Is there any better place to take a family vacation than to the nation’s Capital? History at your fingertips. A relatively mild year round climate. Great public transportation and food. Oh, and did you know the majority of attractions in the area are free? While its true accommodations and meals can be on the more pricey side, you’ll be able to get more bang for your buck here than in many other large cities.
Don’t forget that Washington DC is essentially a city within two states. The surrounding suburbs of Virginia and Maryland allow you to stretch your search area for better deals. WMATA, the public transportation service for the area, provides services several miles outside the city and many hotels provide free shuttle service to metro stops. If you plan to take a car, it’s generally a better idea to park it at your hotel and use public transportation unless you have a specific health or safety need. Parking in Washington DC proper can be an expensive nightmare.
If you have got this destination in mind, here are some activities your whole family can enjoy.
There is free entry for all to any of the Smithsonian museums, to visit the monuments or tour the Capitol and White House. There is a very good possibility that in a week you would not even have had enough time to visit all the Smithsonian museums – let alone have seen anything else! If you do want to visit the Capitol or White House, you need to file a request through your local senator or representative’s office for tickets. They are available on the specified date you provide and are generally non-transferable to an alternate date.
For confident travelers making your own plan, finding the right public transportation to reach your destination and then continuing to the next point can be no problem. But, if you’re a bit unsure there are several tour buses in the region that will make your stay easier. Old Town Trolley provides a narrated tour of the city while allowing hop on hop off privileges at 17 points. You can get off the trolley to see what interests you or simply enjoy the guided ride. Monuments by Moonlight is another popular option. There is something truly beautiful about seeing all of the cities monuments lit up at night. This is a great way to cap off a day, especially in spring and summer months when the evenings are a little longer and warmer.
While nearly all attractions are free some do provide advanced booking (which can include a small reservation fee) or are first come, first serve. Some of these include the Ford Theatre, Holocaust Museum, and National Treasury Tour. The International Spy Museum and Newseum are two relative newcomers to the DC scene that do charge an admission. If you have older children these two may be worth the added fee. The Spy Museum also offers a Washington DC interactive spy experience.
Even though this city consistently tops lists of the “most expensive place to live” visitors will find that there are numerous bargains to be had and plenty of activities to keep busy for weeks!