Washington DC on a Budget: How a Family of Five Toured our Nations Capital City for Under $80 a Day

Our family is on an educational tour of the United States and we have visited many state capitals, so of course we had to include a stop in our nations capital. Washington DC is an amazing city. It is also a very family friendly city with so many things to see and do with kids. The amount of choices available can be a little overwhelming especially because it all sounds not only fun, but educational too.

This was our first time in Washington DC and we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The costs can really start to add up sometimes when visiting a metropolitan area, but we managed to spend less than $80 a day while exploring this exciting new place.

We are a very budget oriented family as we are trying to take our children to see every state so saving money is important to us. Traveling with our travel trailer makes our lodging different than some peoples, since we can prepare our meals and our grocery bill is about the same no matter where we are. I realize that not everyone is interested in traveling the way we do, but if you are interested in how we manged to spend 6 days exploring Washington DC area for less than $80 a day please read on.

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Celebrating Our One Year Anniversary

After visiting more than half the state capitols in America, we still felt a sense of awe when we walked into the Pennsylvania state house in Harrisburg. It is a large majestic government building and the dome is green. That alone made everyone in our family pause as we admired the architecture.  Inside the building is just as spectacular and grand, with stained glass, gold, and paintings. The female artists who painted all the murals did a great job and we just gawked at all the unique works of art. Miles was happy that the senate was in session and we were able to sit in the gallery while watching the inner workings of the state government. He quickly realized that sometimes things take forever in government and all we actually saw was the senate recognizing guests, commercial speeches promoting businesses, and a few senators putting up motions to make awareness months for various issues. Then they broke for lunch and although he has a lot of interest and patience, we didn’t want to sit in the empty chamber for a few hours till the senators reconvened. Of course by we  I mean our five year old who finds the inner workings of government to be boring like most young kids. It was great to visit a lovely capitol building with a welcome center for the kids to learn at, but the best part was what we found outside the capitol building. We usually try to walk around the state capitols we visit so we can see all the statues and get lots of good pictures and often we find some great shots at different angles. Well outside the capitol building in Harrisburg they have a fountain that shoots water in a pattern and our kids sat transfixed by the show. It was a great end to a wonderful capitol visit and the capitol at Harrisburg became ours kids favorite, until we find another cool one of course.

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An Urban Oasis

Visiting state capital’s and national parks has become a huge part of our lives in the last year.  So what could be better for us than combining these two things into one great experience? While visiting the capital city of Maryland we stayed in Greenbelt National Park, which has an awesome location.  It is also a great place to camp right near the city.  We are still amazed at how many cool places there are to go and see in this country, no matter where we go there seems to be an endless amount of places we want to check out.  State capitol buildings provide opportunities to learn about history while national parks provide us with experiences in nature.  What I like about these places is that they are free or very inexpensive to visit.  So read on and I will tell you about our family’s adventure to the wonderful capital city of Maryland.

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The First State

I can honestly say that I never thought I would go to Delaware and wasn’t even sure what we would do while visiting the state. Well like every other state we have visited so far, Delaware didn’t disappoint us and we had a blast while visiting the nation’s very first state. We decided to stay at a state park that was south of Dover, since we knew we would be heading to Annapolis when we left. Killen’s Pond was almost full when we arrived and we took the last spot in the camp that our trailer could fit into. I was a bit worried over the camp because it was so full and the campsites were pretty close, but the next day was a Monday and we quickly had the entire loop to ourselves. The camp ground was not the best we have stayed out, which is ironic since they have signs saying Delaware state parks are the best in the United States. There was quite a lot of trash in our site though and we never saw anyone picking up the sites the entire time we stayed there. Every time I needed help at the entrance station it was a fiasco and the workers were struggling. The bathrooms were decent, but were operated with push buttons and anyone who has used this style of shower knows how annoying they are (especially when you have three kids to shower off). The location for seeing the capitol was very convenient being just a twenty minute trip into the city.

