorothy’s Red Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz. Of course, there are also some of the best examples of Dinosaur bones in the world, and what kid or adult has not watched Jurassic Park at least once?
Why not give your children the experience of mass transit and tale the D.C. Metro to the National Zoo? Not only is it free, but also it’s got Panda’s! Of course there are also some 2,000 other species there to enjoy. The kids can watch and learn at special demonstrations, from training sessions, feeding time for babies, to live demos with giant cats.
Some helpful suggestions on booking your hotel, include choosing somewhere that offers suites like Embassy, as well as offering “free” full breakfast and happy our late afternoon. Starting the day off with your kids and a full tummy is key here, as is saving money on D.C. restaurants that are expensive. If you do your research, you can also find hotels with awesome pools, and even babysitter services.
Planning the time of year also gives you the opportunity of outdoor activities and transportation .You can rent bikes and do a family bike tour of the Capitol Drive, or with older children, maybe try the Segway Guided Tour.
Getting around D.C. for families traveling with children can’t get much cheaper than on the Metro, which we mentioned earlier. It’s only $1.35 for a single ride, under $* for a day pass and $39 each for a seven day pass. Much cheaper than renting a car, gas, insurance, parking fees, and being yelled at because you are lost!
As far as family tours, there are some excellent ones available if you plan ahead. Kids really enjoy during summer months, the D.C. Duck Tours, which doesn’t include any zoo’s/It’s a ride in a restored 1942 amphibious “duck” vehicle, that does land and sea. It will take you sightseeing on land, then splash into the Potomac River for a cruise.
Great ideas for a “budget friendly” Washington DC Vacation
Right from the get go, when you select your hotel you might want to look outside D.C. itself, in neighboring Virginia or Maryland. There are totally some awesome hotel deals in these states that are only a few Metro Stops from the capital buildings.
One of the places I stay when visiting D.C. is in Arlington, Virginia for these reasons.
SO lets look at the advantages of using the Metro System for all your travel needs, starting from your trip to the hotel from the airport. You can save tons of money by purchasing a multi-day Metro Pass and use it to go everywhere. The plain fact is driving everywhere in D.C. is a nightmare, and parking fee’s will eat you up!
So lets look at some of the “free stuff” available to you which comprise some of the best sights in Washington, DC.
The first is something everyone needs to do during their visit, take the Capitol Hill Tour that take you to the “home” of the Senate and House.
Another top destination for visitors in the area is of course the National Zoo, famous for its Giant Panda’s.
The National Mall is another destination that doesn’t cost a dime, except for food of course.
During these trying times in the world, you may find a visit to the Washington D.C. International Spy Museum in order. The museum guides you thru the history of spying and some of the most famous international spies, as well as tools of the trade.
Another historic site to visit is Mount Vernon and George Washington’s home, where he and Martha lived while he was president. You will be amazed at how the home and grounds have been kept the same as when they lived there.
Vacationing in Washington DC again? Let’s hit the suburbs
After dinner there are some excellent choices for evening entertainment, among them Bourbon located in Glover Park and for some sweet jazz while you sip and relax, Blues Ally.
Another great area to experience is the Columbia Heights area, especial if you want to rub shoulders and clink wine glasses with the locals. Again I would suggest taking a cab for all the same reasons. A couple suggestions include Redrocks Firebrick Pizzeria for a slice or two and a mug or three of unique custom brews beer. Probably the most popular haunt of locals is the Wonderland Ballroom. No, you won’t need your ballet slippers, but there is live music.
Whether you have visited DuPont Circle and walked the Embassy Row, peaking in the fences looking for dignitaries, it’s a fun place to dine. Guess you can figure with dignitaries visiting from all over the world, having fantastic dining options is key.
If the weather is pleasant and you love fresh seafood, you probably would enjoy Hank’s Oyster Bar, where you can enjoy the sights and sounds while slurping oysters on the outdoor patio. To keep to a tight budget and still enjoy some international foods, try Zorba’s, which serves Greek experiences on a plate. If you’re ready for ultimate “fine dining”, our suggestion would be either Obelisk or Komi, but we highly suggest making advanced reservations.
