Washington DC Gift Guide

November 24, 2019 in Blog

Our Washington, DC gift guide will help your pick out a great gift for anyone who is visiting Washington, DC. Whether you’re shopping for a gift for the holidays, birthday or any other special occasion, these are five ideas to help someone you know have a great DC experience.

Commemorative Metro SmarTrip Card

When you visit Washington, DC a SmarTrip card is required to get around on the Metro. Sure, you can easily buy one at any Metro station, but imagine how cool your friend or family member will feel with a special commemorative SmarTrip. Plus, each commemorative card comes pre-loaded with $8, so they won’t have to worry about paying for their first few rides. You can order one of these cards online at the SmarTrip Store.

Trip Hacks DC Guide to Washington DC E-book

There are no shortage of Washington, DC travel books on the market, but ours is different. Our book is for the modern traveler who wants insider tips and travel hacks to help plan your trip. We’re not padding pages with lists of hotels or restaurants or out-of-date paper maps. We’ve all got smartphones these days for that stuff! Get this book if you want to help your family member or friend get a ton of useful information about their trip without spending a bunch of time on fluff that doesn’t matter.

Museum Tickets

Washington, DC has more great free museums than you can shake a stick at. So it may seem odd to include paid museum tickets in a Washington, DC Gift Guide, but if you only stick to the free museums you’re going to miss some of the best exhibits in the city! The International Spy Museum is a must for kids or kids-at-heart. The National Building Museum is a great spot for anyone interested in architecture, planning and design. And the National Geographic Museum is a great little spot for anyone who likes the magazine.

Tickets to a Tour, Show or Game

Washington, DC is not just museums and monuments. We’ve got a thriving theater scene as well as professional sports teams in almost every league. That said, everyone should see the museums and monuments, and walking around on your own is just one way to do it. Trip Hacks DC runs tours of the monuments including the fun and popular Monumental Trivia tour during the spring and summer months.

Trip Hacks DC Official Merch

This one is shamelessly self promotional, but we could write a Washington, DC gift guide without including our own souvenir merchandise. If you’re a fan of the Trip Hacks DC YouTube channel or Podcast or took a tour with us and want something to remember it, our shirts and merch is the perfect option. There are t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and a few other cool items. If you wear it on your trip to DC maybe you’ll make friends with some other Trip Hacks DC fans!

Best Washington, DC Airbnb Rentals – November 2019

October 20, 2019 in Airbnb

There are a bunch of decisions to make when you visit Washington, DC: hotel vs. Airbnb, Downtown vs. suburbs, luxury vs. budget. Accommodation in Washington, DC can feel overwhelming but we are here to help. We identified some of our favorites that can hopefully give you an idea of what we look for in a Washington, DC Airbnb.

Before you go any further, make sure to read our post about Washington, DC Airbnb tips and questions to ask before you book. You want to make sure any Airbnb you sign up for is comfortable, safe and legal. If you decide Airbnb isn’t for you, that’s OK! We’ve got hotel recommendations too. And just so you know, this page includes affiliate links. Please read the Trip Hacks DC disclosure for more information.

With all of that said, there are 7 Washington, DC Airbnb options to consider for your August 2019 trip.

1. Sunny Studio with FREE Breakfast

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Logal Circle neighborhood. Stay here if you want to stay in a convenient central location.
Credit: Kurt on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Logan Circle.
  • Why we like it: You really can’t ask for a better location than this. Wether you want to walk to the museums, monuments or nightlife, this Airbnb is in the center of it all. Plus, this one has a host that really goes above and beyond. Free breakfast and coffee is a very nice perk.
  • Things to watch out for: This apartment isn’t huge. It’s hard to tell from the photos but it’s definitely a studio. Since there is only one bed this is really only a great solution for a solo traveler or traveling couple.

2. One Bedroom Near Capitol Hill

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Stay here if you want to be close to the Capitol and DC Metro to get around the city.
Credit: Joyce on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
  • Why we like it: This apartment is located in a charming neighborhood but very close to the Capitol and Metro. There aren’t many hotels in this particular corner of the city, so it’s great if you want to get a little bit more neighborhood-y vibe.
  • Things to watch out for: Basement apartments like this one don’t have high ceilings and can make the space feel smaller than it is. The owner has decorated it quite nicely though which helps. That said, if you are a tall traveler, take note.

