We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
TripAdvisor
Washington DC
Post
Inbox
Search

Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?

Gainesville, Florida
Level Contributor
366 posts
109 reviews
217 helpful votes
Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

We would like to visit DC as a family of 5. Hotels have been tricky to find for more than 4 people at a budget cost. I've been doing a lot of research and read the forums here and articles elsewhere. We will be driving to DC from home so we will have to park our car somewhere and from my initial research many hotels in town have high per day parking costs added on to the higher per day rates.

-Is it possible to stay outside of DC and drive in/park?

-We don't have dates and we are flexible but would be looking at summer 2018 or perhaps as soon as Thanksgiving this year. Is Thanksgiving a nice time to visit? It seems the cheapest so far.

-If we stayed in DC are there any hotels you'd recommend for 5 people that don't have high parking costs?

Thanks!!

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington, Washington DC
Level Contributor
16,787 posts
128 reviews
287 helpful votes
1. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

First of all, with a family of 5, you will need to stay in a suites hotel such as Embassy Suites in which the rooms can accommodate more than 4 people. Or you will have to get two standard rooms in a hotel.

<< -Is it possible to stay outside of DC and drive in/park?>>

Yes, but it is not recommended that you stay very far from D.C. due to the terrible traffic we have around here. In fact, one stretch of I-95 just south of D.C. was recently named THE most congested stretch of highway in the entire U.S. Expect to pay a minimum of $25 per day to park in a garage in D.C. (Street parking is not an option as it is hard to find; the times are short; and enforcement is rabid.)

<< Is Thanksgiving a nice time to visit? It seems the cheapest so far.>>

The weather is OK at Thanksgiving--ususally a bit grey with a chance of rain, but it's not excessively cold. (Although coming from Florida, you may find it so.) The museums will be crowded but they will also be crowded in the summer.

<<If we stayed in DC are there any hotels you'd recommend for 5 people that don't have high parking costs?>>

All D.C. hotels that have parking charge high rates. I'd recommend you look at hotels in the nearby suburbs of Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. The hotels charge less for parking in Arlington and Alexandria and both are close to D.C., so you avoid the worst of the area traffic. There are some budget hotels in Arlington that offer free parking, but you would have to get two rooms as they cannot accommodate more than 4 people per room.

Edited: 7:59 am, October 11, 2017
Maryland
Level Contributor
658 posts
2 reviews
2. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

As a member of a family of five who drives most places, I know how tough it can be to find accommodations for us and car.

The Embassy Suites suggestion is a good one. You might also want to take a look at Marriott as their Residence Inn should work for you (I saw a shockingly low rate around $77 for Crystal City Marriott where I'm guessing you'll need a sleeper and have to pay for parking - it would better to have free parking at your hotel, drive in to DC and only have to pay for parking once).

Keep in mind you'll have to either pay for parking or for five on the Metro which won't be cheap and maybe even both.

My recommendation would be to look for availability for five around Thanksgiving in DC (you can always park at Union Station for around $25 per day to avoid nasty hotel parking rates) or further away from DC. If you stay further from DC, traffic will be lighter than normal and that will help significantly.

Hotel rates should be cheaper at Thanksgiving than just about any other time of year.

You could also look at Airbnb .

washington dc
Level Contributor
5,321 posts
5 reviews
4 helpful votes
3. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

With an extended family, you might think about a vacation rental apt. or house. DC is a small city, but no one place will be walking distance to all the sites. (Plus after walking around all day you really just want to get home and relax, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants, cafes, shops etc. nearby.) The Red Line Metro is the least convenient for tourists, but not a huge deal - just add 10-15 min. extra per trip, longer on weekends as you have to change trains.

There are three primary listing sites for vacation rentals now; Homeaway.com. Airbnb.com and Homeescape.com. (VRBO.com is also still active, but basically a duplicate of Homeaway, both owned now by Expedia.)

Homeaway & AirBnb charge a 9%-12% booking fee. Homeescape.com does not charge any booking fees, but it is newer and has fewer listings.

1. Search results can vary a lot depending on what device you are using - desktop, laptop, tablet or phone.

2. Enter your exact dates if you have them, but if you are flexible you can search without dates.

Sorting by neighborhood will make it easier. On Homeaway, you have to scroll down to the bottom of the first page to see the neighborhood list.

You can also just type a neighborhood in the search box - "Washington DC Columbia Heights" for example.

The most convenient neighborhoods for tourists, with lots of rentals and nearby Metro stations are - Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, U St., Eastern Market, Foggy Bottom, Penn Quarter and Capitol Hill. (Woodley Park and Cleveland Park are also good, but have few rentals.) For all listings, but especially Capitol hill - check the map first thing. Many people stretch the boundaries, but this is especially bad for Capitol Hill.

Some good bargains can also be found in more "developing" neighborhoods like LeDroit Park, Shaw, Bloomingdale.

For larger houses - 3-4 bedrooms, also look at the neighborhood of Petworth and Brookland.

3.On Homeaway you can click on the "sort by" box and choose "price low to high." You might not be looking for the cheapest, but it makes it easier to organize. This will also let you scroll past all the bad listings. Don't even bother looking at anything under $100.00 per night.

You can also do a "map search" - but you have to enlarge the map quite a bit to see all the rentals. This is useful however, to find properties close to a Metro Station. Metro Stations are blue squares with a white M.

