Recently, Alex and I used points and miles for a trip to Washington D.C. We took her eldest son, Eli, as part of his birthday celebration. Washington D.C. is a fascinating place to travel and Eli soaked up all the history and museum outings as well as being our solo male traveler throughout the trip. I think he enjoyed all the extra treats, Sprite, and eating out he got to do as much as all the sites we saw!
We heartily recommend it as a family destination and with points and miles it can be very affordable. Here’s how we did it:
Alex used Southwest to fly to Washington D.C. Her flight was only $5.60 for each of them to travel as she used Rapid Rewards and has the Southwest Companion Pass so Eli could travel for free. Their flight from Salt Lake City had a stopover in Denver. I met them there and we went into the American Express Centurion Lounge for a free breakfast. Gotta love an airport lounge!
I had a credit on United for a canceled flight so I used that for my travel to Dulles airport and met them there. One mistake we made was flying into Dulles. Reagan Airport is much closer to downtown Washington so we changed our flights going home to that airport. There are multiple airlines that can take you to our nation’s capital so it is not hard to find a great deal with points and miles.
Just as there are many flights to Washington D.C., there are many, many hotels that you can stay at with points and miles. We had Hyatt annual night certificates so we wanted to use them for our stay. We used three nights between us to stay at the Grand Hyatt. The lobby was gorgeous, the location was superb, and the rooms were nice (not over the top, but nice). Our main complaint was that our room had two double beds, not queens. It made for cozy sleeping for Alex and Eli!
Normally, these rooms sell for $300/night so it is definitely worth paying the $95 annual fee for the Hyatt card to get these annual night certificates. That is one of the reasons we always keep our hotel credit cards. We don’t have Hyatt Globalist status so we didn’t get free breakfasts but Alex did let them know we were coming for her son’s birthday and so we did get an upgraded room to a higher floor. Check out our tips to get a hotel upgrade.
The Park Hyatt is another great choice. The cost is only 20K-23K points/night and the price of the room is usually $449. I did notice that it seems to be pretty common for the hotels to have double beds instead of queens. This held true at the Park Hyatt also.
You might want to check out a Hyatt Place if you are going as a family. These are less expensive, often have more room, and come with free breakfast so they are perfect for families! There are several in the Washington, D.C. area.
Our second hotel was the IHG Kimpton Hotel Monaco. IHG has dynamic pricing so prices fluctuate. Check IHG to see the prices for your specific dates. We were actually able to stay there for free as part of a promotion we did with IHG. This hotel was also in a great location. If you hold the IHG Premier credit card, you automatically have Platinum Premier status and will get a free breakfast.
We noticed this hotel near ours so we know it is in a good location with easy walking access to many of the places we went to. When I looked it was a mere 30K points a night so very affordable for a family. You could even use a 35K certificate for a stay there depending on the dates. The rooms usually go for about $300/night. Marriott prices may fluctuate as they have gone to dynamic pricing.
Our day started out walking to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. The Smithsonian is free for visitors and they have several different museums. This first museum was totally fascinating to my 10-year-old grandson and equally for us. We spent a few hours there looking at all the different exhibits. We even had lunch in the Atrium Cafe there which was pretty good. There really wasn’t much else in the area and we didn’t want to walk away from the monuments.
We then headed over to the Washington Monument. Does anyone else wonder why it doesn’t have a likeness of George there? From there we headed to the World War ll Monument which is really nicely done. My favorite monument was the third one, the Abraham Lincoln Monument. I just love that one. I love to see the Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation inscribed on the walls and, because it has a likeness of him there, it just seems much more personal.
We headed to check out the White House next. You can’t get too close but it is still a thrill to see it. If you would like to tour it, you need to contact your congressional representative. I wish we had planned to do that.
Our feet were hurting by then, so we headed back to our hotel for a couple of hours’ rest and then had a great meal at Founding Farmers. By the crowds there, it is a popular place!
Our trip to Washington D.C. on points and miles continued on day two with a trip to the International Spy Museum – perfect for a 10-year-old boy! We planned to stay 2 hours there and, when 2 hours had passed, we were only halfway through it. I LOVED it but our 10-year-old was a little tired so we breezed through the last half.
Prior to going to the museum, we had eaten at A Baked Joint and it had a delicious breakfast. The french toast is only done on Saturday and Sunday and was incredible. We also had a quiche and breakfast sandwich and they were also good – we heartily recommend this place!
After the Spy Museum, we got on the Metro and went to the Holocaust Museum which was very well done. Eli had a lot of questions and it was a good teaching moment.
We had dinner at Cheesecake Factory because I had gift cards and it was nearby and then headed back to our hotel because we were tired. A ton of walking was done on our first couple of days and our feet hurt so we decided to relax a little in our hotel.
We slept in a little so skipped breakfast and instead had burgers at a Shake Shack next to our next hotel. This made one ten-year-old happy as he finally got a milkshake!
We then dropped our luggage off at our new hotel, also conveniently located, the IHG Kimpton Monaco. This was a promotional stay as Alex had been hired to do some Instagram coverage for them due to their new program being launched. We were fortunate to stay in a beautiful suite. Fun fact: Kimpton’s are always renovated from historic buildings. This location was once a historic post office in DC. It was eclectic and fun and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
Arlington cemetery via Uber was our first sightseeing stop. There is a hop-off-hop-on tram that you can purchase tickets for. The highlight of this visit was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to see the Changing of the Guard. Their gliding steps and serious expressions were very impressive! This monument is guarded 24/7, 356 days a year no matter what the weather is like! The precision and dedication that they show with their duties were inspiring.
From here we took the Metro to the Capitol Building and also see the Supreme Court. At this point, our little travel partner was pretty tired so we headed back to our hotel to eat. We wanted to go to Pi Pizza but they had a private event. We eventually went to Matchbox and it was a disaster from beginning to end. (I won’t even link it – you don’t want to go there)!
We had a really nice breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. This place has many organic and vegan options and the most delicious treats. I had the Avocado Toast, Alex had the Egg Skillet, and Eli chowed down on the Belgian Waffle and finished that off with a gigantic chocolate chip cookie. After this breakfast, we all decided we were scoring it in the breakfast department!
We grabbed an Uber and headed over to the Jefferson Memorial Monument, then walked to the FDR Monument, and finally to the Martin Luther King Monument. Each monument was great but the MLK monument was really impressive!
We finished off our day with a quick trip to the Museum of American History (I could have spent more time there). The Air and Space Museum was unfortunately closed. I loved following the space program so would have loved a stop there.
Washington D.C. on points and miles was so much fun! Visiting our nation’s capital and sharing it with my cute grandson and seeing him thrive in a big city was a special experience. He really blossomed with curiosity and confidence during this time. One-on-one time with a child or grandson is always a perfect use of points and miles.
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