3. Suite in a Georgetown row house

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Georgetown neighborhood. Stay here if you want to experience the heart of Georgetown.
Credit: Jan on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Georgetown
  • Why we like it: Washington, DC visitors love Georgetown but there aren’t many options if you want to stay in the heart of the neighborhood. Most hotels with Georgetown in the name are located about a mile down the street. This basement studio is not the most glamorous but it makes up for it with the prime location.
  • Things to watch out for: This basement won’t get much natural light, which is probably OK for someone interested in seeing the sites rather than spending time in the room. There is a kitchen but with all the restaurants nearby you probably won’t want to use it.

4. Tons of Space for the Whole Family

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Stay here if you have a big family and need a lot of space to stretch out.
Credit: Cliff on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
  • Why we like it: If you have a big family there is plenty of room to spread out in this actual DC rowhouse. The three bedrooms, each with full size or larger beds, are perfect for family with more than a couple kids or adults traveling together.
  • Things to watch out for: the pictures show window AC units which means that this house probably does not have central air conditioning. Window units are OK for November, but worth noting if you’re coming during the summer and need a reliable place to cool down after a day of sightseeing.

5. Modern Studio Near the Nightlife

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Stay here if you want to be close to nightlife.
Credit: Nicole on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Adams Morgan
  • Why we like it: This studio is in a historic part of town where many visitors never make it. Adams Morgan is known for weekend nightlife, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this is the perfect spot.
  • Things to watch out for: If you’re not into weekend nightlife, watch out because this area can get noisy and a bit rowdy on the weekend.

6. Newly Renovated Near the ZOO

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Woodley Park neighborhood. Stay here if you want to be close to the National Zoo.
Credit: Lara and Keith on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Woodley Park
  • Why we like it: It’s close to the zoo and big enough to fit a small family. ZooLights begins the day after Thanksgiving, so if you’re in town at the end of the month you will want to check it out!
  • Things to watch out for: Basement apartments often don’t get much natural light. The owners of this Airbnb have done a good job with lamps and light colored paint to make it look bright, but if natural sunlight is important, you might want to pick a place above ground.

7. Urban cottage in Virginia

This is an Arlington, VA Airbnb rental. Sometimes it's nice to stay outside the city away from the hustle and bustle.
Credit: Stay BnB DC on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Clarendon (Arlington)
  • Why we like it: Sometimes you just want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This cottage in Arlington is an escape from the city but close enough to walk to restaurants, Metro and just about everything you could need during a trip.
  • Things to watch out for: This property is managed by a big company, so expect more of a corporate experience rather than a personalized service you might get with a smaller host.

Ideas for Free and Cheap Things to Do in Washington DC

September 1, 2019 in Blog

Washington, DC can be an expensive city; but it doesn’t have to! The great thing about visiting is that there are so many free and cheap things to do in Washington, DC. I wanted to know if it’s possible to experience the city if you had only $20 in your pocket. And not just once (that’s too easy) but for three consecutive days.

In July, 2019, I took the $20 challenge. Unfortunately, I had to exclude the price of accommodation. There are plenty of hotel choices and areas to stay. Airbnb is an option as well. However, it’s not feasible to expect anything clean and comfortable for such a low price. That said, for this challenge, food, transportation and daily activities all came from a daily $20 budget.

Day 1: Thursday

The day started at Wicked Waffle – a great little breakfast spot downtown. Most folks opt for a waffle sandwich, but that was out of my price range, so I went with a simple Brussels Waffle with syrup instead. The total, with tax, was $5.23. This was also the moment I realized that I couldn’t get drinks with my meal, as they would easily push me over $20. Good thing I carry a water bottle with me!

After breakfast I took the DC Cirulator bus up to the National Zoo. At the time I did the challenge, Circulator was free! However, it’s back to the regular $1 per ride, which is still a bargain. The National Zoo is not the biggest zoo in America but it’s probably the best free zoo in America. Once I was done I took Metro back downtown. That ride cost me $2.00.

For lunch I stopped at my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Well Dressed Burrito. I usually order an “El Gordo” burrito; but today opted for a smaller chicken burrito, which cost $7.15 with tax. Afterward I hopped on another (free at the time) Circulator bus to Georgetown. After exploring some of the Georgetown hidden gems I grabbed a falafel sandwich at Falafel Inc. for $3.30 to save for dinner later.

To close out the day I saw a free movie at the Capitol Riverfront outdoor movie series. There are free movie nights all over the city. The movie series at the Navy Memorial is convenient to many downtown hotels.

Day 1 total: $17.68.

Day 2: Friday

The second day of the challenge started with a long walk from downtown over to Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Washington, DC is a walking city and walking is a great option because it’s always completely free.

