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DC in July. Good Idea or not?

We were hoping to get to DC sometime in the next year and H has vacation coming the week of July 4th. We thought it would be great to spend Independence Day in our nations capitol but I know it can get pretty nasty in the summer (I'm from NYC so I know from hot weather). So is it crazy to go when it's so hot?

If so, can anyone suggest hotels and also how many days do you think we'd need? We will of course do the obvious stuff (Monuments and memorials, white house tour, the capitol) but is there anything we should do that is kinda off the beaten path and is kid-friendly?


Re: DC in July. Good Idea or not?

  • i lived in NYC for ten years and i can honestly say that DC summers are significantly more uncomfortable. even memorial day weekend was so insufferably hot that DH & i started talking about a move to chicago. those whose don't have my northern blood may disagree but personally i would not recommend visiting in july.

    as far as hotels, i like the kimptons (especially the palomar in dupont circle). i'd also check out hotwire, that is what we did when we were apartment hunting here. aside from the usual sights, we like the national zoo and any of the museums. the american history museum has a great area for kids. we did an old town trolley tour with visiting friends in october, that was a great way to see a lot and get some of the historical context within a few hours. i've heard the duck tours are good and we'll probably do one of those when other people visit.


  • I don't think it's crazy, but it will be hot. July 4 is a very popular/busy/crowded time for DC and the touristy attractions, so keep that in mind. DC has a really nice fireworks show on the Mall for July 4 (also very crowded, but fun), so that would be a bonus to coming during that time. Make sure you dress appropriately, bring sunscreen and lots of bottled water, and be prepared for crowds.

    How many days really depends on what you want to do. Have you been to DC before? You can easily spend a week here, or you can come for 3-4 days and see some highlights. With kids in the summer, I'd recommend the zoo -- yeah, it will be crowded and hot, but it's still fun for kids. Depending on the age of your kids, there's a play area at the National Building Museum that's fun and not very crowded. The Natural History Museum is one of the better ones for kids (lots of animal-related exhibits).

    Hotels - you can stay downtown, which is more convenient and more expensive, or you can stay somewhere else on a Metro line and plan to take Metro around the city. There are several nice hotels in the Crystal City area that are a short Metro ride away from downtown, and there are a lot of restaurants in the area for dinner, etc.
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  • It will be hot and humid, but the museums are air conditioned :o)

    I would consider staying outside the city depending on your budget.  You could stay at a hotel near the metro in Rosslyn as well as Crystal City.

    You should schedule some time to see Mt Vernon.  You can take a boat from Old Town Alexandria which takes you down the Potomac so you see Mt Vernon from the Potomac and then they dock and you go to do the tour.  Believe the price of the tour is included.

    I would start watching Groupon and LivingSocial for tour deals.  You can find them on occasion.

    I am a big fan of doing a "tour" when you first arrive to get the layout of the land, so to speak.  They have pedi-tours, Duck Boats, buses, etc.  The trolley tours are on and off, so those are good.

  • Thanks, ladies. I know it will be very hot but that week is the only time DH has vacation and DS is not in school, other than in August and I am certain August will be intolerable since it usually is in NY. My son is just so into the Presidents and buildings I thought this would be great for him. I'll have to think about this one. I personally HATE, HATE, HATE walking around in the scorching heat.
  • imageMrsHabious:

    I would consider staying outside the city depending on your budget.  You could stay at a hotel near the metro in Rosslyn as well as Crystal City.

    I would recommend this for any other time.  If OP plans to go to the fireworks on the mall, I would really try to stay some place that doesn't require a metro ride after.  But, you can also see fireworks from the rooftops in Rosslyn.  The Palomar in Rosslyn might be a good option.

  • My family used to take a week-long vacation to DC every summer, because we had family here. Sure it was hot, but it was fine. I know we visited over July 4 a few times, because I remember seeing the fireworks. Like pp said, the museums are air conditioned. On good days, the Metro is also air conditioned. If it's really humid, you only have to spend 5-10 minutes outside, walking from museum to museum. It will be ok. There are bus tours that will take you around to various sights and let you hop on/off, so you can see all of the memorials/monuments with minimal walking.

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  • Agreed, it will be hot but it is not a reason to not come.  Just drink loads of water!  There are loads of inside activities that you can do. 
  • It will be hot.  But, you'll be OK.  

    I think the awesomeness of spending the 4th on the Mall for the fireworks outweighs the heat factor.  :)  

    How old are your kids?  I think one of the best places to stay with kids is the Capitol Holiday Inn.  It's near the Smithsonians, close to a Metro, and tends to be budget friendly.  What is your budget per night? 


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