On your first or even second visit to DC, you probably never got to Chinatown, but maybe this time you should. The fun part is that Chinatown is located close to the National Mall, which puts it close for an evening adventure. The main street running through Chinatown is 7th Street N.W., and there you will find some of the best food anywhere. Keep in mind that over time, things have changed quite a bit here, especially when it comes to finding great Chinese food here. Many have closed and some have changed hands, although you wouldn’t know looking from the street. Case in point, is the “Owl Restaurant”, which one would imagine would be authentic Chinese located on 7th, right? Wrong! In fact, the moment you walk through the door, you realize you will be enjoying hot wings in Hooters!
To eat excellent authentic Chinese you will have to instead head to H Street N.W., and locate China Boy, Jackey Café or the Full Kee Restaurant. These restaurants may not be fancy and have cloth tablecloths, but the food will be awesome.
Hot Tips for Visiting the Smithsonian in Washington, DC
If you have never been to the Smith before, starting at “The Castle”, or Smithsonian Institute Building is a good place to start. There you will find the info center and get maps and other info on all the building for your visit. If traveling with small children, they will get a kick out of the carousel in front of the building.
For both young and old, hands down the most popular and most visited museum in the whole world is the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. Let’s face it, who isn’t amazed by an exhibit featuring fighter planes, space ships and the original “Spirit of St. Louis”? This museum is located conveniently in the National Mall, close to all the favorite D.C. monuments, and a great way to get out of the elements for a while. There’s the White House, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial to name a few.
More than 8 million visitors walk through the front door of Air and Space, that not only houses everything that flies or ever has, but also a planetarium and IMAX Theater.
Next best attraction at the Smithsonian for families traveling with children is still the National Zoo. Possibly the best zoo in the U.S. and it’s free! With over 2,000 animals on display and over 400 different species walking, crawling or flying about, this is a real all day adventure. This zoo is located on 160 acres and features the famous Tian & Mei Xiang, Giant Pandas, always and the little guy’s favorites. Their newest baby “cub” born in August 2015 is now available for public viewing, and what a photo option. For children, there’s an awesome and safe “Kids Farm” where they can interact with cows, alpacas, donkeys and more.
Probably our best tip for you in planning your visit to the Smithsonian is just that, planning, and we mean ahead of arrival. Depending on how long you have in D.C., some of the major museums can take up to two days to properly see everything, so go online and get a map of all the buildings. Research and find out which are the ones you must visit, and plan.
As far as getting around downtown D.C. especially visiting highlights and of course the museums, where you stay is important. Your best bet is to hook up with a hotel in the suburbs on the Metro Line. Your hotel will be cheaper, and you won’t need a vehicle.
Finally, you are visiting one of the most visited vacation destinations in the world, and it will be busy. Plan on taking many breaks throughout the day, for your sanity as well as relief for those little feet walking next to you.
Travel Tips plus for your upcoming visit to Washington, DC
For getting around D.C. especially to see major sites, you really should check out some of the tour companies. The nice thing about them is you aren’t stuck on the bus all the time. Instead, you can get on and off the tour busses tat run constantly, check something out, and catch the next tour bus to continue. You have excellent choices like the Old Town Trolley Tour Company, American Heritage Tour and my personal favorite, the Gold & Grey Line. Why is it my favorite you ask? Open Top Sightseeing Bus, great as long as it’s not raining.
There are a bunch of tour companies that offer exciting dusk or night tours of the monuments. You can tour with the tour bus companies, or maybe if you’re fit or want to be, there’s “Bike and Roll Washington” offering bicycle tours at night. You will be surprised how different and beautiful everything is lit up after dark.
Here’s a “hot tip” for getting souvenirs while in Washington, D.C. When you visit the Smithsonian Museums, do your shopping in the museum gift shop. It’s the only place in town where you can buy them “tax free”.
Getting back to transportation, you will notice almost everywhere the people riding bright red bikes, that all look alike. Those are from Capitol Bikeshare, and if you are a biker or reasonably in shape, you might try peddling around the city. The Bikeshare is a great deal, and all you have to do is hit one of the Bikeshare stations, slide your credit card at the kiosk, grab your bike and away you go. You have a choice of renting for the day, or three days in a row.
Another excellent and cheap way to get around the city is the Circulator Bus service, enjoying six different routes. There are Circulator Bus stops with a flag along the routes. The busses run every ten minutes, and all you do is check on the front of the bus the final destination. Check your route guide, and hop on for only a buck.
