Headed to Washington D.C. for your next family getaway? Excellent choice! The nation’s capital is a must-see experience for every family. If you’re worried about how much this little slice of the American dream is going to cost you, check out these budget-friendly — sometimes even free! — hot spots for a vacation your family won’t forget.
Dig into awesome eats at great prices for breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner — or maybe even all four. Kids love the big indoor tree in the middle of this eatery that sits right off Dupont Circle. Share the pig (wild boar) wings or the deviled egg appetizers so you can save plenty of room for tasty main courses like burgers, chicken, and scallops.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Just say “Smithsonian,” and the name more than speaks for itself, but if you need some concrete reasons to go, how about a live coral reef or tarantula feedings? It’s the world’s biggest natural history museum, so there’s very little chance of disappointment. Kids get a chance to learn about fossils and dinosaurs as well as check out the Q?rius Jr. Discovery Room and the Butterfly Pavilion. The museum is free, except for a fee for the Butterfly Pavilion.
White House Visitor Center
Grab the kids and get a peek at what life is like inside the White House on this hands-on touchscreen tour of what is possibly the world’s most famous home — via the visitor center. You can also see cool historic artifacts from inside the White House and check out the Boy Scout Memorial and ranger programs in President’s Park. Best of all, it’s all free!
United States Botanic Garden
Take the kids to explore one of the oldest botanic gardens in the U.S., established in 1820. It’s easy to commune with nature when you’re eyeballing the gorgeous flowers and plants, some of them very rare, in the indoor and outdoor gardens onsite. The U.S. Botanic Garden is free.
Waffle sandwiches for breakfast and lunch? Sure! Why not? Let the kiddos try grilled cheese waffles or choose from sweet treats like the strawberry cheesecake waffle. You can also sink a savory spoon into soups like sweet potato and wild mushroom.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Share this quiet spot and FDR’s vision of world peace with the whole family. The bronze sculptures of Eleanor Roosevelt and of FDR with his pet dog, Fada, are faves. Be sure to check out the granite waterfalls too. The memorial is free.
National Gallery of Art
Take your family to discover art — old and new — on a walk through some pretty amazing gardens and galleries. Don’t miss the sculpture garden. The cool pieces include a giant metal spider and a huge bronze rabbit sitting on a rock. Four cafes and an espresso and gelato bar mean you won’t walk around hungry either. The National Gallery of Art is free.
At this cool, mod eatery, you can build your own burger and wash it down with a hand-spun, made-to-order milkshake. Add some tater tots or onion rings, and you’re good to go. Craving something healthy instead? Skip the milkshake and order a smoothie. The kids’ menu has chicken nuggets, burgers, and grilled cheese.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
This park runs along the Potomac River, so sometimes you can see kayakers and crew teams hitting the water to train. Relax and make your way through the labyrinth, check out the gardens, or splash in the fountain. There’s also a pathway for walking, biking, and skating.
Have you found some wallet-friendly attractions for your family vacay in Washington D.C.? If you’re looking for more ideas, read this guide to free art and music in the nation’s capital.