What do you do when you stay in on New Years Eve, as the clock is eagerly clicking its way to the New Year? You buy a plane ticket, of course.
Don’t judge. And please don’t think I “have it like that”. I firmly and respectfully assure you that I do not. However, and I have mentioned this is the past, have strategically gained reward miles via Southwest, (you can too, check out that post here), which also includes my son flying with me for free until the end of this year. I spent some time looking at Southwest’s calendar seeing where I could go using the least amount of points as possible, and somewhere I actually wanted to go. I found a great deal on going to DC in February. So while you all were celebrating going into the New Year, I was clicking my way to a round-trip ticket to DC.
Have you ever been to DC? I haven’t. My 5th grade class and senior class went but unfortunately funds were not allowing me to go when I was younger.
I told my friend that I usually travel with about the trip, and she was totally on board for joining. Which is great as our kids get a long so well and it almost seems wrong to not travel together since we’ve been so many places together now. We did extensive looking for a cheap hotel, as you may expect, it’s cheaper in the suburbs of the city. Or, in DC’s case, Virginia and Maryland. We found a hotel in Virginia that had shuttle service to the Metro (which was our main means of transportation) and also had a great rate, plus breakfast was included.
Unfortunately when I arrived the Metro line that I needed to get on was down for service so my son and I caught a Lyft ride (which ended up being $23). I will tell you now, DC’s Metro transit system is the most confusing transit system I have ever experienced, maybe it would have been better if the blue line wasn’t down for maintenance, but it’s questionable. It was very confusing, and actually expensive (with fares going up to $5.60 one-way during peak hours and $3.60 during non-peak hours. But on the other hand, renting a car and paying for parking may have exceeded what we paid (some areas were around $20). Kid’s under 5 are free with 1 paying adult, so if you have younger one’s, you won’t have to worry about that. You have to purchase a Metro Card which cost $2, and every rider needs a card (except for the children under 5 riding with the paying adult). I highly suggest viewing the map ahead of time online, and double checking if any lines are down prior to arriving. If you are there for several days, you can get a 7-day pass for $50-something, which depending on your times of travel, it be a lot less than purchasing each trip separately. To reduce any additional cost/metro fees, we walked, walked and walked. It really isn’t a bad way to get around DC, although everything isn’t exactly next door, it still isn’t terribly far from each place. I would suggest wearing comfortable shoes for the obvious reason.
Where to Stay
Depending on where you flying into, that should really determine where you are staying. I flew into Reagan and my friend flew into Baltimore. She ended up paying a hefty price to catch the shuttle to our hotel (which was in Virginia). She could have got on the Metro, but as she got in late, the shuttle seemed to be a safer means of transportation. We decided on The Holiday Inn SW Springfield in Virginia since the offered shuttle service to the Metro, and FREE breakfast. Free breakfast always gets us. The hotel was decently upgraded, has wonderful staff, including awesome attendants who drove us in the shuttle. I have absolutely no complaints, personally. They do have a banquet hall that can be rented out. Both nights that we were there they had events going and we could definitely hear the music, although not too much of a bother to us, it could be for someone else. But speaking in general, if you want to be cheap and remain in a safer location, I can definitely vouch for the Virginia side. It was only a 20 minute ride to downtown too, once on the Metro. Of course I didn’t get photos, but I assure it was a pretty decent hotel with great amenities within a good distance from downtown DC.
What to Eat
We kept it simple when eating in DC. Like I mentioned above, we ate breakfast at the hotel (which ends up saving a bunch of money). We made sure we brought some snacks while we were out and about, but i kid you not. There is a food truck on every corner. We are at the food trucks twice, and at a sit down dinner once. The food trucks are great because they are reasonably priced, and everyone can get what they want. I had an awesome chicken sandwich from DC Chicken truck and my son got chicken finger and fries.
The second day we ate at Pi Pizzeria, which was amazing! Again, we snacked during the day, so us being hungry was an understatement. We had 2 large New York style pieces between the 5 of us, with 1 slice being left. Luckily for us we had to walk back to the Metro station, so we walked off all the carbs we just ingested. Our last day we stopped at the food trucks again.
I got a burrito bowl (was expecting Chipotle type flavor, so it didn’t quite hit the spot) and my son got a hot dog and fries. We also got some ice cream of one of the ice cream trucks.
* Always pack snacks while you are traveling. Somehow kids become bigger garbage disposable while traveling than at home and can eat a lot! Packing dry cereal, granola bars, and having them carry a water bottle will keep the HANGRY down and keep some money in your pockets. I always have my son carry a small backpack too, so he can carry all his own stuff.
What to do
How does this question even need to be answered. Like, why are you even going here? DC is hands down the cheapest city as far as things to do. If you didn’t know, all the Smithsonian’s are FREE. Monuments. FREE. We did go to 1 museum that cost, The Spy Museum, but it is totally worth it. To visit all the museums and truly visit them, you’d need a lot more time. At least week. We hit up a few and spent almost 1.5 hours in most of them and still didn’t scratch the surface. I will go in detail about the museums in another post, but here is where we went:
- Natural History Museum
- Air and Space Museum
- National Portrait Gallery
- International Spy Museum
- National Museum of African-American History and Culture (my favorite and we spent 3 hours and need to go back to finish)
We also visited several monuments, those being:
- Washington Monument
- Lincoln Memorial
- Martin Luther King Memorial
- Jefferson Memorial
- walked the entire National Mall
Our visit was February of 2017. Plane tickers were cheap. Seeing as we were visiting in February, I thought it was going to be cold. I was gratefully wrong. The weather couldn’t have been any greater, especially for that time of the year. With temperatures around 70 degrees, we had the perfect walking weather. Not too hot and not too cold. Stay tuned to read about our visits to the Museums and Monuments!