When we were planning our MidAtlantic RV trip, we knew that we wanted to spend a day in Washington, DC. Logistics with an RV can be a little more challenging in a busy city so I’m sharing how to make your visit as painless as possible.
Where We Stayed
An important part of trip planning is deciding where to stay. We chose to stay at Cherry Hill RV Park for 2 nights because it’s the closest campground to Washington DC. We wanted to enjoy our time in Annapolis and then travel to a campground that would be close for our activities in DC the following day.
I loved that the campsite had a nice bricked patio area with a picnic table along with sturdy chairs and a circular table. We found plenty of activities and amenities available for family fun onsite. We took advantage of the outdoor pool pretty quickly because it was a hot day. The water temperature wasn’t bad because I even got in at night.
There is an 18 Hole Miniature Golf Course, basketball court, two playgrounds, game room, lounge with a large screen tv and fireplace, hot tub and sauna, nightly movies (in the warmer months) and nature trails for guests to enjoy.
Transportation to Washington DC
Make your visit easier and less stressful by using public transportation, Uber, or Lyft into Washington DC. Seriously, you do not want to deal with traffic or finding parking in downtown DC with an RV. The bus stops at Cherry Hill Campground and then you can take it to the Metro station to catch the subway into the city. You can also sign up for a guided tour with Gray Line.
My husband wanted to visit the monuments earlier than the rest of the family so he used public transportation to get to the Metro Station.
The kids, my dad, and I opted to use Uber and Lyft to go to and from downtown for around $25 each way. The price for 4 people was about the same amount that we would have paid for public transportation and it was easier to not have to worry about schedules and transfers. If you have someone new to those apps you can save more money on your first ride.
Request a White House Tour
I would highly recommend taking the free White House Tour if you get the chance while you’re in DC. Regardless of your politics, it’s still amazing to walk through a building that is such an important part of our Nation’s history.
You will need to prepare for a White House Tour a few months in advance by sending a request for a visit through your member of Congress in your state. You will need to provide your address, social security numbers, and date requested
You can request up to 3 months in advance of your trip and no less than 21 days before. You will find out if you were approved for your requested date 2-3 weeks prior to your visit.
- Before your scheduled time slot you will need to line up at 15th and Hamilton Streets NW. I would suggest bringing a snacks and a drink that you can throw away afterwards because we waited in line beyond our scheduled time to go in.
- Everyone visiting 18 and up is required to present a valid government issued photo ID. ( drivers license, military ID, United States or other official government-issued passports) Make sure that your information submitted (e.g. name, date of birth, city, etc.) exactly matches the government-issued photo ID you present when arriving at the White House.
- You cannot bring any type of bag, purse, or stroller into the White House which could be a challenge if you have small children. We were fortunate that we were able to keep our backpack and pick it up afterwards at the office of our Congress Rep. It is a good distance between the two buildings so you might consider an Uber or a bike share if you don’t want to walk for 25+ minutes.
- You can take pictures with your camera as long as it doesn’t have detachable lenses. I just used the camera on my I-phone but you are not allowed to take video. Get a full list of prohibited items here.
Make sure that you take your time during your tour and take in every detail because once you exit the White House you cannot return. Some of my favorite points of interest were the photographs of previous Presidents with their pets and the display of Presidential china.
Request a Guided Tour of the Capital
This is another tour that you need to make in advance with your state representative. Our family really enjoyed taking it a few years ago. The guided tour gives you a lot of insight into the history of the Capital Building along with how it is used today.
I’m not a good lier or great at memorizing important details quickly so I just have to live vicariously through spy shows. I was really excited that we had the opportunity to test our spy skills in the International Spy Museum where we got to choose an identity and remember specific details to later be recalled throughout the museum.
During the short film we learned that there are more spies in Washington DC than anywhere else in the world! As you explore the museum you will see spyware, gadgets, and techniques used by previous agents. The museum boasts the largest collection of international espionage artifacts currently on public display.
Guest of all ages will enjoy engaging in the hands on exhibits throughout the museum and learn how spies have been a critical part of history in events around the world. There is also an interesting Special Exhibit on the lower level dedicated to James Bond franchise called “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains.”
After a long day of touring DC we were ready for dinner. We choose the Shake Shack conveniently located next door to the International Spy Museum. You really can’t go wrong with a menu of burgers, shakes, and other American classics. You can have a clearer conscience too because the burgers are made with 100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified with no hormones or antibiotics.
I would highly recommend taking advantage of the Capital bikeshare located throughout the city if you want to see a lot of the monuments otherwise you will get your miles in on foot. A 24 hour pass is $8 for the day which makes for an affordable way to explore the city. (Make sure that you still check your bike in at one of the stations every 30 minutes to avoid additional usage fees)
A Few Other Tips
I suggest making a list of what you want to see with your family ahead of time. This was my boys 2nd visit to Washington DC and they didn’t want to cram as much in during this visit. During our last visit we went to all of the monuments and museums. I was in DC a few months prior to our visit and got to explore on my own for hours which is why my husband got up early to see more and stayed later after we left to return to the campground. My husband said that the extra time he got to spend at the monuments by himself was one of his favorite experiences of the trip.
If it’s your first visit, I suggest arriving downtown early to avoid the crowds at the monuments and to also go back at night for another perspective. The National Museums on the National Mall open around 10am and tend to close around 5:30. I would suggest visiting a monument if you have time in the morning, go to the free National Museums, and then visit more of the monuments afterwards. The hop on hop off bus is another option if you don’t want to do a lot of walking and want to see as much as possible.
Washington DC is a city with endless options. Wear your walking shoes because you will put the miles on and bring a backpack with water and snacks.
You can read more about our RV Trip with tips for each city below.
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