Do not even look as "Best Match," "Most popular," or "HomeAway Sort" - these are meaningless.

4. If you find a place you like - WRITE DOWN the listing number on a piece of paper! You might be looking at several properties, get confused and because of search algorithms, you might not be able to find it again.

5. Rates vary a lot by season. "Average Rate" is basically meaningless. You need exact dates to get exact rates. Also check the cleaning fee & tax policy. Some owners include cleaning & tax in the rate, some don't. It can make a big difference.

6. Email the owner. Tell them a bit about yourselves, ask any questions. Airbnb & Homeaway favor properties with "Instant Book" or "Book it Now" but you don't have to click these. Many owners also have their own websites.

If you want, post the exact listing number, or better yet, a link here and we can tell you more about the location, etc.

Airbnb.com in DC has over 6000 listings, but if you know the city well and are looking for a specific neighborhood, it can be a good option. Airbnb offers rooms in shared apts. or an entire apt. They don't let you sort by price, but you can enter a price range. You can also sort by neighborhood.

They charge the guest 9% booking fee plus 14% DC hotel tax, so add 23% to whatever the listed rent price is. Do be aware that most condos and rental apts. do not allow Airbnb rentals, so be absolutely sure you are renting only from an owner of the entire property, or with written permission from their condo board.

Several posters on this Forum want me to "disclose" that I own a vacation rental myself. I'm happy to. If you can find it among the 3,000 or so available, you will be very lucky!

Gainesville, Florida
Level Contributor
366 posts
109 reviews
217 helpful votes
4. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

Thanks, yes, these are some of the things that I was wondering and that helps. If my 'in town' hotel costs $100 more than an out of town hotel and has a $42 per day parking fee, it wouldn't really be saving me any money (just time driving) to stay in town, if we could pay $100 less and just park somewhere for $25. We expect parking and transportation costs to be a big chunk of our vacation, and that's fine, we just want to be prepared for it and plan ahead.

There is so much to look at, so narrowing it down to Alexandria and Arlington and some of those other neighborhoods is a good place to start. Thank you also for the rental home ideas also, will try some of those suggestions.

-How far out do the metro stations run? If we stayed in Alexandria or the like would we need to drive in?

-Are museums and tourist things closed down during Thanksgiving holidays?

From what I've looked at hotels are 2x as much in the summer as they are Thanksgiving week, and they are 80% booked already for next summer compared for 50% booked for Thanksgiving. The 'summer heat' of Washington is not a problem for us as it might actually be a break from our summer heat. But we don't mind the cold all that much either.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,685 posts
1 review
5. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

"-Are museums and tourist things closed down on Thanksgiving?"

The Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery of Art are open.

https://www.si.edu/museums

https://www.nga.gov/visit.html

Phillips Collection closed

Closed Mondays, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day

http://www.phillipscollection.org/visit

You can walk around the Memorials of course.

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington, Washington DC
Level Contributor
16,787 posts
128 reviews
287 helpful votes
6. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

Metro runs much further out than you will want to stay. There are many Metro stations in both Arlington and Alexandria. If you want to use Metro and leave your car at a hotel, be sure to choose a hotel that is within walking distance of a Metro station. I would not recommend a hotel that offers a shuttle to a Metro station because you waste a lot of time waiting around for those shuttles.

Below is a link to the Metro website. You can use the Trip Planner feature to find out how much it will cost to get from your hotel to D.C. and back. For a family of 5, you may find it cost-effective to just drive into D.C. from Arlington or Alexandria and park at Union Station where the all day parking rate is just $25. The Ronald Reagan Building garage also offers reasonably-priced all day parking.

www.wmata.com

Maryland
Level Contributor
658 posts
2 reviews
7. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

You'll pay less to pay to park in DC (around $25) than you'll pay to Metro five folks around in so keep that in mind.

Take a look at the Marriott site - I see the Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park for $70 a night for 5 people with free parking for Thanksgiving week. That coupled with a light traffic week might be a winner for you...

Marriott has lots of other closer in options that are pretty good but they may not include parking like the Falls Church option.

Edited: 4:13 pm, October 11, 2017
Gainesville, Florida
Level Contributor
366 posts
109 reviews
217 helpful votes
8. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

Yes, after I posted I realized I could just take a look at the metro map and found it covers a quite large area. Also looked into the homeaway rentals and saw more options that might fit our family.

As for parking at Union Station for the day, is there plentiful parking or does it full?

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington, Washington DC
Level Contributor
16,787 posts
128 reviews
287 helpful votes
9. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

Union Station has several thousand parking spaces so you won't have a problem finding one.

Gainesville, Florida
Level Contributor
366 posts
109 reviews
217 helpful votes
10. Re: Family of 5: Hotel in or out of town? Parking/Driving?
Save

Nice. I'm looking at a bunch of rental options on travelocity.com

https://www.travelocity.com/Hotel-Search?destination=Washington+(and+vicinity),+District+of+Columbia,+United+States+of+America&startDate=06/06/2018&endDate=06/10/2018&adults=2&children=1_13,1_10,1_6&regionId=178318&sort=vacationRental

Do these look legit? I'm seeing apartments like this

https:/…

or this

https:/…

Are they too good to be true?