A visit to Washington D.C. from NYC is easily accomplished, and can be easy on your wallet. Bus companies, such as Bolt Bus (www.boltbus.com) leave from mid-town Manhattan daily and cost as little as $23 each way; Bolt leaves you in D.C.’s beautiful Union Station (a worthy tourist stop in and of itself). We scored tickets on Amtrak for less than $99 roundtrip with a bit of advance planning. The train trip takes about 4 ½ hours and it is a short ride by Metro or cab to any of D.C.s downtown hotels. Save money and stay in some of the hotels farther from the center; there are a lot of reasonably priced hotels, especially in Alexandria, if you are willing to travel a bit (the train system here, the Metro (www.wmata.com) is efficient, clean and inexpensive. It can be confusing to a New Yorker, as cost is based on length of travel, not per ride, so make yourself familiar with it before buying a ticket). This year, I’m looking forward to staying at The Willard Intercontinental, one of America’s iconic historic hotels, only two blocks from The White House (you can tour the White House for free, but tickets are limited each day, so get there early (www.whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events). Alternately, contact your Congressperson months in advance to get tickets to a special White House tour). The Willard was host to many historic moments and important people, but I like to think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr finishing his “I Have a Dream” speech there.
No visit to the nation’s capitol is complete without a visit to D.C.’s most historic saloon: Old Ebbits Grill, founded in 1856. More recently, Old Ebbits Grille gave Clint Eastwood a place to hang-out while chasing bad guys in the film, “In the Line of Fire”. Antique gas chandeliers and fixtures light the Main Dining Room, where you can dine along side a nice couple from NJ or a Secret Service agent, ear bud in place and a glass of water in front of them as they guard “VIP”s at another table. The food’s not cheap, but moderately priced by NY standards and DELICIOUS (best crab cakes anywhere, and home-made individual strawberry short-cake with an old-fashioned southern biscuit base is lovely). Check them out during happy hour when the raw seafood at the bar is on sale. www.ebbitt.com. There are all kinds of restaurants available with foods from all over the world at all price points. Check out www.Restaurant.com for good deals at places you would like to try. You can save up to 50% or more off the cost of a meal (just be sure you really want to eat there and the offer is valid for the time you will be going to the restaurant, as the vouchers are not refundable).
Take comfortable clothes, a camera, your best walking shoes, and a laid back attitude and enjoy Washington’s varied neighborhoods. If you only have one day, get up early and buy a ticket to the Hop On Hop Off Old Town Trolley and ride until you find a place you want to explore, including Georgetown. It’s more expensive than using the train, but you just have to know where the bus stops are and when your ticket to ride ends. You can get a bit of a discount if you order your ticket online (http://www.trolleytours.com/washington-dc/). I like them better than the double-decker buses because they’re cuter vehicles (no AC, though…we’re talking old-fashioned!) and the drivers don’t have a pre-taped spiel. They are residents of D.C. and are usually informative and entertaining.
Good luck and enjoy your trip!