This summer is shaping up to be one of the most expensive for travel in years. Gas prices, flight prices, food prices––everything is up––causing families to wonder how to take a memorable vacation without breaking the bank. Washington, DC is a fantastic family travel destination, thanks to dozens of free museums and attractions. Here’s how to make the most of your family vacation:
Take Advantage of Monuments and Museums
DC has some of the best museums in the world, and Smithsonian museums are all free of charge. Whether your kids want to gaze at dinosaur skeletons and the world’s largest diamond in the Museum of Natural History or wander through art at the National Gallery of Art, there’s something for every age. This summer, the National Gallery of Art, right across the street from Kimpton Hotel Monaco, is hosting an exhibit on collectors and the impact they’ve had on art, as well as a photo exhibit on the American West and climate change. It’s both beautiful and educational.
Most museums are along the National Mall, where you’ll also find monuments and war memorials. The Lincoln Memorial is a can’t-miss, along with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Washington Monument and reflecting pool. You can easily spend a day walking around the mall, from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol building, visiting monuments and museums and stopping for a picnic along the way. Traveling this summer? Chill out in the free Botanical Garden next to the Capitol.
DC is a fairly small city and easy to walk around, but little legs can tire out quickly. At the Kimpton Hotel Monaco DC, you’ll be in the heart of DC, within steps of the National Mall. This is an extremely convenient location, and great if your family travels with the whole family. The pet-friendly hotel offers welcome cocktails with your pup, a welcome treat from Doggy Style, a local DC pet bakery, an in-room dog bed and water bowl, and a discount for dog spa services. Plus, Kimpton hotels offer free bikes and Uber reimbursements as part of your amenity fees, helping you get around the city more easily, and allowing you to explore more each day. This summer, take advantage of Kimpton Hotel Monaco DC’s “Park and Play” package, which includes parking and a daily food and beverage credit when you book an upgraded room.
Or, get a sense of life on Capitol Hill at The George, located near Union Station (a breeze for Amtrak arrivals) and close to the National Mall and more neighborhoody spots in Eastern Market or H Street Corridor. Try the “First Family Package,” which offers discounts on parking and a second room, family-friendly treats, a scooter credit, and a George Washington souvenir for the kiddos.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
DC gets hot and humid in the summer, but you can head to the District Wharf, where kids can splash in the fountains for free, or try kayaking and paddle boarding for a fee. There’s also bocce ball, mini golf and more. Or, spend a day wandering around the free National Zoo, which hosts a whopping 2,700 animal species, including about 400 that are endangered.
For more outdoors fun, head to the Mount Vernon Trail, which runs parallel to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and follows the Potomac River’s west bank. You can rent bikes or walk the trail. If you have a car, day trip to Rock Creek Park for a short hike. The National Park Service has great information about the trails.
Attend Free Concerts, Events, and Tours
There’s always something happening in the nation’s capital, which is great for families as there are tons of free events. From movies in the park to outdoor concerts and an incredible free shows, the summer months are packed with free events.
Free Tours by Foot leads free walking tours around the city. Take a classic tour of the National Mall and Tidal Basin, or (if your kids are a bit older and don’t scare easily) a ghost tour of Georgetown. History-minded kids might like the Lincoln Assassination tour, while teenagers would enjoy a trip along U Street, a buzzy street with lots of street art and music, once known as Black Broadway.
Leave the Stress At Home
Family travel shouldn’t be stressful! That’s why The George has partnered with baby brand 4moms to provide infant gear like a bassinet and changer, a tub, and an infant seat. Kimpton hotels also offer accredited babysitting options, so you can spend a night on the town and know your kids are in safe hands. Finally, the “Forgot It? We’ve Got It!” program has has saved plenty of family trips. From a library of books to mini tents, Kimpton keeps kids in mind. Call ahead to see what the hotel has in stock for kids in D.C.