My family finally made the trip to Washington D.C. and it was worth every moment only wish we had visited sooner. We had such a blast and time just flew and before we realized it was time to head back home. We explored and toured the nations capitol like we owned the town all the while sticking to our budget.
Touring our nations capital was an exciting trip for my family. We had planned on taking this trip for several years and always decided to go somewhere else. This time we stuck to our guns and we took that leap of faith or should I say 15 hour road trip.
As a large family taking trips we must always stick to a budget. No matter where we go and what we do. The cost is everything. Washington DC was no different. This is how we went to Washington DC on a budget.
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The majority of attractions are FREE!!! Which is a big bonus when it comes to savings. All monuments are free as well. The Smithsonian museums are a must see as there are plenty of interactive activities for all ages.
Here are some of the things that are free.
- Smithsonian Natural History Museum
- Smithsonian American History Museum
- The National Zoo
- Capitol Tours
- National Museum of the American Indian
- Arlington Cemetery
- National Gallery of Art
- National Mall
- Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
- Library of Congress
- All monuments (WWII, Vietnam, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial
The cost: $5.00
We bought VIP tickets for the Holocaust museum that had a set schedule. This museum books up fast so it’s best to purchase tickets online. It was $1/person. All other activities we enjoyed were free.
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We stayed in College Park which is 18 minutes away from downtown D.C. The closer you are the more the hotel cost becomes. The prices range from $200-$300/night. It is best to find a hotel in the surrounding areas in Maryland or Virginia.
We stayed at the Days Inn. I must say it was the worst hotel we have ever stayed in. Although the rooms were clean. There were unkempt maintenance and the customer service was poor. I will be writing a blog on the experience of the hotel and tips to use for booking hotels to make sure you don’t experience our disaster.
Cost: $180/2 night stay
We ate breakfast at the hotel each morning, and grabbed some extra apples for kids snacks. We decided to use the food trucks to take care of lunch since we would be touring the national mall area. They are everywhere. Mainly they park along the National Mall and Constitution Dr. There is plenty variety of foods to pick from. The gyros and Afghan food are the best. For dinner the first night we enjoyed Ben’s Chilli Bowl. The prices were reasonable and the atmosphere was laid back.
It is hard to find parking. The parking you do find has 3 hour limits. Which is $2.50/hour. That isn’t really a good deal as most museums can take up to 3 hours to get through. Washington does offer transportation.
What is Offered:
There is the Metro, the Hop on/off buses, bikes, and segway rentals. However, the age limit on the bikes and segways were 16 and up. This was out for our family. The Metro charges around $2 to ride each time and requires a card with $10 minimum per person. That would have been $50 for our family and maybe 2-3 rides only. The hop on and off was also a little pricey coming in at $20-$24/person. We chose to park the car close and foot it hubby was happy with this option cause it was free!
We used Parking Panda. This app showed us all the prices of local parking garages. This app also tells you if it has covered parking or not and the hours of use. Lucky for us we found parking near Union Station which cost only $12 which allowed plenty of time to enjoy. Can not beat that deal. Parking here lead us straight to the Capitol first and down the National Mall.
The second morning we went to Arlington Cemetery which parking is $9 for 3 hours. However, my husband lost our ticket and we ended up paying $16. That afternoon we were able to park on the other side near the monuments and the Tidal basin. We took in the monuments and was able to visit the Holocaust Museum.
It is not always easy finding things for our children to do. Having three can be costly. My husband and I strive at giving our children the same opportunity as if we only has one child. So, to do this there is constant planning and budgeting. In a way it can be like a game. Who can come up with the best deal. The adrenaline from finding great deals that you know your whole family will enjoy is priceless. There is no adventure to big for the five of us and we will continue to enjoy the luxury of travel on a budget. Watch video below for more!!
Want to check out more of our travels?