Generations of Americans have visited Washington DC to experience the sights and sounds that make up our nation’s capital. While history buffs hold a special reverence for this city, don’t be put off if this isn’t your cup of tea. Visitors young and old will be entertained and enjoy everything DC has to offer.
Where to Stay and Getting Around
Like most big cities the cost of hotels in Washington DC can be high. But don’t limit your searches just to DC proper. You will likely be able to find much more affordable accommodations outside the city limits. WMATA (Washington metro trains and buses) run to the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland where you can find something less expense. Make sure your hotel is on the subway or bus line, or call and ask if the hotel has a shuttle that runs to the train stop. Driving and parking in Washington DC is expensive and difficult. Stick to public transit and if need be use cabs. They’re relatively inexpensive and work great in a jam.
What to See
One of the best perks of visiting is that there are a lot of free attractions. All of the Smithsonian Museums are free of charge, as is visiting the US Capitol Building, any of the monuments, US Treasury, and National Zoo. If you would like to visit the treasury you’ll need to arrive early as entrance is on a first come first serve basis. Be sure to visit the website for operating days and hours. Tours of the White House and US Capitol can be arranged through your senator or representatives office ONLY and should be submitted as soon as possible (even as much as 6 months ahead of time). To visit the other attractions there’s no need to get any advance tickets and you’re free to come and go as you please.
Not everything is free, and that’s ok because there are a few spots worth paying for. The United States Holocaust Museum and International Spy Museum are two spots for older kids. There’s an opportunity to learn and experience something new, in an engaging and interesting way.
Eating in DC
Each of the Smithsonian museums has at least one cafeteria or eating option. Some are much better than others. For example the cafeteria in the National Museum of the American Indian Museum offers a variety of meal options representing the Native American tribes from around the country. Want to eat with lawmakers? In the basement of the Senate and House office buildings are cafeterias that are open to the public and very reasonably priced. Penn Quarter, an area just off the mall, has a number of eateries ranging from tapas to burgers and everything in between. If you’re hungry after a day at the zoo, the U Street corridor is home to perhaps the most famous Washington DC eatery – Ben’s Chili Bowl. In warm weather, a trip to the Maine Avenue Fish Market makes for a delicious lunch. Order as many crabs as you like, they steam them and you can eat them there! There are other choices of course but you can’t beat this spot for delicious, affordable seafood.
Have you visited our Nation’s Capitol with your family? Do you have any travel tips for the area?