We had a fantastic time in Washington, DC. There was more to see than we had time for, but we were still able to pack a ton of fun into our days.
It’s important to note that staying in downtown Washington DC is generally not cheap or free. We were able to get an amazing deal in exchange for sitting through a timeshare presentation (which we survived unscathed). That being the case, we did a few things to prepare to have a great time without spending all the dollars.
We planned out some of our meals in advance, and bought sharable items when possible.
We were able to save some money by bringing supplies for peanut butter sandwiches, carrying our own water with us, and purchasing shareables like pizza on some of the days that we did go out to eat. We also made sure to take advantage of the breakfast offerings that came with our hotel stay as well.
We brought our walking shoes.
Like many big cities, parking is ridiculous and traffic is nuts. Since we were staying in the downtown, it made the most sense to pack ourselves water and snacks and hoof it.
We brought laundry supplies.
In our family, it doesn’t matter how many extra outfits we bring; we always have to do 2 loads of laundry on a trip. We bring 4 or 5 laundry pods and some dryers sheets in sandwich baggies whenever we travel, so we don’t end up buying a $3 box of laundry soap for each load.
So what are some things we did, and that you can do in DC?
Take a walk past the White House.
I was a bit disappointed to discover that much of the view of the front of the White House is obscured right now because of a current fence replacement project, but we were still able to get a good view from just off to the side.
Something I did not expect was the very large number of various protesters and activists. Some people use very loud sound systems to get their messages across, and it can be a bit overwhelming when there are multiple loud speakers blasting multiple messages at the same time. Still, it was a good conversation starter for our family about freedom of speech.
Visit the Smithsonian(s).
Maybe I’m alone here, but I didn’t know that the Smithsonian is actually a family of museums, not just one building.
We visited three different museums while we were there; the American History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, and the Natural History museum.
When you visit the American History museum, you’ll want to make sure you check out shirtless Washington.
Walk around the Federal Triangle.
What’s the Federal Triangle? It’s the massive group of Federal buildings that house the IRS, EPA, DoJ, NOAA, and a bunch of other government offices with acronyms. The buildings are incredible examples of classic architecture.
Visit the Washington Monument.
So this one was a bit disappointing, but not because of the monument itself (which is very impressive). There’s a big fence around it because it’s been closed for repairs since 2016. Still, there’s a big green lawn and it’s a nice place to take a breather after all the walking.
We did a lot more while we were there, but these are the things we did that were both free and fantastic. I hope this post gave you some helpful ideas for a trip of your own!