Visit the Nations Capitol, Washington, DC and stick to a budget
Although the Children’s Capitol Museum is a great place to take children when visiting D.C., it’s also quite costly. Instead, there are so many other ices that wit you transportation an lunch. You can spend a whole day wandering the National Zoo, which costs nothing for admission, and you can even pack a lunch or stuff a back pack with snacks, sandwiches and pop.
Then there’s the Smithsonian, with so many massive, ever changing exhibits that you can visit the many buildings for days and never see everything.
The one great thing about Washington D.C. is it’s mass transit system, and using it is a great advantage to driving yourself around town. Whether just adults or traveling with small children, it’s a super experience and only requires patience, a Metro subway and bus map, and a backpack or two. During the week it will only cost a couple dollars to park your rental in the Metro parking lot and rail around town. On weekends, that parking lot is free, so plan accordingly. As far as costs to use the Met, again it’s only a couple dollars per person for one way, and little ones under four years old travel free. Note: is planning to take the bus or Metro, it’s a good idea to have a wad of $1’s with you, although there are “fare cards” but you may have to purchase more fares on it then you will use, and waster money.
A really cost effective way to visit the sites is by taking a “Walking Tour”, but we aren’t talking paying for a guide. Instead, before your trip, go on-line and for under $9, download the “citywalkingtourguide” to your smartphone, tablet or you can print it. That way, you can plan ahead what you want to see, and plan different adventures on foot.
No matter where you go within the greater D.C. area, food is expensive, and that’s where the backpack and soft-sided cooler comes in handy. Most hotels offer some sort of buffet breakfast, and you would be wise to make good use of it and fill up before heading out on the town. If you can’t locate a deli or small store in your hotel vicinity, ask the front desk for recommendations for a place to get sandwiches, and pack a lunch. Washington D.C. has many park benches and the Mall has picnic tables for a lunch break.
Keep in mind, this is a tourist town, and although you may think street vendors will offer cheap food, it’s not and cheaper than eating at the Mall or museum restaurants.
If you have to eat in a restaurant, at least look around and check out the menu that’s always posted somewhere, and shop for food and prices that fit your budget.
Budget vacation tips from locals in Washington, DC
And speaking of U.S. Embassy’s in D.C., wouldn’t it be awesome to actually see inside some of these “off-limits” mansions? Guess what, you can if visiting Washington during the month of May, each year. During May many of the world’s embassies open their doors to the public for what’s called “Passport D.C.”. This isn’t just a “walk-about” looking into offices, but in fact a cultural experience, where each embassy offer’s a glimpse of the country back home. From demonstrations of dance and martial arts, to food and wine of their countries, and it’s free.
If you would like to experience a show or symphony while in town, expect to pay big bucks for your tickets, unless you use our “hot tip”. Head over to “Ticketplace” located in the Outlet Mall at 407 7th Street where you can get half-price tickets. If you want to plan ahead and get advanced tickets, check out their on-line website.
We have an awesome relaxing Friday Night adventure for you if visiting Washington between May and September and all you need is a blanket or foldable lawn chairs. This is one of those ever-popular “open air” experiences located on the grounds of the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art. Make sure you get there early afternoon to claim a spot, because you’re competing with the locals for these wonderful “jazz-fests” under the stars. Bring that special bottle of wine and a take out, or better yet, try one of the excellent “food trucks” nearby for dinner.
One of the best views you can get of the city can be found at the top of the Pilgrim Observation Gallery, which is located within the National Cathedral. Take the elevator, your camera and or “GoPro” to the 150 ft. tower top where you get a breathtaking complete un-obstructed view of the city below.
One of the best experiences is to take a tour of the monuments of D.C. at dusk when they are illuminated, and if you’re “game” we suggest the “Segway Tours”. After a 20-minute instructional class you’re off and “wheeling” on a guided journey, zipping past other tourists. During the warmer summer months, you will especially enjoy the cooling effect! For a not so expensive experience, great photo op experiences and chance to learn to ride a Segway and interesting facts about the monuments, this is too much fun.
