The White House, Georgetown and fancy restaurants oozing with politicians and suits may make it seem like there is no way to have a good time without spending more than $100 in Washington, D.C.
It’s quite the contrary with places like all 16 of the National Smithsonian Museums, Dupont Circle and local eateries, D.C. can be inexpensive and more importantly, fun.
The cheapest, most relaxing and reliable way to get to D.C. is by bus. For those who really want to save and maybe splurge later in D.C., take the Chinatown bus. You can leave from Philadelphia at 9 a.m. (there are three buses throughout the day) from 11th and Arch streets for $30 roundtrip.
The ride takes about two-and-a-half hours.
Greyhound offers deals for $25 each way. The station is near Chinatown, at 1001 Filbert St. The bus will drop you off at Union Station, where Amtrak is accessible.
Completed in 1908, the station has 22-karat gold leaves painted onto the ceilings and is home to restaurants, gift shops and bookstores.
What makes D.C. such an awesome day trip is the easily accessible Metro system. Be sure to purchase a daily Metrorail pass for only $6.50, which is a deal compared to cab fares.
Check the weather beforehand so you can dress appropriately to visit the countless outdoor sites.
The National Mall
With a map in hand, pay a visit to the National Mall, the Smithsonian National Gallery and walk around the Washington Monument. Union Station is a stop for the metro’s Red line. The Metro map of D.C. is color-coded much like Philadelphia’s, but with a few more lines.
The National Gallery is part of the Smithsonian and is located at the National Mall between 3rd and 7th streets at Constitution Avenue. Admission is free. An array of priceless pieces of work by famous American painters like Mary Cassat and Gilbert Stuart can be found within the gallery’s walls. Also, there is an amazing photography exhibit that is now on display.
Entitled “The Streets of New York,” it features works from Walker Evans and Sid Grossman.
Along the National Mall and on Constitution
Avenue there are small food carts, which are inexpensive places to grab a quick bite. Whether you’re craving a falafel, gyro or pita, there’s a cart for it. They are the quickest, cheapest way to get food favorites in the city, plus you and your travelmates can park it on a bench nearby and enjoy the scenery of the nation’s capital.
After filling your empty stomach, head to Dupont Circle. Lined with local ethnic restaurants and trendy boutiques, this historic neighborhood gets its name from a traffic circle surrounding a public park.
“DuPont Circle is more relaxing than a big city like New York. Plus it’s not trendy, like it hasn’t been coined ‘up and coming yet,'” said Sammy Juh, a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park. He, like many students, spends the weekends walking around and enjoying the neighborhood.
After finishing a crash course on the monuments, museums and Dupont, you may want to ride back to Union Station to make the trip home, or stay in D.C. for some nightlife with your daily Metro card, which is good until 3 a.m.
A great bar to hit is the Brickskeller Saloon at 1523 22nd St., NW Metro Stop Dupont Circle. With more than 800 beers from around the world, it’s D.C.’s largest tap house.
Jaymie Morales can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.