Despite the name, Market Lunch actually has excellent breakfast. It’s located right inside the market. I ordered Blue Bucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes). A short stack was plenty and cost $6.88. If you’re not a pancake person for a similar price you can order The Brick, a delicious and filling breakfast sandwich. Make sure to bring cash as this spot is cash only!

Eastern Market is less than a mile from the Capitol, so after lunch I walked over to the Capitol Visitor Center and hopped on a tour. During the busy times of year, a reservation is highly recommended. On this day, since I was a single person, I got lucky and got right onto a tour. Afterward, I took the tunnel to the Library of Congress, the most beautiful building in the city, in my opinion. After that I walked down the hill and spent a little time exploring at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Around 2pm I started making my way down Independence Avenue toward the U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters. USDA has a cafeteria that’s open to the public and every day after 2:30pm they discount buffet items by 30%. I was able to build a nice plate and after the discount and tax cost $6.19. The late afternoon discount is a great hack when you’re looking for cheap things to do in Washington, DC.

After lunch I saw some art at the Hishhorn Museum. It’s a modern art museum and generally less busy than the bigger Smithsonian museums nearby. Afterward I crossed the National Mall and stopped by the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. On Fridays in the summer they do Jazz in the Garden. It’s a fun place to listen to music and kick off the weekend. I could only stay for a little while because then it was time to meet a group for a private tour.

Trip Hacks DC tours are not one of the cheap things to do in Washington, DC (they’re totally worth it though). But for the sake of this challenge I assumed you could see all of the monuments on your own. Self-guiding a tour is completely free. After the tour I rushed over to Roti, a great fast-casual restaurant and got a plate of food just before they closed. I used the LevelUp app and had a $5.00 credit, which meant my dinner only cost $4.68. Check out how you can use this app to get free food credits too.

Day 2 total: $17.75.

Day 3: Saturday

Saturday mornings in DC are surprisingly quiet and peaceful. I woke up and walked over to Bethesda Bagels for breakfast. They are best known for their delicious breakfast sandwiches, but I went with a staple cheap eat: an everything bagel with cream cheese. It was a filling breakfast for only $3.45.

Afterward I decided to walk off the calories and headed to the Old Post Office Tower. This is one of the best views in DC. The Washington Monument gets all the attention but the views down Pennsylvania Avenue from the tower and phenomenon. It’s also great for early birds because they open at 9am, about an hour earlier than most sights. Make sure to use the door behind the building off of 12th Street NW.

Most museums open at 10am which is when I arrived at the National Museum of American History. Museums on the National Mall are huge and you could spend an entire day in a single museum if you were really into it. With limited time it’s best to focus on the exhibits you most want to see.

For lunch I headed to the nearby Protein Bar. They have bowls and wraps that I would call healthy or at least healthy-ish. I ordered the buffalo bowl which had chicken, celery, carrots and blue cheese, on top of quinoa. It was delicious. Protein Bar also uses the LevelUp app so I was able to redeem a credit and only pay $3.84 for lunch.

Two underrated Smithsonian museums in DC are the Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. I like these museums because they are fun an entertaining for both history buffs and art lovers. They are also connected by the Kogod Courtyard which is a great place to sit and relax during a busy day of sightseeing. It was where I planned out my evening.

Up to this point I was winning this challenge because I took advantage of all the free activities in DC. On the last day I decided to do something a little crazy. I wanted to go to a Major League Baseball game. I knew I could pull it off because there are $5.00 tickets available at the Washington Nationals box office and because you can bring your own outside food. When it comes to cheap things to do in Washington, DC this one is still kind of a secret.

From the museum I hopped on a Capital Bikeshare bike (the ride cost $2.00) and headed toward the ballpark. Instead of going to a restaurant I stopped at Harris Teeter to pick up some groceries. I walked out with a salad, bag of peanuts and bottle of water. The snacks totaled up to $5.98. I got my ticket and the box office and walked right into the game.

Day 3 total: $20.27.

Building an itinerary from free and cheap things to do in Washington DC

Even though I exceeded $20 on the third day, I would call this challenge a wild success. It took a bit of planning and limited the number of options, but there are so many cheap things to do in Washington DC that it made it possible. Plus, these were three action packed days. If you tried to re-create this itinerary you would be exhausted by the end!

Best Washington, DC Airbnb Rentals – August 2019

July 31, 2019 in Airbnb

Hey there – you landed on an old version of our Best Washington, DC Airbnb Rentals. Click or tap here to see a more recent article, or feel free to browse these anyway!

