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How to Visit Washington DC on a Budget

TravelKaycie Vanden TopComment

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, it's probably not a secret to you that Washington DC is my favorite city in America. It has so much history packed into it's city limits and it is all around gorgeous. My favorite times to visit are in the spring and fall, because that's when the weather is the mildest, although this year I want to go see it when the city is covered in snow! Anyway, whenever you decide to visit, here are some tips on how to do it on a budget! 

DC is already one of the most inexpensive places to visit, but I wanted to share some tips with you to make it even more affordable! 

1. Metro/Bikeshare

Taking the metro is my favorite way to get into DC. Driving is a pain because of traffic and parking can get really pricy. Also, depending on what time of the year you go, parking could be pretty much non-existent. You can add money to individual metro passes, or choose an all day pass for $14.50. With the all day pass, you can ride the metro as many times as you want, to wherever you want. Asa and I used to use the day passes all the time until we got official metro cards. 

Once you're in the city, you can use Capital Bikeshare! You can ride bikes through the city with this program and it makes it much easier to get around! The bikes cost $8 for a day membership, and the first half hour of every ride is free! THIS IS KEY, you must dock your bike at a docking station every half hour or else you start getting charged. So if you can remember to dock your bike every half hour, this is a super cheap way to see DC! 

2. Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian Museums are all free! They are incredibly interesting to visit and contain so much history! My favorites are the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Air and Space Museum! I also like the National Archives, which are free as well. The next museum I want to visit is the Holocaust Museum. There are other museums in DC, such as the International Spy Museum, that are not free. Be careful when you're planning which museums to visit that you're going to one of the Smithsonian ones. Also, the Smithsonian Institution has the National Zoo, which is also free but a little outside of the city. 

3. Monuments

Since all of the monuments in DC are outside, they are all free to visit! That means you can go visit Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr, and more for free! Also the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, and Arlington Cemetery (other than parking) are all free! You can spend a day or more seeing all of these places and not pay a penny. 

4. Food Trucks

Whenever we're visiting DC, we eat at food trucks for at least one meal. They can be found all around the National Mall and it's much cheaper to eat at these than in a restaurant. Food Truck meals average between $7-$12 where as restaurant meals average between $12-$17! Plus food trucks are always more fun! :) 

5. Stay Outside of the City

If you're going to be staying in DC for more than one day, which I recommend, you're going to find hotels for much cheaper outside of the city! Hotels in the city are super pricy and if you're trying to stick to a budget, you're better off staying outside the city and riding the metro in. Some areas to look for hotels are Greenbelt, MD, College Park, MD, Rockville, MD, Arlington, VA, or Alexandria, VA. 

These are my best tips to help you visit Washington DC on a budget!

Have you ever been to DC? What tips would you add to this list?