A Local’s Guide to Hotels Near Smithsonian Museums
Expert Tip – Align on a Neighborhood & Use the Metro
Smithsonian Museums are some of the biggest draws to DC. Although a majority of the Smithsonian museums are located in the National Mall close to downtown DC, there are also other Smithsonian institutions elsewhere like the National Zoo in Woodley Park, Portrait Gallery in the hub of downtown DC, and the Udvar Space Museum in Chantilly near Vienna, VA.
Therefore finding the right hotel near Smithsonian Museums isn’t all about staying in Downtown DC or around the National Mall. As long time DC residents we suggest utilizing the Metro to save on a hotels. Since you won’t find any hotels in downtown DC, or within walking distance to the National Mall that offer free parking the Metro can be the fastest way to cut down on the cost of hotels. See our article on the top Washington, DC hotels that offer free parking and are near the Metro.
The DC metro lines run all throughout DC and the neighboring suburbs, making it a convenient form of transportation. Travelers will find that the Metro is much more efficient than taking a cab or Uber. Below are several areas we suggest depending on your goals for visiting DC. See our custom map to find hotels near the DC Metro.
It is important to point out that hotels rates generally fall all around Washington, DC by $50 to $75 dollars per night during the weekend. Meaning that if you plan to come to Washington, DC on the weekend it may be possible to afford a nicer hotel or a hotel in a better location. If your dates are flexible prioritizing a weekend visit can mean extra savings.
Hotels With Shortest Walk to Most Smithsonian Museums
Most Smithsonian Museums can be found right in the National Mall Area. There are 16 museums, buildings and galleries both inside and on the outskirt of the National Mall. The most popular museums in the National Mall are the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History.
For travelers who want to prioritize being within a short walk to the National Mall, you’ll be happy to know there are a good number of options. These are hotels are in the area south of the National Mall. The nearby Metro stations are L’Enfant, Federal Center, and Capitol South. The L’Enfant and Federal Center neighborhoods won’t appeal to travelers who want access to bars and restaurants as this area is primarily made up of government buildings.
Families will strongly appreciate hotels south of the National Mall because it is home to the Capitol Holiday Inn, Hyatt House and Residence Inn. All of these hotel choices are excellent for families. The Capitol Inn also has a rooftop pool.
Staying Downtown & Walking to Smithsonian Museums
The hub of downtown Washington, DC is Chinatown and home to the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery (picture above). The Gallery Place Metro station serves this area. Anticipate spending 20 minutes walking between downtown DC and the major Smithsonian museums. Neighborhoods in downtown like Farragut, and Chinatown (Metro Center) will supply travelers with a good balance of walkability to nightlife and restaurants as well as access to day time tourist spots. The downsides to these locations are cost. Staying in downtown along the blue, orange and silver lines will make for a short commute to the Smithsonian station on the National Mall. Therefore outside of Chinatown, prioritize staying near the Foggy-Bottom, Farragut, or Metro Center station.
Hotels Near Washington, DC National Zoo
The National Zoo is in the Woodley Park neighborhood of DC. Woodley Park is an affluent urban residential neighborhood just north of Dupont Circle along the red line. The two primary hotels in this area are the Omni and Marriott. Each of these hotels are very large, and used for conferences or group trips. Each tend to be expensive on weekdays. Each are excellent choices for families because they are so big the grounds feel like a resort.
A cheaper hotel option near the National Zoo is one Metro stop away at Van Ness. This is home to the economy minded Days Inn. Parking rates are less than other DC hotels and most guests commented this is an excellent choice to use as a place to sleep.
Staying here means that all the other Smithsonian Museums in the National Mall are also only 25 minutes away by Metro. Staying in this area places you in close proximity to Rock Creek Park and enables travelers to see less tourist areas of Washington, DC.
Virginia Hotels with Short Metro Commute to Smithsonian Museums
There are plenty of cheaper hotel options with easy an commute to see all the Smithsonian museums. Arlington, VA across the Potomac river is home to several Metro stations along the Orange line that have hotels within walking distance making it easy to commute to Smithsonian museums in 20 minutes. Neighborhoods Rosslyn, Ballston and Clarendon are vibrant and offer the possibility of parking the car for free at your hotel.
By staying further out on the Orange or Silver Metro lines you can often find additional savings on hotels. The Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Spring Hill stations are the top choices. The last Metro station on the Orange line is Vienna and is a short drive to the Udvar Hazy museum (possibly one of the most under rated museums, picture above).