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D.C. July Trip - Hotel suggestions

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Jun 12th, 2014, 05:45 PM
  #1
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D.C. July Trip - Hotel suggestions

Trying to figure out a 4 day trip to DC the second week in July for myself and my 16 year old son. We'll be driving from Charlotte, have never been to DC before, know we want to do a Smithsonian or two, and I want to do an evening tour of the monuments. I'm a teacher and therefore POOR, but we've been trying to do this trip for years and I want to make it happen while he'll still hang out with me. I'm looking for something under $150 (don't laugh) that offers free parking and that gives us easy access to public transportation. I'm clueless on neighborhoods/areas that we need to be in. Any suggestions are appreciated.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 06:13 PM
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Under $150 is a tough order, but there are some other posts here (sort by "Washington DC") that ask similar advice.

I have a preference (as is obvious in some of those threads) for staying out of DC itself and staying right across the river in the Rosslyn/Courthouse Sq. corridor. Both Blue and Orange lines stop at Rosslyn, and the Orange line continues out to Courthouse and Clarendon stops.

If you look at the maps for Orbitz, Expedia, etc., and zoom in, you'll see a lot of motels in that area, and many are more reasonable than much of DC or MD suburbs. (By the way, we were lured to Silver Spring, MD by a good rate at one of our usual chains, and regretted it. Was not comfortable at night in the area of the Station.)

Not sure you'll find much free parking even out that way, and the motel websites tend to omit all mention even if they actually do charge, so be resourceful re: verifying. But it's not the $20-30/night you might find in other cities.

Good for you for seizing the opportunity to go with your son NOW. Those opportunities just vanish in a flash, so go for it and try not to hamstring yourself by choosing a place that's $149 instead of $152.

If you look at those other threads, you'll also see suggestions for sights. Think you might like the Newseum more than you'd expect, and be sure to check w/office of your congress person for advice re: Capitol tour, "subway" between office bldgs., etc.

Finally, the heat is as bad as in Charlotte AND it doesn't cool off as much at night. Just saying......
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Jun 12th, 2014, 06:24 PM
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Just poked around some of the hotel-finder websites and saw a fair number quoting prices (before taxes) for a NONREFUNDABLE (if you're willing to gamble) reservation under $150, although taxes would take a $125 room up to about $145+. Of course, refundable might be higher, but be sure to check for AAA rates if you're a member.

Among places on Wilson Blvd or Clarendon, or with "Key Bridge" in their name, I like the Holiday Inn or the Hyatt.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 06:34 PM
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.....annnnd one more note: another advantage of staying in Arlington (Rosslyn) is that when it's time to leave, you are already part of the way out of the DC densest traffic, although there's not much hope if you leave after 3 M-Th, after about 1 or 2 on Friday and something like 11 am on Sunday.

Summer southbound traffic is ghastly on I-95 and you may be happier taking I 66 out to Winchester and working your way to Charlotte via 81 and 77. In fact, you might want to go the same way northbound TO WashDC. Avoid I-95 if at all possible, even if it looks like it might be quicker. It never will be.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 06:47 PM
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You are seriously a candidate for the Americana Hotel - rooms $100 or under in Crystal City which is a couple of metro stops outside of DC proper. Free parking, free breakfast, free wifi, hotel shuttle. Walkable to a metro station. It's got a bit of a cult status. You cannot beat the price for the location.

http://www.americanahotel.com/
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Jun 12th, 2014, 07:41 PM
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There are three "budget" hotels in Arlington which I regularly recommend. All are located in nearby Arlington, Virginia; all offer free parking and all are within easy walking distance of a Metro station. Here they are in alphabetical order:

Americana Hotel
Best Western Iwo Jima
Holiday Inn Rosslyn @Key Bridge
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Jun 12th, 2014, 08:40 PM
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I agree with that list of hotels/motels. Excellent location, great value for the money. DC is possibly the best city to visit on a strict budget, because the best things in life, there, really are free And there are good budget dining options as well. Enjoy!
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Jun 13th, 2014, 06:12 AM
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I like to stay in Crystal City, although I stay at one of the Marriotts, either on the weekend rate, or the senior rate if I'm there during the week, but you're booking late.

