The home of the President and the capital city of the United States, Washington D.C. boasts a number of beautiful parks and historical landmarks; ideal for those interested in American History. A city of contrasts, Washington homes members of congress who spend, spend, spend, yet there are many poor and homeless occupying the parks and streets. There’s a lot to see and do here so prepare for long busy days.
The Smithsonian Museums cover a wide range of interests and are all free. The city is littered with monuments celebrating the great men of America and are mostly based around the National Mall, alongside the Museums. Watch the Washington Nationals baseball team at the Nationals Park and enjoy an exciting president race and family atmosphere. If you are fortunate to visit during March – April, you can witness the Cherry Blossom Festival, with Washington radiating in colour.
Hostel/Budget rates – Dorm bed $25 – $50, private rooms begin at $50.
Midrange Hotel rates – Hotel or B&B $120 – $250.
Luxury Hotel rates – Luxury hotel double room $350+
Transport – Metro day pass $14.50, single ride ticket $3. Taxi rides will cost you upwards of $12.00 depending on your zone and distance.
Average cost of food – There are a range of cheap options throughout Washington as well as high end restaurants. There are some good fast food spots but not in all parts of Washington. Breakfasts and lunches can be found under $10 whilst budget dinners often range between $15 – $30. Midrange restaurants for two with three meal course will set you back $40 -$70 whilst a high end restaurant averages $60 – $100. We often found a good restaurant with a wine and beer would be $45 approx.
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – Hostelling International – Washington DC Hostel offers dorms in gender or mixed dormitories, starting at $29 whilst double rooms start at $89 per night. With a metro station just 5 minutes away and the White House and National Mall just 900 yards away, this is a popular choice for backpackers on a budget. Duo Housing Hostel is also rated highly, with its homely atmosphere and great prices; Beds in a mixed dormitory start at $21.95 and included breakfast and free WIFI.
Midrange – Comfort Inn Downtown DC/Convention centre costing $207 per night is a popular hotel, rated highly on TripAdvisor for its great staff, great locations and excellent value for money. You may also wish to stay at the luxurious Washington Plaza at $290 per night.
Top End – The Jefferson Hotel is one of Washington’s finest, with rooms starting at $525 and guests rating this place the top hotel on TripAdvisor, it is no wonder this place sells out fast. The immaculate rooms and elegant interior is the perfect touch for those craving a bit of luxury. The River Inn is a favourite of mine, with the hotels ‘Trendy Foggy Bottom Diner’ serving delicious food and a great chill out spot for drinks in the evening. A luxury hotel at a great value price; rooms start at $201 per night.
How to get there
Fly – Fly into Reagan National (DCA) which is the nearest and most convenient airport to DC, from here you can catch the Metro blue and yellow lines or a super shuttle/taxi. Dulles (IAD) airport also includes super shuttle or Washington Flyer bus to downtown Washington DC or Baltimore Washington International (BWI) is an airport slightly further from the capitol but cheaper flights may be found to this airport which is also connected to MARC trains that take you straight to Union Square.
Bus – Greyhound, BoltBus, Megabus and Washington Deluxe buses stop at Union Station, where you can then catch the Amtrak or red line to your hotel. Inexpensive fares can be found on a Chinatown bus, which takes you from Chinatown NYC to Chinatown WDC. Buses can take approx. 5 hours depending on traffic from NYC to Washington and prices start from $24 for advanced tickets, again from NYC to Washington DC.
Train – Amtrak serves Washington D.C. with trains stopping at Union Square. This is great if travelling the East Coast with train routes available from: Boston all the way down to Miami.
Drive – The Beltway, Interstate 495 surrounds the Washington DC area whilst Interstate 95 on the major north-south highway can be used to access DC.
The Metrorail and Metrobus is the safest, cleanest and most efficient transportation to use in Washington. Many hotels are conveniently located near a metro station or bus route and serve the many tourist attractions of the city. Use the Metro map to help plan your route.
We found walking was a great way to get around Washington, taking in the sites and parks Washington has to offer. Taxi’s maybe a better choice for those heading back after an evening out but can be costly if travelling far, as with all cities.