You don’t have to stay in Washington to enjoy Washington. A budget-conscious traveler will make out just as well staying in one of the suburbs that hug the nation’s capital from its north and south. A recent cost comparison of a Hilton in Northern Virginia and a Hilton in downtown Washington turned up a $200 a night price difference. So here’s how to get the most out of staying in the ‘burbs:
1. Figure out how you’ll be getting around. If you’re renting a car, the hotel options are a bit more vast. Washington suburbs have a wide range of hotel options from luxury like the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria, VA, and the Ritz Carlton in Arlington to bed and breakfasts like the Lucy’s Bed and Breakfast in Bethesda, MD. But if you’re relying on public transportation, you’ll want to pull up a map of the Washington area metro system and find a hotel near a station. For example, Crystal City, VA, has a large community of hotels that all are within a stone’s throw from the Crystal City metro. If you’re not sure, ask the hotel if the stop is within walking distance or if they offer a shuttle service to the subway stop when making a reservation.
2. Think about the type of community you want to stay in. Washington’s suburbs offer a mix of urban hot spots, quiet bedroom communities and historic neighborhoods.
•Old Town, Alexandria, VA – Good for history and quaintness.
•Springfield, VA and Falls Church, VA – Nearby Virginia suburbs.
3. Be strategic. Washington is known for its traffic, so plan your trip into the city around rush hour times. Leaving the ‘burbs after 9 AM should avoid most of the rush hour traffic. Try to get out of the city by 4 PM to avoid the rush back into the suburbs. The Washington Post has minute-by-minute updates on traffic in the area, along with WTOP radio at 103.5 FM. If you have a GPS device with traffic alerts, bring it.