Visiting the Capitol City of Washington, DC and staying within budget limits


The thought of vacationing in any U.S. major vacation destination can cause sleepless nights when thinking of a vacation budget. Granted, you can spend a whole bunch of cash and max out credit cards quite easily in D.C., but you can also stay under or at least break even quite easily.

The fact is Washington D.C. is loaded with free things to do, discounts to be found and cheap public transportation. Besides your airfare, the next largest expense is of course, hotel room. You really don’t need to stay inside the District, even though you may view that as an advantage. The truth is, rates are higher, and you can easily find cheaper high quality hotels outside the district. Getting into the District proper is very easy, with public transportation. In fact, Washington has one of the best mass transit systems anywhere. What do you thing all the government workers take into the city every morning? Cars? No, the Metrorail System is the way to go. You can also look right across the river in Virginia for some super deals and again, transportation is still cheap and easy.  For getting around the Metro area, you can take a taxi, Uber or Lyft.  Any and all of those will save you a bundle of money you would have spent on rental vehicle.

Cherry blossom festival in Washington DCHot Tip:

Another area that can be devastation on food budgets is meals and granted there are some excellent restaurants in town but walk away from temptation, at least most of the time. Of all the big cities in the U.S., Washington is perhaps the one for sure that you could call “one big happy town”, because of all the “happy hours”. Let’s face facts, lots of big business and government deals are made over a martini, so it shouldn’t surprise you that special happy hours are everywhere.  You will be amazed at what you can get for small plates and cocktails late afternoon and early evenings. Most cases you can actually have enough to make it dinner.

During the day, if you are close enough to your hotel, and have a kitchen, by all means go back for lunch. The other cheap lunch option is always a picnic lunch in one of the many parks around D.C.  It’s very easy to find a good sandwich shop One of my favorites is “The Best Sandwich Place”, or just ask your desk clerk or museum personal, they all have favorites.

If you have never visited the White House I highly suggest doing so, but you need to plan ahead. It doesn’t cost you anything but time and preparation. You need to contact your local State Member of Congress’s office, at least 30 days before arrival, but not more that 6 months. This will give you access to a “self guided” tour of certain area’s of the “big house”.

Hot Veteran Tip: If you are a Decorated War Veteran, let your member of Congress know, and sometimes they arrange a private White House Tour once you get clearance.

Capitol Boulevard can give you days of free activity, between monuments and the museums, and its all free. But, did you know if you plan your vacation in the month of May, you can visit Embassy’s as well? That’s correct, every May over 170 International Embassy’s open their doors to the public. This is quite a treat, because these mansions are almost always “off limits” to the public.

If you want to experience some of the best restaurants and pubs in the DC areas, my suggestion is to contact the Metro Food Tours website. Not only do they offer motor coach tours but also cheaper walking tours. I think you would really enjoy the Capitol Hill Food Tour that takes you to various elegant mansions in beautiful neighborhoods, walking amongst the trees. There’s also the Washington DC Pub Crawl in Old Town, whereby you can enjoy a cocktail or two, while learning the history of the pub and location.

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