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Recycled Buildings in Richmond

Learning something new isn’t too hard when you visit historical sites in Richmond

We are heading north up the east coast and we plan to be in Maine sometime this summer, but we have a lot to see before we get there. This includes a few stops in the Virginia area where there is a lot to see. Richmond VA was one of our stops, it being the capital and all. Virginia has so much history involving the founding of this country and its early beginnings. We were looking forward to touring the capitol building in Richmond. There was also a science museum nearby that we wanted to check out. There is always an opportunity to learn something new at every place we go, but we love that it comes so easily when visiting museums and historical sites. We also get the added bonus of it being fun too!

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Welcome Home!

It’s always nice pulling into a new camp. Getting there means we’re home (since we take our house wherever we go) and it’s nice to feel at home no matter where we are. Some of the places we stay are definitely better than others and the Holly Point Recreation Area on Falls Lake, near Raleigh, NC, was a welcome site when we arrived. The sites were all pretty long, lots of trees made them very private, we had water and power hook-ups plus a nice walking trail to the playground which the kids loved. The campground was very quiet and the bathrooms were maintained. We liked that we could collect the dead wood here and have a campfire. I prefer staying in sites that are on the rustic side and have some privacy even if it means not having some amenities. Occasionally, we have to stay at places that are a little less camping and more on the resort side like when we need some amenities such as laundry or Wi-Fi. It was nice staying at Holly Point for its rustic camping feel as well as its proximity to the city. Once we arrive at our site, get the trailer set up, and the slides out, I always like to welcome everyone home.

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A Unique Beginning for South Carolina

We traveled the state from a single camp.

It is unusual for us to stay in only a single campsite when visiting a state, but in South Carolina one stop was perfect. We saw all we had hoped to see.  We stayed at an RV park called Barnyard RV.  It was not great, but we made due for a week.  The only good thing about it was its location.  It was a quick drive into Columbia and less than two hours for us to get to the beach.  Other than that it was noisy, the Wi-Fi was virtually non-existent, and the roads were littered with pot holes, just to name a few of the down sides.   Despite the site being sub-standard we still managed to have a great time while visiting Columbia, South Carolina.

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A Drive Through the Forest to Visit a King

I have always enjoyed hiking in the forest and our entire time in Georgia was spent in the woods. Our campsite near Atlanta was a state park called High Falls. It was a beautiful place with a dam that created a waterfall as well as some more natural lower falls. The campsites were large with plenty of room for our rig, and some beautiful hiking trails we were able to enjoy. For some strange reason we had overnight neighbors come and go during our stay, but we had multiple empty camp sites all around us. That coupled with the huge grass area behind our camp allowed the kids to really enjoy running around in camp. The laundry and showers were just a short walk up the road and the end of the loop was empty of campers, so the kids could ride their scooters way further than we normally allow.

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Tallahassee, Florida’s Capitol City

It was a busy day inside the capitol building since we happened to arrive on opening day of the legislative session. The university was there with some interesting displays about the history and archaeology from around the state. We were all interested in learning about some of the different ways that the natives used shells for tools. After looking over the displays we decided to take the elevator up to the top. Like the capitol building in Louisiana, you can go all the way to the 22nd floor and look out over the whole town. It isn’t quite as tall as Louisiana’s but you can still get a great view of the city. They had some plaques around that labeled the different buildings in view and it was fun to try to spot them. After seeing the whole city we took the elevator down to wandered around some of the other floors. We got to see the House Chamber just after their session had ended for the day, and we also got a good view looking down on the state seal. It was a really nice building and we were excited to see what the old capitol would look like.

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A Castle in America?!?

Sometimes we come across hidden gems on our adventure. Baton Rouge has an amazing capitol and I will get to that soon, but the old capitol building has been turned into a free museum and it looks like a castle! The spiral staircase with a stained glass dome could be the most spectacular stairway we have seen yet. The museum had tons of Baton Rouge and Louisiana history, plus a display about modern times in Baton Rouge. Across the street is a walking path next to the Mississippi river with a destroyer, museums, fountains and artwork scattered around making it a pleasant place to walk. The kids found plenty of Mardi Gras beads from the parade the previous weekend and we are looking forward to actually seeing a parade soon.

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