BTW, why are you driving? You do NOT want a car in Washington. I always take the train, and the Carolinian starts in Charlotte. (See http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/391/440/...ule-060914.pdf )
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Jun 13th, 2014, 06:16 AM
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You all are wonderful! I already feel a little less nervous. The Americana is looking pretty perfect. We could afford to do more STUFF with that kind of rate.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 06:19 AM
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I've never taken the train before and I just feel reluctant to give up the freedom of being able to leave/change plans if I want to. I hope to park my car at the hotel and leave it while we are there. I HATE booking this late, but we are working around football camp, church camp, etc.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 06:22 AM
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Definitely not looking forward to the heat. Which is why I'm hoping for some night tours. But we just moved from Florida, so I'm sure we can push through it.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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Where in Florida did you live? I live in Tampa, lived in DC for many years. My perception is that DC is muggier than coastal Florida, but at least you understand really hot weather!
The Smithsonian museums provide a great, and free, respite from the outdoors, thankfully.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 08:25 AM
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<>

No no no. You drive to Virginia and take the metro to DC. The Yellow Line is especially good because it goes over the Potomac and gives a nice view of the Jefferson Memorial.

Don't take Amtrak, which sucks outside the DC-Boston corridor. Drive or fly. Either is cheaper.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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"Drive or fly. Either is cheaper."

Faster, yes, cheaper, not so much. I'm paying $80.10 roundtrip for my tickets between Cary and Washington for my next trip (booked well ahead).

See also: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifest...778_story.html
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Jun 13th, 2014, 09:09 AM
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The train is a good choice if it's in the budget. It can be less than punctual but not unreasonably so. You can check a specific train's performance record at the Amtrak site. Take it to Alexandria (versus Union Station) to save a little money.) There is metro station there and the blue line will take you to stops that are easy walking distance to any of the hotels that are mentioned here. Driving is probably the least expensive way to go but don't drive I95 on a weekend. Just don't do it.

The two most popular places that are easier to visit with a car are Mount Vernon and the Udvar Hazy portion of the Air & Space Museum -- so factor that in if those are places are on your must see list. With or without a car there will be more than you can see in DC that is accessible by public transport or by foot in 3 or 4 days. A night time tour of the major monuments is a good option in the summer.

Look on line now for timed tickets to places like the National Archives, US Capitol, Holocaust Museum, Washington Monument, and Bureau of Printing and Engraving if any of those are on your list. Tickets are free (or $1 ish surcharge) but you don't want to waste time standing in line during your visit.

Yellow Line is especially good because it goes over the Potomac and gives a nice view of the Jefferson Memorial.

It's especially good if it coincides with where you're going. Check the map for which line from Virginia (blue or yellow) is closest to your destination.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Faster, yes, cheaper, not so much.

Echo that. You can get deals flying into the DC area but typically not last minute during June & July. If the flight isn't into Reagan National (but is BWI or Dulles), factor in the cost and time of getting to DC proper.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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I had no idea I needed to get tickets this far in advance, THANK YOU.

It's $80 for the train, so it's completely reasonable. Being able to read instead of drive sounds appealing, so I'll definitely mull it over today.

I went to school at USF in Tampa actually, but we've also lived in Delray Beach and near Ocala. Summer sucks weather wise, but that's when we can travel so we are just going to have to suck it up and stay hydrated.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 12:30 PM
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Ford's Theatre is another attraction where having an advance ticket is recommended. Here's a link to a Top Question from Trip Advisor that will help you with all the required/recommended tickets:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g2...e.Tickets.html

Also, if a guided tour of the monuments at night is not in your budget, it's easy to do on your own. That's how we do it with guests who come to visit us in D.C. There are U.S. Park Rangers at all of the sites if you have any questions and it's safe to do on your own--you and hundreds of others will be doing it.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 12:38 PM
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There are quite a few hotels in your price range on Hotwire, if you're willing to go the "anonymous" route.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 01:43 PM
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Ditto to the Americana. We stayed there in October 2011. It has free parking, a decent continental breakfast, free wifi, comfy beds, and is close to two Metro stations (though you can take their free shuttle to the Metro as well).

We also travel on a pretty low budget, so my trip report might be helpful to you: http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...hington-dc.cfm

Lee Ann
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