The Best Tips For A Family Trip To Washington DC On A Budget

Taking a family trip to Washington DC on a budget can be a rewarding experience. Even though you’ll be looking to save some money while traveling, DC is a wonderful city to visit while making sure you don’t overspend. Check out these practical tips to help you stay within budget while still having an awesome time in DC.

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This will be your largest expense unless you’re flying in, so this will be the best opportunity to save money. On our trips to Washington DC, our family usually stays in the Arlington area.

This saves money as there are several great budget-friendly options for accommodations and it’s not a far commute from the main attractions. 

I usually use sites like to compare available hotel options, and so far, we always find a great deal. 

Unfortunately, we haven’t had much success getting good deals with home-sharing options like VRBO or Airbnb, but you can still check to see what’s available.


One thing about Washington DC that you’ll quickly find out is that parking can be frustrating and incredibly expensive. So to save time and headaches, why not make use of their excellent public transportation system? Buses and the Metrorail can get you where you want to go even if you decide to stay in Arlington or nearby suburbs. 

Consider purchasing day passes for unlimited trips via public transportation. If you must drive, consider park-and-ride options and look for affordable parking garages ahead of time.


There is so much to see in Washington DC that is awesome and free. All 17 Smithsonian museums are free including the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Zoo is also free. 

You can also visit the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, National Mall, and the White House or sign up to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building.


Going on foot and touring some of DC’s most interesting neighborhoods is something else that can be done at little to no cost. Our favorite to visit is always Georgetown for the shopping, charming residential areas, and riverfront access.

But don’t miss Dupont Circle with its art galleries, embassies, and diverse culinary options. The Capitol Hill neighborhood is of course home to the Capitol Building but also the Library of Congress and the Eastern Market.


There is always something going on in DC and you’d be surprised that many of the events are free. Check event calendars ahead of time and schedule your trip around festivals and other free events.

Our favorite free thing to do in Washington DC is to enjoy a free concert at the legendary John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. You can check out the calendar of free concerts here.


The National Mall is an amazing spot to have a picnic and it’s a convenient spot if you plan to spend the day visiting the various museums and monuments nearby. We like to make sure that we have snacks packed or even a full lunch so that we don’t have to stop at a restaurant every time we’re hungry.

You can also take advantage of food trucks which are a bit cheaper than eating at a sit-down restaurant.


Trying to schedule a time for a trip can be a challenge for families with kids because you have very specific times to work with. Despite that, you can still try to visit during off-peak times which will not only help with the budget but will help you avoid crowds. 

If you get an early spring break, March or April can be a good time to visit. The National Cherry Blossom Festival often occurs from late March to April, so that could cause a problem, but absent the festival, crowds and prices are typically better around that time of year.

We visited in early June and a couple of times in the fall between October and November with good results. 

These are good times to visit not only for the budget but avoiding late June through August avoids the hot humid weather as well.


By using these trips, you can plan an awesome trip to Washington DC without breaking the bank. I’m sure you’ll find that DC is an amazing city for a family trip that everyone will love. Since you’re planning your trip, make sure that you have our handy 4-day itinerary for your trip to DC as well as our essential family packing guide. Safe travels!


  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog,, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Best Tips For A Family Trip To Washington DC On A Budget
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