THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WASHINGTON DC
Very Budget Friendly If You Know What To Do.
Washington, D.C. Travel Tips
the vibe is really nice here, it’s good.
Washington, DC, the U.S. capital, is a compact city on the Potomac River, bordering the states of Maryland and Virginia. It’s defined by imposing neoclassical monuments and buildings – including the iconic ones that house the federal government’s 3 branches: the Capitol, White House and Supreme Court.
It’s also home to iconic museums and performing-arts venues such as the Kennedy Center.
The best times to visit Washington, D.C., are from September to November and March to May.
Second to fall is spring, which is also a mini high season thanks to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in late March and early April. Summer in D.C. is hot and sticky, making less than ideal conditions for exploring the great outdoors.
That said, many museums blast air conditioning, so if you can stand the heat, you’ll find plenty of free attractions to keep you entertained. Winter is definitely low season. Although the chance to find lower hotel rates is high and the weather is mild compared to other destinations along the East Coast, the city is prone to freezing cold temperatures and snowstorms.
Places to Stay and Save
It really pays to check Washington room rates prior to your trip. Websites such as Booking.com and TripAdvior can help you find some good prices along the Mall or near Reagan National Airport for a fraction of the rack rate. Be certain your hotel is within walking distance of a Metro stop. When it’s not rush hour, taking the Metro into the District to enjoy the sights will be a fun, and reasonably-priced way to tour.
If you are traveling with family, the all-suites hotels are ideal and most all include breakfast and, at a minimum, refrigerator and microwave in the rooms where you can heat up leftovers or make a simple meal.
Where to Eat
BITES ON A BUDGET: THE BEST AFFORDABLE, CHEAP EATS IN WASHINGTON, DC
The District’s dining excellence extends to its wealth of fast-casual spots and affordable places to eat.
You don’t have to spend an entire paycheck in order to eat an unforgettable meal in Washington, DC. The nation’s capital has spawned a host of successful fast-casual eateries from sweetgreen to CAVA, and is also home to affordable restaurants that have practically become institutions in the city. Check out some of our favorite cheap and budget-friendly places to eat in the District.
Down a chili-smothered half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a staple of the DC experience. Its iconic storefront is a symbol of the U Street neighborhood and the nation’s capital at-large. No trip to the District is complete without dining on one of Ben’s famous half-smokes, which you can purchase for just $5.95.
Eat at local, fast-casual spot CAVA
CAVA offers a Mediterranean mix customized just for your taste buds – and at an affordable price, too. Three friends started the company in the DC metro area, and made putting a delicious bowl together easy: you begin with a base, throw in a few delicious dips and spreads, stack it with a protein like braised beef or lamb, then top it off with crumbled feta, pita crisps, cucumber salad … there’s more, but we’re too hungry to keep going.
Discover what naturally fast food means at LEON
It’s a British invasion of the best kind as LEON, the budget-friendly, all-day cafe, descends upon the District with two locations and more in the works. This London-based chain offers fresh, sustainably sourced, healthy options for any diet, and everything on the menu is under $10 (seriously). We’re talking gluten-free chicken nuggets, a Moroccan meatballs hot box and even vegan sweet potato falafel for less than an Alexander Hamilton.
4Dig in to fast-casual Italian at Stellina Pizzeria
You’ll find some of the best pizza in the nation’s capital just around the corner from Union Market at Stellina Pizzeria, where DC dining veterans Antonio Matarazzo and Matteo Venini have brought to life “neo-Neapolitan” pies in a fast-casual setting. Stellina’s menu also pays homage to coastal Italian street food (such as fried seafood served in paper cones, also known as a “cuoppo”), while every item on the menu is under $20. You’ll want to make sure Stellina – which is named after Matarazzo’s daughter and means “little star” in Italian – is the star of your next trip to bustling Union Market.
5Find an affordable sandwich at Potbelly’s
Potbelly Sandwich Shop has locations all over the District, and its flavorful sandwiches, milkshakes, soups and salads make it the perfect fast-casual pit stop as you explore the nation’s capital. The shop also caters, in case you need lunch for a large group.
6Grab healthy eats at José Andrés’ Beefsteak
José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup got into the fast-casual game with this vegetable-based eatery that has multiple locations in the District. Put together a colorful bowl full of tasty veggies that will fill you up, too. You can also throw in grains, greens, fresh sauces and slices of meat or protein. As with Andrés’ many other restaurants, Beefsteak features outstanding seasonal ingredients and a comfortable dine-in experience.
