Family Travel Survival Guide: Washington, DC

Hotels and Restaurants
The front of Ben’s Chili Bowl
ICONIC DC: Ben’s Chili Bowl, a District staple of indulgent cuisine (Nathan Borchelt)

Hotels
There's no shortage of hotels in Washington, and they're available at all quality levels and price points. Generally, location dictates what you'll pay—the closer you are to the big attractions and tony neighborhoods the greater your bill. Your best bet is to stick with larger hotels, as many boutiques tend to attract the party set, and you'll likely find more cocktail-sipping singles than milk-chugging kids.

All of the big names have locations in Washington and the Northern Virginia suburbs, and most have family-friendly amenities. The Omni Shoreham, which is close to the National Zoo, and Adams Morgan's Hilton Washington present goodie bags to children upon check-in. If you want to spread out, the Embassy Suites in Duping Circle has separate living areas in all their rooms, and Georgetown Suites offers both living areas and kitchens.

A family vacation doesn't mean you have to spend every moment all together. If you're hoping for a little kid-free time, opt for a place with babysitting services. Most of the large hotels offer them, but be sure to ask about it before you book.

If you opt to stay outside of the city limits, be sure that the hotel has walking access—or at least shuttle service—to the Metro.

Restaurants
These days, just about all restaurants welcome kids. The question is whether or not you'll all enjoy your meal. Here are a few places that are sure to satisfy every craving.

Two Amy's: Who doesn't love pizza? Located in Glover Park, just minutes from Georgetown, this no-nonsense restaurant is always packed with families feasting on what many call the best pizza in the city. To avoid a wait go during lunch or on the early side of the evening. Otherwise, it could take up to half an hour to get a table. (Two Amy's, 202.885.5700)

Old Glory: This Georgetown joint serves just about every style of barbeque fare. A great kids menu, crayons and lollipops, lots of fun stuff on the walls, and, of course, the tasty food, make it a favorite among families. (Old Glory, 202.337.3406)

Clyde's of Gallery Place: Conveniently located in the heart of Penn Quarter and Chinatown, you can't go wrong with a meal at Clyde's—one of DC's longest-running restaurant chains. The large menu of American classics has something for everyone. Kids get special attention with their own menu, plus crayons and toys to keep them occupied throughout the meal. (Clyde's, 202.349.3700)

Ben's Chili Bowl: This Washington landmark on U Street serves up eats that will make everyone feel like a kid. Chili dogs, chili burgers, cheese fries, and half-smokes are just a few of their specialties. They even have some healthy choices, but you're missing out if you don't indulge in the "bad" stuff. (Ben's Chili Bowl; 202.667.0909)

Zaytinya: Don't be deterred by the "scene" here. The large bar attracts a happy hour crowd, but the space is big enough that you don't feel caught up in it. The tapas-style Greek and Middle Eastern food is what makes this a great place for kids. The small plates are the perfect size for little eaters and the food is excellent, but not everything on the menu will please the most finicky palates. It's conveniently located in Chinatown, opposite the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (Zaytinya; 202.638.0800)

Museum Cafes and Food Courts: If you're at the Smithsonian, dining doesn't get much more convenient than the cafes and food courts in the museums. Just about every one of them has some kind of eatery, and the food is generally quite good. If you want to try something unique, the café at the National Museum of the American Indian serves indigenous cuisines of the Americas, while the National Gallery of Art offers a huge buffet of…just about everything. And if you're near the White House, consider hitting the food court at the National Press Club at 14th and E Street NW, or inside the massive Ronald Reagan Building (on 14th Street, NW, between Constitution Avenue and E Street)


Linda Samuel is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

Published: 13 Jun 2008 | Last Updated: 8 May 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Washington, DC

$369
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#1
Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square
$499
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#2
Palomar Washington DC, a Kimpton Hotel
$388
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#3
InterContinental THE WILLARD WASHINGTON D.C.
$429
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#4
Park Hyatt Washington

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