Budget Travel to Washington D.C with Kids is a Wonderful Vacation. You can balance your time between outdoor activities with visits to Monuments and to near by National Park Sites near DC and indoor sites such as Smithsonian Museums for a Cheap Vacation. While staying in the City can be expensive there’s plenty of cheaper options outside the city or Family Travel Hacking can help cover your hotel with points.
Where to Stay in Washington D.C. on a Budget with Kids
Staying outside of Washington D.C. can be an affordable option. Hyatt Place and Hyatt House are 2 affordable options with space for families, and includes complementary breakfast and parking. These are Category 1 Hyatt’s so if you have points they average only 5,000 points per night. Otherwise cash rate is around $125/night. However, with 1 credit card sign on bonus from Chase Sapphire or Hyatt you could cover 6-12 nights for free.
Our Favorite suburb location is the Hyatt Regency Dulles. This is because as Globalists we get free parking and Free breakfast for all guests which includes a nice breakfast buffet. It’s an upgrade from what you get at Hyatt Place/Hyatt House. In addition their pet fee is slightly less so we save when traveling with our dog. The indoor pool is nice at this location as well. You will need a car and there is a small fee for parking.
What to do in Washington D.C on a Budget with Kids
The reason why Washington D.C on a Budget with Kids is one of the best budget vacation options is because there is so much to do for free in DC including museums that would normal cost a lot of money.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex compromised of 21 museums and the National Zoo.
The most popular museum for families in Washington D.C. is the National Air and Space Museum. This museum went through a remodel and reopened recently. They are requiring a timed ticket entry so make sure to get tickets in advance. In fact I recommend checking every museum you plan to visit to make sure they do not require ticketed entry as we saw a family turned away because they didn’t know and tickets were sold out. The Museum covered both Air and Space Travel and has a lot of hands on areas for children. I would say the ideal age is 3+ for this museum.
The National Museum of Natural History is another great option. It’s a great way to see and learn about a variety of animals. The National Museum of American History is another fun one that offers a variety of exhibits. The Sparks lab inside the museum offers some hands on “inventing” activities for kids which can entertain them for an hour or 2. The National Zoo while small is a wonderful free outdoor activity that is great for families. At the end of November through December they also offer Zoo lights. This event is free but requires a ticket. At this time, day time admission to the zoo also requires an advance ticket.
D.C. is full of National Monuments, memorializing our Nation’s history. The Washington Monument stands tall in the middle of the National Mall and Abraham Lincoln Memorial is a popular monument. The 2 you shouldn’t miss are the World War 2 Memorial is impressive with its fountains and the faithful message of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, “out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
Outside of Washington D.C. there are many Family Friendly National Park Sites . If you have a national park pass or a 4th grader (with an every kid outdoors park pass) you can visit for free. If not most parks charge a nominal fee but often it’s worth purchasing the National Parks Annual pass for only around $80. Great Falls Park offers views of one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the US and Shenandoah National Park offers some great family friendly hikes including rock scrambles, water falls and scenic viewing stops.
What to eat in Washington D.C. on a Budget with Kids
Whether you enjoy ribs, pulled pork, chicken or brisket there’s plenty of good options for BBQ around D.C. Make it an experience and order their multiple meat family firsts for about $55-$60 you will have plenty to feed your family of 4 and likely leftovers. Grab a variety of different sauces and taste each meat with each sauce and discuss your favorite combo.
A couple of savings tips we use often, is I bring tortilla wraps to make leftover tacos with just about any leftovers, but if your planning BBQ maybe bring a pack of kings Hawaii rolls to have in the room to use for leftover BBQ slides. Usually these platters come with only a couple smaller sides. For a while the kids didn’t like homemade mac n cheese so we would bring microwave mac n cheese for them to have as a side, while my husband and I ordered our favorite sides the the kids would likely never eat such as collard greens. Another option is to bring Idahoan type instant mashed potatoes that only require hot water. This is something we always have with us for when our son is hungry late night for something more than a snack. We can usually use hotel water from the tap to make it with plastic cups that come in the hotel room.
There’s a variety of food trucks all along the National Mall. Take your time and stroll through the options and don’t be shy to ask the prices because many do not post prices. This is a great option for families who can’t agree on what to eat because everyone can pick what they like.
Cities are a great place to enjoy ethnic food that you may not find where you live and D.C. is no different. Ethiopian is definitely a great option here and one you may not find even in other cities. Around the Dulles hotels there’s several great Asian options if your looking for something close by. Check out more great food option in DC.
Blue Crab and Oysters
Maryland is known for their Blue Crab and Oysters from the Chesapeake Bay. Being so close means you can find these delicious options through out the city and surrounding areas. Think Crab Cake Benedicts or Crab omelets for breakfast, Crab Cocktail, crab topped deviled eggs, oysters, and shecrab soup (because its better than the red Maryland style). Of course crab cakes and soft shell crab are wonderful as well. Before having kids we used to visit Phillips Seafood Buffet on the waterfront in DC but sadly it is no longer.
Bring your Own Food
Another way to save is to pack your own food. Some hotels offer microwaves in rooms or even if there isn’t one in the room sometimes they are located in the ice machine or accessible in the breakfast area of the hotels free breakfast nook. Microwaveable meal options can help reduce the cost of food expenses on vacation. Whether you bring a box of cereal , snacks or a full charcuterie, every little bit adds up and can save. If your flying you can still eat out of your suitcase with shelf stable food.
Budget Travel: Washington D.C. with Kids Summary
Budget Travel to Washington D.C with Kids is a Wonderful Vacation. You can balance your time between outdoor with visits to Monuments and to near by National Park Sites near DC and indoor sites such as Smithsonian Museums. While staying in the City can be expensive there’s plenty of cheaper options outside the city or Family Travel Hacking can help cover your hotel with points.
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