Before you go any further, make sure to read our post about Washington, DC Airbnb tips and questions to ask before you book. You want to make sure any Airbnb you sign up for is comfortable, safe and legal. If you decide Airbnb isn’t for you, that’s OK! We’ve got hotel recommendations too. And just so you know, this page includes affiliate links. Please read the Trip Hacks DC disclosure for more information.

With all of that said, there are 7 Washington, DC Airbnb options to consider for your August 2019 trip.

1. Sunny English basement near the Capitol

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental on Capitol Hill. It's a small basement studio near the Capitol, Library of Congress and Supreme court.
Credit: Edith on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill.
  • Why we like it: This is a great option for a traveling couple or solo traveler. English basements are partially below ground, so you still get some sunlight. This apartment has great ceiling lighting which helps brighten up an otherwise dark space. The location is perfect for visiting Capitol Hill sites like the Library of Congress, Supreme Court, and of course, Capitol.
  • Things to watch out for: This apartment has a window AC so if you’re used to central AC this could be a deal breaker. The apartment is also very small. Not necessarily smaller than a hotel room, but you have to be OK with sleeping steps from the stove.

2. Your own historic suite

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. They even have a DC Metro shower curtain!
Credit: Lea on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Foggy Bottom
  • Why we like it: This Washington, DC airbnb is a bustling neighborhood that’s great for visitors due to its proximity to the sites and Metro. You could walk to the White House, Lincoln Memorial and Georgetown from here. Plus they’ve got a Metro map shower curtain which shows they are serious about public transportation.
  • Things to watch out for: Because it’s in a bustling neighborhood, if you’re not used to the city and the noises that come along with it (sirens and honking) then you might find this location jarring.

3. Suite in a Georgetown row house

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Georgetown neighborhood. Stay here if you want to experience the heart of Georgetown.
Credit: Jan on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Georgetown
  • Why we like it: Washington, DC visitors love Georgetown but there aren’t many options if you want to stay in the heart of the neighborhood. Most hotels with Georgetown in the name are located about a mile down the street. This basement studio is not the most glamorous but it makes up for it with the prime location.
  • Things to watch out for: This basement won’t get much natural light, which is probably OK for someone interested in seeing the sites rather than spending time in the room. There is a kitchen but with all the restaurants nearby you probably won’t want to use it.

4. The stately single family

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in the Shaw neighborhood. Families will appreciate that it has 3 bedrooms and space to spread out.
Credit: Home Sweet City on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Shaw
  • Why we like it: Families will appreciate that this actual house has 3 bedrooms that can fit the parents and the kids. The nearby Shaw metro station can get everyone downtown to see the sites quickly and efficiently.
  • Things to watch out for: the Shaw area is known for nightlife, especially on the weekends. Families with kids likely won’t partake but it’s worth knowing what to expect in the neighborhood. 

5. Space for the whole big happy family

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb rental in Southwest Washington, DC. It's big enough for the whole family and close to the museums and National Mall.
Credit: Michael on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Southwest 
  • Why we like it: This 4 bedroom house has plenty of space for a big family. It’s not cheap, but compared to getting two or even three hotel rooms, it’s not a bad deal. Southwest is a fairly quiet neighborhood but it’s an easy walk to the National Mall, museums and Wharf. 
  • Things to watch out for: Washington, DC row houses are renovated many times during their lifetimes. This one doesn’t look like it’s the most up-to-date. Functionally, that’s not a problem, but if you’re looking for luxury accommodations, this probably isn’t it. 

6. A room with a river view

This is a Washington, DC Airbnb boat rental! Is there anything that says "summer" more than staying on a house boat?
Credit: B on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Various marinas around DC
  • Why we like it: It’s a boat! How often do you get to have the experience of spending the weekend out on the water. It’s the perfect summer thing to do.
  • Things to watch out for: It’s a boat. If you’re not up for an adventure or you get seasick then you should steer clear of this one. 

7. Urban cottage in Virginia

This is an Arlington, VA Airbnb rental. Sometimes it's nice to stay outside the city away from the hustle and bustle.
Credit: Stay BnB DC on Airbnb
  • Neighborhood: Clarendon (Arlington)
  • Why we like it: Sometimes you just want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This cottage in Arlington is an escape from the city but close enough to walk to restaurants, Metro and just about everything you could need during a trip.
  • Things to watch out for: This property is managed by a big company, so expect more of a corporate experience rather than a personalized service you might get with a smaller host.

