Going on vacation can be stressful. Where do I stay? How do I get around? What’s there to do? So that’s why we’ve created a list of 10 tips to help you plan your trip to Washington, D.C.

Cherry Blossoms (Shutterstock.com)

Cherry Blossoms (Shutterstock.com)

1)      If you’ve always wanted to see the beautiful cherry blossoms at their peak in D.C., then early spring (March-April) is the time to go. During this time the District of Columbia holds its annual Cherry Blossom Festival. When traveling during these months, keep in mind that it is peak-travel season for D.C. The hotels will be significantly more expensive, and the crowds will be much larger. This statement also holds true during times when Congress is in session.

2)      Looking to miss the crowds? Then summer is the perfect time to go! With the politicians on their summer hiatus, and the 8th -grade field trips on hold for vacation, the crowds tend to thin out in the summer. The winter is also a good time to go, but can sometimes be too chilly for long walks.

3)      Best days of the week to stay at a hotel and get a good deal are Fridays-Sundays. Washington, D.C. attracts a lot of business travelers. Staying during the weekend is the perfect way to snag a cheap hotel room.

National Museum (Shutterstock.com)

National Museum (Shutterstock.com)

4)      When visiting the Smithsonian (a collection of free museums) be sure to get there bright and early, and start with the Natural History Museum. Though all of the museums can draw a crowd, the Natural History Museum draws one so large that not only can there be a line to get in, but also there may be lines to just look at an exhibit. In my experience this museum is packed by 1 p.m., so get there when it opens; see the exhibits at your leisure, and then move on to the next museum on your list.

5)      Top modes of transportation: walking and the subway. D.C. also has a bikeshare program called Capital Bikeshare. This is a great option for those who choose to stay in near areas like Dupont Circle and Georgetown, which are a little further away from the hustle and bustle of the National Mall area.

White House (Credit: Darí Brooks)

White House (Credit: Darí Brooks)

6)      Want to tour the White House or Capitol Hill? Be sure to request tickets in advance! In order to tour either building you must contact your state’s Member of Congress (more info here). It’s much easier to obtain tour tickets for Capitol Hill than for the White House. I would recommend requesting tickets a few months in advance for the White House, and no less than 21 days in advance for the Capitol.

7)      If you really want to save on the hotel costs, and don’t mind a short drive/train ride, then booking a hotel in Arlington, Virginia is a very good option. Since this location is not in D.C. proper, the hotel prices can be cheaper (10%-15% less, depending on season) than what you’ll find downtown.

Georgetown (Shutterstock.com)

Georgetown (Shutterstock.com)

8)      Want to avoid tourist hotspots? Stay away from the National Mall and the White House. Georgetown and Dupont Circle offer trendy and high-end options. Both areas also have good shopping and dining.

9)      If you plan on taking the train, carry cash! Buying a D.C. Metro ticket is one of the most infuriating things you can do in D.C., but once you have money on your card it is easy to get around. If you don’t want to carry cash you don’t have to. There are machines in the stations that accept credit cards, but there is a minimum charge of $10, which means you cannot purchase a single-ride farecard.

White House Gift Shop (Credit: Darí Brooks)

White House Gift Shop (Credit: Darí Brooks)

10)   Take free pictures with a backdrop of the Oval Office and the Briefing Room, with purchase of item, at the White House Gift Shop. The store is located outside of the White House, so even if you don’t tour inside you can still visit the store. Bring your camera. This is a great place to take family photos and pretend to be the White House Press Secretary or the First Family.

Fly.com Expert Tips


How To Get There: There are three airports that service the D.C-area. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is about 15 minutes from downtown Washington, D.C., and is the closest airport to the city. There are also multiple Metro options available from the airport. Dulles International Airport (IAD) is about a 40-minute drive from downtown. The best transportaion to and from this airport is a shuttle or taxi.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Mashall Airport. Is about an hour drive from D.C. The best methods to and from this airport are car and Amtrak.
Click here for more information.
Best Time To Visit: Weather-wise, the best time to visit is from late-March through late-May. The weather in D.C. in generally mild in the spring and the flowers are blooming; and the average temperature is in the high-60s. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, and don’t mind the heat, then summertime (late-June to late-September) are the better times to visit.

Sample Fares: Calendars display lowest roundtrip fares over the next 90 days to Washington, D.C. from:
* All fares are roundtrip including all taxes and are accurate at time of publication. For updated pricing, conduct a new search on Fly.com.

 

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