Save money on vacation seeing the Nation’s most prominent sites in one weekend? Yes, please.

I do my best work at night. Oh, hi. Hello. Welcome to my blog. This is the first so make it count, Toni! So, it’s summer, in fact, it’s nearing the end of summer here in Pennsylvania, ugh. We all spent the summer either wishing we were on vacation or actually took a vacation… or three. Three. I was lucky enough to take three. Well, two were weekend trips and one I actually took off of work. Why not start the blog out with some travel, let me save you some money, and let me tell you how to do a Washington D.C. trip IN A WEEKEND, hitting ALL of the major sites.

I remember my first trip here, a college class trip, to stand in line outside of the Supreme Court building hoping to get a coveted seat to hear oral arguments. The case was about the postman leaving the mail at the doorstep and the Pennsylvania homeowner somehow injured herself on it – and won. It was a long time ago so the specifics are fuzzy. Anyway, I don’t remember getting to see much else while we were there except for maybe the Lincoln memorial & Washington monument at the time (since they’re so close together).

I wanted to take my boyfriend here for his birthday since he only came once to see the Air and Space Museum. Don’t ask me how someone comes to D.C. and only sees one museum, but that’s alright, he’s cute, he gets a pass.

Saving money: First things first. This is probably already a given but understand that hotel rooms in the city are much more expensive than staying outside of the city limits and riding the Metro in. We stayed in Tyson’s Corner (about a 25 minute subway ride into the city). There are shops and restaurants around the hotel so that helped ease the blow of not being able to walk to the stops we wanted to go to if we would have stayed in city center. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, which was a nice stay, and surprisingly cheap at $74.25 for Friday night and $126.75 for Saturday night (without taxes+parking). There’s also three metro stops to choose from and other hotels to choose from as well. Our hotel provided a free shuttle to the metro stops, although they were close enough and safe to walk to. In addition, figuring out the metro color coded lines and which stops each line makes was actually really simple for an out-of-towner & newbie!

Now I’m counting this as a summer trip, but really, it was April. I wanted to go while the Cherry Blossoms were blooming so that anywhere we walked or any picture we took, we would be engulfed in Cherry Blossom trees.
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If you want to see D.C. for the first time, I suggest taking the trip the last week of March to the beginning week of April. There’s actually a website that forecasts when they will bloom each year. If this is something you’re interested in, take a peek at David Coleman’s page, https://cherryblossomwatch.com/peak-bloom-forecast/.

Okay, back to money saving. We purchased a SmarTrip card which was rechargeable and can be used on both the metro and the buses. You can fill it up with any monetary amount and it tracks it instead of constantly buying day passes. All other info on the fares can be found here, http://www.wmata.com/fares/metrorail.cfm.

Seeing the major sites on Saturday:
Stop 1. Boyfriend’s pick – Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He was most excited to see the dinosaurs. This museum is also known for the Hope Diamond.
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Stop 2. Right next door – Natural Museum of American History. A good tip here was that they made two lines – one line for people without any bags – and believe me, many men were zipping through with lightning speed and then the other line – people with bags of any sort, even a small crossbody purse (which I had…thanks MK). When in D.C., you almost need to make a joke about equality. I could feel the judgment us 100+ women in line were getting, from our male counterparts, that tend to fit everything they need into a wallet in their back pocket, and here they are, standing in this long line WITH us, when they could be going through on their own in the other line. My boyfriend and I couldn’t help but chuckle at this phenomenon. At this very second in D.C., it was fantastic to be in a gay, male relationship, whom are wallet-only carriers! So among other things, this place holds Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, the Greensboro lunch counter, & the original Star Spangled banner flag.
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While in this area, you’re close to the White House – so go check that out too!

Stops 3-8. These are all pretty much walking distance next to one another AND FREE. Washington Monument. WWII Memorial. Korean War Veterans Memorial. Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (we didn’t see). Martin Luthur King Jr. Memorial. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Thomas Jefferson Memorial. We then quickly realized we were starving and felt the money was worth it to get an Uber ride from here to dinner. We got a suggestion from a local friend to try Founding Farmers. It was phenomenal but DO get a reservation as we had a 2hr wait!
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Seeing the major sites on Sunday:
Stop 1. U.S. Botanic Garden. image
I’m a huge gardener (and foodie) and my boyfriend works in a Cornell U. lab working with plants, so we are very much into plant-related things you could say. Bonus points* it’s near our next stops you SHOULD see even if plants aren’t your thing.

Stop 2. The Supreme Court of the United States. You cannot go inside on the weekends as they are not open but it’s still amazing to see from the outside and climb up the steps to the huge bronze doors AND FREE.
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Stop 3. United States Capitol. Important things take place here. I’m sure of it.

Stop 4. National Archives Building. Now, there’s only a 6-minute walk from the Capitol building to here that stops you from seeing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, & the Bill of Rights.

We had the rest of the day to explore. I suggest you all check out the neighborhood of Georgetown. Great setting, great colleges, & great places for a foodie. We, of course, had to stop at the mecca of all cupcakes – Georgetown Cupcake – as seen on TV! This stop could get you a line wrapping around the building. Luckily for us there was a line, but it went quick! We’re not even cupcake/cake eaters per se, but this place made us believers! image image
Killing more time, we found a cute Chinese tea house where we wanted to relax, kick off our shoes, literally, and sip some tea!
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An alternative to this stop, is a visit at the zoo – it’s FREE!
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*Leave a comment if you would like any other info. The Uber app can be downloaded to your smartphone and tends to offer a free ride for first time users. Enter the code “tonip683ue”. There’s online resources for the metro station and its stops. I like trying google maps and turning on the walking directions to walk to all of the locations. I have a few more foodie suggestions if you all need them too!

6 thoughts on “Save money on vacation seeing the Nation’s most prominent sites in one weekend? Yes, please.

  1. Toni love your site. Been wanting to start one myself girl! Keep it up. Always wanted to visit DC and not just drive through.

    1. Thanks girl! I was debating for months, and finally decided, why not? I actually have so much material so I guess it’s good that I don’t have writer’s block; it’s more about finding the time. How often should I post – twice a week, maybe?

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