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Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

Indiana
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Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

Hey guys! My family and I are planning our first (maybe only) trip to Washington DC. We are rural mid-westerners, and we have never really traveled to a big city before for vacation. We usually shoot for beaches or tourist areas. This will be the first MAJOR city we have been to for vacation.

There will be 3 or 4 of us. Right now, we are leaning toward getting a condo on airBnB or VRBO or other sites like that. Not only do many of the condos offer more space and the amenities we'd like, but many of them include parking which is a great deal. If we do aim for a hotel, we are looking at places like the Residence Inn, or other places that have extra space, kitchens, and the like.

Right now, determining WHERE we want to stay is the issue. Can you please look at our list of wants, and give us an idea of what neighborhood you'd recommend, if not a specific building or hotel? Thanks muchly!

Mom- she is not really interested in the sight-seeing as much as the rest of us. She doesn't mind going to a couple of places, but her request is to stay someplace that she will feel safe and entertained. She wants a place with an outdoor pool, rooftop preferably but not a requirement. She also prefers to be a little further out of the city, so that she can feel comfortable driving to shopping areas or other places by herself.

For the rest of us, we'd like to be relatively close to the action. Enough that if we needed to take a mid-day break, it wouldn't be too long of a Metro ride back. A lot of the suburbs we looked at was a 30-40 minute+ ride each way, which is just a little too far for us. So, the hope is to find a place in or close to the city that is safe and easy to get to and around.

Our big problem with being in the city is just city driving and parking. We don't even mind paying the outrageous parking fees at the hotels we have looked at, but so many of them have the cars off site, and we don't really like the idea of not being able to get to our car immediately. So, IF we stay in the city, we'd probably need a place with on site parking, self parking if possible.

We've found some places in NoMa....I like that area, because it is near Union Station, and I know my mom would love to be that close to a lot of the food and shopping. I am less comfortable about how industrial it is. People say it's on the way up, but it does make me worried about making a wrong turn or getting caught up in something. There was a homicide within the last 30 days about a block or two from the (really nice) condo we were looking at. It just seems a little more crime ridden than some of the other locations.

Obviously, we love Georgetown and Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle and that whole area. The prices are a little scary, and we worry that getting around, especially for my mom in a car, will be a little difficult.

We've looked at Arlington. We are really just looking at all options near Metro Stations. A couple of places we really like are near the Virginia Square Metro. There does seem to be a fair share of crime in Arlington, but at least it doesn't seem...as hard core. The Metro trips don't seem to be TOO daunting. Can anyone speak to the feel of it, as far as getting around by car? I worry about losing the Washington DC feel by being too far out in Ballston. I'm thinking Rosslyn or Pentagon City are probably much better as far as feeling more in the heart of things.

If anyone can give us some direction or focus, we'd so much appreciate it.

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

You're underestimating how little you will even need to drive at all once you're here. In fact, unless you have some day trip planned outside the city, you won't need to touch your car for the whole time you're here once you park it. In Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, downtown DC, Ballston, Crystal City, etc., it is almost always easier to just walk to whatever you are going to rather than driving. These neighborhoods are crawling with restaurants, grocery stores, small corner shops, pharmacies, etc every block. This is less true of places like NoMa which yes do have a higher crime rate than most places where tourists stay.

A substantial amount of people in DC and Arlington don't own cars at all, by choice. They can easily afford cars but they are simply unnecessary where they live. It's the complete opposite of a rural area where you need to drive to get anywhere.

richmond
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2. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

Check out Clarendon which is part of Arlington. There is a Residence Inn and a Hilton Gardon Inn. Great shopping Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Lots of stores and great restaurants. It is just above Rosslyn.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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3. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

The three of us stayed at the Residence Inn Capitol Hill and loved it. We had a 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite and had tons of room. It was only a couple blocks to the National Mall and the Capitol Bldg. and around the corner from the subway station. We came by train and never felt there was a need for our car... we either walked or rode the subway or took a cab. The hotel had a large hot breakfast (free) and several nights provided light "eats" in the evening. When we return (probably next year) we hope to stay at that hotel, again.

washington dc
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4. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

An apt. - especially with a mixed group, is the best way to go. You will enjoy the extra space, kitchen option and value, plus the chance to live in a real neighborhood with lots of local restaurants & shops instead of the tourist places near downtown hotels. Check VRBO.com - especially the neighborhoods of Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, U St. Woodly Park, Foggy Bottom (there is at least one place with a rooftop pool.) & some of Capitol Hill (people really stretch the boundaries for Capitol Hill.) You can search by price, by number of reviews, neighborhoods etc.

You want to be within about 3 blocks to a Metro - Green/Yellow & ORange/blue are a little more convenient for tourists than the Red line, but not a huge deal. Red line requires a change of trains to tourist area, so 10-15 min. extra travel time.

There are some good options on Airbnb, but it takes a lot of work to find them. The site is very cluttered (over 1,400 listings) and many people only rent part time - but if you use search filters, exact dates and search by neighborhood you might find something.

You can post the listing number of any place you're interested in for advice here.

washington dc
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5. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

Also - the murders, shootings that you are worried about are almost always between people who know each other. The only robbery/murder of tourists occurred 5-6 years ago in Georgetown. The major crimes that a tourist (and any city resident) should worry about are "snatch and grab" of devices, particularly on Metro or in cafes.

Over the past 7 years I've hosted over 300 visitors, mostly families, many on their first trip to any city, in Columbia Heights. None has ever felt unsafe.

Yes, you will lose the city feel if you stay out in Virginia Square or Balston, and yes, your main crime concern will be hoardes of drunken 20 somethings on bar crawls puking on your shoes. You are also less likely to see homeless people, etc. But you will not be in danger staying in DC.

As for parking, most VRBO apt. will offer free street parking with a residential visitor card.

Rockville, Maryland
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6. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

SUITES:

1. In Foggy Bottom (next to Georgetown, near Metro), consider the Foggy Bottom Suite at the River Inn, the Residence Inn, and especially Avenue Suites Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. .

2. In DuPont Circle, consider the Residence Inn, Embassy Suites 22nd St., NW is not far from, but not as convenient to, the Metro. You might also consider Palomar, Topaz and, Madera; I don't know if they have kitchens..

3. You don't know the city, so be very careful if you are considering airbnb.

Edited: 22 August 2014, 04:28
pittsburgh
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7. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

Residence Inn Arlington CourtHouse is one block from the metro and is my favorite place to stay in Arlington.It's in a nice area and I feel totally safe there with my kids even at night. I've used Townplace Suites by Marriott in Springfield Va also because they have 2 and 3 bedroom suites. The property in Springfield has a outdoor pool,grill, full kitchen and walking distance from a shopping center that contains a grocery and drug store along with restaurants etc. But it's a few miles from a metro stop.

8. Re: Help My Family Figure out the Best Place to Stay

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