Washington D.C. - Entertainment For Budget Travelers
How do you save money on entertainment in Washington D.C? Here are some ideas:
National Theatre Free Saturday Performances – Each Saturday family friendly performances are offered free of charge at 9:30 and 11am. You must be in line to get a ticket and the tickets for these performances are distributed 30 minutes before show time.
1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004 202-628-6161
Kennedy Center Free Performances – Everyday in the Grand Foyer of The Millennium Stage is home to free performances. No tickets are required and they begin at 6pm. Some discount tickets for performances can also be found by going to their website. As with most ticket policies these discounts vary based on the popularity of the perfomance.
Ticketplace.org - If you are looking for discounted tickets to the theater in Washington D.C. this is a good spot to look. Same day shows as well as advanced tickets for the Theatre and performing arts can be found. Half price tickets are not unheard of as well as same day discounts.
Arena Stage is a non-profit theatre in Washington D.C. that has some discount and budget friendly productions. They have a pay your age program for tickets that can save you plenty of money. These tickets are available 8 weeks in advance of the show and you must show proof of age. HOTTIX are sold 30 minutes prior to the show and are on a limited basis for each show at half price.
Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium - If you want some outdoor entertainment there are free tours and lectures at the nature center. The planetarium has free shows and there are ranger led lectures available.
5200 Glover Road NW, Washington, DC 20015
Shakespeare Theatre Company – So you want see a great production but you don’t want to spend too much money. 2 hours before Showtime you can buy rush seats for $25. These are only available at the box office. If you are under 35 years of age you can also buy tickets for $18 in advance.
610 F Street NW Washington, DC 20004-2207
Library of Congress - Are you entertained by lawmakers doing what lawmakers do? Well, maybe not entirely but free lectures and tours occur daily and you might be surprised to see how entertaining a session of congress can be. Monday through Saturday guided tours are provided free of charge through the Thomas Jefferson Building. Self guided tours are also available. Guided tours begin on the hour between 10:30 and 3:30 Monday through Friday. Saturday tours are also available at varying times.
Thomas Jefferson Building
10 First Street SE Washington, DC 20540
Free Museums in Washington D.C. – The following museums while having free admission also have programs in place for free tours and lectures throughout their days. Operation hours and scheduled tour time vary so it is best to seek individual details from each locations website.
Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle)
American Art Museum
National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
National Museum of American History
National Museum of the American Indian
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
National Museum of Natural History
National Portrait Gallery
The National Zoo
The Museums You Must See in Washington D.C.
A visit to the United States Capitol will require quite a bit of walking as the National Mall is the focal point for visitors. This large urban area is surrounded by points of interests, museums and memorials. With a little bit of planning you can see all that there is to offer in this grand space in a few days while spending a minimal amount of money because most of the attractions do not charge a price for admission.
Things to See in Washington D.C.
Air and Space Museum – This is the gem of the museums. If you are even slightly into the cool things that go into space and allow us to see beyond what we think we see in our daily lives, this is a can’t miss museum. Space is that one subject that defines curiosity and at the Air and Space Museum they do their very best to explain as much as possible about it. You’ll see what the Wright brothers started off with when deciding to take flight and you’ll be taking on a journey to Mars with the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Make sure to see the exhibit on manned space flights and get an understanding on how things fly. Allow 4- 6 hours to take it all in. This museum is among the best in the world. Free admission
American History Museum – This catalog of artifacts and exhibitions shows much about what has happened in this young country’s history. From settling the west to the launch of the automobile to the way the leaders of the country are selected the halls of this museum will cover it all. Allow 2 – 4 hours to properly view the museum. Free admission
Natural History Museum – You can never get tired of walking past dinosaurs and this museum has its share. Make sure to see the vast collection of gems and the exhibit on ancient Egypt. The ocean hall is a must see and if you allow it to happen you can be in this section of the museum for hours at a time. Allow 2- 4 hours for a proper visit. Free admission
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – The sculpture garden is a hit and a great way to appreciate the sunshine on a nice day in Washington D.C. Walk outside and across the National Mall to see more of these impressive sculptures. Free admission
From the National Mall, that is the home to these great museums, it is an easy walk to the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument, The World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From the Lincoln Memorial take a look out over the reflecting pool and stand in the exact spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The White House is also within walking distance as is the Capital Building and the library of Congress.
Public transportation is fairly convenient and if you elect to take the train you can easily access the National Zoo (Free admission).