Where to Stay When You Tour the Capital City
A trip to Washington, D.C., is on almost every family’s bucket list. Watching congressmen pull the levers of power on Capitol Hill might not be every child’s cup of tea, but seeing a dinosaur close up or examining the Hope Diamond are fascinating experiences for children. When you make your hotel plans, check for family packages or "kids stay free" deals.
Finding the Best Deal
As with most tourist destinations, hotel prices spike during the high season. In Washington, that begins with the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring and ends when kids head back to school in the fall. Very few of the city’s attractions close during the off-season, though some museums may have shorter hours. All of the city’s monuments and memorials remain open 24 hours a day, year-round. The best hotel deals are usually found in the winter.
The farther out from Washington’s monumental core, the lower hotel rates will be. For example, hotels near Washington Dulles International Airport, a little more than 25 miles west of downtown D.C., charge considerably less than hotels from the same brand in the city. Since the Metro doesn’t go directly to Dulles at this time, it’s best to rent a car at the airport and drive into Washington.
The Best Weather for a Visit
Summertime in Washington is hot and humid. Despite that, it’s the busiest tourist season in our nation’s capital. Making the trek from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol on foot can be hard on kids, though there’s plenty of shade, water fountains and a few food vendors. Winter is chilly, though rarely cold, and snow is uncommon. Most of the tourists have gone home, and the locals bring their kids to watch the president light the National Christmas Tree. Enormous crowds stroll around the Tidal Basin and line the parade route during the springtime Cherry Blossom Festival.
Comfort Inn Ballston (1211 N. Glebe Road, Arlington, VA) is about a 10-minute walk from the Metro along a busy street. The hotel operates free shuttle service to and from the subway if you have little ones who aren’t quite up for the walk. Suites have plenty of room for a family, and complimentary hot breakfast gets the day started. Booeymonger, a short walk from the hotel, is a Washington institution. Reasonably-priced overstuffed sandwiches have names like the Tuna Turner and the Gatsby Arrow.
A small park across the street from the Virginian Suites Arlington (1500 Arlington Blvd., Arlington, VA) has play areas for younger children and a basketball court for older kids. The Marine Corps War Memorial, commonly called "the Iwo Jima memorial," is a short walk away. The memorial grounds are a great spot for viewing Washington’s monuments at night. Suites at the high-rise hotel have kitchenettes, and the hotel provides shuttle service to the Metro.
Hotels in Nearby Suburbs
Leave your car at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn (1900 Fort Meyer Drive, Arlington, VA), where parking is free, and take a short walk to the Rosslyn Metro station, or stroll across Key Bridge to Georgetown, famous for its old homes and trendy shopping. Book an upper-story room with a balcony facing the National Mall for great views, or plan to have dinner in the hotel’s 17th-floor restaurant to watch the sun set over the city. The menu has kid-friendly choices like burgers and chicken tenders.
Embassy Suites by Hilton at the Chevy Chase Pavilion (4600 Military Road, NW, Washington, D.C.) is on the border between Maryland and D.C. Metro couldn’t be more convenient—the hotel was built on top of the Friendship Heights station. Double-bed suites accommodate six guests, and the hotel provides hot breakfast and an evening reception with snacks. Shopping centers and restaurants surround the hotel. You can pick up something to cook in your suite at the nearby Whole Foods.
Family-Friendly Downtown Hotels
It’s about a three-block walk from Cambria Hotel & Suites (899 O St. NW, Washington, D.C.) in the Shaw neighborhood to the Metro, or a 25-minute walk to the National Mall. Suites at the hotel have room for a family, and the rooftop terrace and pool is a cool place to hang out in the evening. Walk to Chinatown for an authentic Asian meal, or pick up supplies at the nearby grocery store.
Courtyard Washington Convention Center (900 F St. NW, Washington, D.C.) is one of the closest hotels to the National Mall. The hotel, housed in an old bank, is just across the street from the International Spy Museum, a venue displaying all things espionage. Parking at the hotel is expensive, but nearby parking garages provide spots at a more reasonable price.
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- Comfort Inn Ballston
- TripAdvisor: Comfort Inn Ballston
- Virginian Suites
- TripAdvisor: Virginian Suites Arlington
- Holiday Inn Rosslyn
- TripAdvisor: Holiday Inn Rosslyn at Key Bridge
- TripAdvisor: Embassy Suites by Hilton at the Chevy Chase Pavilion
- Cambria Hotel & Suites
- TripAdvisor: Cambria Hotel & Suites
- Marriott: Courtyard Washington Convention Center
- TripAdvisor: Courtyard Washington Convention Center
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.