Budget Friendly DC Vacation Tips

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

As I mentioned last week, my brain is all over the place so blog schedule is out the window again this week. Maybe next week?

I have gotten some emails from people asking what a broke and bougie person should do on a vacation in DC, and I figure a lot of people venture to our nation's capitol for America's birthday and just wanted to share some tips on doing DC on a budget since I live here on a budget and all. So let's start off with the greatest things to do on a shoestring budget vacay in this wonderful city:

1. Tour the monuments AT NIGHT: Trust me on this one. Less people, monuments and memorials all lit up, fountains lit up, peace, quiet, it's just beautiful and a completely different experience. 

2. Museums: Let me tell you something fabulous about my city- our museums are FREE (well almost all of the museums are free). I highly recommend the Holocaust Museum (if you're going between March and August you need to get a pass), the Smithsonians, and the Newseum. The Newseum costs $20, I think it is worth every penny but Harrison says he would never go again soo...

3. Outdoor Movies: Ok I know every city has cool outdoor movie stuff, but doing it on the National Mall kicks it up a notch. Click here for a listing of showings and times. Again this is free.

4. See the Sites by Sea: Seeing the sites on foot is cool but seeing them all from a kayak/canoe/standup paddleboard is way cooler. Here is a list of boathouses in DC- prices are about $10/person/hour and so so great. I usually do the Key Bridge Boathouse option from the Georgetown waterfront- you can see Watergate, Georgetown, and parts of the mall.

5. See the Sites by Sea with Booze: 2 words- booze cruise. Yeah we have that. I recommend browsing Groupon, LivingSocial, and Capitol Deal  for deals on happy hour cruises- you can usually find one for $15 which is a 2 hour river boat cruise through Georgetown, the monuments and the memorials. My favorite boating group is Boomerang- they always have a DJ and you can take shots off a SKI plus the occasional pirate ship. This is all real.

6. Bottomless Brunch: DC has this wonderful thing called Bottomless mimosas and bottomless bloody marys. Almost every restaurant offers it with brunch and $25 can generally get you all you can drink + an entree. My favorites are Front Page DC, Chadwick's, and Station 4. Chadwick's is best followed up with galavanting on the Georgetown waterfront, Station 4 should always be followed with galavanting around the other waterfront.

7. Happy Hours with Views: We love our rooftop happy hours in this city. POV at the W is probably the most popular because it has the most incredible views. It's pricier and the attire is "smart" or something like that which means dress nice. 


And of course, tips for traveling in DC: 

1. Get a Smartrip: This will save you money and make getting around DC way faster. Unlike most major cities, we don't have a fixed price to ride the metro. The price of your ride depends on how far you go and what time of day it is, the Smartrip makes it easier and saves $.50/ride and allows you to get on any bus.

2. Use Googlemaps Public Transit Option: It tells you the best way to get where you're going via public transit- what train line you should get on, what time it comes, where to transfer, how to get to the station, everything.

3. STAND TO THE RIGHT, WALK ON THE LEFT: This rule is for ALL ESCALATORS IN DC. I will personally choke you if you are standing on the left side of the escalators.

4. Keep Your Phone Somewhere Safe: Even though this is the nation's capital, it's still dangerous and phones get swiped left and right. Know where you're going and how to get there so you don't have to whip out your phone on a busy street or on the metro platform. Focused on your iphone = easiest possible robbery target.

5. Use Common Sense: Here's a list of things tourists do in front of me that seem to defy common sense: block doorways/exits/entrances with their whole crowd with maps unfolded so no one can get by, stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk and lay on the ground to take a picture, ride up the escalator standing on the left (see #3) with their phones out (hi I'm a tourist and not paying attention), the list goes on.

6. Book Your Stay Through AirBnB: A hotel in the middle of DC can cost around $300/night- nobody got time for that. AirBnB offers entire apartments in some of DC's coolest neighborhoods for under $100! You can score a place a little outside DC but near a metro station for $30-$100. Liiiike yes please.


  1. Every time you post about Visiting DC.. I feel more and more the pull to do it.. IT SEEMS SOOOO COOL. I would love to tour the monuments at night... kind of romantic.. NO?


    Oh I posted the recipes for the Healthier Sloppy Joe's and the Tandoori Chicken Kebabs.

  2. I love D.C. and I love Air BnB! That is totally my plan for Nike Women's next year. I am not paying $300 to sleep anywhere. (Ok, maybe Bradley Cooper's bed, but nowhere else!)

  3. Free outdoor movies are my favourite! We just had a movie night in our town a couple weeks ago and it was awesome.

  4. Seriously, the next time I visit DC I'm referring back to this list and calling you lol!

  5. This is seriously amazing and I wish I had it before we went there the last time!

  6. I love DC, the Smithsonians are my fave! I have never heard of Newseum - lame! Also, how have I been to DC twice and never had bottomless brunch? I am so going to change that if and when I go again. Forgive me if I stand on the left on your escalators! At home (and in the UK) it's the opposite, and sometimes I get flustered and get in peoples way :(

  7. If I didn't live in Boston I swear I'd live in DC - I just love it!! Pinning this for future reference!!

  8. Sounds like such a fun city!!

  9. this is a great list!! my cousin lives in DC and i want to visit him (and his wife and new baby) sometime this year. just pinned it!

  10. DC is so beautiful. The monument, the holocaust museum and the veteran memorial was amazing. I need to take another trip out there. Thanks for the tips.

  11. Great tips! I want to go back to DC so badly! I never would have considered the monuments at night but they are beautiful!


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