We will be making an October 2021 trip to Washington, DC. I would appreciate an opinion on the area of the city to stay for safety and within walking distance of restaurants. During the day, we will be concentrating on monuments, museums, and historical sites. Thank you in advance.
I stayed once in Arlington which was fine, we were right by the metro to the monuments/museums. I also stayed at the Hyatt Place near the White House. Loved that location and hotel.
The Penn Quarter area between the Capital and the White House, just north of Pennsylvania Ave., is a good place to start, basically 6th street to 15th, NW, lettered D to H. Can walk to a lot of sites from there. Also look at places in the West End, around 16 to 23rd NW, including the lower Connecticut Ave corridor. Lots of good restaurants, and you can walk into Georgetown from there. Once in Georgetown, besides M street, be sure to walk down hill under the whitehurst freeway, to the river and see the waterfront park and restaurant prominade there.
FYI --- we were there a couple of weeks ago and found that COVID has changed procedures. All the museums required advanced reservations to control capacity. Some museum reservations need to be made weeks and weeks in advance.
Anywhere in the NW sector will be convenient and safe. Many people opt to stay across the river in either Arlington or Alexandria because it tends to be a little cheaper than some of the pricier places in or near the city center.
The very efficient and relatively cheap Metro will get you anywhere you want to go. It might be worth studying a system map and booking a place within easy walking distance of a station. The area around the mall is beautiful but sometimes folks are surprised at how spread out everything is. No problem if you're a walker and up for a bit of a hike but it can make for a long and tiring day if you're trekking between some of the popular sights.
October is a great time to visit DC.
I highly recommend the area described above as Penn Quarter. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco for 5 nights in 2017 and loved the location within walking distance of so many places we wanted to see. The hotel building itself was a charming old post office across the street from the National Portrait Gallery and a 5 minute stroll from some of the best Mall museums. There were a lot of interesting restaurants in the area and a lot of black suit meetings going on in little alcoves in restaurants (we were near the FBI building too). One restaurant told us they had a basement room called The Vault for the most private meetings, no cell reception, etc. Loved being in Washington D.C.!
-Old Town Alexandria (VA) - metro accessible to DC
-Dupont Circle, DC
-Penn Quarter, DC
We stayed 5 nights in 2019 at the State Plaza hotel. Walking distance to the Mall and the Whitehouse. Loved this hotel!
A lot of the monuments and major museums are in/along the Mall. We always try to stay close and on the north side. Renting a bicycle is a great way to visit the many attractions near the Mall. Subway is also a good way to get around. Been to DC numerous times over the years.
In general, the museums are closer to Metro stations than the monuments. In addition to the previously-mentioned current need to pre-book museum entry times, there's frequently just one access point, so it's smart to check each museum's website for that information to avoid walking all the way around a huge building. And do note that most of the museums are not open every day of the week, as they have been in the past.
Reopening of restaurants appears to be proceeding slowly--staffing issues, I guess. Seventh St NW above Pennsylvania Ave. is part of the Penn Quarter area, and it has quite a lot of food options. You may encounter places that haven't gone back to their full menus yet. If it matters, dig into the websites of places you are considering.
There's not very much, food-wise, along Pennsylvania Avenue itself between the Capitol and 17th Street NW. I've heard good things about the restaurant in the National Museum of the American Indian, but other food options inside the museums are not generally good, and I don't know that any of them have reopened yet. This is unfortunate since a lot of the museums are really large, so a visit could easily overlap the lunch hour.
You all have provided us with lots of information, and we really appreciate it! We had not thought about reservations for the museums and will definitely check out the websites.
Has anyone done the night tour of the monuments? Which group did you use?
I’ve done the night tour of the monuments 3x and I highly recommend doing such a tour. Unfortunately I was with a group of 8th graders from my school on spring break trips and the tour was arranged by this large, specialized tour agency. If you do get some recommendations on the forum or look on Yelp, Google reviews, or trip advisor, check to see if the tour gives you some time to walk around a few of the monuments at night, a very moving experience.
I lived in the area for many years growing up (military family) and would do as Agnes recommends — stay in Old Town Alexandria. The Metro is your friend in DC.
You have already received great advice from this forum.
I travel to Washington DC at least once a year on business and stay at the W Hotel which is the closest hotel to the White House. It is a very modern decor with a great rooftop bar that has a spectacular view of the White House. It is steps away from Metro Center and short walk to the National Mall.
When I travel for vacation, I stay at Dupont Circle. It has great restaurants nearby, good transportation to the major sites, and really cool shops. This is my home away from home when I travel with my friends and family. I typically stay at the Kimpton Carlyle which I understand came under new owners and new name--The Lyle. It is completely remodeled and interior looks sleek and modern. When I am with my family, I stay at the Residence Inn at Dupont Circle.
As for the monument tours, I have taken the Old Town Trolley for the night tour in the past (~ 3 years ago). I really enjoyed that tour.
There is a bike share program in DC that we used a few times to go visit the monuments. We really enjoyed our night bike ride past all the illuminated monuments.
Just looked at a map, and the Hyatt we stayed at was in Chinatown. We really liked that hotel within walking distance of the white house, many restaurants, a couple metro stops, and the museums and monuments were relatively close.
I recommend Northern Virginia, Crystal City or Alexandria.
Look for lodging where you can walk to the METRO.