Trying to put together a budget

First time posting on the DC site. Planning a trip for spring 2018 with DS11 & DD8. Need some recommendations on what to budget daily for food. I know most museums (Spy an exception) are free, but food is the next big expense. Staying at a Homewood Suites so small kitchen… Seven days.

I found the food in DC to be very expensive. If you eat at the museums, the portions are large and adults could easily split meals. It’s been 4 years since I was there.

Food in museums is very expensive. If you go a couple of blocks away from the main tourist spots, generally things get cheaper, but that takes a little bit of planning so you may have to count on lunch being pretty expensive (like Disney quick service expensive). There are also tons of food trucks in these areas with varying quality, but entrees under $10. Which Homewood Suites are you staying in? There is a huge range of options for dinners depending on where you are staying sit down dinner can be anywhere from $9 burgers to $40 entrees.

Going to DC is kind of like going to WDW (or any major city); you can easily spend $75-plus on a high-end dinner, or you can find various delis and “local” places for $10 - and you might be able to share. There are also any number of food truck, hot dog carts, etc. Planning lunch at the museums is not a bad plan; decent food at not outrageous prices. And you can’t beat them for convenience. As others have said, food options near your hotel can vary; really depends on the location…

We’re staying at the Homewood in Arlington, VA.

This is hard to answer as everyone has different experiences and are willing to do different things

We usually do breakfast in the room when we travel - it is just easier and a lot less expensive.
If you are planning on eating outside the city (such as for Dinner) it is a bit more reasonable.
Eating at the museums can be expensive and I remember having a difficult time finding other restaurants around the Mall

My family’s dining expectations range wildly - we can all eat at a truck for $15 and everyone is happy. Other times we go to a very nice place and it is over $200. Not knowing what you are normally used to and what your normal habits are it is difficult. However I would basically say - whatever your normal eating our preference is - add 30% to be on the safe side.

Looking at a map, there appears to be quite a few restaurants not too far from your hotel, ranging from chains like Ruby Tuesday and Panera to “local” places. There also appears to be a Safeway for in-room supplies pretty close. According to the hotel website, there is a free full breakfast served every morning, so that’s one meal covered. And I’m sure that there are any number of pizza and other places that will deliver to the hotel for dinner.

Sounds great! Planning on using Safeway with Instacart for a few dinner options, like frozen pizza or chicken sandwiches. Mostly thinking lunch will be out. I’m planning to budget around $75/day (2 adults, an 11yo & 8yo). Some days less, hopefully, but I’d rather overestimate.

We just returned from a trip to D.C. and stayed at the Marriot in Arlington. The Rosalyn Metro station is a reasonable walk from your hotel and I highly recommend using it. (My DGD8 said it reminded her of riding Space Mountain) Georgetown was a 10 minute walk across the Key Bridge from our hotel and we ended up over there for dinner several times. As far as keeping your meal budget under control, I would recommend saving money by eating in for breakfast and dinner but just accept the higher costs of eating lunch at the museums, etc. Frankly the time and energy it will take to find someplace cheaper is just not worth the savings. If you are doing one of the bus tours (we did Big Bus) you can plan a lunch at the food court in Union Station.

1 Like

We were in DC last week. It looked to us like there were a number of food courts either a walk or a short metro ride from the mall. We ate at the food court in the Federal Triangle building, which we walked to from a Smithsonian. Union Station, L’Enfant Plaza looked to have a similar set up. Also, ask! We asked security guards at the Madison building and they were super helpful in pointing us in the direction of restaurants-they tend to be clumped together.

Also, we had food with us every day for lunch. We picknicked near the Washington Monument one day, in the zoo another, and outside the museums another. Also, we had no problem taking the packed food bags in to buildings, including museums, and we had food for the picky eaters and supplements (fruit) for all of us and then just purchased a few items at the museum cafes.