My first trip to Washington, D.C. was in the late 1970s when I stood on the front gate of the White House asking the Secret Service guard if I could meet “that guy” who lived in the building. President Carter wasn’t home, but my first trip to Pennsylvania Avenue started a love affair with a city that I am proud to promote.
If you want to take a family vacation during these tough economic times, there is no better place to visit for the day or for the week. With a wealth of convenient and affordable ways to travel and get around on the cheap, Washington, D.C. is a truly recession-proof family vacation destination.
Getting to Washington, D.C.
It is easy to get to Washington, D.C., be it via a flight to Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD) or Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). You can train into King Street Station in Alexandria, Va., from the South or Washington’s Union Station from the North, or you can drive.
Getting around Washington, D.C.
Segway: For the more adventurous family travelers, look into renting a Segway for the day as a way to navigate the city.
Public transportation — the Metro: Washington boasts world-class public transportation, with the star performer being its subway system, the Metro. The Metro in D.C. is clean, easy to navigate, family friendly and also incredibly friendly to persons with disabilities. The Metro is the most affordable way to travel around town — tourists can buy day passes for unlimited rides throughout the day for under $7.80. It reaches at far north as Bethesda, Rockville and College Park, Md., and west and south into Virginia towns like Vienna and Alexandria.
- Here’s my quick walking route that has many free attractions to see for the adventurous trekking family: Head to the Lincoln Memorial on 23rd Street, NW, just off the Foggy Bottom Metro Station. Close to the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam War Memorial. And if you cross the Potomac River by foot, crossing Memorial Bridge, you can actually see some spectacular views of the city on your journey to Arlington National Cemetery .
Car: Metro can get you all around Washington, but if you want to visit some other family-friendly and affordable D.C.-area hotspots, it might be worth renting a car for two days.
- Baltimore, birthplace of our national anthem, is only a 45-minute drive north of the city. Civil War battle fields in Virginia are within an hour’s drive.
- Thirty miles to the east of D.C. is Annapolis, Md., a sailing mecca and home to the U.S. Naval Academy.
- Near Dulles International Airport, I recommend that you check out the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is the annex to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.
- In addition to the museum, (which is free, though parking does cost you $15 bucks), there is the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, which is a great spot to watch air traffic at Dulles.
Related Orbitz resources:
- Family vacation
- Washington, D.C. hotels
- Washington, D.C.'s freebies provide fun for family vacations
Brian Hoyt is the head of corporate communications and government affairs for Orbitz Worldwide. He and his wife are parents to an energetic 3-year-old daughter and a newborn 4-month-old son. Their favorite places to visit are Chicago, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Florida, the Shenandoah Mountains, New Orleans, Charleston, S.C., and Yankee Stadium.