Sample some Lucky Buns
In the market for bold flavors and toasty buns? Look no further than chef Alex McCoy’s globally inspired, late-night burger joint Lucky Buns, which doles out a delicious culinary trip around the world until the wee hours of the morning. The former pop-up proved to be such a hit that McCoy has given it a permanent home on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. The hot spot’s tantalizing creations include a runny-egg burger topped with gouda, pickled beetroot and grilled onions and pineapple, grilled tandoori chicken sandwiches and even a British breakfast burger comprised of sausage and bacon (we recommend adding bacon XO jam to that).
Build the pie of your dreams at &pizza
Founded in the District, &pizza is a pizza lover’s dream. You can pick your sauce, cheese types and an array of toppings (Over-easy egg! Beef meatball! Garlic sauce!) that go on the shop’s organic dough, leading to a personal pie that comes out fresh for a maximum “wow” factor. Of course, you can also opt for one of The Hits, also sure to satisfy your craving.
Get a taste of India at Rasa
The vibrant colors and flavors of India are on full display at Rasa, the fast-casual restaurant in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood from first-time restaurateurs Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod. Diners can choose to build their own bowl from an array of tantalizing, locally sourced ingredients, or pick from Rasa’s cleverly named creations – we’re talking Tikka Chance on Me and Aloo Need is Love. Wash that down with a homemade juice or kombucha and you’ve got a delightful meal, all for under $15.
10Go to Le Pain Quotidien for bread and baked goods
Le Pain Quotidien literally translates to “the daily bread,” so expect fresh open-faced sandwiches, healthy helpings of organic bread and pastries prepared with flair (you can order a salad, too). The restaurant’s communal table concept makes sitting down and devouring with friends a must. Numerous locations in DC makes finding a place to do so easy.
If you want to find reasonably priced food in Washington, think like a college student. Many visitors forget that this the Washington, D.C. area is one of America’s premier college towns. Restaurants near the various campuses must keep their prices within reason, and many cater to the cosmopolitan make-up of those student bodies.
If you are visiting the National Mall, note that the museum cafes are expensive and often crowded but are the most convenient places to dine on the National Mall. There are a variety of restaurants and eateries within walking distance of the museums.
make ground transportation cheaper in the District. It is possible to fly into Washington and see everything on your itinerary without renting a car or stepping into a taxi. The excellent Metro
system delivers you from Washington airports
to your destination with minimal expense and solid efficiency. During peak hours, most fares range from $2.25 to $6 per trip. During off-peak hours, fares typically range from $1.85 to $3.85. Metro riders must pay via SmarTrip card.
It’s good at peak commuter times.
SmarTrip Deals & Discounts is a free program. Show your SmarTrip card at participating museums, restaurants and stores around the District, Maryland, and Virginia service area to get discounts on admission, dining, and more.
If your itinerary is complicated or shaped by business needs, shop for a best rates on link below.
One of the greatest things about a visit to Washington is all government buildings, Smithsonian Museums, memorials, and monuments do not charge for admission. You will spend valuable time in lines, so prioritize carefully. For a good list of Capitol Hill planning links, visit Trip Advisor
Requests for free Public Tours of the White House
must be submitted through a member of Congress and are usually approved about a month before the planned visit. Tours form in groups of 10.
50 Free Things to Do in Washington, D.C. includes the National Botanical Garden, the African-American Civil War Memorial and Museum, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing 30-minute tour, free concerts, and art museums.
The Cultural Alliance offers half-price, day-of-show tickets to the public. There are many fine events on Washington’s cultural calendar. So many cultures are represented there, and their finest representatives often consider Washington a must-stop on any U.S. tour. It’s also worth checking with the Smithsonian Institution for a schedule of their cultural offerings during your stay.
Beyond Washington, D.C.
There are some great places to visit in the surrounding area for a quick day-trip.
Escape to Historic Annapolis
If heavy traffic and big-city noise get you down, you might want to trade a day in the nation’s capital for a day in Maryland’s compact and walkable capital of Annapolis. It’s a 35-mile drive from Washington. Annapolis is a beautiful small city that is also home to the U.S. Naval Academy. A fascinating tour of the academy
is available for $12 (discounts for children and seniors), and walks through the city’s historic district are a treat.
Beyond the “Official” Washington
The National Zoo
is part of the Smithsonian Institution but is often overlooked as visitors plan their trips. Admission is free. On the Virginia side of the Potomac, Alexandria and Arlington offer some pleasant shopping areas and historic districts. About 40 miles to the north, Baltimore offers the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, the National Aquarium, and Fort McHenry.