DC in August: What to know before you visit

July 22, 2019 in Blog

August is a great month to visit Washington, DC. It is the month when summer tour season starts to wind down. The first half of August is pretty busy with families. The second half of the month is a lot slower, which means you can experience the city without the crowds. August is one of the cheapest months of the year to visit DC.

Historically, Congress takes an August recess which means that they are out of town for the entire month. Locally, many people who live in DC take their summer vacations in August because it’s a slow time of year at their day jobs. Also, local school districts tend to go back a little bit later than schools in other parts of the country.

August is also one of the easiest months to get a reservation at an upscale restaurant that may have wait lists at other times. On the flip side, since business is so slow, some restaurants actually close for a week or more during August to give their staff a chance to take their own family vacation. Make sure to check a restaurant’s website or call in advance to confirm.

Weather in DC in August

August weather in DC is hot and humid. The average daily highs in August are 86 degrees and average daily lows are 70 degrees. Make sure to factor in humidity since this can make August often feel like it is in the 90s or even the hundreds. It’s not as bad as July, but it’s still peak summer.

Packing for DC in August

You are going to want to bring your summer clothes. Shorts and comfortable walking shoes are a must. Although, you should bring pants if you’re planning to see a show at the Kennedy Center, go to a fancy restaurant, or otherwise visit somewhere that shorts would not be appropriate. Make sure to bring your umbrella. No matter what that forecast says, summer thunderstorms can pop up out of nowhere. Sun protection is also a must during August.

Events and Holidays in August

There are no federal government or unofficial holidays in August worth noting. You can take a tour of the Capitol which we recommend. Make sure to ask your tour guide if they can get you a floor pass. Walking on the floor of the House or Senate is a pretty cool experience.

Outdoor concerts, movie nights and Jazz in the Garden start to wind down for the year. However, if you’re visiting the first half of August you should be able to do all of them. If you are a sports fan, major league baseball and soccer are both still going strong. And NFL preseason is getting started.

Podcast Ep.9 Pennsylvania Avenue: America’s Main Street

May 1, 2019 in Podcast

Pennsylvania Avenue is an iconic street in Washington, DC. In a few short blocks visitors can see the Capitol, White House, National Archives, U.S. Navy Memorial, and Old Post Office. However, this area wasn’t always such a grand avenue. For much of the country’s history it was actually a crime-ridden slum. To discuss the evolution of the street, Rob is joined by guest Carolyn Muraskin.

Carolyn is the owner of DC Design Tours, a tour company that runs historic walking tours with a focus on architecture, design and urban planning, including a tour along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Listen online now:

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Trip Hacks DC Corporate Group Tour with Rob

March 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

Group: Corporate group led by Sammy D
Participants: 45
Date and time: April 2, 2019, 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Click or tap the link below book this tour. After you complete the registration form you will be redirected to Paypal to checkout. If you don’t want to use a Paypal account click or tap “Pay with debit/credit card” instead. 

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Podcast Ep.7 National Cherry Blossom Festival Tips

March 1, 2019 in Podcast

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is the kickoff to spring in Washington, DC. The festival begins on the first official day of spring (March 20th) and runs through mid-April. In this episode of the Trip Hacks DC Podcast, Rob is joined by Nora Strumpf to talk about visiting Washington, DC during cherry blossom season.

Nora is the Communications Coordinator for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the not-for-profit organization that organizes the festival in DC each year. She has been with the NCBF since 2015 and is a DC-area native.

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Podcast Ep.6 Tips for Visiting Washington DC with Kids

February 1, 2019 in Podcast

Families with kids make up many of the millions of Washington, DC annual visitors. DC is a family-friendly destination but it’s not Disney World or a place specifically designed around fun for kids. In this episode of the Trip Hacks DC Podcast, Rob is joined by Austin Graff to talk about visiting Washington, DC with kids.

Austin is one of the only dad bloggers in the city. He loves exploring “off the beaten path” Washington, D.C. with his 2-year-old daughter and wife. And you can follow his adventures on Instagram at @austinkgraff and at @dcurbandad and on his DC Urban Dad blog.

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Airbnb Washington DC – Tips & Questions to Ask

January 1, 2019 in Trip Planning

One of the most important decisions during your trip planning is to decide where to stay. You want to pick a place that’s convenient but affordable. You need accommodation that’s safe and comfortable. Is renting an Airbnb apartment a better and cheaper than booking a hotel? Before you book an Airbnb in Washington, DC, here are a few important questions to consider.

Should you stay in an Airbnb Washington, DC? There are a few important questions to ask before booking that apartment.
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